Sunday, March 16, 2014

What Do Teachers Want?

I seem to have missed hitting "publish" on this one from a few days ago:

I've gleaned, from Steve Paikin's twitter feed, a version of teachers that don't fit the media stereotype of money-grubbing lazy bums.  The quotes are from his tweets, so here they're thrice removed.

Kathleen Wynne just spoke to OSSTF teachers at AMPA.  I wish I had gone, but I have too much schoolwork to do!  I broke the custodial barriers (waxed floors) to get to my desk yesterday and today because I've got two new preps and a total ministry-dictated re-haul of a course I've taught for years.  I've been scrambling towards the break to get on top of it all.  But back to Wynne and the teachers' questions:

In her speech she said her goal is,
"to continue to make the legislature work. But I'm going to challenge their ideas. Hudak's agenda is more radical than expected....They want a war with education and we can't let that happen again....The NDP focused on populism at the expense of long term planning and lack of economic growth."
So, basically nothing but a little political slamming.  The Liberals are best, but we're not going to tell you what our plan of action is.  Then to the four questions:

1.  The first question was about grassy narrows and clear cutting the forest.  Paikin didn't tweet Wynne's response.

2.  "In 2012 you voted to take away our bargaining rights and let the Ministry of Education impose a contract. What can you do to persuade people here that you believe in restoring collective bargaining rights?"  Wynne replied, "We've all admitted, even my predecessor, that things didn't go the way we wanted last time. Help me restore our relationship.

3. The third question was about "line 9" and reversing the gas flow from east to west.  The questioner wants a full environmental assessment.  Wynne promised to "keep an eye on environmental issues but is not committing to full EA."

4. "Things are worse in education funding under the Liberals than under Mike Harris. When will we see more sustainable funding?"  Wynne replied, "We are facing challenges....We're not out of the woods in our fiscal situation. We're not going to cut & slash."

Here's the biggest change to our funding formula as felt from the inside (I mean, as a teacher):  If a student misses 15 consecutive days, s/he's dropped from the roll and we lose funding.  Enough students skip enough classes, even just MSIPs, and we lose a teacher.  But if the student is under 18, then we have to take them back, even if the teachers have been transferred or let go.  The irony is, the kids that are not in class cause far more work than the ones that attend regularly.  We don't just mark them absent and teach a smaller group; we are required to intervene, to call home every three days to listen to parents and guardians who sometimes yell and sometimes cry, to discuss the student with admin, guidance, and resource teachers, and to create packages of materials that can be completed outside the classroom - anything to help them learn the material and get the credit.  We're still teaching the kids who aren't in the room.  

Changing the funding formula, isn't about getting a raise or even maintaining our salaries.  It's about keeping much needed teachers employed and in the building.

But, I have to say, the fact that half the questions asked were of an environmental nature, clarifies the kind of concerns teachers have.  It's not about their profession getting dinged, it's about us - all of us.  I've said before that this recent contract issue wasn't about salaries, but about an infringement of the democratic process.  I don't want to live in a country in which a leader can dictate the rules without discussion, but that's the direction we're headed.  OSSTF is working to put a stop to that.


Lorne said...

Your comments about what is involved when students are absent brought me back to my teaching days, Marie, none of which I miss in the least. While I long ago came to the conclusion that nothing a teacher says or writes will change the view of those who see us as goldbrickers simply waiting for a 'lavish' pension, it was good to read your very realistic portrayal of the quotidian problems that educators face.

Marie Snyder said...

Not long ago, I couldn't imagine ever wanting to retire. Now I'm actually looking forward to the day my time here is over. But part of me is ever hopeful that things can change for the better.