Bill 160

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Bill 160 The Honourable David Johnson introduced Bill 160, the Education Quality Improvement Act during the first Session of the 36th Parliament of the Province of Ontario. Bill 160 was originally written as "an act to reform the education system, protect classroom funding, and enhance accountability and make other improvements consistent with the Government's education quality agenda, including improving student achievement and regulated class size". The negative effects of Bill 160 were displayed using several different political concepts. These include historical background, power, politics, authority, influence, legitimacy, coercion and obligation. Bill 160 was introduced in late 1997. The teacher's strike occurred in October and lasted for two weeks. Despite province wide protest from many, the bill was passed in December 1997. With advertising, the government tried to make the teachers look greedy and selfish. Instead, this helped the teachers gain support from parents and the community. Previously, the government had an established Education Act. Bob Rae's New Democratic Party government made huge cuts in education funding and in teacher's salaries. Bill 160 was written to allow the Ministry and Cabinet to intervene and control every aspect of the school boards. It also enables the suspension of trustees who do not support their commands. This bill creates centralized power and decentralized blame. Some people see it as an unprecedented power grab. The school boards and trustees are still accountable, but their ability to take action on issues has been completely taken away. Whenever changes are needed, the Ministry can make them through regulation. No legislations will be needed; therefore no consultations of any kind are required. Neither the public nor the members of Provincial Parliament have any say in what goes on. Bill 160 makes school councils mandatory, but provides them with no effective role or support. As a former student representative in the Roman Catholic school board, I felt our influence on our own education would be diminished. If there were any issues that arose with the curriculum, students would have to go to Toronto to complain. We would no longer be able to go to the local school board, which was amalgamated because of Bill 160. With the passing of the bill, seventy new school boards to be created, including one massive school board covering all of Metropolitan Toronto.

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