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

Construction program at LCVI folds due to cuts by PC government

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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.

Richard Lucas, who has taught the construction program recently said, “we have had so many success stories with students who are non-traditional learners” and went on to say that, “the loss of this program will limit the early exposure of skilled trades work to student who could benefit most from this style of learning.”

Over the years, the Gold Star program has partnered with Mason Homes, Habitat for Humanity, the Kawartha Region Conservation Authority and others providing students exposure to a variety of skilled trades in live job site environments. The program has won awards from a variety of these bodies and many students have gone on to work in various trades including some that have progressed from the program to apprenticeships.

This loss of the construction program comes as Trillium Lakelands DSB reduces its teaching complement in order to comply with the Minister of Education’s announcement that high school funding ratios would move from 22:1 to 28:1 over three years. This loss, along with the closure of four Alternate and Adult Education Centres, comes as the Board moves to approximately a 24:1 ratio, largely through attrition, as prescribed by the Ford government.

The teachers’ unions, including OSSTF, have said that programming would need to be cut and options available to students would be be reduced. We are now seeing the beginning of these program cuts unfold, according to local OSSTF President Colin Matthew.

As school boards struggle with reduced resources it’s obvious that something has to give, the OSSTF leader says, pointing out these specialized learning environments have served some of the area’s most vulnerable students.

“Attrition is fine if Doug Ford is to be taken literally but as we are already seeing attrition can’t teach Gold Star, attrition can’t coach basketball or lead a band and with larger classes left behind teachers will have much less time for each student and for activities outside of the classroom.”

Given that these cuts are the only the beginning of three years of cutting, and teachers are entering negotiations as contracts expire at the end of August, Matthew wonders what course offerings will look like in three years’ time.

“I’m concerned for the students, including my own three kids in the system, I’m concerned for our members, and frankly I’m concerned for the future of public education in this province. Ontario currently ranks incredibly highly on all global measures. These cuts put our education system in jeopardy, when it should be protected.”

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Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Lindsay Advocate. He is the author of 'Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World,' and is also Vice Chair of the Ontario Basic Income Network. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, Roderick has interviewed former Prime Ministers of Canada, Senators, and Mayors across Canada. He also wrote and published a series of books for youth about Canada's Prime Ministers as teens.

13 Comments

  1. Making Doug Ford the scapegoat….typical teachers union propaganda to sell their own students down the river. What are teacher/ratios across Canada? How does Ontario stack up? You would be very surprised. If its truly about students…..reduce the ridiculous contract mandated prep times and watch the ratios improve. You see, this is now the norm. Hand out vs hand up….accept no accountability. Teachers just shut up and teach…. leave real life and the politics out of the classroom. Your protests go nowhere and nobody who slaves a 9-5 job has any pity on you. No shift work, weekends off, summers off all stat holidays off. Get of your high horse and either make it about the children or just be quiet. The gig is up. This Wynn government bought your vote, padded your pension and wallets….let the truth be told. The truth can sometimes hurt

    • Rob, much of your vitriol has no meaningful response and I’m sorry you feel this way about education but a few points deserve correction.

      Doug Ford is lying about class sizes. He had made Ontario’s class average comparable to other province’s maximums. 22:1 is exactly inline with BC and other provinces. Our current maximum in TLDSB is 33:1. This is higher than any other province.

      Ontario is a top five jurisdiction.im the world and several above us are authoritarian countries where students are educated and tested only selectively.

      There’s lots of room for informed debate but spewing hatred towards those in your community who don’t just educate but also coach and lead our kids isn’t really appropriate. Let’s build up rather than tear down.

    • Perhaps you have not been in a classroom in a very long time. If you work shift work I strongly recommend that you offer to volunteer in your local school when you have an opportunity. Volunteering at a school is a truly rewarding experience for you and the children.

    • Rob there’s a lot in your post that doesn’t really merit a response – it’s unfounded vitriol. There are a few facts that you have misstated.

      Ontario’s teacher ratio is exactly in line with the rest of Canada. Ford has moved Ontario’s average to mirror other provinces facts, I presume he hoped people either wouldn’t understand or notice. The current maximum in TLSDB is 33, larger than any other province in Canada. Sadly this is a fact an not an opinion.

      Ford’s cuts mean there will be 23.5 less teachers in our high schools despite having the same number of students.

      I am really sorry that you have this much hatred in your life and that you choose to direct it at people who work daily to teach our kids and volunteer hundreds of hours to coach and lead them in the schools and in the community.

    • Rob, I’m sorry that you are so angry. Of course, if you want summers off, and weekends too (almost all teachers work during these times, by the way), you should have become a teacher. It’s not too late. You can go back to school so you too, can have this super easy job!

    • Wrong, Rob Shaw.

      This is about shifting government priorities and the funding model that allows these programs to survive. Read the article again, and consider the math. These programs are “targeted [to] senior students, many of whom faced challenges in regular classrooms”, and need funding since they don’t quite fall under the same league as law schools or MBA programs. There was even corporate support – those capitalists who get how the systems work together.

      You can try to blame teachers all you want, but this is really about ensuring capable people are given an opportunity to contribute back to society, pay their taxes, so you can retire with free health care, CPP, and all the luxuries Canada has to offer.

  2. Every teacher I know works every evening, does marking on weekends, and takes professional development courses during the summer. It takes enormous work to have something meaningful to say to a classroom of students for six hours straight every day; this is incredibly stressful work (which is why parents panic when March Break rolls around). People who think that teachers have too much time off have clearly not bothered to find out what this job involves. Only a short sighted government engages in cuts to the people who care for our most valuable asset–our children.

  3. You can Google the answer to your questions and the results will show that Ontario teachers are a long way away from selling their students down the river until the recent changes to education. Also, I will never shut up and teach nor will I teach my students this. Get critical…. grow your mind…. learn something about the truth and SPEAK. Politics is in everything that our students encounter…. I will always teach about politics.

    Your words are so far from the truth… get educated. Learn something meaningful, then contribute to the discussion.

    • Make it about the kids. Re-open contract talks….take less money so we can higher more teachers….take index off the pensions. Realize this provincial debt. You are not holier than thou. Don’t like the idea of paycuts or reopeners….interested in your response

      • Are you aware teachers fill their evenings/summers planning, marking, reporting, coaching, educating themselves, etc.? Do you know they are NOT paid in the Summer time? So technically they are paid for three weeks of holiday (March break and Christmas break) like everyone else. Would you like to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars out of your own pocket to do Additional Qualification courses on your own time?
        Re-read the article. It IS about kids. That Construction program is closing due to current cuts. Your statements speak more about your dissatisfaction and anger than anything else. Don’t dump on teachers until you’ve actually done the job, because obviously you have ZERO idea. You too can get six years of University and ride this gravy train (or so you think it is).
        How about you take a pay cut to help the province?

        • You want a reality check? Talk to the folks at GM. For the record…I have taken a reality pay cut. The debt is real….not some mystical, bury your head in the sand concept. Teachers incur a handsomely paid salary paid by who? The taxpayers. We are essentially the stock holders in all of this. Don’t talk to me about stress….in my profession, I am tested for proficiency twice a year with. MY job on the line each time. I have everything to lose if i can’t perform.

          • Rob,
            You know what’s interesting? I took my kids to a meeting with MPPs, Trustees, parents, and teachers’ union reps because this effects them directly & I want them to be educated on the proposals.
            You know who else was there?
            Union reps from GM in Oshawa.
            You know why? Unions support other unions.

            Do you know who the first person to stand up & praise my teenager for speaking up about his experiences in too-large classrooms & expressing empathy for kids who *need* smaller classrooms & specialized programs was?
            A GUY FROM GM.
            A guy from GM was the first adult to shake my kid’s hand & congratulate him on his articulate & thoughtful responses.

            This has zero to do with teachers’ unions & everything to do with the things we *all* have to lose in this province.

            And FWIW, if you’re opposed to “all that time off” the summer & wonderful wages, check your MPP & tell me they don’t get all summer off & get paid quite well.

      • Hi Rob and others
        For the vast majority of teachers – it’s always been about kids. That’s why we went into this career. Really the debate should be about priorities and to what degree the education of our youth plays in that. For some clarification around wages… between 2010-2016 my teaching salary went up a total of .01%, while the Ont inflation rate in those 6 years went up by 9.87%. Not a pay cut directly but a willingness obviously to understand our role in a provincial debt. Last year we received a 1.7% increase, just under the inflation rate of 2.19%. Pensions, we pay 12% of our wages directly into them, hire an awesome team to manage the funds. Some years are indexed others are not, depending upon the returns. After accumulating 6 years of university debt to get into teaching and 11 years to reach top wages I really don’t believe the Wages are of line.
        Regardless, yes I agree we have to be fiscally responsible as citizens and government. We also have to understand priorities, cuts to education will alway leave behind those who need additional support. Too bad there can not be better communication between governments and front line workers in any field to determine how to offer good service at a responsible cost.
        Thanks for your opinions, we all need to hear multiple views.
        J

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