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Re: An open letter to Premier Harris, Oct.9
To the Editor:
In his letter, Mr. Thornton asked why Mr. Harris was entitled to a sizable pension cheque. I was pleased to see that upon reflection he was able to answer his own question and concluded there was a good reason for Mr. Harris to receive the payment.
He then moved onto the issue of education. Specifically, he asked how the government would be able to reduce class sizes and the number of teachers at the same time. I believe he commented he was unable to understand the math. Well, let me tutor him on this subject. The average amount of time spent by secondary school teachers with students is 3.75 hours per day in Ontario while the national average is 4.5 hours per day. This means that if Ontario teachers would spend the same amount of time in the classroom as the rest of the nation, we could do the same job with 20 per cent less secondary school teachers. Let's say that rather than reducing the number of teachers by 20 per cent we reduce the number by only 10 per cent. We now have a situation where there is an increase in the contact hours with students while at the same time reducing the number of teachers. It's really a very simple concept.
We also have a system where generically-trained educators are teaching music, art, library and physical education. If we can bring in musicians, artists and athletes to teach these subjects at a lower cost, I contend this would not only result in a better education in these areas but would save money at the same time. I love my six-year-old daughter very much but she, like her father, can not carry a tune. I am distressed by the fact she is being taught music by a generically-trained teacher at a cost exceeding 60k per year (inclusive of benefits).
The reduction of the number of days off in the summer, professional development days, March break, Christmas break and the lengthening of the school day are some additional levers that could be pulled to reduce class size and save the education system some money.
Mr. Thornton asked for answers and now he has them. I only wish the teachers would spend less time writing sarcastic letters and deceiving the public with misinformation and get down to work reforming the education system to the benefit of all. Let's resolve this issue and move onto the next target for governmental down-sizing so Ontario can move into the next century on a fiscally-sound basis.