With a potential job action looming for public elementary students in Ontario, it has got me thinking… How will this impact my son? Are these issues worth fighting for? Is a strike going to solve anything?
When I was in kindergarten the board of education arranged for me to take a taxi to Claremont Public School every day from daycare in Goodwood as the kindergarten class was at maximum capacity of what was then less than 20 students.
In high school we endured strike(s) and/or work to rule on more than one occasion.
In university I endured a strike that was 11 weeks long.
A lot has changed in the education system back from those kindergarten days. I personally have no idea how my son’s teacher handled almost 30 kids – with younger ages too – for JK & SK – and still had them so on track. She deserved an award. I’ve done the math and it is nearly impossible outside of recess/gym/library/music etc. to find much one on one time with each student, especially noting there will be individuals that require more attention than others. This year in a class of less than 20 students, I feel my son gets much more individual attention.
So where do I stand? Well I survived all of my strikes and/or work to rules and never lost a year or semester. In fact I still graduated high school a year early. Do I appreciate the teachers fighting for my child? Absolutely! At 7 he has many years of schooling left and I would rather see him as 1/20th or 1/25th of his teachers time over 1/30th or 1/35th any day. Maybe class sizes are not as important as we age – in university I easily became 1/500th in first year – but for him now at 7, and all future 7 yr olds, it matters.
Do strikes solve everything? Well no, they don’t always, but they usually get things started in the right direction. The teachers have been without contract since August of last year. That is a long time. I am going to presume negotiations have been ongoing since and a strike is a last case scenario when no progress is being made, as a ticket to force the other party to get back to the table and to show them they are serious and fed up about lack of progress.
Cutting of EA and funding for special needs is also something our teachers are fighting for. I’ve personally seen the EAs help teachers immensely in my son’s short school career. In some cases they are like a second teacher. I also know several friends with children who depend on EA support for their children at school. I personally feel like special needs, individual education plans and learning disabilities aren’t decreasing, and nor should funding for them be. Without support for children who need this, the children who do not need the extra attention also suffer, as one teacher tries to cover all the needs of a classroom, which can not be effectively managed by one person.
It is my hope that when bargaining resumes that a contract is settled for a long term basis which is beneficial for the student and the teacher for positive learning environment. I am not a teacher or affiliate, nor do I work within a school. I am a mom hoping my son will get as much enjoyment, education and love of school as I did in my schooling years. I am putting trust that with good reasoning job action is for the goodness of my son’s education and future.
If school should be canceled for a few weeks, I feel it doesn’t have to mean his learning is interrupted. We are capable of stimulating his mind until his schooling resumes and will do so with hopes he goes back to a better education system. I feel school offers so much more than I can offer at home, but we will make due, especially if he continues to be max of 1/25th of his teachers attention when school resumes. In the interim, let’s hope job action brings about bargaining and ground gained for our students. Afterall, many teachers are in fact parents too.