From the General Secretary: Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Gene Lewis

Every year  the  president  and  general  secretary of  ETFO  go to Queen’s Park to make a presentation to the Finance and Economic Affairs Committee. Our  goal is to influence government decisions prior to the release of the school grants later in the spring.

This year, once again we will take the same message. That we still have to do so is in itself an indication that our message has not been heard. We are hopeful that it will get through to the decision-makers this time.

The importance of education in a child’s early years is well understood. The skills and knowledge a child  acquires in elementary school lay the foundation for a lifetime of educational success and personal fulfillment. There has been a growing recognition of the importance of early learning and, to its credit, the current  government has responded by working to lower class sizes in the Primary grades. The government has also put  in place a plan to improve student outcomes in high school. What happens to students in grades 4 to 8 appears somehow to be less critical.

Historically, elementary pupils have been at  a  disadvantage when it comes to government funding. The per-pupil grant for elementary students is significantly less than that provided for secondary students. This gap continues even though the government acknowledges the importance of elementary education.

ETFO members want their students treated with the same respect shown to students in secondary school. All students, no matter what their grade level, deserve a quality public education. Watch for a campaign highlighting the gap in funding for elementary students in the next few weeks.

The funding gap needs to be addressed in the next provincial budget. It will be a critical issue as parents and teachers determine how to mark their ballot in the provincial election that will be held in October.

We  watched with interest when Premier Dalton McGuinty went to Ottawa to seek more federal dollars for Ontario. He spoke of the $13 billion funding gap. We applaud the premier for his efforts on behalf of Ontario citizens. The government must address an equally unfair funding gap that exists within its own education system.

It’s time to close the gap. ETFO members work hard to improve student success in elementary schools all across the province. The gap in funding and respect that has limited their success and the potential of their students must be rectified now.