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Public Education: Progress Made, Progress To Continue

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Public Education: Progress Made, Progress To Continue

Premier Praises Gerard Kennedy for Peace and Stability, Higher Student Achievement and Lower Dropout Rate; Appoints Sandra Pupatello Minister of Education in Mini-Shuffle

Office of the Premier

Ontario's students and their schools have made tremendous progress under Gerard Kennedy and that progress will continue under new Education Minister Sandra Pupatello, says Premier Dalton McGuinty.

"Back in 2003, we set out an ambitious goal of excellence for all in public education, and with Gerard Kennedy as our Minister of Education, we have made great strides towards that goal," the Premier said today.

"There is peace and stability and a positive environment in our schools. Student achievement is up. Test scores are up. Class sizes in the early grades are smaller. The dropout rate is coming down. Older schools are being repaired. New ones are being built. Our most successful schools are sharing their best practices, and our struggling schools, and our struggling students, are getting the support they need to succeed," he said.

"I want to publicly thank Gerard Kennedy for all he has done to make public education the best education. Working with educators and parents, we have made tremendous progress. I know Sandra Pupatello, a dynamic, talented and committed minister, will continue to build upon that foundation, because we have much more work to do in the months and years ahead."

The Premier accepted Kennedy's resignation from cabinet this morning. The MPP for Parkdale-High Park is expected to become a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. He will serve as a Special Transition Advisor to the Premier and the new Minister of Education.

"I'm proud of what we have accomplished, working together, and working with our partners in education, and families across Ontario. Our plan for education has made a real difference for kids, and I will do whatever I can to help the Premier and new Minister to move our agenda forward seamlessly," said Kennedy, who was first elected in 1996, and served as the Ontario Liberals' education critic from 1999 to 2003.

"I know this progress will continue. After working alongside him for ten years, and working with him on education for six-and-a-half years, I know Dalton McGuinty is truly the education Premier. He has made a wise choice in appointing one of our most effective members to one of our most important portfolios."

Pupatello, the MPP for Windsor West, was sworn in as the new Minister of Education. Pupatello remains the Minister Responsible for Women's Issues.

Madeleine Meilleur, the MPP for Ottawa-Vanier, replaces Pupatello as Minister of Community and Social Services, and Minister Responsible for Ontarians with Disabilities. Meilleur remains the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs.

Caroline DiCocco, the MPP for Sarnia-Lambton since 1999 and the Premier's Parliamentary Assistant, joins Cabinet for the first time as Minister of Culture, replacing Meilleur in that portfolio.

Pupatello said she is looking forward to working with Ontarians to continue to deliver higher student achievement, higher test scores, smaller class sizes, lower dropout rates, and an unwavering commitment to excellence in our schools.

"I'm honoured to have this opportunity to build on the strong foundation Gerard and the Premier have built by working with our partners in education, and I look forward to continuing that partnership," Pupatello said.

"Excellence in public education is essential to building the strong society we all want, and the strong economy we all depend on."

The Premier said he is looking forward.

"Our responsibility, as a government, is to provide opportunity for Ontarians. And education is the ladder of opportunity. It's our job to build it, so our kids can climb it, and reach their full potential," McGuinty said.

"Gerard has worked tirelessly to strengthen that ladder, to make it more stable and taller than it has been in years. I know Sandra Pupatello will continue this progress, just as I know Madeline Meilleur will build on the progress we have made in Community and Social Services, and Caroline DiCocco will build on the progress we have made in Culture," he said.

"I especially want to welcome Caroline to Cabinet. Typical of our caucus, she works hard, she is dedicated to the people of Ontario, and she believes passionately in the importance of public service, and she will do a tremendous job."

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