My Kids' School Is On Strike Today And It Is Everyone's Fault
You know when your kids are fighting about something trivial and they are both at fault; neither of them are listening to each other, they're kicking and punching and maybe even head butting. Perhaps they are fighting over who gets to cuddle with the dog, but the dog ends up getting a little beat up in all of the fracas.
You have two choices: sit between them and negotiate, or send them to their rooms. But for negotiating to work, there has to be some buy-in. So you have a choice: send them for time-outs, or give yourself one and hope that they learn to co-exist.
Welcome to Ontario's educational system. We have two sides unwilling to negotiate with each other and our kids are the ones suffering.
The government has not created any faith by forcing through a contract that wasn't negotiated and therefore put workers' rights at risk. But for all intents and purposes, the teachers union didn't want to negotiate. (Yes, I know the union would say otherwise, but my son would also say that he didn't kick his brother when I saw him kick his brother).
Is this really about sick days? Not really, which is a good thing because it is hard to feel sympathetic for teachers on the sick days issue -- other issues yes, but not sick days. I have to be clear that I fully respect and support the individual teachers. They have a difficult, often thankless job, and I think that the union and the government has forced them into an ugly position.
Is it about workers' rights? Absolutely. But has the union lost the sympathy of the public? Most probably.
So everybody made mistakes and now the Ontario education system is stuck in some kind of limbo between strike and agreement. The teacher's union put a "pause" on all extra activities to show everyone how hard teachers work. There are no extra-curriculars, sports, after-school meetings or field trips. The union representatives will insist that this does not affect students' education. But it does affect students.
Yes, those are the extras but to some kids they are the everything. Some kids thrive on extra-curriculars and need them to feel part of their school. The sixth graders are losing their turn to be the leaders of their teams and be the stars of the school plays. The high schoolers are losing important experience that can lead to university scholarships. It denies kids a chance to shine, and that does affect their education.
But the union leadership will tell you that the kids are not suffering because of the "pause", they will tell you that it is a great bargaining chip. They are wrong. Many teachers don't like the pause either. They can see that kids are getting the short end of the stick because of the protracted non-negotiations.
Today, there is a one-day strike that is leaving kids at home and parents scrambling. Personally, I prefer the one-day strike to the "pause" but I am lucky enough to have a flexible schedule that allows me to be home today to watch my kids, and some others as well. Not all parents are so lucky, nor can they afford the pricey, one-day camps that have sprung up across the city. My guess is that there are a lot of kids home alone today.
But still, the message is that kids aren't suffering.
At the local middle school, students organized a walk-out to protest the situation and the teachers told them that they weren't allowed to miss school.
Just another example of the mixed messages that are being perpetuated by all sides of this debate. The union and the government need to solve this, but just like two kids squabbling over something trivial, they have lost the point (and possibly the skills) to make this happen. Their behaviour is showing them to be terrible role models to our kids.
What do you think of teacher strikes?
Want more chaos? Last year, I wondered if anyone sent Christmas cards anymore, this year I have received even fewer than last.