The Changing Gospel of Education According to Lecce

TORONTO – Sunday, April 16, Orthodox [Eastern Rite] Christians celebrate Easter. Nominal Christian politicos who missed the Western Rite [i.e.., Catholic] Easter because the Easter Bunny and Egg Hunts kept them out of religious ceremonies were able to make a show of respect to communities that still hold true to their religious beliefs. 

Just “to be different”, Stephen Lecce chose this day to announce that his Ministry is “getting back to basics, because that’s what matters most when it comes to students’ skills with reading, writing and math”.

Oh my gosh! This appears revolutionary. What was tried and true actually worked. Let us try it again! (Please excuse the intended sarcasm)

We have a “plan”, he sermonized, “to boost literacy and math skills[…] we will do better to improve the skills that actually matter to the success of your child, from the classroom to the workforce”.

As if to prove he is serious, the announcement included a dutiful list of where monies (unclear as to whether it is new money or repurposed allocations) would be best spent for maximum benefit: $71 Million for Math – just under one million dollars per school board – and $109 Million for Reading and Writing – approximately another $1.3 Million dollars per school board.

Seems like a lot of [our] dollars are being spent to remedy problems for which he, as Minister, has declined to accept responsibility. Let’s try to understand the numbers before applauding or criticizing the person.

As of March 10, 2022 (one year ago), there were 3,960 publicly funded elementary schools and 872 similarly funded high schools. The record of achievement and performance of both, measured by the Ministry’s own objective standards, have ranged [generally] from abysmal to mediocre.

If money helps to solve the problem, then Lecce’s ballyhooed sums for improved math performance represent an expenditure of $17,930 per elementary school or a total of $14,693 if one includes the high schools in the calculation. It is not much when one considers that neither sum comes close to what a single teacher’s aide per school receives as compensation per year. (Emphasis added)

For the literacy component the corresponding totals are $27,525 and $22,558; again, neither amount comes close to what a teacher’s aide, much less a classroom teacher earns.

Interestingly, there is not a single word regarding racist math or cancel culture, virtue-signaling reading material in the presser. Could it be that the nonnas for Lecce, the Minister’s Think Tank in King City, have brought the most woke Minister at Queen’s Park to his senses? Hard to say.

He did bring a cheering section of people dependent on his funding for programs not directly related to “back to basics” pedagogy. On the other hand, the Minister’s Press Release does mention “the restoration of merit-based hiring of educators”. Maybe the counter-culture DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) programs have not been working as well as hoped. 

Minister Lecce with MPP Patrice Barnes during the press conference on Sunday (photo from Twitter – @MPPBarnesAjax)