On March 15, 2019 the Minister of Education launched the PC government’s vision for education: “Education that Works for You—Modernizing Classrooms.” It seems increasingly possible, though, that what the Minister calls “modernization” is really code for taking Ontario down the pathway to privatization.
Both the Premier and the Minister of Education are relentlessly pushing for changes that will have long-lasting, devastating impacts on public education and—by extension—Ontario’s economy. The privatization playbook contains a variety of strategies, and the push toward mandatory e-learning is definitely part of the privatization game.
Starting in 2020–21 secondary students will take a minimum of four e-learning credits out of the 30 credits needed for an Ontario Secondary School Diploma. All e-learning courses will be “centrally” delivered. OSSTF/FEESO is extremely concerned about the impact mandatory e-learning will have on student learning, and student choice. Although the government says it is “committed to modernizing education and supporting students and families in innovative ways that enhance their success,” the government’s vision offers zero details on the design, delivery, or implementation plan for this major change.
Evidence of corporate intrusion into public education is not new in Ontario. Many multi-national corporations like Google and Cisco are already firmly entrenched in our schools and post secondary institutions. What is extremely alarming is the similarity between the Ford government’s vision and that of corporations like Pearson. In fact, in many ways, “Education that Works for You” mirrors the Pearson 2025 vision, a document created for shareholders but leaked to the public in April 2019.
Driven by profit, Pearson 2025—Transforming teaching and privatising education data, identifies education as the biggest growth industry of the 21st century. Pearson’s overarching goal is to lead an “educational revolution” through the implementation of three key disruptive changes to (a) the teaching profession, (b) the delivery of curriculum and assessment and (c) the organization and function of schools. Time will tell if the Ford vision for e-learning and other changes for public education in Ontario simply mirror the vision of private companies like Pearson.
OSSTF/FEESO’s commitment to the defence and enhancement of public education is always being tested by external factors but, perhaps now more than ever before, all Federation members need to remain wary of outsourcing and privatization. We are prepared to fight back against corporate intrusion into our schools and worksites. In light of the Ford government, we must double our efforts to critically analyse and raise awareness about the dangers of any vision for public education that seeks to lure us all down the dark pathway to privatization.
CHECK OUT OSSTF/FEESO’S INFOGRAPHICS ON THE PRIVATIZATION PLAYBOOK