Ontario has announced it will no longer be streaming high school students
On Monday, April 6th, the Ontario Ministry of Education and the Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, announced that the high school classroom will no longer be streamed.
What this means is that there will no longer be an “applied” or “academic” option for students when they enter high school. All subjects, whether math, science, or English will be universalized to “academic.” This change does not impact specialized high school programs.
As educators, we are mixed with feelings of euphoria and concern. Euphoria because streaming is – at its core – a discriminatory practice that eliminates the academic pathway for marginalized communities. As educators, we do believe this is a major step in dismantling a mechanism of systematic racism.
When streaming was created by Ontario’s education policymakers, it was designed by the ministry to provide different post-secondary pathways for students. On paper, it was supposed to carve a pathway for students who aspired to go to colleges and study the trades (or other disciplines) and students who wanted to take the academic route and pursue a university education.
However, the statistics are startling. For instance, in 2015, schools located in low-income communities, recorded that 63 percent of their students were enrolled in applied courses in comparison to schools in higher-income communities which disclosed a significantly lower number, 25 percent. But the reality is even more disheartening when we also consider that black and indigenous students are over-represented in the applied classrooms.
So, yes, we are overjoyed to hear that students from marginalized communities will be protected by administrators who had said it is okay to limit the opportunities of children who needed them the most. But, at the same time, we are also worried.
If destreaming is a cost-cutting strategy designed to trim the provincial deficit, then this could mean that fewer teachers will be staffed at schools. This could mean larger class sizes; this could also mean less support for teachers who will now be dealing with students that they are not familiar with.
If the government implements streaming effectively, meaning, if they give teachers additional resources (or enough resources for that matter), then this can be a good thing. If administrators and school boards also effectively support their teaching staff, then this can be a good thing. If neither of these things happens, then destreaming may be a disaster.
As a reminder, this is only a preliminary announcement and as more news is released Tutor4U will stay up to date as this story unfolds.