Friday, January 11, 2013

school roller-coaster

There's no school today ... no wait, this just in ....

After the Ontario government created Bill 115, which would allow the government to take away (among other things) teachers' right to strike, local elementary teachers staged a one-day walkout on December 20.

Over the holidays, the government imposed contracts on all teachers' unions -- then said, in effect, "Once we've used Bill 115 the way we want to, we'll repeal it."  Seems pretty cynical.  The elementary teachers' federation planned another one-day protest for today, so as of Wednesday there was to be no school for elementary kids today.  But the government went to the Ontario Labour Board yesterday and was able to get a ruling that the protest would be an illegal strike -- so the union withdrew its plan to strike and instructed its members to show up for work today.

All that to say ... first Jonathan was supposed to have school today, then he wasn't ... now school is on.  I'm glad he has school today.  The structure is good for him, and after a long holiday of loose ends, going to school today is the best thing for him.  Yet I feel very frustrated with how this has all been handled.  Back in 1997 when the Conservative government was at loggerheads with teachers, now-Premier McGuinty said he was on the teachers' side -- that even if the strike they were planning was an illegal one, he supported them.  Now ... I guess he feels differently.

Politics is a discouraging game, and it's awfully easy to become cynical about it.  But education is important and I certainly have not become cynical about that yet.  When I think about the support, encouragement, and partnership we've experienced with both our kids, in the public school in particular, I'm very thankful.  From the moment I walked into Rideau in 2007 to discuss Jonathan's registration and talk about his special needs, we've received nothing but positive, helpful responses.  And Allison currently has 3 encouraging high-school teachers, a special-ed teacher who looks out for and communicates with her, and an autism support teacher who meets with her weekly to help her build social and communication skills. 

So in this teacher-government conflict I have to support the teachers of Ontario.  They have a very important and challenging job, and the ones we've encountered do it really well.

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