The Strike Actions

Teagan Hollenberg

2/16/2020

Teachers are educators, supporters and role models. So, why are they being forced into protesting in the schoolyard instead of helping students achieve their ideal future in the classrooms? The biggest of the problems started on June 29th, 2018, when Doug Ford was sworn in as the Premier of Ontario. Although teachers across Canada have been enduring battles with the government surrounding wages for years; Premier Ford is now the face of the war on teachers, administrators and other workers in public schools. Since he was elected into office, Ford has been bent on manipulating the education opportunities within the province and favouring other programs, such as horse racing. What does this mean for us as students, and more importantly, teachers?

The frequent day-long strikes started in late 2019, these days were dedicated to protests for an increase in salary due to inflation, as well as against the larger class sizes and proposal of mandatory online courses. When tentative agreements between the OSSTF, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, and Ford’s provincial government were not reached, recurring walkouts for secondary school boards across Ontario began. Some of the school boards in the GTA that frequently participate in the walkouts include the Toronto District School Board, the York Region District School Board, the Peel District School Board and the Halton District School Board. When walkouts happen, all services usually offered in the participating schools would be suspended. A single day walkout doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on students’ education, but the days have added up over the course of the past months. 

Although the strikes may seem like the same as a relaxing PA day for most students, it is not the same for everybody. Many grade 12 students are depending on those valuable days in order to get into universities are those who are the most immediately affected. There has also been speculation of suspending extra-curricular activities, which can heavily impact a students’ post-secondary application and scholarships. The teachers want what’s best for the students, since they know that these remaining days are major contributors to deciding the students’ futures. There is a misconception that they are striking to have their expectations for wages met, but the truth is that the kids in their classrooms will be the most influenced. With larger classroom sizes, students that require a more 1-on-1 teaching methods might be left feeling misinformed on the subject matter. Kids with learning impediments that are in specialized programs will have less help than they need moving forward. Even working parents with younger kids in elementary schools are in jeopardy, since it is difficult to find a caregiver for children on short notice and is quite costly. The reality is that teachers and parents, as well as students, are all affected when it comes to these governmental cuts. 

How do we, as students, prevent these cuts? Right now, students can’t exactly make the biggest impact in the goings-on in the government, but we can in the future. Voting for representatives that prioritize education and the well-being of Canada’s youth can be the deciding factor in the development of our country. Currently, there are adults responsible for electing officials that don’t always take the importance of the schooling systems into consideration. This can change when we are able to vote, since we can elect those into government that don’t think betting on horse-racing is more important than educating adolescents. What we can do in the present is support teachers and school staff in their efforts to give children better futures with the proper education that accommodates their learning requirements. Cuts don’t just hurt teachers, they hurt all of us.