High-school teachers take to streets for one-day strike

High-school teachers across Ontario walk off job to protest cuts to education

teachers striking outside Danforth CTI
Bearing signs and slogans, teachers at Danforth CTI send a loud message to Doug Ford ad Stephan Lecce Sam Kavanagh/Toronto Observer

Garbed in thick winter coats and snow-resistant boots, the teachers of Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute joined their compatriots across the province in a one-day strike on Dec. 4. The strike is a result of the failure of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) and the provincial government to reach an agreement following weeks of intensive negotiation.

They trudged through the snow and slush, chanting slogans and waving signs. Hot tea and coffee steamed in the cool air next to rapidly emptying boxes of timbits. 

Seth Wood a music and drama teacher at Greenwood Secondary School complained about ballooning class sizes.

“It’s important to make connections with the kids, and the more kids there are  in class, the harder it is to do that in a day.” Wood said.

The one-day strike is the OSSTF’s next step in a series of protests to cuts in education. The action follows weeks of work to rule and information pickets that have been taking place.

Both Premier Doug Ford and Minister for Education Stephan Lecce have characterized the teachers’ unwillingness to come to terms as a result of them holding out for a pay raise.

The OSSTF have stressed that they are holding out for smaller class sizes and have characterized their resistance as standing up for better education opportunities for students. 

“Think of a 75-minute period in a class with 30 students in it, that’s an average of two minutes of teacher time per student,” said Melissa Hearst, assistant curriculum leader of guidance at Greenwood Secondary School.

“The provincial government is trying to make this about a cost of living raise, which we’ve always had.” Wood said. “This is mostly about us not having the resources to give these kids the education they deserve.” 

Child and youth workers also joined the strike, protesting cuts and changes to programming that are making it harder for the children they support to access the services they need. 

“Ford is trying to cut us child and youth workers,” said Bianca Bradely a child and youth worker at the school. “These children are our future, and they need individual support that they no longer have access to. “

Meanwhile the community seems to have the teachers’ back. 

“Sure, my daughter is affected by the strike, but the cuts the teachers are protesting will also affect the quality of her education, so I support the teachers 200 per cent.” Kevin Harron a local parent whose daughter attends Malvern High said, continuing. 

“She was in a science class that had 35-plus kids in it and not enough desk space for everyone, before it was eventually split” 

Kevin Harron

Though the teachers are returning to their classes tomorrow, they say they hope the action they undertook sent a loud message to premier Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservative government. 

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Posted: Dec 6 2019 12:39 pm
Filed under: News