Dear Mr. McDonell
I am writing to you to express my extreme displeasure with your government’s recent actions.
I am a retired Math teacher, having taught at the high school level and adult education for 34 years in two provinces (including some time teaching in prison) before retiring to Ontario in 2014. I don’t know what kind of education our premier has, but I think he needs some tutoring in basic math. He has stated that there will be thousands of teacher cuts by attrition over the next few years. But he has not said those teachers will be replaced by new ones. He has stated on CBC National Television that “NOT ONE teacher will lose their jobs come the fall.” Is this why notices have been sent out to hundreds of teachers who will not be rehired in Halton, Thunder Bay and Ottawa?
As to class size: I am not familiar with the actual class size rule adopted by previous governments, but I assume it is around 23-25 students. Not hiring hundreds of teachers means that class sizes will increase in some cases to 30 or more students. I do not agree with studies that show the effect of class size has no significant impact on student outcomes. From my own experience “in the trenches”, a class of 30 or more students will have perhaps five top students, very intelligent and motivated, who can learn on their own and need very little help. Then there will be perhaps five or six students who are “integrated”. They may have problems ranging from autism to dyslexia or other learning disabilities, and perhaps a few who are “acting out” because of social pressures, chaotic home life, bullying or other reasons. They want attention and get it by being disruptive. The majority of the class will range from hard working students to those who feel school is a waste and are unmotivated to do anything but chat with their friends during class time. So, increasing class size results in more students demanding teacher’s help but not getting it due to time constraints. This is no way to run an education system. If teenagers fail, they will end up in minimal wage jobs and struggle for the rest of their lives. Some will turn to crime or drugs or require psychiatric help. Isn’t it better to spend resources on them now instead of having to pay expensive costs for mitigation later?
There has been announced a cut to the Interlibrary Loan Program of 50%. Already, in our Cornwall library we have been told that one of the ILLO program employees has been cut and more may follow. The library employee who spends her full day coordinating ILLO no longer has a job in that position. Due to seniority, she will be moved to another position, thereby “bumping” someone with lower seniority who will probably be laid off. I depend on the library for the excellent services they provide. The library is a community center for various programs, book clubs, access to the internet for those who cannot afford a computer, other discussion groups and art exhibits. It is a cultural hub of the community. But it will be destroyed by the trickle-down effect of these cuts. Smaller libraries in the outlying areas will probably have to close completely and the community may die without a central meeting place. Is this what your government intends? That we all move into the big cities?
I note also that regulations governing the protection of wildlife species, birds and habitats will no longer be applied, so real estate developers and resource companies will no longer have to respect these rules. The minister responsible claims this will increase protection for wildlife. This will impoverish all of us except those developers and resource companies. I returned from Montreal today via the 401 and saw a new slogan on the Welcome to Ontario sign. It said “Open For Business”. I guess that is what is most important to your government, only the dollar and to heck with people and their communities.
Please be assured that I will never vote for Conservative again and I will try to convince all my friends in my social circles to do the same. Your government will drive my community and this province that I love into the ground.