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Teachable moment: Back to school under the shadow of cuts to education

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Teachable moment: Back to school under the shadow of cuts to education

September always brings back the excitement and promise of a new school year. For some kids and parents it can be a bit of a nervous time. And this year, we all have a reason to be more than a little nervous. Along with new teachers and classmates, students and their parents will be experiencing another thing this year: the first effects of the cuts to education announced by the Ontario PC government in March earlier this year.

As Sinead Fagan, communications officer at the Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) explains, “The cuts will be felt system-wide. The 2019-2020 budget has been reduced in many areas.” Instructional budgets (including staffing) are down $10.7 million dollars this year alone.

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Voting: How high school teachers get students to think about their civic duty

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How high school educators get young people to think about voting

Recently, The Lindsay Advocate’s Mallory Cramp-Waldinsperger asked local high school teachers for their perspectives on how youth see the world, and what educators can do to get students to think about voting. This is what they had to say:

Is there anything unique about how up-and-coming voters see the world, and politics that you think readers should know?

Mark Robinson – Canadian and World Studies, LCVI

There’s a general sense of overwhelming complexity, and a feeling that individual action doesn’t amount to much against the powers that be. However, students do have strong feelings when they are engaged and have been introduced to current issues. Topics which inspire them include climate change and its consequences, and the growing awareness of gender identities and the acceptance of these differences. Students are quick to rally behind causes that try to redress injustices.

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Food choking incident at local school has parents demanding more supervision

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Neil and Jena-Lyn Westerby with their children.

A Lindsay couple whose daughter choked on food at Leslie Frost Public School while there was no adult in the classroom is fighting for more supervision for students.

Meanwhile, a Trillium Lakelands District School Board spokesperson says “students are not left alone unsupervised.”

Neil and Jena-Lyn Westerby say their daughter Lexie, 7, choked on a piece of orange on March 22 which upset her enough that she wanted to call home. She was not allowed to call home, the parents say, although the teacher did notify the parents via a text message after the school day and after Lexie had already told her parents about what had happened.

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‘Attrition protection’ fund added by PCs to prevent teacher layoffs

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'Attrition protection' fund added by PCs to prevent teacher layoffs

A news release from the Ontario government indicates that a new “Attrition Protection Allocation” of $1.6 billion in the province’s education funding model will top-up funding for school boards to protect front-line teaching staff from being laid off.

This will “prevent boards from having to lay off teachers impacted by proposed changes in class sizes and e-learning,” says the release.

The PCs appear to be getting the message from both union picketing and community feedback, after weeks of advocacy that tried to prevent the layoffs.

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Board losing millions in funding; Director of education says ‘change is upon us’

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Board losing millions in funding; Director of education says ‘change is upon us’
Director of Education Larry Hope for the Trillium Lakelands District School Board.

The widespread cuts to education by the PC government will mean millions of dollars will be lost to the Trillium Lakelands District School Board. However, Director of Education, Larry Hope, says a highly regarded construction program at LCVI can’t solely be blamed on the PC government.

Among other cuts, the board is facing:

  • a $423,000 shortfall for Early Childhood Educators (ECEs).
  • a $526,000 drop in board funding because of new classroom caps for Grades 4-8.
  • a $3.8 million shortfall as secondary class sizes balloon from 22 to 28 students as a cap

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Construction program at LCVI folds due to cuts by PC government

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"We have had so many success stories with students who are non-traditional learners."

For more than a decade Lindsay Collegiate and Vocational Institute (LCVI) has run the Gold Star Construction
program.

The program targeted senior students, many of whom faced challenges in regular classrooms, and offered real world work experiences on job sites around Lindsay. It also offered them a range of useful certifications including First Aid, Working at Heights, and Chainsaw operator certification.

With the cuts to education from the PC government under Premier Doug Ford, that program will not return next year, despite students having already enrolled in it, says a press release from OSSTF.

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Ford axes efficient library book sharing system

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"The smaller the system, the more rural the system, then they will be affected more.”

It’s a government that is apparently obsessed with finding efficiencies. Yet Premier Doug Ford’s PC government just axed one of the most effective and efficient services in the Ontario library system – a broad-based sharing program between the province’s libraries.

Funding for two key library services – the Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS) and the Northern Ontario Library Service (NOLS) has been cut in half. SOLS – of which Kawartha Lakes library system is a member of — supplies courier service that moves material between different library systems. Given the deep cuts, it has now been suspended until May 31 while they clear the backlog of books and items in transit.

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More than 1,000 suspension notices to go out over incomplete vaccination records

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The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is issuing suspensions orders to more than 1,000 students whose immunization records are not up-to-date in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. 

While suspension orders must be issued, the Health Unit says it is continuing to work with parents to ensure their children’s records are updated and students can remain in school. 

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Unions call on education director to counter Ford government’s ‘false narrative’

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Over 100,000 students walked out of more than 700 Ontario schools to protest the PC government’s cuts to education. Photo: Roderick Benns.

The heads of the elementary and secondary schools’ teachers’ unions are calling on Director of Education, Larry Hope, to set the record straight – that teachers did not coerce students to walk out on April 4.

Just a few days ago more than 100,000 students walked out of more than 700 Ontario schools to protest the PC government’s agenda, including changes to the health curriculum, deep cuts to OSAP, and the recently proposed changes to class sizes and e-learning. These were student organized and student-led protests.

But on the evening of April 4, Minister of Education Lisa Thompson, on the official ministry website, dismissed the activism of the student organizers “and attempted to spin a false narrative about the role of teachers and teachers’ unions,” according to the open letter from the union reps.

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Students walk out to protest Ford’s looming education cuts

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Students protest at I.E. Weldon S.S. in Lindsay. Photos: Roderick Benns

It’s 1:07 pm and the hallways of I.E. Weldon Secondary School in Lindsay are more alive than usual. Students are milling around, signs tucked under arms.

They seep out of the school and gather just off school property, forming long lines of anticipation until they become a single, large mass.

Just after 1:15 pm – the time when about 80,000 students across Ontario are doing the same thing – Grade 11 student Tisza Pàl address the assembled students with a megaphone.

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