1.1 C
Elmira
Monday, January 27, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Teachers back on picket line

TRENDING

News Briefs

Woolwich nixes traffic islands Displeased with the troublesome pedestrian islands installed during the Region of Waterloo’s reconstruction of Church Street...

Woolwich proposes 5% tax hike for 2020

Budget talks underway this week, Woolwich council is looking at five per cent hike in property taxes, a...

20-year-old agreement causes a stir

An Elmira environmentalist’s “smoking gun” appears to be shooting blanks. Al Marshall, a long-time critic of cleanup efforts at...

Taking the plunge on condos

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but it’s also a prime reason Woolwich councillors this week approved...

THIS WEEK

Elmira
overcast clouds
1.1 ° C
3.3 °
-1.1 °
84 %
3.6kmh
90 %
Mon
2 °
Tue
-1 °
Wed
-3 °
Thu
-2 °
Fri
-0 °

The bitterly cold winter weather didn’t stop local high school teachers and support staff from being back out on the picket lines at EDSS on Wednesday.

A one-day walkout saw the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) close all its schools in response to a province-wide withdrawal of services. It’s the second time this month teachers and support staff were off the job to protest what they call inaction on the part of the province.

Along with classes being out for the day, the closures extended to all before- and after-school programs, childcare programs, EarlyON centres and childcare centres located in WRDSB schools.

Following the December 4 walkout, this week’s move by the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation (OSSTF) was the latest salvo as the union battles with the provincial government over terms of a new contract.

Several measures introduced by the Ford government don’t sit well with local protesters, including increasing average class sizes to 28 from 22 students.

“Our classrooms just aren’t set up to hold 40, 42 kids,” said EDSS teacher Pamela Germann. “We’re fitting 32 kids in a classroom right now … say a senior or university level course can fit maybe 32 as a max, which is something that we do. But we just don’t have the size.”

The Ontario government made changes on all levels of education, from kindergarten up to college and university, but that increased average class size is a common ground that has affected every level across the board, she said.

Germann added that individual attention from teachers to students would be adversely impacted as a result, and that “cuts like this really affect our most at-risk populations.”

Another EDSS teacher out on the picket lines, D.J. Carroll, said that another issue with a higher class average is that it could result in some classes disappearing entirely, making it more difficult for students to graduate.

“Now with the Ford government coming in and saying 28 becomes the average … suddenly all of the smaller specialty courses are gone,” said Carroll. “Those support classes are gone. Kids in the senior classes who want to take a music, a drama, a shop class that would normally run with 16 students … will not run anymore.”

Another component of the new education curriculum that teachers took issue with is mandatory e-learning courses. Back in March, the Ford government said that students would be required to take four e-learning courses to graduate starting in 2020-2021.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce backed off from that number, dropping it to two, after receiving feedback from students, teachers and families. More recently, Lecce said students would be required to take two online courses in order to graduate, starting September 2020. Germann said that this isn’t necessarily beneficial for student learning.

“I feel that most teachers would suggest that we’ve seen a lot of students, who they don’t fit well for [online courses],” said Germann. “And we do have opportunities for students who do want to take online courses to take them. So I feel that how we’re offering those courses right now is in the best interest of the kids.

“Putting in mandatory courses like that is not necessarily good for everybody.”

Negotiations between the OSSTF and the province will not begin again until January, but all schools will resume their regular routines today (Thursday).

Carroll said that the community response had been understanding, with a number of parents dropping off coffee, treats, and thanking the teachers.

“I would say overwhelmingly, support from the public has been incredibly positive. Our students have been incredibly supportive, the parents of our kids are constantly telling me, ‘You’re doing the right thing.’ And that makes it easier to be out here today,” said Carroll.

The OSSTF represents 60,000 public high school teachers, educational assistants, childhood educators, and school support staff.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

LIVING HERE

Catholic teachers join public board on the picket lines

Local Catholic elementary and high school teachers hit the picket lines Tuesday, marching up and down Arthur Street in Elmira as part of a one-day, province-wide strike. It’s not an...

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Jacks post first loss of 2020, but post wins on either side

A four-game winning streak to start the new year having come to an end Saturday, the Wellesley Applejacks rebounded Tuesday night to post...

Sugar Kings lose for the first time in 2020

A couple of streaks came to an end Sunday as the Elmira Sugar Kings played their lone game of the week: the four...

Job vacancies become harder to fill in the townships

It’s becoming increasingly tough for employers to find the right candidates to fill vacancies, particularly in local and rural areas, says a new report...

Water and sewer rates to rise again this year, as Woolwich approves budget

Flush with cash or otherwise, you’ll be paying more again this year for turning on the taps and taking care of business in...
- Advertisement -