Teacher Strikes in Ontario
By Maryam Sheikh
This year might seem a little different than others; no, it’s not an increase in snow days, but rather, an increase in days off for students due to job action within the elementary and secondary school boards. Though it may seem nice to have days off here and there, it is important to learn about why educators and school staff are striking. In this article, I’ll provide some background information and advice for students on how to deal with a teacher strike.
Why is all of this happening? The Doug Ford government made very large cuts to education and as a result, many teachers lost their jobs. Moreover, the changes mandated that class sizes would increase, secondary students would have to take mandatory e-learning classes, and overall, that the amount of resources available to educators would be reduced.
This would heavily impact the quality of education; with bigger class sizes, teachers would be forced to focus more on classroom management than instruction time. Additionally, mandatory e-learning would not be inclusive to all students and learning types. A lack of special education resources would prevent students from performing to their full potential. Overall, the cuts would greatly impact all students- from the elementary to secondary level.
So, educators are primarily fighting for more special education resources, smaller class sizes, more course options, and changes to the mandatory e-learning courses that high school students must take. Some teachers and educators have their own personal reasons to strike as well.
On Friday, February 21st, more than two million students were out of school. This is because 4 of the province’s largest teacher unions participated in a one-day strike. These unions include The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) and The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA).
So, as students, what do we do? Firstly, we can use our voices to spread awareness about education concerns. We can reach out to local MP’s and influential figures to voice our opinions. Moreover, we can use social media as a platform to fight for positive change in the education system alongside our teachers.
We can also stand in solidarity with our teachers by supporting them on the picket lines. Many educators stand outside for hours, so it is thoughtful to send them encouraging messages, stand with them, or bring them warm drinks during the cold weather.
Job action can be effective for bringing about change, however, it can also be disruptive to school schedules. During days off, it is important to stay accountable and keep up to date with course content, assignments, and reviewing any lessons so that it’s easier to stay on track once classes resume.
In conclusion, the uncertainty around job action has resulted in an unpredictable school year. There are many issues that teachers and students face, and at the heart of it all, educators are simply fighting to deliver quality education to the students of Ontario. It’s important to keep up to date with what is going on in the province; check for updates on the news and from teacher union social media platforms.