On June 30, 2012, Loyalist College will close its Centre for Early Childhood Education (ECE), a lab school providing placements for Loyalist College ECE students. This decision affects four full-time College Support Staff members and many families in the area. Parents are understandably angry at the closing of what has been termed a “superb child-care centre” in the words of one parent.
Florry Foster is Chair of OPSEU’s Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Support Staff Division representing more than 9,000 members in 24 colleges. “How can we talk about promoting good jobs today and good jobs for our students in the future when we are slashing these quality jobs and cutting quality labs for learning?” said Florry. “This is a very disturbing trend and we want to put a stop to it right now.”
One of the strengths of the ECE program in Ontario is that every ECE student does four placements providing direct experience working with children in a real life situation. Since 2007, there have been 12 programs closed out of 30 in the college system.
“It’s ironic that this closure is happening right alongside the advent of full-day kindergarten and increased awareness of the importance of high-quality early learning and child-care programs,” said Andrea Calver, Executive Director of the Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare (OCBC). “Why are we going backwards on our commitment to quality childcare? Why are we expanding ECE programs in colleges, applying for ECE degree programs in the colleges and at the same time closing the excellent lab schools where students can be part of the best practices in ECE training? It doesn’t make any sense.”
Loyalist College President, Maureen Piercy, has quoted “financial challenges” as the reason the college is closing its high quality centre. “Here is what is amazing to me”, said Smokey Thomas, President of OPSEU, “Take a look at Loyalist College in the news recently and you can see they celebrated two Golds and two Silvers at the Ontario Technological Skills Competition. But is there anything there about the closing of the childcare centre (although it was certainly in the local Belleville media)? For example, the parents who are upset about the childcare centre closure, the fears of those who have lost their jobs of 20 years or so? If we value college PR more than excellent ECE training programs, we are in trouble. We have college CEOs making huge bonuses and yet Ontario is cutting decent jobs. To talk about quality education we need to get our priorities straight.”
For more information: Emily Visser, OPSEU Communications Officer