ELP in 900 more schools McGuinty’s gift to teachers’ unions!

Ontario has a huge $18+ BILLION dollar deficit and is now a “HAVE-NOT” province. Yet, you would never guess it given the decisions coming out of the McGuinty Liberal government. Yesterday, for example, we found out that the full-day “Early Learning Program” (ELP) for four and five-year olds that was rolled out last September in selected schools, would add another 900 schools in September 2011. I will repeat that. 

NINE HUNDRED more schools!

So, how many more early childhood and elementary school teachers do you think will  be needed to staff ELP programs in 900 more schools —  which by the way are scheduled to start exactly one month before the 2011 Ontario election? Even if there were only one extra classroom in each of those 900 schools, there would need to be at least one qualified teacher and one “Early Childhood Educator.” Meaning, we are looking at the public school boards in Ontario hiring upwards to 1800 more employees, at a very minimum!

So, if the first part of the program involved $1.5 billion, then we are likely looking at another similar amount, in spite of the many problems being experienced now. For instance:

  • We know that some communities don’t want the program; 
  • We also know that some communities are experiencing conflicts and logistics problems between existing non-profit and private day care operators and the before and after day care programs — which is why McGuinty gave up on that idea;
  • Then, there are dozens of infrastructure-related problems, such as no capital funding to build more classrooms or to increase parking spaces for the increased numbers of teachers and parents at existing schools.
  • And, of course, there really isn’t any parent choice, other than send your child for a full-day or keep them at home until they are six years old.

So, what does it all mean? Well, Premier Dalton McGuinty and the McGuinty caucus are hoping that young parents will suddenly forget how high their hydro bills are and that all the wasted money on wind farms and green energy boondoggles will be forgotten. They also likely hope that the teachers’ unions and their members will support the Liberals for all the largess they are going to receive on behalf of the Ontario taxpayer.

Well, I don’t think so! There is an old saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. In other words, we will not be fooled a third time.

Will the Ontario PCs and its leader Tim Hudak cancel the ELP? Not likely.  As PC MPP Jim Wilson says in this CTV article, they simply would not expand it any further.  Why would they not cancel it? First of all, because some kids in some communities will benefit from a head start.  Secondly, because no one is going to take away a program young parents have gotten used to and for the most part, like.

However, will the extension of the ELP into 900 more schools be a gift to the teachers’ unions? Absolutely!

Cancelling “key” to Early Learning Program another McGuinty flip-flop

As this ParentCentral article states, the McGuinty government has just flip-flopped on another major promise. Yet, I have to admit that even I was surprised to hear that the Ontario Liberals will be withdrawing the demand that Ontario public school boards run before and after school day care programs — meant to operate in conjunction with the full-day kindergarten, now called the Early Learning Program (ELP).  (H/T Catherine).

Remember, it was only a year ago that the ELP was announced with great fan fare — something I, and other CotM regulars, were sceptical about all along. First, parents already had day care arrangements. Second, existing private and non-profit day care operators were going to be put out of business. Third, it was going to cost billions of additional tax dollars, in the middle of a recession, for more teachers and Early Childhood Educators. And, fourth, and just as important as the other reasons, it became obvious very early on that many communities, particularly rural jurisdictions, simply didn’t want to change the services they already offered.

So, what brought on this policy in the first place? Well, we need look no further than the Charles Pascal report. As the province’s “Early Learning Advisor,” he recommended that schools become community hubs by providing early learning from birth right through to full-day schooling.  For Dr. Pascal’s specific guidelines, simply click on the “early learning summary of evidence” highlighted link.

Now, to be fair, its true that some public boards of education will simply continue to run their before and after school day care programs because they are already operated by for-profit or non-profit day care groups (like the WMCA).  However, the boards won’t be compelled to set up an entirely new infrastructure and the human resources that would go with it.

Now, the big question is:  Going into 2011 and the looming Ontario election, will this flip-flop help the Ontario Liberals? No, it won’t. In fact, my guess is that, given the majority of the comments at ParentCentral, it will actually do just the opposite. People are just plain fed up with the so-called “education” premier and a government that only knows how to tax, spend money and make changes, all the while assuming Ontarians are patient and have bottomless pockets of cash.

Well, given that this turn-around is going to disrupt thousands of lives, it’s probably the last straw that will almost certainly guarantee a change of government in October of 2011 — to the Ontario PC Party.

Oh, and one more thing. Given that Ontario PC Leader, Tim Hudak made it clear, that eliminating the before and after day care component of the ELP was exactly what his government would do, if elected, we can almost guarantee that the PC Party will not release an election platform any time soon. Because, to do so would simply ensure that the Ontario Liberals either criticize its policy ideas or steal them outright.