Questions By Members, 26 June 2015
Source: Legislative Assembly of PEI

Teacher-classroom ratio

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

For three days now in this House we have heard the minister of education justify the cuts to teaching positions using solely the statistic of the student-teacher ratio, which should really be called the student-administration, principals, vice principals, guidance counsellors, music teachers, physical education teachers, resource teachers, librarians and specialists-ratio.

A question to the minister: Rather than using this misleading bit of data, could he provide the ratio of the actual classroom teachers to students?

Some Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture.

Mr. Perry: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Everyone that’s used to get that ratio plays a very important role in the school system. They’re very resourceful. They all aid in the teaching and the learning and the achievement of our students.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party for his first supplementary question.

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I don’t disagree with that, but clearly there’s a difference between the student-teacher ratio and the teacher-classroom ratio, which is what we’re really interested in here.

Furthermore, one jurisdiction could calculate their student-teacher ratio in a very different manner from the way that this minister calculates our student-teacher ratio here on Prince Edward Island.

Ratio as indicator of education quality

Another question to the minister: Does he feel that the ratio that he uses and calculates is a sufficient indicator for the quality of education that we are providing our Island children?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture.

Mr. Perry: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have all the confidence in our teachers in the system to provide the best education to our students. Our teachers do phenomenal work, and I respect what they do in the classrooms each and every day.

Leader of the Opposition: So much that you fired them?

Mr. Perry: They have so many challenges and they have some big issues that they are facing and we are committed to working with them.

Thank you.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party for his second supplementary question.

Hard cap on class size

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Indeed our teachers do do phenomenal work and the role of teachers has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. No longer are they simply teachers, they can be surrogate parents, they can be social workers, counsellors, they are law enforcement officials. They carry out a number, far too many, of roles in our classrooms these days.

To juggle all of these roles and continue to provide for the needs of their children, it’s creating incredible stresses on the teaching profession here in Prince Edward Island.

Will this minister commit to hard caps on class sizes, up to at least grade 4, in our Island schools?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture.

Mr. Perry: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, as I said, I do understand that our teachers face some big issues, and as a department we are committed to working with them. I’m happy to see that in the last week the school board is now ready to take on some of these bigger issues with policy development for zoning and for transportation and for class composition. We need to address these issues in order to know the best ways to invest our resources given the context of declining enrollment.

Until that happens, we are going to do what we can to help manage our front-lines and provide the best opportunities for our students.

Thank you.

 

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