At Ontario schools, we pay more, get less
When it comes to Ontario’s public education system, taxpayers have been paying more but getting less under Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government.
Last week, the province’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) reported only half of Grade 6 students are meeting the provincial standard in math.
In Grade 9, only 44 per cent are meeting the provincial standard in applied math and applied literacy. While the numbers are better in the academic stream in high school (83 per cent of Grade 9 students met the math standard and 92 per cent the literacy standard), this means the education system is failing our most vulnerable students.
Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the government will start public consultations to modernize the curriculum, with a focus on math.
Now comes word from the Fraser Institute that these poor (and deteriorating) academic results in Grade 6 math and Grade 9 applied math and literacy are occurring despite substantial increases in education funding by the Liberal government under Wynne and her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty.
In addition, the cost of public education in Ontario has been steadily rising while enrolment is dropping.
The Fraser study found between 2005-06 and 2014-15, public spending on education rose from $19.5 billion annually to $26.6 billion, a 36.4 per cent increase. Adjusted for inflation, per student spending rose from $10,762 annually in 2005-06 to $13,276 in 2014-15, a 23.4 per cent increase.
And yet during the same period, enrolment in Ontario public schools dropped by 5.4 per cent, declining from 2,118,546 in 2005-06 to 2,003,238 in 2014-15.
One of the main factors driving up education costs, the Fraser Institute reported, has been a huge increase in the provincial contribution to teacher pensions, which rose from $740 million in 2005-06 to $1.53 billion in 2014-15, an increase of 106.8 per cent, or almost 8.8 per cent annually.
That means Ontario taxpayers have been paying more for public education over the past decade and getting less, considering both declining enrolment and declining EQAO test scores.
Last week, Wynne said Ontario students “are part of a strong and excellent education system” studied around the world.
Really? Regardless of who may be studying Ontario’s system, in the real world, results matter.
Escalating costs in a time of declining enrolment and deteriorating test scores are not a measure of success.