Fix Our Schools was recently awarded the Greer Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Publicly Funded Education in Ontario by the Ontario Teachers’ Federation.
At the award ceremony, Fix Our Schools was given the following introduction and accolades, which was a great reminder of the many things that our grassroots campaign has done and has accomplished since we began three years ago. Congratulations to ALL Fix Our Schools members on the part that you have played in effecting positive change in publicly funded education in Ontario! Whether you have written a letter to your local MPP, made a presentation at your local school, shared Fix Our Schools with your network, volunteered at a Fix Our Schools outreach event, or simply signed up to receive our newsletters as a show of support, your contribution has been integral to our achievements.
Introduction of the Fix Our Schools Campaign at the Awards Ceremony
2017 marks the 70th anniversary of the Greer Award for outstanding contributions to publicly funded education in Ontario. The award was established in memory of Dr. V.K. Greer, a distinguished Ontario educator. Over these 70 years, we have had many outstanding and deserving recipients, and this year is certainly no exception.
Fix Our Schools is a grassroots, non-partisan, parent-led campaign of citizens across Ontario. Its major goal is the promotion of safe, well-maintained schools that provide a positive learning environment for our students.
The organization’s belief that there is strength in numbers and power in grassroots, non-partisan activism has been proven in their success. Since its founding in 2014, Fix Our Schools has built a strong direct base of over 2,000 Ontario citizens and a large additional base of support via relationships with ETFO, OECTA, OSSTF, OPSBA, OCSTA, and many Ontario school boards.
In a little over two years, the organization shifted the narrative around school conditions and disrepair in schools to ensure that schools are considered integral public infrastructure. They have obtained increased transparency on school conditions with the public release of Ontario School Facility Condition Index (FCI) data, first by the Toronto District School Board, Ontario’s largest school board, and then, by the Ministry of Education in August 2016. Their pressure on the provincial government to recognize the chronic and gross underfunding of school repairs was confirmed in the 2015 Auditor-General’s report.
The provincial government subsequently released an additional $1.1-billion of funding for school repairs over two years, effectively bringing annual funding for school repairs to the $1.4-billion/year that is deemed necessary to keep Ontario schools in a state of good repair.
Fix Our Schools continues to build their network and lobby those in power to work together to ensure that all Ontario students attend school in buildings that are safe and well-maintained. They believe that a one-size-fits-all education funding formula does not work and that the provincial government has the power over all education funding; therefore, they strive to encourage the provincial government to take responsibility for the delivery of public education. They will take a major role in the lead up to the 2018 election by encouraging every political party to make public education a priority within their platform.
As stated on the Fix Our Schools website, “We are parents, students, teachers, grandparents, principals, caretakers, and voters who believe all Ontario students should attend safe, well-maintained schools that are funded as a critical part of our public infrastructure – in par with transit, roads and water.” On behalf of the OTF and the teachers of Ontario, I thank the members of Fix Our Schools for their defence of public education and the students in Ontario.