Dear Mr. Hudak,
I’m a high school teacher in Ontario and I am deeply concerned with your plan to slash education.
I have been a teacher for eight years and I’m quite certain I would be let go if you are to come to power. The truth is that I left a contract job of five years so that I would no longer have to commute. I have two young daughters and having a fifteen minute drive to work as opposed to one hour makes an incredible difference in our family.
I love my job. I can’t fathom my life without being in the classroom and working with students on a daily basis. I’ve also worked really hard to make it to where I am today and it would be absolutely heart-breaking if my dream is shattered by you and your party.
In considering the students, your plan intends on increasing class sizes. You have done a really excellent job of keeping the truth out of the media in focusing on the elementary class sizes as opposed to secondary sizes. I currently teach a grade twelve university class of thirty-four students. They are lovely students and I really enjoy teaching them, however, I think if we had another two students, it would be a detriment to the education those students receive. I thoroughly believe in taking time to talk to students one on one and even two more takes time away from the amount of personal feedback I can give each student. At the grade twelve university level, that is a huge loss to those students.
I also teach two classes of grade ten applied English and each class has twenty-four students. With your plan to cut 9,700 “non-teaching” positions, or as we call them, educational assistants, you are really hurting these students. My educational assistant, Kim, is an integral aspect of our classroom. She works with small groups of students or one on one and the students are receiving a higher quality of education with her in the classroom. Twenty-four students at this level is wonderful and I truly love teaching these two classes, however, many of these students need additional support in order to be successful and between the two of us, we are able to help so many more students than if it was me on my own.
Another consequence of fewer EA’s would be the success rate of EQAO as students would no longer be receiving the assistance required to be successful on these standardized tests. But, the skeptic in me wonders if that is your ultimate plan as then, of course, it would be the fault of us the teachers for not doing our job…
In planning to cut educational assistants, you will also be lowering the quality of student schools produce. You see, one of the largest roles educational assistants play is that they care deeply about these students and are another positive adult role model that these students need in their lives. Depending on home lives, teachers and EA’s can be the only adult role models and by cutting them, the quality of our Ontario citizens will decrease.
I can’t stress enough how vital educational assistants are to the success of our students.
The final aspect I want to mention is that I am worried that the focus on learning is being lost in your plan. Children have an insatiable curiosity and thirst for knowledge, but with your plan, those amazing qualities are going to disappear and Ontario is going to suffer. To me, education is about encouraging the love of learning and this plan will make it very difficult to foster that love.
In closing, I know I am only one person and that this message is likely falling on deaf ears, but I believe in sharing my thoughts as we have the right to do here in Canada.
Jamie Reaburn Weir