Students at a school in downtown Toronto chanted "Doug Ford has to go" as they left the room on Thursday, marking the beginning of a student-planned protest at some 600 schools in Ontario that oppose changes in the school's educational system. province.
The stoppage at the Bloor Collegiate Institute was among the hundreds scheduled for 1:15. ET. Protest throughout the province by elementary and middle school students was organized by students on social networks, mainly Instagram, with the hashtag #StudentsSayNo.
In London, Ontario, dozens of H.B. Beal High School lined the sidewalks for a protest, before marching to the city hall to continue the demonstration.
All of these #ldnont The students are leaving class.
Students in H.B. Beal High School left the classroom this afternoon as part of a protest across the province against changes and cuts in the education system. pic.twitter.com/fjbttgBzJq
The students also left Mississauga Erindale High School, west of Toronto, carrying posters, many of Ford's critics.
At Queen's Park, Ford criticized the strikes, saying the students were being used as pedestrians by "union bosses telling teachers and students what to do."
Viral social media post led to shutdown
A viral post by Natalie Moore, a 12th grader at the Listowel District Secondary School in Listowel, Ont., Started the movement, and quickly turned into a snowball as her friends around Ontario shared her own stories in the Instagram.
Moore says she was deeply disturbed by the Progressive Conservative government's decision to increase the average class size needed in the province's middle and upper classes.
"I sent an email to my MPP, and when I did not hear from him, I really wanted to do something," Moore told CBC Radio. Metro Morning On thursday.
"I felt the students were not aware, or they would not do research on the cuts. They could hear about them, but I did not know how many details they would know."
We're not doing this to skip class. We are not doing this because the teachers told us to do this. We are doing this because we are angry. We will not sit back and watch our upbringing be ruined by adults who see us as nothing. #StudentsSayNo
Amina Vance, a 12th grader at the Western Technical-Commercial School in Toronto, helped Moore organize the protest. She said that larger classes – which school boards warned could result in job loss for teachers, and declines in the types of courses offered in individual schools – will be devastating, especially for students with special needs or other challenges.
"I think the government needs to see – and the government will see at 2pm today – that students are heartbroken and students are angry. We are surprised they would do this to us, especially to marginalized students who are already struggling our school system, "she said. Metro Morning.
"We are showing them that students are informed, that students are angry and that students are ready to make a difference."
You can listen to the entire interview with Moore and Vance below:
During question time in the Ontario legislature on Thursday, Ford said the shutdown should have been halted.
"Our teachers have a responsibility to parents and students to make sure they stay in classrooms and teach students," he continued.
"It's absolutely shameful that they're using our students for a lot of pedestrians," Ford added.
Schools preparing to protest
Individual schools and councils in the Toronto area have sent letters to parents saying that administrators are aware of the planned dropout and that they will work to ensure student safety while noticing that the protests are not school-sanctioned events.
"As a school board, we encourage students to be knowledgeable about issues in our society, to think critically, and to express respectfully and responsibly in articulating opinions they may have," wrote the Toronto District School Board, the largest of the world. province.
Meanwhile, Clarkson Secondary School in Mississauga, west of Toronto, said it would "respect and support the right of students to advocate for causes that are important to them," but urged parents to encourage their children to remain on school property during the standstill.
"If your teenager is planning to participate in the strike, talk to them about why they want to participate, share their perspective on the subject, and how they would like to see things resolved." If your teen wants to leave, ask them to make safe choices. and be respectful in their participation, "the school wrote in a message posted on its website.
The protest action comes weeks after the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario announced considerable and controversial educational reforms. The changes include increasing class size for the middle and high school grades as well as new math and sex curricula and mandatory e-learning modules.
We leave today. for the young: be brave, bold, do not let them tell you what you know or deserve. Get up. go away. we got this. (I.e. #StudentsSayNo
The average class size requirement for grades 9-12 will be adjusted to 28, above the current average of 22, while the average class size for grades 4 to 8 will increase to 24.5, slightly above 23.84.
The decision to increase some classes has attracted criticism from some educators, trade unions and some parents.
Ontario's Education Minister Lisa Thompson has begun a controversy when she said in an interview last month that larger classes will make students more resilient and more prepared for the workforce.
Moore says he believes Thompson's comments "are an excuse to cut funding and balance the budget."
"This should not happen at the expense of our world-class educational system."
today, thousands of children will go out in protest against the cuts in doug ford's education. thousands of children have decided that being silent is not good enough for them. thousands of children have decided they deserve a voice. #studentssayno
For his part, Vance says that larger classes mean that students who need help most simply will not.
"I see in my school every day, teachers are the front line in the mental health crisis. And teachers are dealing with these crises, student crises, every day."
In the run-up to the breakdown, students posted a flurry of messages on social media, like this video: