Today, over 2,000 students at Earl Haig Secondary School in Toronto walked out of class at 9:45 a.m. to protest against the province’s Putting Students First Act.
The protest lasted for one period and during that time, students held up signs that displayed their opposition to the act and shouted, “We want extracurricular now.”
They say the act, also widely known as Bill 115, has not made their best interests a priority and they want the government to do what is best for them.
We have so much school spirit and in a school of over 2,000 students, having these little things taken from us really affects us and it hurts us.
“This bill affects us a lot,” said Lisa Lee, a student at the protest. “We have so much school spirit and in a school of over 2,000 students, having these little things taken from us really affects us and it hurts us.
“It hurts how we perform in school and we have nothing to look forward to after classes.”
Teachers at Earl Haig have refused to organize school clubs, sports teams and even the Christmas concert in response to the act, which limits how they can strike.
After-class scholarly assistance from teachers has also been cancelled, which many students said might affect their grades and hurt their chances of getting into a good university.
“I need extra help with my math and now I won’t be able to get it,” said John Musa, a Grade 11 student at the protest. “We have to pay for a tutor to get help. We could have gotten that for free before and we can’t. It’s not fair.”
While students and teachers are feeling the effects of the act, they are not the only ones. Parents like Mary Philips, mother to a student at Earl Haig, are looking for alternative ways to keep their kids busy after school.
“Sometimes I work late and it helps to know that my son is not at home glued to the TV,” she said. “Now, I know that after completing his homework, he’s either going to be watching TV, playing video games or running around the neighbourhood doing who knows what.
“We need those programs for the kids.”
More secondary school students from around Toronto are planning to keep the pressure on the provincial government with a protest set for 1 p.m. Thursday at Queen’s Park.