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Ontario NDP slams impact of larger classes

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TORONTO—Ontario's NDP education critic is criticizing the provincial government's decision to increase secondary school class sizes as more details emerge on the impacts of the move.

Marit Stiles said in a release Saturday that “kids continue to pay the price” for Premier Doug Ford's education cuts.

“The Ford Conservatives are ripping opportunities right out of the hands of Toronto high school students, who will have access to fewer options for elective courses and fewer sections for compulsory courses,” she said.

The comments come after the Toronto District School Board said Friday it would have to cut hundreds of elective classes and support programs at secondary schools to meet a mandated increase in class size from 22 to 28 over the next four years.

The board says that starting in September, 547 electives for Grades 9 through 12, and 187 compulsory classes for Grades 9 and 10, will either be cancelled or combined into larger classes to keep them afloat.

It says the adjustments include more than 300 cancelled sections, while dozens of literacy courses, guidance support, credit recovery courses and other programs will also have to be axed because of the mandated increase.

Stiles said the cuts in the number of sections mean classes will be “too jam-packed” for teachers to give any students one-on-one support when they need it.

School boards have said the mandated class-size increase, which also includes increasing by one the average class sizes for grades four to eight, will mean thousands of teaching jobs will be lost. The government has insisted that it can be done through attrition.

The government has said its education reforms are part of an effort to cut costs as well as modernize the system. It has noted that Ontario has one of the lowest student-to-teacher ratios in the country.

The Ministry of Education did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

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