Coteau Calls On Ford to Replace Education Minister Stephen Lecce In Wake of Failed Summer Math Program

2019 Program Announced Too Late for Take-up by School Boards

TORONTO – Ontario Liberal MPP Michael Coteau today called on Premier Doug Ford to replace rookie education minister Stephen Lecce, as he revealed that Ontario school boards appear to have been unable to implement the government's signature summer math program in 2019.

Appointed to replace failed minister Lisa Thompson on June 20, Lecce announced a $6.6 million three-week summer math program for K-5 students on July 9 – halfway through summer 2019. The program was announced too late, and with no consultation or advance warning, making it impossible for Ontario school boards to make the arrangements necessary to implement it this year.

“Ontario children and parents deserve to be represented by an education minister who is competent and able to get results,” said Coteau, who served in six cabinet portfolios, was elected to three terms as a Toronto public school board trustee and is a candidate for the Ontario Liberal leadership. “This is a catastrophic failure that cannot be excused as a rookie mistake.”

"By announcing this program too late to actually make it happen, the minister demonstrated an astonishing lack of understanding of how our schools operate. He was interested in getting good headlines, not in working in a meaningful partnership with boards and teachers to deliver the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses that our students need and deserve. We see him repeating this same failed approach with his announcement yesterday about class sizes."

“Ontario’s young people need well-considered, well-administered education programs that give them the skills and knowledge they need to participate fully in our future workforce,” said Coteau. “They don’t need half-baked ideas, foisted on school boards far too late in an effort to score political points, that then turn out to be impossible for our schools to implement.”

“Minister Lecce took personal ownership of this program when he announced it, and he needs to take the same responsibility now that his PR stunt has backfired. Premier Ford should relieve him of duty and go back to the drawing board to find another backbencher who may be able to get the job done in education.”

“Coupled with this week's about-face on the sex-ed curriculum and climbdown on increasing class sizes this fall, it’s clear that we’re seeing a government that is foundering on the essentials of public education,” Coteau added.

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