April 1, 2023

It’s not uncommon to hear in the news about teachers wanting to strike with demands like increased wages and less work. We immediately think of the big school strike that happened in 1997, where more than 125,000 public and Catholic school teachers were off the job for two weeks. It seems that another major strike may be on the horizon, this time at Ontario colleges.

According to the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) website, “Sixty-eight per cent of college faculty represented by OPSEU entrusted their elected team with the ability to call a strike if the College Employer Council refuses to budge on key issues.”

This is a scary thought, given that if a strike were to happen, many students would be forced to miss classes and possibly miss some of their education. Students have paid money for their tuition, books, tools and accommodations, they shouldn’t be expected to have a shorter semester. While there are points made on both sides of this conflict, the union is using students and the threat of a strike to get what they want. The cost at which it would come to the students simply can’t be ignored and shrugged off for the “greater good.”

Ultimately, while it’s the opinion of the majority of the faculty that the potential strike will be beneficial and potentially necessary, it was unfortunate that in none of the union’s communications was there even a single mention about the negatives of a strike, nor of the damages and hindrance it would cause the hundreds of thousands of students. Students are not ammunition to be used to threaten and coerce into giving you what you want.

Schools in whatever form, at any level of education, are there for one major purpose, to benefit the students and their lives and futures. Yes, it’s important that those who are employed at the schools are taken care of and treated fairly, it’s a career and job too after all, but it’s the students who truly should be the focus of everything, and it’s the students whose futures are being toyed with when things like this arise. It’s ultimately the students who should be considered over anything else.

Remember that any time a student is forced to stop learning, stop being educated, their future could be altered, and there is more risk of them straying from the path they sought and paid to be on.

“A parent gives life, but as parent, gives no more. A murderer takes life, but his deed stops there. A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” – Henry Adams, U.S. historian, journalist, novelist and educator

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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