Students across Ontario marched out of their classrooms in protest of the government’s announced changes to the education system on Thursday. The massive walkout, which rallied under the banner “Students Say No”, enlisted over 800 schools to its cause. The protest was supervised by teachers, who have already expressed their own concerns regarding the Ford government's overhaul of the education system. However, in a new statement, the Ontario government condemns the student walkout protests, especially the role that teachers and school staff play in encouraging them.
Thursday’s protest was one of many that have taken place in response to the changes. However, it appears to be the first to result in a fiery response from the government itself:
"Today is a disappointing day for Ontario's parents and students. On a day when we reached out to begin good-faith consultations with Ontario's teachers, we instead are seeing Ontario teachers' unions condoning a student walkout at schools across the province,” explained, Lisa Thompson, Minister of Education in a recent statement.
Kids from #BurlON Charles Beaudoin School walking 🚶 the neighbourhood protesting #ClassSizeMatters @CBCNews @CBCToronto #ONPoli #studentsayno @cityburlington @InsideHalton @CityAdrian pic.twitter.com/YziqeHUCKd
Thompson criticized Ontario teachers for allowing the students to skip class instead of focusing on improving their classrooms math curriculum:
“Over half of Ontario's sixth-grade students are failing to meet an acceptable standard on their math tests. The teachers' unions have offered no solutions to the math crisis. Instead of focusing on math — they are now enabling students to skip classes. And even when students are in class, too many teachers are choosing to use students as a captive audience for their union's political agenda,” Thompson continued.
The PC government announced this week that it is considering implementing a mandatory annual math test that all Ontario teachers would be required to pass each year in order to keep teaching. The new trial comes in response to student math scores at Ontario public schools, which have steadily decreased over the last five years. The testing would be enforced by the provincial government for all Ontario primary and secondary school teachers.
According to CP24, just 49 percent of Grade 6 students were able to meet the provincial math standard during the last school year, a significant decline of 5 percent from 2013-2014. In an even more shocking reveal, only 61 percent of Grade 3 students were able the provincial standard in 2017-2018, dipping down from 67 percent in 2013-2014.
Statistical data also discovered that only 45 percent of Grade 9 applied math students had been able to meet the standard requirements.