By: Surjit Singh Flora
The four largest teachers’ unions of Ontario are planning on striking Feb. 13 in Peel region and many others and on Feb. 21—a shutdown that will cause a full shut down of Ontario’s public education system and has been causing great harm to parents and students.
Four different teachers’ unions in Ontario are conducting ‘work to rule’ campaigns and rotating strikes in their own way, causing great harm to people and students across the province.
The unions have been very vocal about the reasons for their strike and are accusing the Ford government of reducing the education budget. The government is saying that instead of a cut, the government has raised $1.2 billion in education costs this year.
Teachers’ unions are also projecting a modest increase in government size in the classroom, which is causing confusion among the people.
The Ford government has not increased class sizes in elementary schools, but rumors are circulating about it.
The government had set a target of making the average class size 28 students in high schools, but in Oct. 2019, Education Minister Stephen Lecce reduced it to an average of 25 students.
This is perfectly legitimate, and, in this case, it is not fair to mislead people into making excuses for student learning.
The Ford government has made it clear that this type of online course will not be imposed on ‘needy’ students. This feature is for students who can take online courses.
Teachers’ unions are also opposed to some credit courses being taken online, and the excuse is being made that this will make it difficult for students who are comfortable learning or suffer from some mental or physical disability.
Technology has evolved enormously over the past 20-25 years and has impacted the entire economic system, including education. There were times when people used to do many courses ‘by mail.’
Today, the online technology is so developed that in many cases, it even works better than the live teacher as it does not have time constraints.
The student can listen/watch the online lecture repeatedly on a subject as he/she wishes, while the teacher cannot repeat his lectures endlessly in the classroom.
Such courses are also crucial at the high school level, as students going to university have to do a lot of work online.
The development of new technology is unstoppable, and education is the leading role in implementing this development. Today’s students are the only ones who have to apply new technology in different sectors of the economy tomorrow. Many also want to be founders of technology and science.
The greed of teachers’ unions has grown so much that they want to keep every aspect of public education in their grasp so that their jobs are secure and payroll unemployed.
A slight increase in classroom size in high schools will not affect the quality of education. The government has promised that no teacher will be paid if the need for teachers decreases, as this will only affect the new hiring. There are currently more than 1, 025,000 full-time teachers in the state.
The entry-level for new teachers is also blocked by the retired teachers who become supply teachers after retiring, which makes the entry-level of the supply teacher closed or difficult for the new teachers.
Unionism is not ready, to tell the truth about it. The current school system prefers to accept retired teachers as supply teachers, and this policy should change.
The Doug Ford government has imposed a one per cent per year cap on wage hikes for the public sector, as the state has a debt of $350 billion, which pays $13 billion annually.
The scale that applies to the public sector also applies to teachers, but unions are demanded to increase salaries and allowances by 2 per cent, and their stand is not justified. The Ford Government is trying to make good use of the people’s tax so that the economy of the state can be run smoothly.
The government does not want people to be burdened with taxes and debt that has to be appreciated.
The average annual salary for Ontario teachers is more than $ 90,000, and the average salary for a ten-year veteran is $98,000. There are many other types of allowances and pleasant vacations.
Today, 80 per cent of the province’s education budget is being spent on salaries and benefits, and with the increase in wages, this share will continue to increase, which will reduce the funding for repair and upgrade of schools.
Teachers’ unions are pitting parents/children and educators against each other, seemingly for the good of their chariots.
It is the government’s right and responsibility to keep the school system smart/efficient.