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To all those decrying…

… the ONE day walkout by elementary teachers today.

Suck it up.

This is democracy in action, regardless of whether or not you believe that teachers (or anyone else for that matter) should have the right to strike. Under the current law, they DO have that right. This. Is. A. Fact. Look it up.

Go ahead, my conservative friends, knock that one down!

And it is only ONE day! I remember that back in 1982ish my brother having to move way from home to complete his Grade 13 because the West Parry Sound School Board teachers struck for MONTHS!

As I am typing this (oh, btw, I’m home with the kids today – and don’t begrudge the teachers one bit), I am listening to a Barrhaven mother being interviewed on CBC who is expressing her worry about her children having to be exposed to picket lines!

I’m serious! She is worried about her kids being exposed to democracy!

Of course, she is from Barrhaven… 🙂


Teachers and extracurricular activities

Teachers in many of Ontario’s School Boards have heeded their union’s advice to take a “pause” from coaching or otherwise being involved in extracurricular activities, such as sports team, in protest of the Ontario government’s recent legislation imposing salary freezes, etc. And, as is always the case in any type of labour disruption in the education sector, the students are the ones who feel it the most.

So what to do?

The teachers are well within their rights to hold back these unpaid services. They are paid to deliver a provincially-mandated curriculum to the students and anything outside this is unpaid labour. So I can’t argue with their frustration over having bargaining rights taken away and their reaction. This is the only legal tool they have.

So if teachers are – at least temporarily – out of the picture, who picks up the slack?


Maybe. But those parents who are active in the community and the likely suspects to step up and coach the Junior boys soccer team are already stretched for time. I know. I’m one of them. That is the case in my little corner of Ottawa and I suspect it the same elsewhere. There might be a bit of a community pool to draw from, but it would come nowhere near to filling the gap left by the teachers.

As well, there is the whole security issue around having parents lead these teams without some sort of oversight, as in police checks.

Trustee for zone 3, Donna Blackburn, said she has been inundated with phone calls from parents who were frustrated about the parameters of volunteering and the deadlines for getting involved.

Adams said all volunteer coaches and assistant coaches need to go through a process, including police checks.

“Our No. 1 priority is student safety,” Adams said.

The deadline for winter sports is Oct. 31, she said, and that the board will work with principals to get the information about volunteering out to parents and other interested members of the community.

So, for all practical purposes, parents and other members of the community might help, but only a bit.

A logical longterm solution might be to have the teachers play a supporting role only and hire professional coaches who could manage a few different sports. But that would cost money and neither the Boards nor the province have any dineros to spare these days… unless…. hmmm…

We DO have this wasteful and discriminatory duel education system in Ontario… I wonder if there could be adequate cost-savings realised by MERGING the public and seperate Boards? Hmmmm?

Of course we don’t know the extent of the cost savings because no government has had the balls to do an independent, unbiased analysis of our publicly funded education system. Even if the savings were only $20 or $30 million annually, that would hire a few hundred pro coaches at 60K a pop or so.

Just sayin’…



A favourite sport of some social conservatives…

… is to bash and slash pretty much any opinion, line of work, profession, whatever, that does not line up with their narrow philosophies.

The teaching profession is often the target of these self-styled critics. I follow a guy on Twitter who goes on and on about the inadequacies of our public school system and how the private sector can offer better alternatives. Teachers and their unions are often the target of his vitriol. Teachers are seen as largely lazy and unmotivating opportunists who are sheltered from criticism by their culture and especially their unions.

Kelly Egan composed a touching and illustrative piece in the Citizen the other day about teachers and teaching. You should read it. There are teachers out there who are the stars of their professions. They exemplify what educators should strive to be.

I was fortunate to have a few of these teachers during my years in the public education system. I would like to thank them for helping to form what I became today.  They gave a damn.

Audrey Tournay – my Grade 11 grammar/creative writing –  she taught me how to write and to appreciate the importance of grammar and structure.

Dick Facer. My Grade 11 English Drama teacher.  Sadly, he passed away just last week. He had a kick-ass sense of humour, treated students with a great deal of respect and  managed to engage students who were otherwise hard to reach.

Judy Cardwell. Another English teacher. I know many of my contemporaries could not stand her as she was sometimes aloof and was a very hard marker. But she listened to my sometimes irreverent take on modern novels and graded me according to the strength of my argument and not on whether or not she agreed with it. I still remember the look on her face when I handed in an essay entitled “Stone Angel: a glorified Harlequin romance novel”! But she gave me an “A”.

Finally, the one teacher who above all others turned me into the monster I am today was Paul Gray – my Grade 13 Canadian History teacher.  My love for politics – and Canadian politics in particular – can be 90% credited to him (the other 10% to my Mom and Dad). He listened. He debated. And he wouldn’t put up with any BS in his class.

Paul was most famous for his annual Grade 13 field trips to Ottawa. On his own time and much of his own dime, I suspect. We were put up at the Y on Catherine Street and Paul organised two full days of meetings and activities with political-types. He was quite active with the parry Sound Liberals at the time plus he had a brother who was a Parliamentary reporter – so he had some connections. We met with Roméo LeBlanc, Jean-Luc Pépin and one other Cabinet Minister… I think it was John Munro.

And of course we sat in the Gallery of the HoC and listened to Trudeau, Broadbent and Joe Clark yell at each other! If I recall, the debate of the day was the NEP – which still brings a flutter to the Albertan heart, I’m sure…

The “thing” is that educators like Paul Gray, Judy Cardwell, Dick Facer and Audrey Tournay – each in their own way- gave a more than just a damn about their chosen profession. They were cognizant of the fact that what they did and said on a daily business would influence the lives of the young and the impressionable. Sure, we can all rhyme off those teachers with whom the experience was somewhat less than positive. But for me, those were the exceptions to the rule – and not the rule itself.

Thanks to you all.