Education workers on Falconer
There has been a lot of press about the Falconer Report, the 1,100 page document which was struck in response to the tragic death of Jordan Manners at CW Jefferys C.I. last May. By and large the media focused on the quick fixes among the 126 recommendations.
A closer reading of this document shows it to be the first real history to record what actually happened to a formerly well-structured school system during (and after) the critical Harris/Eves years. The Tories ideologically-driven agenda, which objectively caused great harm to a generation of students, adult learners, staff and communities, was well documented. Noted, too, were the responses by organizations, such as CUPE 4400, which continuously fought the cuts and policy changes, arguing that the most vulnerable were at most risk.
"Government policy from the mid 1990s into amalgamation emphasized cost-saving measures intended to dismantle key support structures for marginalized communities. The end result was a mammoth school board operating on a fraction of the funding it needed but continuing to struggle with a growing population of unassisted complex-needs youth." (p.574)
For a decade, Local 4400 fought to keep our programs and services in place. Each step of the way we told both the province and the Board that the removal of our members lessened the safety and security of our schools. We recognize that the education SYSTEM is inter-dependent and changes in one part cause consequences in others. For example, removing 600 caretakers and placing the remainder to work at night, not only meant dirtier schools, but fewer adults were available in the schools during the day.
Getting rid of central administrative workers caused downloading and overloading school secretaries who no longer could deal with children and families in the same way (but were told to literally be the gatekeepers to locked school doors). Dumping School Community Advisors meant parents – especially those from other countries – no longer had staff who could help them understand and navigate the school system. Closing down adult learning centres throughout Toronto, particularly in needy areas, and cutting back adult continuing education meant fewer options and less hope for those who needed to retrain, learn English, gain new skills, or go back to finish high school.
After one and a half years of the Union fighting to get School Safety Monitors’ hours replaced, it took shootings outside of school
to get the Trustees to finally agree to increase the hours of work and number of Monitors.
“The TDSB has nowhere near the funding necessary to assist disenfranchised & disengaged youth in our society”, said Falconer, who then pointed to the inadequacy of the Government’s funding formula which has not adequate supports for marginalized youth.
Falconer specifically calls on Government to “increase the benchmark costs for all components of the funding formula” and to “protect funding for programs to mitigate socio-economic factors affecting students”.
Let’s not lose track of the essential question: how much does it cost to run an educational system that provides help and hope to all our students, young and old?
How much has it already cost not to do so?
from CUPE 4400 Toronto Education Workers newsletter editorial by Katie McGovern