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Students in Caledon walkout in protest of provincial cuts

April 11, 2019   ·   0 Comments

Written By JOSHUA SANTOS

Students walked out of class protesting cuts proposed by the provincial government on Thursday, April 4.

They joined over thousands of students across the province on what’s being called the Ford government’s “attack on public education.” 

“I think it’s a good thing because I don’t think it’s right to cut all the extracurricular activities,” said Gabby, a Grade 10 student at St. Michael’s Catholic Secondary School, who remained partially annonymous as students were told not to speak to the media.  “We can’t proceed our future destiny.”

Students at St. Michael’s, Humberview Secondary School, Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School and Mayfield Secondary School skipped a portion of the day chanting together – sometimes laced with profanity – before walking around residential streets or near their respective schools.

The protest comes in the wake of announced cuts to the education including cuts of almost $100-million in education job funding, banning of cellphones, mandatory e-learning, and increasing class sizes from Grades 4 to 12, among many other proposals. 

“I think the top ones are cutting ‘unnecessary’ courses and putting more students in the class,” said Gabby. “It just doesn’t help us in the end. A lot of us won’t be able to do what we want when we’re older.”

Students had signs saying ‘Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by the Ford Government Thank U, Next,’ ‘Ford, Ford out the Door,’ ‘No Cuts to Education!’ ’Arts are Essential,’ ‘When will you learn that increasing class sizes, firing thousands of teachers, cutting funding, targeting arts, IEP and special education programs have consequences,’ and ‘Waiting on the World to Change,’ among many others statements.

Gabby is concerned that teachers won’t be able to have one-on-one time with students, setting them up for failure.

“Let’s say you have an IEP (Individualized Education Program) or need help, you won’t get that help,” said Gabby.

The Grade 10 student said she wants to be a hairdresser and in the cosmetology world. She said it would be very inconvenient if she had to spend time learning about a career that she does not want to do when she is older.

Peel Board of Trustees shared the same concerns as the students. They submitted a letter to the Lisa Thompson, minister of education, discussing the pending aforementioned changes.

“Although we appreciate developing resilience in youth is one goal of this government, compromising learning opportunities for students is not how we hope this will be supported,” said Stan Cameron, Chair of Peel District School Board. “Resiliency is best learned through supportive relationships, the teaching of coping skills and reflection. These strategies are best delivered by experienced and knowledgeable educators and support staff—ones being negatively impacted by budget cuts.”

Cameron, on behalf of trustees, said they’re asking the government to change their narrative on education.

“We are proud of the work done in Peel schools and work sites each day—life-changing work—by caring adults, staff and volunteers, who look to us for support,” said Cameron. “The support we provide must be rich and meaningful. Put simply, we cannot support all of our learners if funding cuts are deep, resources are stretched, and staff are burdened with heavy loads and worry—worry that they will not be able to provide the level of support needed to ensure all students are successful and cared for.

We must partner on public education, and the province must listen to all partners, including students. Student voice should be a strong driver of ministry decisions. When we move from viewing students as stakeholders to students as collaborators, they not only articulate their views, but will help shape the future of public education in Ontario, a future that was already bright. 



         

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