What Are Teachers Fighting For Anyway?

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 Future Of Full Day Kindergarten Remains To Be Seen

Weston kindergarten students and parents should keep their eyes on the Ford Government. Most recently, they have decided to reevaluate the full day kindergarten program.This program has been in place since 2014. It’s introduction lightened financial burdens on parents, especially those in low income households, by eliminating the need for private daycare and shifting those costs to the government. The current government has promised to keep the program in place until the end of the 2019-2020 school year, but after that it will be looking at reevaluating the situation. The program is an expensive one, at approximately $1.5 billion per year (according to CTV News).Ford, in a press conference on Wednesday, said that “any decision that’s made is going to be better,” regarding the future of full day kindergarten.

In speaking to one Weston parent, they made the connection that implementing full day kindergarten was a “lengthy and thought out process” and that the future of the program should be as well. If the program gets cancelled, and some of that goes to paying a deficit but other parts go into fixing other issues [like oversized classrooms] within our education system then that seems suitable.” Some options the government may consider are subsidies for low income families who will require daycare, as well as evaluating how much time and money will be spent should this program change and whether this is feasible. This announcement also comes on the heels of the PC Government considering removing class cap sizes from kindergarten and primary grades.

Ford has made it clear that there will be consultations regarding full day kindergarten, so keep an eye open for that. You can also call our MPP Faisal Hassan and let his office know how you feel about this development.