The teachers' unions are fighting the Ontario government's ham-fisted legislation by punishing students.
By James Arlen
Published September 19, 2012
So if you are of the parenting streak, a labour leader, politician or teacher, you're aware that there's some fuss going on right now with teachers. If you're not one of those things, this still affects you but you won't feel it for a while.
Recently, in a move that can only be described as "borne from the eternal flowers of stupidity growing in Queen's Park", Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and his minority Liberals with the support of the Conservatives passed legislation ordering a common contract between all teachers and all school boards and restricting bargaining rights.
It is very difficult to argue that the move the government has made is in congruence with the way that any of us as individuals would choose to be treated in our work.
The teachers are attempting to move public opinion against the legislation. I understand that. Teachers have often had issues with opinion making in the public eye. My opinion of teachers when I was a child was largely positive - I had good teachers for a few formative years. As a teen, my opinion could best be described as far too much like students of "The Breakfast Club".
My opinion of teachers as an adult varies widely due to the individual performance of those who have been or are my kids' teachers. At the start of a new school year, I try to be optimistic about what teachers will bring to the table.
This year, while under duress, the teachers are responding with a work-to-rule campaign that revolves around the refusal to participate in so-called extra-curricular activities.
This is not producing a positive turn in my opinion of teachers and I'm having a very hard time keeping my children engaged and positive towards school.
What this "pause" in extra-curriculars has done is help me as a parent develop a very clear idea of what "the job" entails from the perspective of the teachers and their unions. Justifying 10 months of 6.5 hour days for what the rest of us working 50-60h / week for 50 weeks a year would consider pretty good money just got a whole lot harder for teachers and their unions.
The teachers' unions are doing an astronomically bad job of gaining my sympathies as they claim that anything they do outside of the classroom is "volunteer".
My profession requires a significant amount of unpaid volunteerism and continuing education, but I don't use it as an excuse to do less than what the job requires. I know very few people who work less than a consistent 50h / week.
"Acceptable" for jobs is arriving a little early and leaving a little late - 8-6 and eating at your desk. And if you're climbing the ladder or are one of the many people who work and parent and volunteer, you're putting in even more.
That's the stark reality for the overwhelming majority of workers who have stable full time employment with good benefits packages. There are teachers for whom teaching is a true advocation - who regularly put in what the rest of us would consider to be the necessary unpaid overtime of the job. I was very lucky to have a handful of them in my scholastic career.
Unfortunately, of the population of teachers that I've interacted with as a student and parent, the number of "clock watchers" is a super majority.
At this point, I'm questioning whether teachers are even aware of what the job entails. When I see teachers' unions trotting out the threadbare excuse: "but extra-curriculars are volunteer work", my only response is: "You suck at both understanding the job description and negotiating contracts."
I dare any one of the teachers (or apologists who haul that line out) to explain themselves. As I see it, they've got two options: 1) they were not participants in those activities as students - out of deep and abiding concern for the excess load placed on those teachers or 2) what they refer to as required volunteerism is what the rest of us refer to as "part of the job".
For the last century, school sports, clubs and artistic endeavour have been a key component of the student's experience. Are the teachers of today suggesting that their retiree co-unionists failed to correctly define job definitions and what does or does not fall under the heading of 'paid work'?
Or are the teachers of today suggesting that their students should not be offered the same opportunities they were able to enjoy? Either way, the teachers are angry at their bosses and they are taking out their anger on my kids.
That's the behaviour one would expect of a petulant child or an abusive spouse. I will not stand for it - and neither should anyone else.
The issue at hand is that the social contract (rather than the written one) is what truly governs the relationship between teachers, students, parents, and society at large. My children have not violated that social construct, neither have I violated it, but the government and teachers have.
It is accepted societally that government will often behave illogically and we often expect much from the winners of popularity contests, and I have made my views clear to my MPP an the offices of the Minister and Premier as is my duty.
My children attend school and do not engage in punitive or petty interactions with the teachers, but out of all of the groups, the only one taking direct action with malice against the least prepared and least influential of us all are the teachers.
They are engaging in behavior that meets the dictionary definition of bullying - playing "keep away" with the smallest kids on the playground. It is quite simply shameful. There is no way to spin this - to make it okay for adults to materially negatively impact the lives of our children.
Congrats folks, you're crystallizing public opinion - and you're doing it wrong. Until they prove otherwise, anyone who calls themselves a teacher and participates in this "pause" has legitimately earned the Stolen Wardrobe of Barry Manilow Award.
I will be civil, but I'm done trying to tell my kids that their teachers are to be trusted or admired.