My Statement on Education Week

I’m pleased to rise on behalf of the Ontario NDP caucus to recognize Education Week 2017.

This is a week for schools to open their doors and invite the community in, to showcase the remarkable things that are happening in classrooms across the province. It’s a week to highlight the professionalism and dedication of the teachers, education workers, administrators and trustees who support students to thrive and achieve their full potential, whether that is measured in academic success, creative expression or entrepreneurial drive.

It is a week to celebrate the partnerships with parents and community that sustain strong and vibrant schools that develop students as thoughtful, engaged citizens who are aware of the world around them and excited about making it better.

At the same time, Education Week also coincides with Children’s Mental Health Week. Unfortunately, as we heard yesterday, there are more than 12,000 young people in this province who are waiting right now for therapy or intensive treatment. Many of these students are struggling in our schools.

Education Week comes on the heels of the Liberal government’s budget announcement, which saw $4.6 million in cuts to special education programs across 15 Ontario school boards, while more than $1 billion remains unspent in the education budget.

Education Week comes as education workers have joined together to signal a wake-up call to government about the need to address rising violence in our classrooms, and as communities rally across the province, especially in rural Ontario, to save some of the 300 schools that are slated for closure.

This year, I call on the Liberal government to offer more than words in support of Education Week, and instead to start undoing some of the damage that has been done to our public education system that we rely on as the foundation of democracy, equality and inclusion in this province.