This is a guest post written anonymously by an UrbanMoms reader and educator.
Last Friday, I took my two sons to the TDSB Cross Country Fun Meet at Earl Bales Park. As a parent at one of the many TDSB schools where teachers have chosen to boycott all activities outside of the delivery of curriculum, we were invited to participate in this fun, one-day event. The results of which would not be recorded or counted toward city records or finals. Seventy students from our school made the trek to the park with their parents to run the course and experience the satisfaction of challenging themselves to run their hardest and cross the finish line. It was a brilliant day- both in weather and spirit.
However, I still find my memory of the day obscured by a dark, ominous cloud.
I am an educator. I understand that Bill 115 was imposed in an undemocratic manner and that teachers feel disrespected. But in pulling away from kids and parents instead of reaching out and communicating clearly, teachers are also being disrespectful. They are using the same bullying tactics the government applied to them. I believe the desired goal is to send a strong political punch to the government. But in choosing this course of action, they are engaging in behaviour that is contradictory and punitive, the effects of which are hard to control and predict. In my experience, no one- not the teachers nor the unions nor the school boards has made an effort to explain these tactics responsibly to the students or to the parents and community. In particular, the union's message has been inconsistent and is causing great confusion, and ill will between some students and teachers, parents and teachers and between teachers themselves. Strong, practical leadership would go a long way to cool this conflict.
In the best interest of all stakeholders, it is time that we started communicating clearly. Teachers and unions would do far better to be reaching out to the community, explaining their view of the conflict with the goal of building alliances. We cannot waste anymore time debating the salary and benefits of teachers. No one can deny that teachers are well paid and have generous benefits and pension plan- that is just not debatable- they do. Also not debatable is that the majority of teachers works very hard and has the children's best interests at heart. No more time can be wasted claiming teachers commit more personal time outside of the work day than any other profession. Working and volunteering "after work hours" is common to almost every profession and person. I think many of us are offended by the inherent arrogance on these claims and it is not doing much to build alliances.
In the news as of Wednesday it has been stated "this week the elementary teachers' union instructed its members to do the minimum on student progress reports". I have to wonder if this will be clearly communicated and explained to all parents and students. Or, will we be asked to once again accept this action without question out of "respect" for the teachers right to take action against a government who is compromising the democratic process. The examples being set for our children are very confusing and I am left wondering whose democratic rights are being violated. Please, give us some strong, practical leadership from the teachers and the unions. This should not be about what can be taken away, but rather what actions can be taken that will garner the support from parents and students that is needed in order to take this fight on with the government. Together we can work to protect all that is vital in public education. That is a fight we can all fight together!
What are your thoughts on the teacher's reaction to Bill 115?