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Premier Doug Ford says education is ‘going back to the basics’

Premier Doug Ford says education is ‘going back to the basics’
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While he wouldn’t commit to keeping class sizes at their current levels, he said “I think the people of this province will be quite thrilled when they see” his government’s education reforms, which are expected to be unveiled Friday.

Ford made the comments in a wide-ranging press conference that touched on a number of things including the appointment of Thomas Carrique as OPP commissioner, the premier’s request for a van, ousted PC MPP Randy Hillier and the upcoming changes to education.

“We’re focusing on the students — we’re making sure the students get the best education they can,” Ford said at the press conference held Wednesday in Cambridge.

“I can tell you — we are going back to the basics. We’re going to make sure our students understand math, reading, arithmetic … We need to put more training with our teachers, and focus on our students.”

Provincial math tests show scores have been dropping in recent years, which is part of a larger, global trend.

Education Minister Lisa Thompson is set to announce changes to the math curriculum on Friday, which will fully come into effect in September 2021. Boards will hire a “math learning lead,” and the province will support 1,000 schools — roughly one quarter of all elementary and secondary schools — with extra numeracy help.

It will also require all new teachers to pass a math knowledge exam before they can be certified to work in public schools, and require the province’s 16,000 middle-school teachers to earn additional qualifications in math.

The government will also direct teachers to “focus on fundamental concepts and skills” and move away from “discovery math.” It will also boost online resources for students and parents.

Thompson will also formally announce that as of this fall, unless teachers are using them for instructional purposes.

On Wednesday, Ford was also asked about controversial appointment — and recent withdrawal — of family friend Ron Taverner to head the Ontario Provincial Police.

The new commissioner, Carrique , was announced Monday.

“Sure, I’m disappointed,” about Taverner stepping down, the premier said. “But we have a great commissioner in his place … Ron is an incredible, incredible person. He’s going to continue working with Toronto police and do a great job like he always has. But we’re moving forward, we have a great commissioner and I wish him all the best.”

When asked about his office’s request for a van , with modifications, to travel around in, Ford said reporters are the “only ones talking about this … the media just wants to keep dragging on and dragging on about a used van. A used van.”

He said previous premiers have made use of a plane, which he doesn’t, but that means

“I’m going to be in the car for nine hours today,” he said. “I’d love to bring the media in the back of one of those cars, bent up like a pretzel for four or five hours.”

The OPP typically transport premiers in a Chevrolet Suburban SUV.

On the turfing of Hillier from the PC caucus after it was alleged he made disrespectful comments to parents of children with autism — though Hillier says they were directed at an New Democrat MPP — Ford said “I can’t say I want him out, but I think we need a little time to run through a few things with Randy.

“I’ll sit down with him and talk to him.”

Supporters of Hillier’s have been advocating for the return of the Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston MPP to the Tory caucus.
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