Elementary pupils get fewer resources

Schools need cash not budget cuts

Toronto Star Editorial

The Star is correct in stating that fixing the education funding formula is the only way to effectively address the continuing problem of school board deficits. As teachers working on the front lines in Ontario schools, our members see only too clearly the damaging impact of the funding shortfalls. The quality education that students deserve and parents demand will not be achieved until the province addresses the deep-seated problems within the funding formula.

It should be acknowledged that the Liberal government has moved to restore much of the education cuts implemented by the previous Tory government. The current government has provided additional funding to some key areas, including students at risk, English-as-a-second-language programs and support for small, rural schools. Most recently, additional funding has helped to close the gap between what school boards pay and what they receive for such key expenditures as teacher salaries and transportation.

Unfortunately, not all problems with the funding formula have been addressed and school boards are struggling to balance their budgets without making significant cuts to programs. A key problem continues to be the way the funding formula short- changes elementary students and teachers. It does this by not providing the same level of funding for elementary students as it does for secondary students.

Research shows that the foundation of a student's success is laid in their early years. But under the funding formula, school boards currently receive more than $700 more for each secondary student than they do for each elementary student.

This funding gap means that at the elementary level average class sizes are still larger than at the secondary level.

There are fewer resources to support libraries and early literacy. The Liberal government has acknowledged that the funding formula must be improved. Now is the time to address the long-standing shortfalls in resources provided to elementary education in Ontario.

Emily Noble, President, Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, Toronto