As her govt prepares to introduce a (possibly illegal) bill, one which will most certainly be taken to the Supreme Court, Broten has taken a perplexingly antagonistic stance against teachers: In a recent Toronto Star article, she was quoted as saying,
“I don’t believe the average Ontario worker
would expect to get a 5.5 per cent pay increase
after taking the summer off and refusing to negotiate,”
I agree with her, of course, but am confused about why she was saying this in the context of teachers.
No teacher I know expects a pay raise this year. We don't even expect cost of living increase. We do expect to keep benefits negotiated over several decades by our predecessors... contractual benefits like sick days, for example, which are criticial in a profession where one is often surrounded by germy "speciments".
How is such an expectation unreasonable?
I'm also unclear about her claim that teachers are refusing to negotiate. As far as I understand it, our contracts don't expire until the end of August. As is our legal right and responsibility, we gave notice -- via our unions -- to negotiate with our local boards several months in advance, as we always do. Those negotiations have not yet begun. Our federations' unwillingness to be told what to do at a so-called "Provincial Discussion Table" (PDT) by a government that has clearly lost its mind is not surprising, nor does it constitute an "unwillingness to negotiate", as far as I can see.
Finally, let's address the summers off once again, shall we:
This year, after 17 years in the profession, I finally took a "summer off". (Usually I take or teach courses for at least part if not most/all of the summer, as do many of my colleagues). During this "summer off", I studied copiously for my pilot license written exam, a pursuit that has made me a better teacher over the past two years, because it has forced me to consider learning new and difficult things from a student's perspective. I also have read several professional books, and developed templates and plans for inclusion in my classroom this year. I have engaged in professional dialogue -- both in person and via email -- with several other educators, including a few newer teachers that I mentor, and some more experienced ones who mentor me. As will most of my colleagues, I will be spending at least one week of "unpaid" time at my school, setting up my room, preparing first week plans, and meeting with colleages to plan for September.
I suppose -- as in every profession -- there are some "slackers", who do only the minimal amt of work, and who avail themselves of every holiday as an opportunity to do absolutely nothing, rather than seek professional development, or properly refresh and recharge in order to better meet the next set of challenges upon returning to school. I am not one of those people, and I find it insulting when our education minister implies that I am.
This so-called "Education government"'s about-face over the past 8 months is disgusting. The ramifications of their behaviour on students and the public will be significant. If they proceed with this legislation, we will be taking them to court, as is our constitutional right. We will be using our own personal funds to do so, union dues saved out of deductions from our collective pay cheques over the years.
The government, on the other hand, will be using YOUR tax dollars to defend their probably illegal actions!
If you are as outraged as I am, please email your MPP to let them know you oppose the Liberal's lies about educators, and are uncomfortable with the government's proposed bill. Please also consider joining the rally at Queen's Park on Tuesday August 28 to show your support for public education.