I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by strong women, many of whom — for the time — had non-traditional roles. I remember it being a point of pride that my mother was the first woman hired to perform what was then defined as a “man’s job” (pot-washer) at our local hospital back in the late 1970s.
These are tumultuous times in education in Ontario. Regular strike action from educators these past few months is drawing attention to the Conservative government’s plans for education, which involve larger class sizes, e-learning without clear regard for planning and internet infrastructure, and a suggested pay raise for educators far below inflation.
Education workers don’t much like the government’s plan; neither, apparently do parents.
Calling today’s strike action “unacceptable,” MPP Laurie Scott says it’s families who are affected most in their struggle to find childcare.
“While parents are understandably frustrated by teacher union escalation every few years, it is unacceptable that union leaders would ramp up strike action and make families across the province scramble for childcare,” she tells the Advocate in an email.
For many years I have argued for the need for a well-planned basic income guarantee. For ought not the citizens of a country have a fair claim to a small dividend of the society we have all helped to create?
I have spoken with politicians of all political stripes on this matter over the past few years, including three high-profile federal Conservatives. These three Tories — all of whom were connected to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s governments — were at least open to trying basic income pilots.
In the mid 1990s, while working at a newspaper as a young scribe, I wrote what I thought was a great story about a teacher who was taking a sabbatical. He was going to visit an overseas country and increase his learning and experience. He would inevitably accumulate new wisdom to bring back to future students one day.
Except that particular story never ran. I was told to get the ‘real’ story. How much was this going to cost? What sort of burden would this be to ‘taxpayers?’ The headline was altered, the focus shifted. In the end, the teacher and board of education were meant to feel shame for allowing such a thing to happen. I was embarrassed to see my name on that byline.
A small but determined group of concerned citizens braved the cold and very wet weather yesterday and gathered at MPP Laurie Scott’s constituency office to protest the litany of cuts to public funding by the Ford government.
The event in Lindsay was part of a 25 city ‘General Strike’, which grew out of an effort by a Hamilton woman to host an event in that city. Of the 35-40 people who showed up about 18 were from Haliburton County.
The widespread cuts to education by the PC government will mean millions of dollars will be lost to the Trillium Lakelands District School Board. However, Director of Education, Larry Hope, says a highly regarded construction program at LCVI can’t solely be blamed on the PC government.
Among other cuts, the board is facing:
- a $423,000 shortfall for Early Childhood Educators (ECEs).
- a $526,000 drop in board funding because of new classroom caps for Grades 4-8.
- a $3.8 million shortfall as secondary class sizes balloon from 22 to 28 students as a cap
For more than a decade Lindsay Collegiate and Vocational Institute (LCVI) has run the Gold Star Construction
The program targeted senior students, many of whom faced challenges in regular classrooms, and offered real world work experiences on job sites around Lindsay. It also offered them a range of useful certifications including First Aid, Working at Heights, and Chainsaw operator certification.
With the cuts to education from the PC government under Premier Doug Ford, that program will not return next year, despite students having already enrolled in it, says a press release from OSSTF.
The heads of the elementary and secondary schools’ teachers’ unions are calling on Director of Education, Larry Hope, to set the record straight – that teachers did not coerce students to walk out on April 4.
Just a few days ago more than 100,000 students walked out of more than 700 Ontario schools to protest the PC government’s agenda, including changes to the health curriculum, deep cuts to OSAP, and the recently proposed changes to class sizes and e-learning. These were student organized and student-led protests.
But on the evening of April 4, Minister of Education Lisa Thompson, on the official ministry website, dismissed the activism of the student organizers “and attempted to spin a false narrative about the role of teachers and teachers’ unions,” according to the open letter from the union reps.
It’s 1:07 pm and the hallways of I.E. Weldon Secondary School in Lindsay are more alive than usual. Students are milling around, signs tucked under arms.
They seep out of the school and gather just off school property, forming long lines of anticipation until they become a single, large mass.
Just after 1:15 pm – the time when about 80,000 students across Ontario are doing the same thing – Grade 11 student Tisza Pàl address the assembled students with a megaphone.