Doug Ford changes his mind about bigger class sizes in Ontario
Premier Doug Ford and his team have completely taken Ontario by surprise today by announcing that they will not implement some of the controversial changes they had planned for the province's education system.
Teachers from multiple unions province-wide have been taking part in rotating strikes for more than a month now to protest Ford's proposals to cut costs by increasing class sizes and introducing mandatory e-learning, among other things.
Now, unexpectedly, the notoriously hard-headed Ford has backed down on both counts.
BREAKING: Education Minister @Sflecce backing off the increase in average high school class size in a bid to end ongoing teachers' strikes. Will keep them at about 23 down from the original proposed 28. #onpoli #onted— Robert Benzie (@robertbenzie) March 3, 2020
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce broke the news at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, saying that high school classes in the province will have an average of 23 students, rather than the 28 Ford initially suggested, amounting to "effectively no change" to current class sizes (which, according to CTV News, average around 22.9 students).
Elementary school classes, meanwhile, will be increased by one student per class for grades four through eight.
And, Ford's plan to make high school students enroll in at least two online courses to be eligible for graduation has also essentially been nixed — Lecce stated that parents will be able to opt their children out of the requirement.
The Ontario government is now proposing average high school class sizes of 23 and agreeing to make online courses optional rather than mandatory. Education Minister describes the proposals as reasonable and is calling on teachers to stop their widespread job actions. #onpoli— Sergio Mourato (@OMNITVSergio) March 3, 2020
In light of the compromise, the provincial government is requesting that teachers unions cancel the strikes they have planned for later this week so that bargaining can take place "to reach an agreement parents want, and students deserve."
The province continues to stand by a proposed cut to teachers' wage increases, which, according to CTV, at least one major teachers' union is prepared to accept.
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