The Comment

Education Ontario: Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

TORONTO – I confess, the Corriere was unprepared for the news that appeared “out of nowhere”, last Thursday, that four of the Province’s school boards had banded together to sue Meta and three other digital companies to the tune of $4.5 Billion. Judging from Minister Lecce’s flaccid response, his reaction was less than inspiring.

The Canadian Press quoted him as saying […] “I think school boards need to leaning in the direction of government.” Really? The Premier was a little more “fiery”, peppering his response with language that included words like “nonsense” and “getting back to basics”. He may have been acting, but he seemed exasperated to everyone in our newsroom.

Why would he not be? In fiscal 2023-2024, his government allocated $27.1 Billion in grants for student needs for elementary and secondary education, an increase of 9.6% since 2019-2020. Those four Boards received $6.1 Billion – 22.5% of the total amount. (see the chart below) Despite falling student enrolment.

Nonetheless, student enrolment province-wide increased a mere 0.9%. That must be what to expect when one rewards incompetence. On what do they spend our money? Immigration has literally ballooned to the point that the country has come close to surpassing the 40 million inhabitants mark. Of the Four Boards, only Ottawa Carlton District School Board saw a modest increase in enrollment (4.6%). The other three lost students – the Toronto Catholic District School Board, shamefully oversaw a decline of 7.7% in student registration, Toronto District School Board (TDSB) dropped 4%, Peel District School Board 5.3%. But they all want more money.

The four have proposed what can only be considered a supplementary funding formula – assuming they succeed in court – to which the Province may not have access. As purveyors of now legalized weed say, “what are they smoking?” They are asking the Courts to compel the digital giants to “compensate them” for the harm that modern technology has caused to the minds, emotions and social development of our children. The Boards want 73.8% of the amount the Province allocates, just to remediate the harm. Thanks for the negligence.

Corriere has acquired a Statement of Claim filed by the TDSB. One assumes the others are similar except for the total financial awards demanded. What is striking is the minute details the Statement lists as the short and long-term harms (some of them irreversible) the gadgetry and their programs are having on our children.

It is not a stretch to list the descriptions as parallel to what is inflicted by drug dealers, racketeers and child traffickers: read it yourself  (click here: Tdsb). We send our children to be in the care of these people?

Premier, it is “time to clean house.”

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