Education minister uncommitted to Drummond's recommendations

By ,Queen's Park Bureau Chief

First posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 07:28 PM EST | Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 10:52 PM EST


broten Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten. (Toronto Sun files)

TORONTO - One down and two to go.

Ontario has already shot down economist Don Drummond’s recommendation to end the popular, pricey full-day kindergarten program.

Education Minister Laurel Broten is reserving judgement on Drummond’s other money-saving suggestions — increase class sizes and eliminate thousands of non-teaching positions in schools.

Small class sizes are a key element in her government’s plan for student achievement, she said.

“We will not compromise the success that we’ve had in public education,” Broten said Tuesday.

Drummond’s report on reforming public services says increases in the education budget should be kept to 1% a year to help ward off a looming $30-billion deficit.

The Dalton McGuinty government has invested significant resources in smaller class sizes with a cap of 20 students in the earliest years.

Drummond said there is no clear evidence that smaller class sizes improve student performance and would allow the numbers to rise in both elementary and post secondary schools.

Broten said she is considering Drummond’s advice and weighing it against those of education experts who believe class size is important to student learning.

Drummond’s report also noted that non-teaching staffing in schools has increased by more than 13,800 positions since 2002-03.

It advised the province to eliminate 70% of those new positions by 2017-18 to help meet its balanced budget goals.

“I can tell you the important role that many of those individuals play with the children’s mental health workers, with the guidance counsellors,” Broten said.