BY ROB MENDONSA
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, in an effort to get even more from an impoverished public purse, have decided to hold our children as hostages in their silly game of chicken. Now, it’s one thing to say you deserve to be paid well and I for one have always championed that very notion. After all, it takes three years of university followed by one year in a teacher education program. Then you need to be certified by the Ontario College of Teachers. That doesn’t even take into account the years it takes of part-time teaching just to get a full-time position, I am not begrudging a fair salary.
What I have a problem with, are the insane benefits that are given in addition to that handsome salary. This notion of banking sick days until you retire, then cashing them in so you can retire early with full pay, is not only unsustainable but is a slap in the face to most taxpayers who are fighting just to keep a job in these tight economic times.
The fact that teachers can’t understand why taxpayers find that notion unpalatable is telling of where teachers’ mindsets are in these times of huge provincial deficits. The money is simply not there. Teachers are acting like the very children they are supposed to be teaching, who when you take them shopping simply can’t understand why they can’t have every toy on the shelf.
By the end of January the Liberals will hold their leadership convention and Ontario will have a new premier calling the shots.
Keeping this in mind, would it be asking the teachers union too much to stop withholding extracurricular activities until then and give students and parents a break until a new premier is actually in place? Then they could start negotiating again.
Continuing to withhold students extracurricular activities while the province is leaderless, is not only hurting students but is doing nothing for the teachers in the eyes of parents.
On Jan. 13 the federation had called for a “day of protest” which was nothing more than an illegal strike disguised as a protest, leaving parents scrambling to find child care for their kids while the teachers union flexed its muscles. After a marathon session at the Ontario Labour Board the protest was deemed illegal and the protest called off at the last minute. This did nothing but further anger parents and widen the rift that has been growing between teachers and parents since all this began in September.
What really has angered parents in all this posturing is the fact that Catholic teachers were able to negotiate a fair and balanced agreement in the summer, averting all this grandstanding with our kids’ education. Which begs the question, what makes public school teachers any different than their counterparts in the Catholic school boards? I guess that question, among others, will be answered very shortly after we have a new premier, at least it better be.
And until then, enough with the silly games already, our kids deserve better.