Let's check in with our friends, the Drug Fraud Regime.
Looks like they've changed tactics a little! They are now making an announcement a day, leading up to Friday's no-doubt devastating blow that will destroy public education in the province. They've also made the announcement via the Toronto SUN
rather than Twitter or in person, probably because not even the Catholic teachers will let them do photo ops anymore.
After Monday's "we're maintaining funding that already existed and replacing qualified therapists with teachers who've had an afternoon of PD as we dump autistic kids into mainstream classrooms with no extra adults in the room" announcement and yesterday's "we're calling it a cell phone ban but it's completely unenforceable and it's exactly the same policy currently in place" announcement failed to be met with the requisite bowing and scraping, they've decided to tackle maths, which is always popular because parents don't really understand how to help their kids with it. This is particularly funny from a government that did not release a costed budget platform during the election and apparently thinks that it can slash 4% of public spending without any job loss.Just a reminder. It's likely, though, that he doesn't include anyone outside of the 1% as a "person"
Given the SUN's
position as Royal Fluffer, let's unpack the math in the maths announcement, shall we? Right-wing governments like to talk about maths education, not because they are any good at maths (see above) but because it's quantifiable. Except...not so much.
“Discovery Math is gone, it has failed our children,” a senior government source said.
Good thing the announcement wasn't about grammar.
Instead of Discovery Math, a system proponents say “turns traditional math on its head,” schools in Ontario will return to tried and true methods.
Yes, rote learning will be part of it which means students memorizing the times tables once again, but the new math curriculum will also be aimed at helping students gain the skills they need for life.
So what is it? A return to rote drills (which I strongly suspect didn't go away; then again, I learned via that method and I wouldn't say my maths skills are particularly strong) or a new curriculum that emphasizes computer coding?
In 2010, 61% of students in Grade 6 met the provincial standard. By 2014, that number was down to 54% before falling to today’s pitiful 49%.
In Grade 3, the numbers look a little better with 61% meeting the provincial standard in the most recent round of testing. But back in 2010, test results showed 71% met the provincial standard.
A few things to consider here:
The "provincial standard" is approximately 75%, which the article doesn't mention. The actual number required to meet the provincial standard shifts from year to year, and is kept secret by the EQAO, the company that runs the test. The reason for this is that politically, the test must not appear to be too easy, but must demonstrate continuous improvement.
New teachers will receive a certain amount of math training and must pass a test by the spring of 2020. The plan also calls for existing teachers to get extra training.
OH GOODIE MORE AFTERNOON PD.
After more than a decade of chasing fads and trendy curriculum ideas, Ontario’s students will now get a math program that is tried and true.
Time will tell if it has the desired effect[...]
But if it's tried and true—why should I expect coherent logic from either this government or its tame press?
The province will allocate at least $4 million to offer incentives to teachers to gain “additional qualification” courses in math. These funds would be aimed at teachers leading classes in Grades 6, 7 and 8.
Under the Ford government’s plan, teachers would receive a subsidy of between 55%-75% for the cost of their additional math courses.
Who wants to see Sabs attempt some maths? Hold on to your hats; this is going to get embarrassing.
Cost of an AQ course: $750
Minimum government subsidy per each course: $412.50
Maximum government subsidy per each course: $562.50
Number of full-time elementary school teachers in Ontario: 83,742.24
Minimum cost for subsidizing one AQ for each elementary school teacher: $34,534,674
Maximum cost for subsidizing one AQ for each elementary school teacher: $47,105,010
If they do the minimum, it's under budget, but not if they do the maximum, or if they're talking about more than one course. Granted not every elementary school teacher is a 6-8 teacher, but anyone can be shuffled around to a different grade, so if the implementation is to be done properly, it'd have to include every elementary school teacher (at least the ones willing to give up their summer, potential summer school pay, and a substantial chunk of money per course). And this is not even accounting for the cost of instructors and curriculum development.
While many already have a math specialist designation, the contract most teachers operate under would provide an additional incentive to gain the accreditation. Teachers operate on an 11-step salary grid and the additional qualification would allow them to advance up the pay scale faster.
This also costs the government money. Lots. That $4 million is not going to stretch very far. The pay grid is public record; you can look that up yourself, and I leave calculating the cost of every elementary teacher in the province moving up the grid at once as an exercise for the alert reader.
In addition (hah, see what I did there?), some students are exempt from the EQAO, often for reasons of disability or being newcomers. As we know, there are an increasing number of students who fall into this category. I'm not 100% positive about this (I'm not very good at maths, as I've said!) but I believe they count as 0 when calculating the scores. So more newcomers (test deferred) or students with disabilities (test exempt) = lower scores, but for a very good reason—the very inclusion that this regime says that it wants because it's cheaper.
But most importantly, the $4 million is going to come from somewhere, and I doubt Friday's announcement is going to be a budget increase