What Are Teachers Fighting For Anyway?

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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.

Author: Katherine Collier

Katherine is a fifth-year student at York University. She graduated in 2019 with an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts: Music and is currently working towards her Bachelor of Education. Her family has been a part of the Weston community for over forty years. Weston is an integral part of her identity, and she would not have it any other way. Katherine is studying to become a secondary music teacher, and as such, many of her articles will focus on children and their future in our community. She has been writing for The Artichoke Magazine at York University for the past four years and is taking on the role of Editor-in-Chief for it this year.

2 thoughts on “What Are Teachers Fighting For Anyway?”

  1. Thank you, Katherine, for this article. As a recently retired high school teacher of 31 years, I know how completely misunderstood the job of educators is. No one else I know works in buildings with dust on boards and under heating registers that does not get cleaned until early in July. Most do not move from room to room within a day during their job where the temperatures can change from tank top requirements to parka needs. My friends who work with adults all day do not have to remind their ‘clients’ how to behave politely, to turn off their phones and get engaged in their learning, or to speak with each other diplomatically. As of recent years, my adult friends in other jobs do not have to worry that some individual with mental health problems might come to their place of work that day with violent tendencies. The list goes on. Doug Ford’s ‘cuts’ (Gashes actually) do not support the health or safety of those who work in schools. Nor do they support quality education. His lies about ‘class size’ misinform the average citizen because his numbers deal with averages. That means for each teacher who may have a reasonable class size there will be another on the other end with over 40 kids in it. If teachers go on strike over the next few weeks, it will be a last choice, one that every worker should have the right to use in order to avoid exploitation. One last comment (because I’m a trained educator), it is because of unions that all employees today have vacation time, labour laws about breaks and lunch hours, health plans, and safety requirements in their places of work. If you do not benefit from any of these things in your place of work, don’t be angry with the labourers who do. Instead, start to demand better working conditions from your employers also.

  2. Your perspectives are important to hear, Nina & Katherine because a lot of the time we hear only the perspectives coming from, “neighbour envy”, i.e that teacher’s have it easy & cushy. And, have the summers off – with pay (even though they only truly get paid for 10 months, but it’s stretched out & averaged out over a 12 month period), if I understand it properly.

    Many of us misunderstand or are unaware of your realities, perhaps because we can only observe from a distance and never truly knowing what it means to be an “educator” – despite often times in a child’s life we are their “first teacher”, as parents, grandparents or guardians. Incredibly important roles, if taken to heart.

    Sometimes, we do well.

    And sometimes, we make an awful mess of that teaching opportunity as “early educators” – whether by commission, omission or because of our singular & inherent, arrogance – thinking that we absolutely know what’s best and how to proceed with life’s daily lessons, amongst all the other concerns of crafting out some quality in life while paying bills.

    From this perspective, being a teacher is being a “performance artist”.
    And as most of us recognize, not everyone is a good actor or performs well, worthy of an award.

    If you can go through life, look back and say that there was at least one special teacher in your life, you can count yourself very lucky.

    And, should be grateful.

    As always, dialogue (and it’s a two way process) is important – and we don’t always get a fair and decent understanding of one another’s perspectives, if we’re always and only surrounded by like minded people reinforcing our beliefs & realities.

    Come what may, without a good middle-ground/balance all our kids will take a hit if this tug of war continues too long – between all the self centred adults on both sides of this debate – because we’ll all be too busy to teach them how to read, write & play, with numbers.

    A very serious concern, if Katherine’s correct where she notes that many of our middle school kids only read at a Grade 2 level.

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