The good news? Everyone seems to care passionately about education in Ontario. And that is the most important news.
The bad news? There still seems to be quite a few misconceptions about the Putting Students First Bill, the teaching profession, and in general, me.
Thus, this post is a blanket response to all those comments I didn't get to.
To those of you who agreed (or mostly agreed with me): thank you for understanding. Thank you for understanding that teachers care about more than summers off & our king's ransom of a salary. Thank you for understanding that we care about our kids and that we are dedicated to our jobs. Thank you for understanding that teaching is a noble profession and not a glorified babysitting service.
To those of you who don't agree with me and/or offered criticisms of my blog, I've got a few things I'd like to clear up.
1. Those of you who commented on my grammar and punctuation. You're right. I messed up a couple times. I take full responsibility for not properly editing my work. And I bet you I'll mess up a few times in this blog, too. I'm human.
2. Those of you who think I'm bitter and hate my job, you could not be more wrong. I really, truly love my job. There has not been one day since the start of my career when I felt bored, jaded, or bitter. When I'm at school teaching, I'm happy. I love reading picture books to my students. I love watching that lightbulb turn on. I love marking tests & getting to put a big honkin' 100% in the top right corner when its well-deserved.
Do I get angry? Of course! Do I get frustrated? Of course! Do I get stressed out? Of course! But no matter what your job, everyone gets angry, frustrated and stressed out sometimes. It's normal. In my 30+ years of teaching, I am bound to have days when I'm lovin' my job less than others. Don't you?
2. I have never once said nor has any other teacher who commented that we deserve and/or expect a raise. We completely accept that a wage freeze is necessary but that wasn't enough for a lot of you. A lot of you think we are grossly overpaid.
Question: why exactly do you think I, and other teachers, get paid too much? I have a 4-year Honours Degree from one of the best universities in Canada, received my teaching degree from another one of Canada's top schools, completed 6 additional qualification courses in order to become a specialist in Special Education and Reading. I am constantly attending workshop and courses to further increase my knowledge base and teaching abilities. How do I not deserve a salary that is on-par with other educated professionals and trades, such as nurses, policemen, electricians, and accountants?
3. How do you still not understand that we were NEVER intending to strike. Perhaps its true that a "strike vote" was being called by some boards, but let me clarify what that means: it means that we vote whether or not we will strike if it comes to that many steps and months down the road. The first major action is "work-to-rule" where teachers just do their regular school-day job and also decide not to volunteer for extracurricular activities, such as coaching sports teams. Did you see the key word here? VOLUNTEER. I do not get paid to coach cross country running, track and field, the spelling bee, the environmental club, and student announcements. I do them because I love it and I see what an amazing impact it has on the lives of our students. And I will always continue to do those volunteer jobs because they are some of the best parts of my day.
And PS., we're allowed to strike. At least according to a little bit of Canadian legislation that amended the original wording the the Charter of Rights and Freedom. In its June 8, 2007 decision, Health Services and Support – Facilities Subsector Bargaining Association v. British Columbia, the Supreme Court of Canada held that “the s. 2(d) guarantee of freedom of association [in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms] protects the capacity of members of labour unions to engage in collective bargaining on workplace issues.” 1
4. Those 3 unpaid days. Professional Activity does not mean "sit home and watch soap operas" It means we are in school or at a workshop for the entire day. Why is it fair that I have to go to work without getting paid? Now I know some of you in the "private sector" will say that you do it all the time, but its not right for you either. Everyone, whether they're a teacher, taxi driver, receptionist, or cashier or anything else, deserves appropriate remuneration for work completed. That is why we have labour laws and unions, to ensure that we are all treated fairly and guaranteed certain rights. That is a huge part of what makes Canada one of the greatest democracies in the world and why immigrants flock here: because they know that in Canada, they will be free, they will be treated fairly, and their voice will be heard. Sadly, Laurel Broten has decided that for some reason, us teachers are the lowest of the low in society and we don't deserve the same rights as other Canadians, as outlined in tons of Canadian case law.
5. Last but not least, what's with the giant hate-on for teachers? What did we ever do to you except try our best to teach your children every day? Is it the Winter and March break and summers off? Because we weren't the ones who came up with that one. If you want to blame someone for us getting our summers off, blame the farmers. You see, when Canada was first being settled, farmers needed as many hands as possible helping during the growing season and harvest time and took to keeping their children home to work. So many, in fact, that the government decided that schools should shut down for those two months. You'd know that if you were in my 7th grade History class.
Is it that our day "officially" ends at 4pm? Is it that we have some of the smartest minds managing our pensions and (even though I pay an arm and a leg for it right now) when it is time to retire, I'll actually be able to retire? Is it that I get to go to school and laugh at silly jokes and eat the cupcakes Kevin's mom brought in for his birthday and get a new mug every year with a sweet little card declaring "you're my favorite teacher ever?" You're right, that's all pretty sweet. In fact, its damn awesome. I have an awesome, awesome job. But you know what? Instead of being angry and resentful because you don't get the same perks with your job and if you think our jobs are so easy and our pockets are overflowing with money, why don't you quit your job and become a teacher too!
Next Monday is Labour Day, a day which was established to recognize the economic and social contributions of workers. All workers. Even us teachers.