Despite a strong mission, Ontario PCs failed to fulfill their educational promises


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In 2018, things seemed hopeful in the Ontario Education File. The newly elected Premier Doug Ford campaigned on a platform that included abolishing discovery mathematics, strengthening curriculum standards, and focusing on academic foundations.

Given his bulldog’s reputation, there was a great reason to believe that Ford would confront a typical special interest group, especially a union of teachers. Of course, it helped Ford take over from the very unpopular Kathleen Win. The Ontario people were eager for change and gave Ford a strong mission.

Sadly, Ford didn’t live up to expectations. Almost four years after power, students’ literacy and computing scores remain stagnant. In addition, Ontario’s education system is more volatile than ever. Even some coveted revisions to the math curriculum turned out to be bankrupt.

But that wasn’t due to the lack of attempt. Ford’s successive ministers of education, Lisa Thompson and Stephen Lecce, sought to enact truly significant educational reforms. Unfortunately, both ministers were plagued by officials in their respective departments, and despite the reforms they attempted attracted attention, they did not achieve significant results.

For example, in early 2019, then Minister of Education Lisa Thompson announced that all students in the state would need to complete four e-learning courses in order to graduate from high school. This announcement came from nowhere and was not based on credible research. In fact, there is no fragment of evidence that mandatory e-learning courses are beneficial to high school students.

As expected, the mandatory e-learning program was hit hard, especially by the teachers’ union. Instead of focusing on meaningful educational reforms, the Ford government has spent considerable political capital defending its misconceived e-learning proposals.

When Stephen Lecce moved to the education portfolio in the summer of 2019, one of the first things he did was to reduce mandatory e-learning from four courses to two courses. He later completely retreated, allowing parents to exempt their children from e-learning courses. The government finally made the right decision, but it’s a shame for students that it took so long.

Last year, the Ontario government finally made significant changes to its math curriculum. Some of these changes have been postponed for a long time, such as having elementary school students remember multiplication tables. This approach to the basics was a welcome change to fulfill the government’s campaign promise to abolish the mathematics of discovery.

Unfortunately, the new curriculum still contained a lot of fluff that distracted the government. For example, “social and emotional” skills will be evaluated in mathematics. This fits very little into the traditional math curriculum.

To make matters worse, the original draft of the 9th grade math curriculum contained a strange statement about the nature of math that was considered racist. Fortunately, these statements were deleted after public protests, but at the cost of damaging the government’s reputation.

Four years after power, the ideology of progressive education, which does not focus on subject-specific content knowledge (such as the memory of the multiplication table) and encourages teachers to avoid direct instruction, still dominates Ontario’s education system. increase. Many union leaders, managers, curriculum consultants, and professors of education are building their entire careers on the basis of progressive idealism, and no matter what the Ford government says, they are not willing to give in without fight. ..

To make matters worse, the Ford government has done a vicious job of paying attention to the interests of students over the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite Ford’s claim that schools close last and reopen first, Ontario students are absent from more schools than students in any other state or state in North America.

Simply put, Ford’s government has failed Ontario students (and their parents). Despite high expectations for 2018, Ford did not fulfill most of its campaign promises. From wasting valuable time on wasted e-learning initiatives, to failing to deploy new math curriculums, to closing schools for months at a time, Ford’s government worthy of failing grades in educational files. To do.

One thing that might save Ford’s government is that his enemies could be much worse. Both the Liberal Party and the NDP have continued to focus on subcommittees such as teachers’ unions and may have closed schools even longer than Ford. Given these options, many parents will reluctantly hold their noses and vote for PCs in the upcoming elections.

But still, Ontario citizens are far better worth. If Doug Ford wants another term as Prime Minister, he needs to be serious about improving Ontario’s public education system. He can’t afford to fail anymore.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Michael Zwagstra

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Michael Zwaagstra is a public high school teacher, senior researcher at the Frontier Public Policy Center, and author of “The Sages on Stage: Common Sense Thoughts on Education and Learning.”