The cuts and the damage done

at least at the Toronto District School Board.

My apologies to Neil Young.

The TDSB has been very open and transparent with their predictions about how funding will affect its operation.

OSSTF has been very vocal as well about how it will affect their members in that district.

Now, it’s time for the students and parents to take a look at how they’ll be impacted. This Scribe document shows the current situation.

Impact of Class Size Average Increase: Secondary Course Selection

I have a bit of knowledge of the TDSB through acquaintances who work there and reading about it online. As well, at the Faculty of Education, I did a couple of practice teaching stints at Woburn and East York so looking at the effect on those two schools at least had a bit of context.

As I looked through the entire document through the bias of a former Business Education Director and Computer Science teacher, I see some sad and alarming things. As an educator, you know the rationale for combining sections and you know that it really hurts a student who chose a Grade 12 elective with post-secondary in mind only to see it cancelled.

Now, truth be told, schools go through this process every year. There are times where sections or courses are cancelled due to low registration. But the resolution at all of the schools in this document tells a story of a different nature this year.

At the bottom of the summary document, there are reasons for the courses flagged.

304 courses continuing with larger class sizes and 313 courses cancelled leap from the document.

But there are a couple that are particularly painful to see. “Guidance support reduced” and “Library sections were cancelled, resulting in …”

It hurts to see each of the other reasons listed. What’s important to appreciate is that, behind each of those, are students – real human beings – who have been impacted.

Scheduling a school is surely a great deal of science but there’s also the art of making things happen. In the hands of skilled schedulers, amazing things can happen. And yet, there are still those lines headed to the Guidance Department to make alternative choices. “What’s left” doesn’t always work with single section courses that may be conflicting with your other choices.

There really is a human emotion at the end of adjusted timetables. What happens when “Plan B” doesn’t work? It may be easy to ignore the impact when it’s just numbers or teacher salaries or any of the things easy to work out on a spreadsheet. Now, it gets personal.

As with many things that have resulted from the announcement about the growth of class sizes, the TDSB has been first to the gate to show the impacts. Pretty soon, we’ll see similar stories emerge throughout the province.

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5 thoughts on “The cuts and the damage done

  1. Doug, while I can’t relate to this happening when I was in high school, I remember going to a very small university (which I loved, by the way). When I first checked the list of courses, it looked like there were lots. I was impressed. Then I got there and realized that math and English were scheduled at the same time. Always. I wanted both, but I couldn’t take both. I had to make a decision, and while I didn’t dislike my choice, I always wish that I could do both. In my case, it came down to a preference. In this case, for many students, it will come down to arranging to take the class elsewhere or in a different format. Maybe even for them to get into what they want in university or college. Definitely something to think about. A real impact here on kids … not just educators.

    Aviva

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, Aviva. Scheduling Mathematics and English against each other is kind of bizarre, don’t you think? That would make it a challenge to get everything that you wanted.

  3. I think at this school, people tended to go for science or language. There was an intro writing course that I could take at the same time as math, but not the English Year 1 course that I wanted.

    Aviva

  4. I’m getting ready to work on a Masters and have already been warned that I need to take a class (elective) I want when it is offered because it’s hard to be sure about when it will be scheduled again. I guess that’s a bit like what high school students are going through.

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