Coteau: Cuts to STEM courses destroying students’ aspirations

Reckless cuts in Toronto and York Region schools are damaging Ontario’s economic future

NORTH YORK—The Ford government’s reckless cuts to education funding are destroying the future for thousands of students and undercutting the province’s ability to build a workforce that meets tomorrow’s needs, Liberal MPP and economic development critic Michael Coteau said today.

Data revealed Monday from the Toronto District and York Region District school boards shows the number of science, technology, engineering and math classes (STEM) provided by the province’s two largest boards is being cut drastically as a result of the Ford government slashing public education funding in the 2019 Budget.

“New Education Minister Stephen Lecce talks a good game on STEM classes, but the numbers don’t lie,” said Coteau. “Senseless, hurtful cuts to the public education budget, coupled with larger class sizes and fewer teachers, are forcing boards to reduce their numbers of STEM classes at exactly the time that students—and our province—need more of them.”

“This type of hypocrisy—saying one thing and doing the opposite—shows that it’s not individual ministers who are the problem, it’s the Ford government’s lack of values and arbitrary, reckless cuts that are damaging our province and threatening our future.”

In York Region, which includes Minister Lecce’s own riding of King—Vaughan, the public school board has been forced to terminate 120 classes, of which 23 are STEM-related and 10 more are in business studies. More than half of an additional 38 “reduced” classes include STEM subjects.

“Students, parents and businesses in King—Vaughan are right to be outraged that the opportunities available to them through these incredibly valuable courses are being taken away by Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce,” said Coteau. “This is a direct attack on the future opportunities for these students, and a serious hit on the economic prospects for businesses in the Minister’s own backyard.”

In Toronto, the public school board has had to cancel 313 classes, of which more than 80 are STEM courses. A further 304 classes that will operate with more students or with combined grades include 140 that are STEM courses—nearly half the total.

“As a three-term trustee who consistently stood up for our STEM offerings, I am outraged,” said Coteau. “Students who have been planning their future around these courses, building hopes and aspirations to take a leading role in our changing economy, are now seeing that future torn from them by the Ford government’s total lack of foresight and responsibility. It’s a disgrace.”

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