As unfortunate as it is that Jill, and her peers will most likely miss some adolescent milestones like their proms, or even weekly extracurricular rituals this school year, you are missing the point. To proclaim that students are being “thrown under the bus” due to the teachers and their union’s opposition to Bill 115 is a vast overstatement. There’s a bigger picture at stake here, stakes that are much less trivial than a prom.
It can’t be denied that the teachers union and the government have had a long arduous and at times operatic relationship (a relationship that the government has broadcast during financial turmoil – creating opposition between the public and its educators). Nonetheless, the teachers have long been deprived of value in their jobs.
The two most beneficial contributing factors to a well-rounded country are public healthcare and public education – when people are healthy and educated the economy is strengthened with the long term financially fluidity of its participants. And in recent years both the healthcare and education systems have been attacked in order to compensate for the government’s consistent mismanagement of tax dollars. And I have yet to see our MPs, and government officials sacrifice a cent of their bloated salaries and pensions. Instead, essential public employees are devalued – stripped of salary, sick days, and deserved benefits, and now the people we trust to bring our children to their full potential, are being denied their basic employment rights.
A misguided opinion of the aspects of an educator’s employment, have spread like a disease through the Canadian public for years. Biased outrage over paid summers, short work-days and inflated pensions – all ill-advised facets of an educators job description. I would agree that there are poor teachers in our system, but I would also argue that many of these poor teachers are just burnt-out and disillusioned due to years of being devalued by that system as well as the public at large.
If I have yet to grab your attention on the plight of educators, lets’ review some figures. The average teacher has a starting salary in Ontario of roughly $42,000 and a top wage of $90,000. In a class of 30 students, at the low end a teacher is being paid a meager $2.33 per child per hour for a 50 hour workweek (which believe it or not is the average a teacher spends teaching, prepping, grading and extracurricular). And this is before tax and union dues.
We as a country expect our educators to instill a desire to learn, a drive to succeed and at times provide the role of a surrogate parent – wholly valuable elements to the success of future contributors to a country’s economy. Without quality founding education, universities are forced to reduce their admission criteria thus limiting eminence in the workforce. In a drowning economy, it is in our best interest to provide the youth of today with a respectable education to assure our country’s economic wellbeing, and that starts with valuing our educators.
Allowing Bill 115 to pass will only set a precedent for future governments to overturn contracts between employees and their employers in both private and public sectors. It will only further undermine an already disillusioned education workforce and will hinder the future education and employment of students like Jill. The magnitude of such imminent repercussions I’m sure will far surpass the lack of extracurricular activities, a temporary absence of tutoring and the adolescent disappointment of a prom.