Saturday, March 16, 2019

More Ford Cuts: Ban Cell Phones, but Mandate Online Courses

From iPolitics:
"On top of the change to class sizes, the government is also mandating that all high school students take four of their 30 credits online. This requirement will take effect in the 2020-21 school year. These e-learning classes will average 35 students per class, according to the government." 
This is huge!! I don't understand why this wasn't part of the original statement in the CBC's articles yesterday or in OSSTF's statement! Online courses have notoriously high failure rates (50% according to one study, but 90% including all the people who drop the course) except for the ones that grossly lower curricular standards by, for instance, having students read just a few pages of a book instead of an entire book in a university-level senior course!!

A New York Times article, from just over a year ago, outlined how online courses harm students:
"In high schools and colleges, there is mounting evidence that the growth of online education is hurting a critical group: the less proficient students who are precisely those most in need of skilled classroom teachers. . . . After all, taking a class without a teacher requires high levels of self-motivation, self-regulation and organization. Yet in high schools across the country, students who are struggling in traditional classrooms are increasingly steered into online courses. . . . In reality, students who complete these courses tend to do quite poorly on subsequent tests of academic knowledge. This suggests that these online recovery courses often give students an easy passing grade without teaching them very much. Consider a study conducted in the Chicago high schools. Students who had failed algebra were randomly assigned either to online or to face-to-face recovery courses. The results were clear: Students in the online algebra courses learned much less than those who worked with a teacher in a classroom. . . . Even though the courses are seemingly identical, the students who enroll online do substantially worse. The effects are lasting, with online students more likely to drop out of college altogether."

And here it is straight from the horse's mouth:

I can't see this as anything but is a giant step towards privatization of education so Desire to Learn and Google can run the system. I warned about this almost two years ago, when e-learning was getting bigger and Betsy DeVos was coming to visit. The iPolitics article continues:
"President Harvey Bischof told reporters on Friday the government is provoking a fight it can’t win. 'I’m telling you, we are absolutely not going to be in a position where we are going to give away the class size caps that we have achieved over years of negotiations,' Bischof said. 'I’m expecting a big fight,” he said. “These guys have set up the conditions for exactly what they needed to avoid which is instability and massive discord in the education system.' Bischof said the class size changes will mean a cut of more than 20 per cent of secondary school teachers in Ontario. Including those represented in other unions, he said that means the loss of more than 5,500 positions. He also pointed out that even with the lower average of 22 students per class, there are already classes in the province that have more than 30 students. He said his union’s conflict with the government will be 'severe' and 'prolonged.'"
This is going to be really messy!!

From Ontario Families for Public Education.

ETA this detail: E-Learning will be CENTRALIZED by the government instead of by each school board. Interesting that we're learning about this drip-drip-drip fashion. They are taking full control of schooling. Glad I'm on my way out and that my kids are almost all finished too, but I'll keep fighting for those who are just starting.

Dudley Paul, editor of School Magazine, writes,
"This is all about the appearance of a crisis--namely the $14.5 billion deficit, the Tories say forces them to make cuts everywhere. Inventing a crisis was the philosophy of the last Conservative government under Mike Harris, which went on to solve it by stripping basic services. . . . It's not the operating principle for Doug Ford's Tories. The difference is that they work faster and more viciously. . . . the Tories aren't fighting hard at all to get that deficit under control. This latest invented 'crisis' is about ideology: Ontario being 'open for business.' It's about cutting government services so they can be offered for a price. . . . as Ernst Young puts it: '...providing funding to individuals, who can then choose their service providers through a form of market activity and discipline. . . . he plans to cut public education to the point that it is unworkable. He'll leave it to those who can pay the price to have a decent education for their children."
Some are estimating as many as 5,000 positions in education will be lost over the next six years. Ford insists he won't be firing teachers, but even before this announcement he proposed a hiring freeze for all school boards. As teachers retire, they won't hire replacements.

ETA: Also check out Beyhan Farhadi's articles: 5 Things to Know about E-Learning and Concurrent Classrooms are a Failed Response

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