C.R. Marchant, H.J. Alexander, St. John the Evangelist, Weston Memorial, Weston Collegiate, and Pelmo Park. Just off the top of my head, these are all the schools in our area, and very soon the teachers within them may be on strike. The reasons behind this though, may not be for the reasons you think.
Since the summer, teachers’ unions and the Ford government have been working to come to a fair contract. This comes on the back of several changes to the system including increased class sizes, mandatory e-learning, and the rolling back of the health curriculum (which I wrote about here). The most agreed upon reason why teachers are seeking to strike is that they are asking for higher wages. The mindset usually follows the lines of they already get summers off and now they want to be paid more?
For anyone who has worked with teachers, they know this is not the case. Teachers are fighting the changes that have been made to the system which they know will adversely affect their students, the very same students who are our children.
Weston is already a needy area, with a high population of newcomers, English language learners, and the like. One parent with children in the public school system volunteers with one of the schools in our area because they know that teachers have a hard enough time as it is giving students the one-on-one time they need with the current number of students in a class. Many students that they work with are in middle school but reading at a grade 2 level. Increasing class sizes means there will be more of these students who fall through the cracks, and not every school is going to have a volunteer to read with students and they sure do not have the money to hire someone. Teachers know this and are desperately fighting against that outcome.
“They are fighting for the things that they need and the things that have been taken away.” – A Weston Parent
While the concept of a strike can be intimidating, especially when it feels like our children are being used as pawns, it is important to do our research and come to our own conclusions.
Elementary teachers will be in a strike position on November 25th. For more information on the bargaining process for secondary teachers, refer to this site.
The @SJECES community will start the 2019/2020 school year in their new school building at 23 George Street! For important details and information about the first day at your new school, including changes to traffic flow on George Street, please visit: https://t.co/xZVYjGpeYwpic.twitter.com/rgKFxixeL0
St John was a very crowded school when the school community sought a new building more than five years ago. They had very little green space for students and the maximum number of portables allowed. Sometimes classes were even held in the church basement.
The school was supposed to open in 2016, and in 2018. Delays happened because Metrolinx and the school couldn’t reach agreements. While building, because graves were also discovered on site.
While the the school was being built, the long-suffering students were bussed almost to the Junction and shuffled to Beverly Hills Drive.
The last 18 months have been a whirlwind for Juan Paulo Cunanan. He has been living in the Weston Artscape Hub since the beginning of May and is really liking his new home, having applied as a long shot to help further his musical goals. Juan Paulo is known as JP or Japs to family and friends. He interviewed for a placement and was delighted to be offered a one-year lease on one of the 26 subsidized live-work spaces.At first he wasn’t sure he would be able to afford the first and last months’ rent of almost $2000 but came up with it at the last minute thanks to his mom, some music pupils and a timely tax refund.
JP is a piano and keyboard artist, specializing in modern jazz but like many accomplished musicians, can perform in a variety of styles. He even does weddings! With a music education degree from the Philippines he is focussed on establishing himself as a professional musician and would dearly love to make a living as a jazz artist, but really enjoys teaching his music school students ages 7 and up. He operates the Weston New Music School at 2125 Weston Road behind the Victory Assembly Church (formerly St Johns Anglican) and is working hard to support himself and his wife. Two of his older pupils are seniors and have been delighted to discover that it’s never too late to learn and enjoy music. I met bass guitar pupil Albert who says he was floundering in his music until JP made things clearer for him. His school offers instruction in piano, bass, guitar and drums.
JP arrived in Canada 18 months ago as part of the federal government’s family re-unification program. He likes Canada, the friendly people he has met, the clean air and opportunity to achieve big dreams. His mother came to Canada a few years ago, working as a nanny and sponsored her family once she could do so.
In March, JP returned briefly to the Philippines and married his girlfriend of five years. His bride is still there but JP is working on bringing her over soon.
He pays a subsidized rent of about $900 a month plus utilities for his one-bedroom loft style apartment with an option of $100 a month for parking. The apartments are spacious with tall ceilings, lots of windows and everything you would expect in a modern design. His one-bedroom model has the bathroom and bedroom upstairs – the bedroom is loft style with a balcony open to the lower level.
What’s next for this young artist isn’t known but you can be sure you’ll be seeing him or hearing him around Weston in the next few months.
After the devastating fire(s) at York Memorial C.I., students have been accommodated in empty space at nearby George Harvey C.I. Despite the convenience of the temporary accommodation being so close, Memo students apparently weren’t happy sharing and so beginning in September, they will be moving to the former Scarlett Heights Academy at 15 Trehorne Drive in Etobicoke. This will be an added commute for the thousand or so staff and students but the school was empty and apart from repairs for some water damage, should be ready in September.
Walking that distance takes over an hour and cycling is too dangerous given our lack of cycle lanes. What this will do to Weston’s traffic and transit remains to be seen but fast food outlets in the Royal York Plaza will no doubt be pleased.
The June Fair was a huge success. The weather was perfect, and hundreds of people turned out. There were bouncy castles, hamburgers from Zeal Burger, and great games and prizes. On a melancholy note, both Ms Madarasz and Ms Sestito announced their retirements.
The Queens’ Drive (and neighbourhood) annual garage sale was awesome, as usual, today.