- Ontario introduces new legislation, The Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act, aiming to modernize the education system, improve the management of capital assets, and focus on essential skills like math, reading, and literacy.
- The legislation proposes changes such as setting provincial education priorities, providing standardized training for trustees and officials, and establishing a framework for surplus school property management.
- Stakeholders have raised concerns about using EQAO test scores as a measure of success, potential profit from selling school properties, and the need for more consultation with education stakeholders.
Ontario Government Introduces New Legislation for Education System
Ontario unveiled new legislation, The Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act, aimed at modernizing the province’s education system while also giving the government the ability to sell or revamp unused school property for other priorities, such as housing. Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the province would hire 1,000 new teachers to “boost” math and literacy. The legislation’s goal is to create consistency and transparency across Ontario’s 72 school boards and improve how school board capital assets are managed.
Investment in Math and Reading Skills Development
The province is investing $180 million in targeted support to help improve students’ math and reading skills. About $109.1 million will be put into early reading, which will include 700 more teachers, training in “new approaches to reading instruction,” and universal screening for students in Year 2 of Kindergarten to Grade 2. The remaining $71.8 million will be spent on doubling the number of math facilitators and creating a “math action team” to work with school boards to improve scores.
Creating Consistency and Transparency Across School Boards
The goal of the legislation is to establish consistency and transparency across Ontario’s 72 school boards, improve the management of school board capital assets, and ensure regular reviews of Ontario’s curriculum based on “labor market and learning needs.” The bill will facilitate more training for teachers and enhance collaboration between the province and education stakeholders.
Teacher Training and Curriculum Review
The legislation will facilitate additional training for teachers, focusing on math, reading, and literacy. It will also ensure regular reviews of Ontario’s curriculum, taking into the account labor market and learning needs. This curriculum review process will be transparent and predictable, with guidelines set out by the government.
Provincial Education Priorities and Public Progress Reporting
The Ontario government will set “provincial education priorities on student achievement” and require school boards to publicly post their progress. This will involve the government outlining the priorities in regulation and working with school boards to implement these priorities effectively.
Standardized Training for Trustees and Senior School Board Officials
Trustees and senior school board officials will receive standardized training to deliver on the “provincial priorities” outlined by the government. This training will ensure that education leaders across the province are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to support student achievement and uphold the values of the provincial education system.
Surplus School Property Management
The legislation establishes a framework for managing surplus school property, which can include facilities that have been closed or will not be used to accommodate future students. The goal is to better leverage propriety for public education and other “provincial priorities” such as long-term care homes and affordable housing. The minister of education may direct abroad to sell or dispose of a school site, part of a school site, or other property if it is not meeting current or future needs.
Reducing Barriers in Multi-use Buildings
The legislation aims to reduce barriers in “multi-use buildings to address accommodation needs in urban/high growth areas.” This provision will help create more flexible spaces for education and community use, addressing the growing need for space in densely populated areas.
Modernizing Teacher Training and Disciplinary Processes
The government will work with the Ontario College of Teachers and the faculties of education to modernize teacher training, focusing on math, reading, and literacy. It will also enable “more efficient disciplinary processes” and add remedial training and education as new sanctions. This will ensure that teachers are well-prepared to support student learning and that any disciplinary issues are handled fairly and effectively.
Early Reading and Math Support (Continued)
The province will provide tiered support for students who need additional help in early reading and math. This includes an “overhauled language curriculum” launching in September, with an emphasis on early-age basic literacy. The focus on early reading and math support aims to strengthen students’ foundational skills, setting them up for success throughout their education.
Parent Involvement and Communication
The government will work to enhance communication with parents about provincial priorities and foster parent involvement in school board activities. This initiative aims to ensure parents are informed and engaged in their children’s education, helping to create a supportive and collaborative learning environment for students.
Addressing Stakeholder Concerns
Some stakeholders, such as the Ontario Public School Boards Association and the NDP Education Critic, have expressed concerns about the legislation. Questions have been raised about the use of EQAO test scores as a measure of academic success and the potential for the government to profit from the sale of school property. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) also expressed concerns about the lack of consultation with education stakeholders and the need to address issues such as smaller class sizes, additional support for students with special needs, and violence in schools. The government will need to address these concerns and work closely with education stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of the legislation.
In conclusion, Ontario’s new legislation, The Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act aims to modernize the education system by enhancing transparency, improving the management of capital assets, and focusing on essential skills such as math, reading, and literacy. While the proposed changes have the potential to positively impact students, concerns have been raised by various stakeholders. As the government moves forward with implementing this legislation, it is crucial to address these concerns and work collaboratively with education stakeholders to ensure the best possible outcomes for Ontario’s students and their future success.