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Ontario has lost 5,000 classroom educators since 2018

How many staff has your school board lost in the past few years?

April 29, 2024

2-minute read

Education funding in Ontario has been a bit of a shell game for some time. Back in 2019, the government announced that the average class size in secondary schools was going to increase from 22 to 28. Parents and teachers pushed back, and soon after, the same government made a big deal of lowering the average class size from 28 to 25. We knew then we were in for a bumpy ride.

Instead of engaging in meaningful discussions about the future of education in Ontario, we find ourselves entangled in pointless quarrels over the latest out-of-touch remarks from the premier or the education minister. This year, it’s cell phones. Next year, it will be something else. There is always a distraction.

That’s why it is important to follow the money. We always debunk this government's ridiculous claims that it has made record-setting investments in education, and we’ll continue to do so—no matter how much the government moves the shells around, renaming funding streams and reformatting documents. But other numbers matter, and may more powerfully communicate what is happening in our schools.

After reading a thoughtful Twitter thread by Muna Kadri, I decided to update the 2020 analysis on the number of teaching positions being lost in Ontario due to structural changes in the funding formula, including changes to average class sizes and the introduction of online learning in secondary schools.

The Technical Papers for 2018-2019 and 2024-25 provide the number of classroom educators per 1,000 students. For kindergarten, the number dropped from 95 to 90. For grades 4 to 8, it dropped from 54 to 52. For grades 9 to 12, it dropped from 74 to 70. Seeing that Ontario has just over 2 million children and youth in public schools, these seemingly small drops add up to large cuts in the number of classroom educators.

In 2024-2025, Ontario will have 4,990 fewer classroom educators than it would have had if the funding formula hadn’t changed since 2018-19. Under the new formula, kindergarten will have to make do with 1,600 fewer staff. Grades 4 to 8 will have almost 1,000 fewer staff. Grades 9 to 12 will lose almost 2,600 positions. Table 1 below presents the board-by-board losses.

These estimates use the latest enrolment numbers available (March 2024). I’ve updated them with the growth projections included in the Core Education Funding Projections (formerly Grants for Student Needs).

Parents and teachers know that banning cell phones or anything else is no substitute for real education. Real education takes effort, day in and day out, from people who are present, and who know how to direct wandering eyes and youthful minds to life-changing lessons and new horizons. Depriving Ontario’s children of educators is the worst thing this government can do for the future of this province.

Yes, cell phones are a distraction. The real problem is the underfunding of Ontario’s schools.

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