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Supporting Teachers 2020

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Retired teachers, RTO/ERO members
support striking teachers and support staff

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On Friday February 21, District 27 member Norbert Boudreau went out to meet teachers on strike on Greenbank Rd. "I met all kinds of workers, French, English, Catholic, Public, Secondary, Elementary. When I identified myself as RTO/ERO, retired in 1998, one young teacher mentioned the two-week strike just before I retired. I even met support staff and answered questions about legal and illegal strikes."

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By Norbert Boudreau— Many retired teachers, RTO/ERO members, joined the 200 000 teachers and support staff in education represented by the four unions in education: L’Association des enseignantes et enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (FEEO/ETFO), Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (FEESO/OSSTF) and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA). It made me think of the unjust cuts in education for which the teachers of my generation, spent two long weeks on the picket line.

RTO/ERO retired teachers may ask why they should be concerned. Educators in both elementary and secondary levels throughout Ontario are opposed to cuts in public education. For example:

  • The government increased class size averages in high school to 28:1 from 22:1 resulting in a potential loss of 10,000 teachers. The government is now saying they will scale back their class size cuts to 25:1 as a compromise.

  • The government proposed high school students take 4 mandatory online courses with an average class size of 35:1. Courses are being developed in the private sector with hopes of selling them to other jurisdictions as a revenue generator. Again, the government is now saying they are compromising by reducing the number of mandatory e-learning classes to two.

  • The government has cut $630 Million from the per pupil foundation grant and $230 Million from the learning opportunities grant decreasing supports for at-risk students and students with special education needs.

  • The government is stepping on the Charter rights of teachers and education workers by legislating a 1% salary increase outside of the collective bargaining process.

  • The government is proposing an end to fair hiring practices where principals must choose from a short list of teachers with seniority qualifications respected. and

  • The government has committed to full-day kindergarten in the media but the messaging to the teacher affiliates has been inconsistent at best. For example, the Minister has stated he put his support for the Kindergarten program in writing but at least one affiliate representing kindergarten teachers has not received any written commitment.

Let’s hope that our current teachers are successful in changing these policies that are not in the best interest of our students.

We are educators and standing up for sound education principles and practices should be something we do without hesitation.

(Thanks to Bob McGahey for his suggestions and to all who encouraged me to write this article)