Thursday, August 16, 2007

Teachers Tell McGuinty: "Stop Underfunding Our Students"

Attention News/Education Editors:

Close the Funding Gap Now! Say Elementary Teachers

TORONTO, Aug. 16 /CNW/ - Elementary students in Ontario are not receiving the quality education they deserve, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) charged today, as they launched a major multi-media campaign throughout Ontario.

ETFO is highlighting its concerns in a province-wide advertising campaign that is focused on improving elementary education in Ontario.

The ETFO campaign, which addresses the inadequate funding that theMcGuinty government provides for elementary students, is the largest such initiative in the federation's history. It includes ads on 154 billboards and115 transit shelters, newspaper ads in Ontario's major newspapers, and extensive radio and TV advertising. The ads will "saturate the province",running as close to the provincial election date as possible, promised newly elected ETFO President David Clegg. Clegg made his comments to the more than 500 delegates attending the ETFO annual meeting, which concludes in Toronto today.

ETFO's Clegg explained that a flawed funding formula is of major concern to elementary teachers. "Ontario's education grants, which provide $711 less in funding for each Ontario elementary student than for each secondary student, do a tremendous disservice to Ontario's elementary students," he said. According to Clegg, Ontario's public education system is not providing the support and assistance that all elementary students need to succeed in an increasingly competitive international marketplace.

"As front line workers in the quest for quality education, the 70,000 ETFO members know the importance of ensuring an excellent start to every student's education," said Clegg. ETFO members teach almost one million students in 2,600 schools across Ontario, and are committed to the goal of giving all students the best education possible, Clegg added.

Despite the growing body of research pointing to the importance and benefit of investing in the early years of student learning, per pupil funding levels for Ontario elementary students historically have been significantly lower than for secondary students. This comes as a surprise to many people,said Clegg.

An ETFO survey of a representative sample of adult Ontarians found that fewer than one in three Ontarians is aware that elementary students are funded at a lower level per capita than secondary students. When told of this disparity, Ontarians do not feel the funding gap is justified.

The gap in funding has many negative implications, said Clegg:
  • Larger class sizes for elementary grades, particularly in grades 4 to 8;
  • Fewer specialist teachers providing programs in music, physical and health education, and art programs that provide a balanced program for elementary students and expose them to a range of experiences;
  • Fewer elementary schools staffed with a teacher-librarian, a key requirement for improving student literacy (funding grants provide only one teacher-librarian for every 750 students);
  • Fewer elementary schools staffed with a guidance specialist (funding grants provide only one guidance teacher for every 5,000 students);
  • Virtually no design and technology and family studies programs. These programs are particularly important for students at risk of dropping out of school and who thrive with hands-on learning as opposed to more academic programs. This is key to improving high school retention and graduation rates.
"We are calling on Premier McGuinty to respect Ontario elementary students and their parents, and to close the funding gap now," said Clegg."The McGuinty government will find that the funding gap has become a critical issue as parents and teachers head to the polls in the October provincial election."

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents more than70,000 public elementary school teachers and education workers across Ontario and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.

For further information: Larry Skory, (416) 948-0195 (cell),; Johanna Brand, (416) 948-2554 (cell),; Mary
Morison, (416) 948-3406 (cell),; August 13-16 - ETFO Media
Centre, Queens Quay 1, Concourse Level, The Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto,
Phone: (416) 957-7181, Fax: (416) 957-7180