Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tory op-ed piece on education

I have no idea if this is just one of many salvos the Ontario Progressive Conservatives are preparing to launch in the coming months on education, but it definitely caught my eye. In this case, it was Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett's name under the headline in the Tillsonburg News.
While the education budget increased 35 per cent over the past eight years, salaries and benefits for Ministry of Education bureaucrats went up 62 per cent. The number of education administrators who earn more than $100,000 a year increased by 181 per cent over the same period. This is unacceptable and robs resources from the classroom.
Another concern is every year parents are paying over half a billion dollars for essential learning tools, such as textbooks and science equipment. This means parents with two children in school are paying an additional $570 annually.
Apart from yearly funding increases, there are other measures required to make our public education system better than it is now. Education is not a one-size-fits-all system. Schools in different parts of Ontario have different and unique needs.
The column also quotes from a 2008 People for Education report on schools regarding the funding formula review that never really quite happened as promised. It also speaks to giving teachers more freedom and a restoration of the fall report card that is now a fall "progress report."
Some of this op-ed doesn't really read as though Barrett wrote it himself— and I've met the man a few times so I think I can tell. The question I'm left with is whether this is something sent from PC head office for all MPPs that have op-ed columns in papers across the province or is more of a runoff.
The part that excites me is that it also starts to present what a Tory platform on education could look like. Since it's received nary a mention in the PC Changebook— well, except for a bullet point that's identical to the headline on the column above. That's exciting because the Liberals are showing all the signs that while they are developing counterpoints to the higher-traction items such as hydro, they're going to want to lead on education.


Anonymous said...

It means that it's costing Ontarians more to educate fewer children, AND that most of our money isn't even getting to the classroom once it's soaked up in bloated bureaucratic salaries.

Nothing in the PC Changebook because for the moment it's not the most crucial issue facing Ontarians...and voters.

But, the PCs may just be forced into the education fray once again very soon when the NDP drop their education policy.

Education Reporter said...

Anon 25 July 8:08:
Given *most* of the increases in education since 2003 have gone to wages and benefits you're right. But given the vast majority of people earning wages and benefits in schools are actually teachers and not bureaucrats, that money is actually making its way into the classroom.

The operational investment in primary class size went exclusively to new teachers. The bulk of the FDK increases are going to teachers and early childhood educators. The current contracts also all held healthy wage and benefit increases (and when you look at prep time, release time, professional-development accounts, etc.).

So yes, some of that is going to the bureaucracy and whether it's too much is an entirely different part of the question. To simply state that all the increased funding isn't getting to the classroom is a bit simple.


John L said...

I find the whole "employees who make over $100,000" thing increasingly lame. That number was put into place over a decade ago and there's been no effort made to adjust it to current dollars; heck someone who was nowhere near being on the list and receiving even minimal increases every year will move ever closer to being on the it if it stays there long enough. It'd be an interesting exercise to determine what the 2011 equivalent would be.

Apples-to-apples comparisons would likely show far less of a surge in numbers.