A lot has changed in the 50 years since I started school.
But there’s one constant that has remained in Ontario: the ongoing fight between teachers’ unions and the government of the day.
NDP, Liberal, Conservative; it doesn’t seem to matter what the political stripe is. Teachers’ unions will bring them to their knees causing some sort of disruption in almost every generation.
However, it’s all for the kids — or so they say.
The provincial Liberals were in power for 15 years. Dalton McGuinty was known as the “teachers’ premier,” doling out whatever they asked for.
Despite that, threats of job action and loss of extra-curricular activities were constant battle cries, hanging over the heads of every parent and student.
And that continued into the Kathleen Wynne years, when the teachers then sharply bit off the hand that fed them so well for so long.
This year it’s the class size argument. Again, it’s the kids that are painted as the cause for such concern.
If you increase class size, you’re harming the student. Really? Or is it just another way to keep the maximum number of teachers employed?
Most are not aware that there is an over-abundance of teachers in Ontario in a country that has seen a sharp decline in student enrolment over the years, largely due to demographic issues. That is another reason for our generous immigration programs: we need more kids.
Too many teachers, not enough students — or jobs. Just ask any young person who’s sitting in the unemployment line with teaching credentials.
Fewer teachers means the unions make less money from membership dues, therefore their revenue base shrinks.
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How do you increase teachers with a declining enrolment? You come up with other ways to pad your membership-dues base.
One way is to increase the ratio of teachers to students. Another is to offer fringe services — whether in another language or religion — that expand the teachers’ role and the need for more of them.
That is what has been happening in Ontario for years.
Up until recently, however, teachers have been able to convince parents that despite all the conflict, they’re getting a bang for their tax-paying buck when it comes to their kids’ education.
That may change now that information has surfaced on how strong or weak our students really are and how well-prepared they are for the future.
The Education Quality and Accountability Office says only 48 per cent of English-speaking kids in Grade 6 met the provincial average, down from 61 per cent in 2009. For Grade 3 students , 51 per cent met the standard compared to 70 per cent in 2009.
Those in the French system did much better. I would say it’s all the more reason to have one strong system instead of building another system so you can hire more staff — again, increasing your dues base despite fewer students.
Simply put, our teachers and their unions are failing kids.
They are more interested in their organization and increasing their dues base than they are the product that comes out the other end — your kid.
It’s time the taxpayer took back control of our education system from money-making organizations representing themself.