The following ETFO Media Release was issued on August 14, 2017.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) today released seven recommendations [PDF] to fix Ontario’s education funding formula that has been shortchanging students for 20 years. The recommendations arise from Shortchanging Ontario’s Students: An Overview and Assessment of Education Funding in Ontario prepared by ETFO and economist Hugh Mackenzie & Associates.
“ETFO’s assessment of the education funding formula explains why teachers, education professionals and school boards face continual challenges. This is a funding formula that since 1997 has shortchanged elementary students and schools in a profound way,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond.
ETFO’s report indicates that special education funding, programs to support English language learners and students at risk, and funding for school operations and maintenance have all been underfunded for two decades. Elementary students get significantly less support for specialist teachers, library services, guidance, classroom supplies and computers, and grades 4-8 classes are the largest in the K-12 system for no pedagogical reason.
“By 1999, the Progressive Conservative government had cut $1.5 billion from education. In today’s dollars that is $2.2 billion. While the Liberal government has increased education funding largely for important new programs, there has effectively been no progress in addressing the funding issues built into the original base formula,” said Hammond.
Along with increasing special education funding in 2017-2018, ETFO is calling for: an independent, external review of the government’s statistical model used for funding special education; and amendments to the funding formula to provide more front-line children’s services and ensure average class size in grades 4 to 8 does not exceed 22 students, the current average class size for secondary students.
ETFO is also recommending that the government address the $612 per pupil differential in funding for elementary and secondary students and establish, through legislation, a review of the education funding formula every five years. This would bring accountability on the part of the government for the role its funding plays in the education system’s performance.