FORD GOVERNMENT CANNOT BE TRUSTED TO PROTECT FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN

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NOVEMBER 16, 2021

Recent remarks by Minister of Education Stephen Lecce have raised concerns that the Ford government may be looking to make deeper cuts to education by changing Ontario’s Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK) program. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) strongly believes the current FDK model must continue to be funded provincially through the education budget, and not federally subsidized as part of the national child care plan.

“Federal child care funds are intended to make a difference for families and should not be used by the provincial government to displace current funding for public education or to provide cover for their planned cuts to public schools,” says ETFO President Karen Brown. “I want to be clear: ETFO will continue to do everything it can to protect the current Kindergarten model and to demand adequate funding that provides Ontario’s youngest students with the support they need to be successful.”

The Ford government does not understand the difference between Kindergarten and child care. Although both offer support for children at a critical time in their development, Ontario’s FDK program is part of the K-12 public education system. The current model, with a teacher and a designated early childhood educator connects students’ learning to later grades and has proven to be a successful pedagogical model for other jurisdictions to follow.

“During the last round of bargaining, the Ford government wanted to make damaging changes to FDK that would have had significant negative impacts on our earliest learners. Teachers and designated early childhood educators working as a team in Kindergarten classes is a staffing model worth protecting,” notes Brown. “We’ve seen the lasting benefits for children’s reading, writing, numeracy, self-regulation and social skill development. It is an investment in human potential and a long-term vision for children that the Ford government must continue to fund and support.”

In February 2021, ETFO released an FDK research report by Dr. Gordon Cleveland, an economist at the University of Toronto. The full report provides strong evidence in support of Ontario’s FDK program and its current staffing model.

ETFO represents approximately 83,000 members, including public elementary teachers, occasional teachers, designated early childhood educators, education support personnel, and professional support personnel. Visit BuildingBetterSchools.ca.