New Changes on the rise to Ontario Education

Written By Sam Abbott, Posted on July 13, 2020

In the midst of a time where many societal changes are taking place, the Ontario government announced several major modifications to the education system last week. The province is planning to destream Grade 9 classrooms, and eliminate suspensions from Kindergarten-Grade 3 for non-serious incidents. Both of these changes come as an effort to eliminate racist behavior from educators across the province.

Premier Doug Ford said in his speech on Thursday, “The system is broken and we are going to fix it.”


Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s Minister of Education later added that, “We need to do business different in this province, and this plan will help that. It will unleash the full potential of every child, and most especially radicalized kids who have felt ignored.”

The plan to destream Grade 9 classes, which currently separates students into academic or applied streams, will begin in September 2021, starting with the math curriculum.

The practice has been in place in order to help students determine from a young age whether they want to pursue University, or College/Apprenticeship, however it has been criticized as discriminatory towards marginalized students.  

The impacts of destreaming in Ontario classrooms will be determined in student consultation towards the end of the 2021-2022 school year. There have already been several pilot projects in Ontario to determine the impacts of destreaming classes, most notably at Oakwood Collegiate, a TDSB High School which de-streamed all Grade 9 classrooms. The second major announcement to scrap discretionary suspensions from Kindergarten-Grade 3 is also an effort to ensure that discrimination does not occur in Ontario schools. According to the Ontario College of Teachers, within the past 23 years there have been 32 instances of teacher discipline for racist/homophobic behavior or remarks. A third modification followed in a memo to boards on Wednesday, stating that Directors of Education no longer have to be former teachers. While this change will allow for a larger hiring pool, some still believe that teaching experience is a necessity for effective leadership in a board.

All of these changes to the education system are to policies and mandates that have been a part of the province for decades. For instance, the requirement for directors hasn’t been updated since 1997. However, this may come as a much needed change, as the turnover ratio for Directors of Education this year is higher than ever before, at about 20% of all boards in the province.

Future announcements about the specific direction that the province will take during the COVID-19 crisis will be coming shortly, with presumably many more impacts on the education of students across the province.

Sam Abbott

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