Monday, 17 December 2012

How much are teachers prepared to lose?

Dear Readers,

Today, I bring you an article by Marco Chown Oved of the Toronto Star verbatim. Certainly, the teacher walk-out tomorrow will be popular conversation material around the water cooler and as usual, my response is below and below that is space for your comment!

                       Tim MacFarlane, with daughter Sarah, at Moss Park Arena, says they're 
                     lucky to have a grandparent at home to take care of Sarah during Tuesday's 
                    teacher strike. Many other families are left scrambling to find daycare options.
                                   (photo by Marco Chown Oved of the Toronto Star)

 As he watches his daughter Sarah help give figure skating lessons to younger kids taking their first tentative strides, Tim MacFarlane smiles. Not everyone is as lucky as they are — some will need a helping hand.
It’s as true for skating as it is for families struggling to cope with the one-day teacher strikes scheduled this week.

When public elementary schools close across much of the GTA in what is being called “Super Tuesday,” tomorrow, Sarah has a grandmother at home to take care of her. But MacFarlane knows this isn’t the case for each of the hundreds of thousands of families who will be scrambling to find accommodation for their kids.

“A lot of parents don’t have money, can’t pay for extra child care” said MacFarlane, who sits on the board of Superfriends daycare at Huron Street Public School. Like many daycare programs across the city, they’re staying open all day to take the pressure off parents and help where they can.“Knowing the situations of the families in our daycare, we had to stay open for them,” he said.

                         Penpa Tshering will be able to take care of granddaughter Tenzing when 
                         teachers strike on Tuesday because he's retired. But he worries it will be 
                                                     harder for parents who work.
                                 (photo by Marco Chown Oved of the Toronto Star)

Elementary school teachers in Halton announced Sunday that they would strike Wednesday, turning Super Tuesday into a super week of rotating strikes across the province and leaving parents in the lurch. Along with Halton, elementary teachers in Algoma, near Sault Ste Marie and Bluewater, near Sarnia, announced Sunday they too would strike Wednesday, in the final week of classes before the holiday break.

Super Tuesday will still hit the GTA hardest as teachers with the Toronto, Peel and Durham public elementary boards walk off the job and shut down schools. They will be joined by teachers at five other boards across Ontario: Greater Essex in the Windsor area, Lambton-Kent in Sarnia and Chatham, Waterloo, Grand Erie in Brantford and Near North in North Bay.

Some 339,000 students at 761 schools in the GTA will be without classes Tuesday, according to a tally of elementary students and schools reported by each board. Halton’s walkout will affect another 40,000 students at 83 schools on Wednesday. While many of the parents who spoke to the Star Sunday said they had already made arrangements to care for their kids during the strike, some said they had no other choice but to bring them to work, and others were left scrambling for other options.

                                  Michael Angel (centre) says he is lucky that daycare has been 
                                extended all day for his sons Charlie (left) and Jack. They'll have 
                                           a place to go during Tuesday's teacher strike.
                                       (photo by Marco Chown Oved of the Toronto Star)

“It’s a really big concern for us,” said Van Nguyen, an aluminum factory worker who has two kids, Nam and Trang, in Grade 2 and kindergarten at Queen Victoria school. He can’t take his kids to work and his wife, a restaurant manager, doesn’t get home until 11 p.m. “We’re going to have to find someone to take care of the kids,” he said, hoping they’ll be able to go to the library with family friends or neighbours.

Many families are taking advantage of a parent who works at home or a family member who has already made themselves available to care for a younger sibling not yet in school. Penpa Tshering normally picks up his granddaughter Tenzing from Queen Victoria School everyday, but will care for the Grade 2 student for the whole day Tuesday. “I’m retired,” he said. “For me it makes no difference. But it will be difficult for those who work.”

Families will get through the strike day by helping each other out, says Sarah Orenstein, who has a son in Grade 7 at Spectrum school. Orenstein has offered to take her friends’ kids for the day as well.
“It’s not such a big deal because they’re not so little anymore,” she said. Students at Dewson Street Public School normally enrolled in after school care will also have their child care extended all day, said Michael Angel, whose boys Charlie and Jack are in Grades 3 and 1 there.

Back at Moss Park Arena, Sarah skates between the cones during a Central Toronto Skating Club practice. The arena won’t be open during the strike Tuesday, but with only a week of school left before the holidays, most parents on hand say they’ll be able to cope. “The strike doesn’t bother me, it’s only one day,” said MacFarlane. But if there are more, he says, he’ll have to put Sarah in daycare for the whole day like everyone else.

                                                 Illustration by John Camejo

my response.....

While teachers react with horror as the taxpayer has finally stood up and said 'enough is enough', is it any surprise that it's the students..and parents who are caught in the cross-fire? So, why have the teachers taken the gloves off? Don't they care that parents are taxpayers, too?

Without getting into the running battle about the fact that the teaching profession is regarded by many as a part time job; considering how much time teachers don't work in any given year, the conversation between taxpayers and teachers seems concentrated on teacher perks in Bill 115, but one major perk that hasn't spilled much ink is tenure! The question is....why not?

                                                      Toddlers with wandering minds at school

Granted, many teachers are committed individuals and a credit to their schools and their craft, but.....has the time come to review tenure?  It took one unnamed Ontario principal too long to rid her school of an incompetent teacher in a process she’s not fond of revisiting, according to Rachel Mendleson of Macleans in her Why is it so hard to fire teachers?

It began in September 2007, when this unnamed proncipal inherited a teacher whose performance was already under review. Despite a file thick with evidence of inadequacy, the principal helped draft an “improvement plan”, a requirement in the provincial Education Act and dipped into school funds to pay for substitutes while the struggling teacher attended workshops. But, says the junior school principal, it soon emerged that there was “a serious, basic problem of not understanding”, which continued even after the teacher knew she was under review.

Students shuffled through reading levels without proof of assessment. Parents complained about spelling test words that weren’t sent home. And the teacher submitted grades for computer class when, in fact, her “inability to use technology” meant the monitors “were rarely turned on,” said the principal. Still, it took months of paperwork and meetings with union representatives before she was able to inch even one step closer to dismissal. “It was very upsetting,” she said. “I wouldn’t choose to do it again unless I absolutely had to.” This situation plays out all too often and deserves reconsideration.

                                                             ....and then, learning to write!

Inadequate teaching has been shown to contribute to dropout rates, low test scores and a dislike for school, yet in Ontario, teacher incompetence prompts so few administrators to pursue termination that the principal insisted that not even the name of her school board be published, because it would almost certainly identify her. According to Barrie Bennett, a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, the dismissal process is so onerous, the risk of reprisal from teachers’ unions so great, that “most principals find it’s not worth the effort.” Instead, they approve transfers, or hide struggling teachers where their deficiencies can go unnoticed.

The result however, is this: a system that keeps incompetent teachers in the classroom making it difficult for young teachers to apply their skills while teacher unions willingly sacrifice young teachers’ careers and children’s educations for dues money and influence. One obviously bad-for-children policy the unions push is often called “last in, first out.” This policy requires school leaders to hire, place and fire teachers by seniority rather than teacher quality or school need.

                                                           .....and learning to read!

Seniority rules consolidate union power because older teachers agree more with union positions politically and practically, according to the largest U.S. teacher surveys, conducted by Scholastic and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Older teachers also stand to gain the most from unions because the biggest union perks, such as comfortable pensions and health care benefits, accrue most toward the end of a teacher’s career. Seniority ties older workers to their jobs, providing unions steady membership and support.
In short, seniority rules keep unions around longer, so unions support those rules despite their bad effects on students. Research has shown seniority rules reduce classroom quality and are most likely to hurt poor and minority students.

When teachers unions, in their mind 'the ultimate dictators' refuse to recognize the need for change and Ontario government education leaders sell out mindlessly, voters essentially have no voice in education.
That’s not just undemocratic, it’s dangerous.While it may be convenient to blame the McGuinty Liberal government for gross negligence in pandering to the teachers...and their votes for the last 9 years, the teachers brought this on themselves!

                                                           ...and learning arithmetic!

However, despite the usual union rhetoric, can the teachers can ever win this battle of wills as Right to Work moves ever northward? Taxpayers have proven that we are force to be reckoned with! Or is the only question...just how much are the teachers prepared to lose?


No comments:

Post a Comment