Clinton students walk out in protest of government cuts - April 11, 2019
BY DENNY SCOTT
Over 150 students from Central Huron Secondary School and St. Anne’s Catholic Secondary School walked out of classes last Thursday to protest proposed cuts to education.
The walkout was in reaction to many of the proposed reforms to the education system made by Premier Doug Ford’s Conservative provincial government, all of which have come from Minister of Education and Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson.
The protestors from the two schools were joined by several families as well as representatives from the local NDP riding association. The group marched to a park on Highway 8 in Clinton to bring its message to the public.
Students were concerned about everything from specific issues such as class sizes and the availability of educational assistants to broader strokes, such as the future of education in Ontario based on these reforms.
Marissa Nesbitt said she is most concerned about the changes to average class sizes, saying that having 28 students to a single teacher wasn’t realistic.
“The bigger the class size, the more questions that can’t be answered,” she said. “With an average class size of 28, there will be students who won’t be able to discuss the issues.
Alyssa Greidanus says she is concerned about the future of education in Ontario, saying she didn’t know if students would be able to flourish in the system proposed by Thompson, and didn’t know if the education system could bounce back from such reforms.
The reduction of educational assistant (EA) positions concerned student Kiera Agnew, who said EAs fill an important role in education.
“Students may not be able to get help in the classroom if we get rid of EAs,” she said.
Several students, including Grace Robinson, were concerned about the proposed mandatory four online courses each student will need to take over the course of their four years in secondary school. Robinson was especially concerned with how students with learning disabilities would be able to participate in such courses.
“They will need a teacher to help them through the course,” she said. “That kind of assistance won’t be available, according to what’s been proposed.”
Olivia Picadoswall is another student concerned with online courses, especially for younger high school students.
“Students in Grade 9 and 10 might not have the self-regulating skills needed to succeed in an online course,” she said. “They will need help from teachers and that might not be easy with online courses. It’s a real detriment to the students.”
Taylor Carter said she was upset with all the reforms suggested by Thompson. She said that, as a student graduating this year, the cuts won’t impact her, but she has two younger siblings whom she doesn’t want to suffer through an education system that doesn’t support them.
Cassandra Lintott was also concerned about the wellbeing of her family in the education system, saying her two brothers, who are currently in Grade 6 and 7, learn better under the care of EA.
“That’s one of my biggest concerns is how these changes will impact them,” she said. “The mandatory online courses are also not a good change, because some students will be left behind as a result of that change.”