Strong public education for our kids and our classrooms

I am a strong supporter of public education.

We all succeed when we have a school system where students and teachers can learn and work in safe and supportive environments.

This progressive approach to education is backed by many Green Party policies that will help us achieve that result.

Policies like:

One school board
Ontario has four school boards. Let’s consolidate them to one publicly funded school board with provisions for both official languages. This will save at least $1 billion a year on buses, buildings and bureaucracy! Some estimates say up to $1.6 billion!

That’s money we can reinvest in classrooms and school programming. This will provide additional resources including the ability to hire additional educational assistants (EAs) and other education workers to help slow the disturbing trend of violence in the classroom, for example.

Ending standardized testing
When I was teaching, one of the courses I had was grade 10 Literacy. I saw firsthand the stress my students were under because of the Education Quality and Accountability Office (sad but true). And I had to teach to the test. Literally. These are big problems.

EQAO costs $25 million a year. We don’t need to put our kids and our teachers under this expensive pressure.

Instead, we can gauge student well-being and achievement with our world class curriculum and by other measures like physical and mental health. The savings from cancelling Ontario’s standardized testing could be spent to hire an additional 800 educational assistants. These staff directly help students and classrooms.

Investing in special education
More and better supports for students with learning disabilities, exceptionalities and special needs is a must. Assessing children at a younger age can give them a solid headstart in education and in life.

More educational assistants (a theme is emerging), more specialists, more technology (when appropriate) and more experiential and outdoor educational opportunities (when appropriate) are Green answers to special education.

Holistic education
We need to get our kids moving, eating healthily, expressing themselves through the arts and music, understanding personal finance, history, languages and many other important things that promote student success.

Of course, our holistic approach also emphasizes literacy, numeracy and critical thinking but it doesn’t stop there. This big picture thinking is why we have policies on physical education, nutrition programs and support for the arts and culture.

As the deputy leader of the Ontario Greens, I had the opportunity to speak about these things and how they relate to special education funding, this week on the Agenda with Steve Paikin. I was sure to stand up for our riding, schools and educational workers.

I hope you will take a few minutes to watch the episode and compare the parties’ positions and how we will pay for them.

These are the education priorities that will be front-and-centre for me during this election. And they have been priorities for the Greens for more than a decade.

This is the direction I will champion in our community and in Toronto at Queen’s Park as your MPP.