At the January 26 meeting of Provincial Council, councilors were presented with OSSTF/FEESO’s education platform in advance of the 2018 provincial election. The platform, developed through consultation, discussion and feedback from members and other stakeholders, lays out OSSTF/FEESO’s vision for public education in Ontario, and calls for specific actions that we believe must be undertaken by the next provincial government to ensure that education at all levels—from early learning to post-secondary—continues to meet the needs of our province. What follows is an abbreviated version of the platform. The full platform is available on the OSSTF/FEESO website (osstf.on.ca).
Public education in Ontario has a long tradition of providing students with the knowledge, skills and sense of community they need to find success and contribute in a meaningful way to the social and economic fabric of a prosperous and dynamic province.
OSSTF/FEESO believes strongly in that tradition, but we also recognize that in a rapidly growing and changing Ontario, there’s always more work to do to ensure that public education continues to meet the needs of all who rely on it.
We believe that the publicly-funded education system should recognize the following principles:
- UNIVERSALITY—access for everyone
- COMPREHENSIVENESS—opportunity for everyone
- PROFICIENCY—achievement for everyone
- ACCOUNTABILITY—value for everyone
Ontario’s public education system is perhaps the province’s most important asset. OSSTF/FEESO members continue to dedicate their time and energy to protecting and enhancing that system, just as we have for almost 100 years. And we believe it’s important for Ontario’s government to have a similar commitment to ensuring that public education works for everyone.
OSSTF/FEESO is calling for:
- Equitable and timely access to professional student services to ensure that the Early Learning team is fully prepared to help every child reach their full potential.
- A commitment to safeguard the well-being of children with special needs through the presence of highly-trained educational assistants. When we do this, we enhance the learning of every child in the classroom.
- A teacher and an early childhood educator in each kindergarten classroom to ensure a robust, play-based learning environment where every student will benefit and feel supported.
- School boards to spend their Early Learning funding allocation on kindergarten classrooms.
MORE PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT FOR ALL STUDENTS
OSSTF/FEESO calls for a best-practice student services model that includes:
- An increase in school and community services available to students with mental health issues.
- More school-based speech and language services, which are needed to support students in the classroom.
- Increased funding for services provided by board-employed practitioners.
- Predictable, stable and dedicated funding which will ensure a high level of service across the province, regardless of school board.
- Increasing mental health literacy for educators.
- Appropriate violence prevention resources and space.
- An education sector regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
PROFESSIONAL JUDGEMENT AND COLLABORATION
OSSTF/FEESO is calling for:
- A commitment that the next government will require all boards of education in Ontario to implement joint consultation committees with OSSTF/FEESO at the board and school level.
- A commitment that the professional judgement of education workers be formally recognized as a key factor in determining instructional strategies and student
- A commitment that the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) and its testing programs will be discontinued, and that savings generated will be reinvested into student learning.
OSSTF/FEESO is calling for an inclusive funding formula based on a new set of principles that support:
- A full range of services and programs available to all students.
- The diversity of our students.
- Targeted funding for special needs students.
- Early learning programs to improve achievement in later grades.
- Equitable access to professional services that meet the needs of all students.
- Well-maintained, safe and accessible school infrastructure.
- Access to technology and other learning tools.
- The maintenance of funding levels through adjustments for inflation.
- The full education team.
UNIVERSITY FUNDING AND OVERSIGHT
OSSTF/FEESO calls for significant improvements in university funding, including:
- A commitment to increase and maintain stable, dedicated funding for all universities to ensure that quality student services and supports are maintained year over year.
- A commitment that dedicated funding will be targeted to specific student needs at all universities.
- A commitment that increases in student enrolment will mean increased staffing levels to ensure that student needs are met.
- A commitment to examine and assess the oversight and transparency of university spending decisions, with an eye to ensuring that Ontario’s universities serve the interests of both students and the broader community.
ONE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM IN EACH OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
OSSTF/FEESO is calling for:
- An all-party task force to look into the merits and challenges of moving to one public secular school system in each official language, to be convened immediately.
- Savings realized from a merger of systems to be reinvested back into the education system to enhance the quality of education and the availability of services that
- All education stakeholders to be involved in a discussion about the future of publicly-funded education in Ontario, accessible to all students.
SCHOOL BOARDS COLLECTIVE BARGAINING ACT
OSSTF/FEESO is calling for the following changes to the SBCBA:
- Central bargaining should be between the unions and the government.
- The role of school board associations in central bargaining should be consultative only and they should not be involved in a decision-making capacity.
- There should be one central table for OSSTF/FEESO teachers and support staff.
- Issues covered by central bargaining should be limited to salary, benefits and other funding-related matters, unless additions are made by mutual agreement.