Government of Ontario cuts funding to teacher education programs

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On Wednesday, June 5, 2013, the Government of Ontario announced significant changes to teacher education in Ontario. Unfortunately, they chose to accompany their curriculum changes with a 33 per cent cut to per-student funding for teacher colleges.
Some of the structural changes – doubling the length of teacher education from one year to two years – were expected, and will help bring Ontario in line with programs elsewhere in Canada. Other changes –such as halving enrolment from 9,000 to 4,500 places – were a surprise. Most troubling was the decision to cut per-student funding by 33 per cent, a change made without any consultation with the sector, according to university sources. As Bonnie Patterson, President of COU notes, “reducing government funding for teacher education when Ontario universities are providing top-notch education, despite the country’s lowest rate of per student funding, disadvantages students, and threatens quality.”
The government’s changes echo cuts to medical education programs in the early 1990s, which left Ontario chronically short of qualified family doctors. The government has a poor record of predicting labour market needs, and their changes to teacher education may have significant, and unforeseen, negative downstream effects.
It is important for the Government of Ontario to recognize that its primary role in the university sector is the provision of public funding that allows for high quality and affordable education. Wednesday’s announcement is the latest example of the government’s slow retreat from adequate funding and increased willingness to interfere in academic planning.

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