Questionable savings

Dear editor:
What has happened to democracy in Ontario? The Harris government continues to bulldoze over the people of Ontario.
Bill 136 and the proposed teachers’ legislation will give the government complete control of the education system and the personnel who work within it.
Education workers have struggled for many years to improve the working conditions in the public school system for students and workers alike. These improved conditions were not automatically granted by the government; they were won through the hard work and the persistence of workers and parents in the system.
Teachers negotiated in good faith for manageable class sizes, which allow for increased individual attention for students. They gave up other options to attain smaller class sizes which benefit all students.
The Harris government has been eroding this initiative since it took office. Now it intends to squelch good faith bargaining and dictate conditions. In the proposed new education legislation, class size will be the exclusive right of the government. Parents and teachers will lose the right to have any say in class size.
This government already has shown its disdain for the concerns expressed about large classes in the Fort Frances-Rainy River area. Our concerns are simply disregarded, and we are faced with more and more very large classes.
In reality, students in our large classes are enabling savings which the government can use to subsidize its tax refund. With absolute control over class size, the government can cut staff and create classes of ever-increasing numbers of students. This will generate even more of the money the government needs to support its tax-cutting scheme.
Apparently, quality education for our children is expendable in the quest for these questionable savings.
Class size should be determined by educationally-sound research, local needs, and local consensus. It is paramount that class size be kept out of the provincial political arena.
Responsive, quality education, not tax refund dollars, should determine class size.
Sharon Preston,
Quality education advocate