Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Putting Students First?

I try to stay to stay away from politics on-line but this one has to potential to touch very close to home. Ontario teachers and government are having a spat over the right to strike, paid sick time and pay raises. Both sides in this dispute claims to be putting students first, but none seems to really have considered the impact there dispute is having on those very same students.

Yesterday the Ontario's new "Putting Students First" legislation became law. Essentially, the government reneged on it's promise to negotiate a settlement with Ontario teachers, and instead imposed it on them. Details of the legislation aside, the teachers are ticked that it was imposed on them without any discussion or input. As a result, the teacher's unions have requested that their teachers give up participating in voluntary extra curricular activities. Whether that action is just for today or not remains anybody's guess.

Today will mark day one of teachers working to rule by stopping the voluntary work they do in our schools. My favourite radio commentator said that this action really only impacts secondary school students. His argument was that elementary kids aren't trying to get into college or university, so their extra curricular activities are more like babysitting.

Not for our family. Jonas's extra curricular school activities are tutoring for math and reading. Math and reading, or learning how to learn, is pretty darned vital, in my mind at least. Jonas improved leaps and bounds since he joined the two tutoring programs. Sadly, we can't afford private tutoring for him. At least not without cutting back on private speech therapy. (Have I mentioned that he's still on the incredibly long lists for these services? There's still no word on when he's going to get his next round of in-school speech therapy and the waiting list for in-school occupational therapy has lengthened by at least 7 months, so he still hasn't started that at all yet.)  To say that these math and reading tutoring programs are vital to us is no overstatement.

I'm jumping the gun a little bit because Jonas's school hasn't made any statements about it's intended action. We haven't heard of any cuts. In fact, we haven't heard anything about these programs at all. No information hand-outs and registration forms. No notes in the agenda and no phone calls letting us know when they're going to start. No news might be good news but, at the moment, it feels like bad news. I guess we'll just wait and see.



  1. Here in the states, the Teachers Unions in Chicago are on strike unless they get a 35% pay increase. As a result families already working two jobs are having to quit one job to stay home and watch their kid. These are teachers who get a starting salary of 75,000. Which would make their starting salary over 100,000 a year. The highest pay to lowest graduation rate in the country, also. Natl. Average is around 70% while Chicago is less than 50%.

    It's only affecting the kids and won't end well.

  2. I've been through that as a student Izzy. It's really not fair when grown-ups use kids as pawns in their disputes, and a strike or lock-out is certainly the worst of that. Hope all these spats are settled soon!