Ford warns teachers’ unions not to dare protest class-size increases
|Toronto Star 22 Mar 2019 at 16:15|
Bischof said manufacturing a division between union leaders and members “is an old, tired tactic by right-wing premiers.”
“We represent the membership. We are an extremely democratic organization,” he said, noting members voted to re-elect him just a couple of weeks ago.
“The premier’s expressed interest in front-line teachers is rather undermined by the fact that he’s trying to remove 25 per cent of teachers. It sounds like rank hypocrisy.”
As for Ford’s suggestion union dues may be misspent, Bischof said the OSSTF’s budget is “extremely transparently accounted for” and such unfounded accusations by a premier “are beneath the dignity of his office.”
Across all school boards, about 10,000 teaching positions are expected to be eliminated, as classes in Grades 4 to 8 grow by an average of one student, and an average of six in high school.
The Progressive Conservative government has said class caps in kindergarten and the primary grades will remain.
Education Minister Lisa Thompson has said the larger class sizes will prepare students for the real world.
Her comments provoked an outcry, but Ford urged teachers to see the big picture.
“I worry about the front-line teachers. I worry about the students. I worry about the 50 per cent of our Grade 6 students that are failing math. I’m worried about one-third of our teachers that can’t even pass the same math test the Grade 6 students are failing,” he said.
The premier, elected last June on a promise of making $6 billion in cuts to the $150 billion budget, noted that Finance Minister Vic Fedeli spending plan on April 11 will be more moderate than his critics fear.
“We’re going to be responsible. We aren’t going to go in there and hack and slash. We’re going to make sure we do it responsibly,” he said.