She brought the prerequisite greetings from the Province, congratulated us on our hard work, wished us well with our projects. She noted that “decades and decades of research confirms teacher effectiveness is the single most important factor in student learning”…
I can’t help by wonder – if she truly believes this research – why her government has lately launched a surprising attack on public educators in this province?
Until recently, the Liberals and the various teacher unions in this province have worked in relative harmony; as Broten referred put it, “we’ve achieved much for students through strong partnerships between the ministry and federation”. These partnerships have resulted in considerable reduction of labour unrest over the past two terms.
Why, then, the recent attack on the collective bargaining process, and the use of media to fuel public distain for teachers?
For example, the minister apparently called a press conference on Easter Monday, beginning said meeting by noting that she was calling the media together to talk about education, on a day when teachers were at home relaxing while other Ontarians were hard at work!!! (Interestingly, as a federation colleague who shared this tale with me pointed out, one was unable to hit the LCBO that day for a much-needed bottle to get one through the launch of this attack, nor was one able to visit one’s bank, if one had wanted to withdraw all one’s money and flee such a province; both were closed across the province!)
To her credit, Broten did acknowledge the difficult time we are currently in, that challenges the strong partnerships forged over the past 8 years, however, she only superficially addressed the issues that so deeply frustrate teachers, focussing on wage freezes rather than the proposed class size increases and 70% cut in sick days on the table, or the unwillingness to lay out ground rules at the “extra-curricular-to-legal-collective-bagaining-process” provincial discussion table, or PDT. (As an interesting side note, "discussion" implies decision making -- if the government were really interested in seeking to understand, the whole thing would be labled a "dialogue" table, not a "discussion" table!)
If you are a non-teacher member of the public, I encourage you to speak with teachers in your community to better understand what the government is imposing, and what it will mean for children (future voters and drivers!) who attend public schools in Ontario. Better yet, spend a few days in various classrooms at different schools – if time permits – volunteering with teachers and children so that you can see how much more complex and education has become since you were in Grade 3.