Kathleen Wynne on Ontario’s education plans (33)
"We will continue to push our agenda, that is our primary goal. During the (former Progressive Conservative Premier Mike) Harris years confidence in public education was really battered. In recent years more students have graduated and students have been doing better in test scores as well. International test scores that are going to be coming out soon show that students have been doing better internationally and we need to improve those results,” said Wynne.
"Even though there are many of our kids who are doing really well there are pockets of our population —for example our aboriginal students — who are not doing well and so in the next four years I want to concentrate on those students who are lagging behind, as well as special needs children," explained Wynne.
"Special education is something I have been very involved with in the last couple of years. We have to find how these students can reach their potential, whatever it is, so they can access higher education and the workplace. That all begins in our elementary and secondary schools," added Wynne.
"We are committed to extending our education system to a full day program for our four and five year olds. Right now the government funds half a day for four and five year-olds and as you know children around the world can have access to full government funding," said Wynne.
"We also are going to continue to increase the funding for community usage schools. Adults need access to schools as well -— the whole idea of lifelong learning and community education. Before we came to power, the school boards had a hard time keeping the schools open beyond the traditional hours, and if they did the costs were prohibitive for woodworking classes, Boy and Girl Scouts, seniors dances, and so on. We have put twenty million dollars into the system to reduce these fees and make this access to the schools more available," noted Wynne.
Those were the issues that were on the front burner. Wynne herself brought up the issue of "religious school funding" and when I asked if they (Liberals) considered Catholic schools "public schools" even though they teach more catechism classes than, say, physical education ones, Wynne replied yes. Wynne added that it was something that should be discussed in the future.
Wynne came into the education portfolio after spending a full term as a Toronto school board trustee. This past election she defeated the Progressive Conservative leader John Tory, thus underscoring her personal popularity as a politician.