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What Ford can learn from past battles with Ontario’s powerful teachers

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22.04.2019

For her homework today, we assign Ontario Education Minister Lisa Thompson “For the Love of Learning,” the report of the 1993 Royal Commission on Education ordered up by then-premier Bob Rae to address the perceived crisis afflicting elementary and secondary schools in the province.

The value of the report is in its often prescient views on the whole issue of education and the seemingly eternal need to judge it in crisis. It notes right off that (then) recent history had seen a Conservative government formulate “major reviews of several key aspects of education,” which had barely begun implementation when a Liberal government “started its own reappraisals and changes,” followed by Rae’s New Democratic Party government, which launched the commission with an eye to fundamental reforms.

Ontario Education Minister Lisa Thompson announces provincial education reforms on March 15, 2019.

When you have read and digested its often insightful, occasionally delusional, observations and recommendations, minister, please follow up with “Reflections on the Bill 160 protest,” by Eileen Lennon, which can be found on the website of the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation, and “It’s Elementary,” a history of Ontario’s public elementary teachers, with particular attention to Chapter 4’s “The 1990s, Decade of Turmoil.”

The three reports combine to tell a familiar story: Rae’s government became caught in a bitter confrontation with teachers over efforts to control costs and was replaced by Conservative Mike Harris, who sparked the biggest teacher walkout in history to that point, partly by trying to implement some of the recommendations of the Rae commission, only to be succeeded by the Liberals’ Dalton McGuinty, the self-styled “education premier,” whose relations with teachers soured into further walkouts and court challenges, and Kathleen Wynne, whose desperation to........

© National Post