Now what?

With input and thanks to Paul McGuire.

Like many in Ontario, I waited to see what would come from the current government in their first budget. Paul challenged all in social media not to keep quiet. That’s hardly a problem here but I wanted to wait until the budget came out.

There has been plenty of posturing in advance of the release and predictions of how the province would be affected by the announcement. Of course, my first concern was about where education would be headed and how it would be financed.

After all, the government gets to set the rules. They were elected by those in the province and get the opportunity to address their election promises. Whether it be the family budget, a community budget, or a provincial budget, you can determine where priorities and values fall based upon where funds are allocated.

We now have a sense of where things are likely to be headed.

In most scenarios, you go into a budget session and table a budget and talk about how you’re going to improve things. The government missed that this time going into the announcement. From the outset, it was clear from the messages from the Premier and the Minister of Education that there would be an attack of the system of the past. Money would be saved by increasing class sizes and a number of other changes made to the way that the system worked. Two targets seemed to be a common theme – the Grade 6 mathematics test and an attempt to improve the mathematics capabilities of teachers.

I didn’t see a vision to extend the excellence of the system. A positive vision for the future would have been so helpful. People can get behind a positive plan.

We do indeed currently have a good educational system. One Ontario educational leader which whom I had the pleasure of working with, Mary Jean Gallagher notes…

The world looks up to Canada’s education system, and Ontario is one of the very top in the world. Thank you to our educators who pursue excellence with our children. The world knows this, why doesn’t our Premier?— Mary Jean Gallagher (@maryjgal) April 6, 2019

A message that the system is good and “we’re going to make it better” would have been the high road. Unfortunately, that was the road not taken. Instead attacks on teachers and “union bosses” was the message delivered.

It wasn’t just from the high profile politicians. Closer to home, we had a MPP also quoting the Toronto Sun as an authoritative source.

I have many very good teacher friends. I am however concerned that certain individuals have students riled up and are…— Rick Nicholls (@RickNichollsCKL) April 4, 2019

It appears that we’re headed into very turbulent times as provincial negotiations begin.

How turbulent? Andrew Campbell is keeping score as the effects of messages from the Ministry are interpreted by school districts. His scorecard is available here.

What happens next?

Certainly students have had their voices heard with their walkout and then there were those teachers who protested at Queen’s Park.

I’ve always been the optimist. Perhaps there has been negotiating going on behind the scenes to set the stage for formal negotiations. Or maybe not.

Teachers are an interesting breed. Amid all of this, they go to work daily and make Ontario schools as excellent as they can be despite all this. They care about each of the faces that come to class in spite of all of the above. They also care for their colleagues. There will be some that get notices of being surplus (I hate that term) and there will be those who are there to lend an empathetic ear.

Peter Skillen shared an inspirational open letter to teachers recently.

So, what’s next? This is a place where Paul and I didn’t have a meeting of the minds. My thoughts are below; Paul may follow up with a blog post on his own blog.

As with all things political, your MPP should be well aware of your feelings.  It’s their responsibility to listen to you to advise them how best to represent their constituents.

My best advice is to stay informed with everything that is happening. In the meantime, the standard of excellence should be maintained as we head into the closing months of the school year. The ball is clearly in the court of the federations to keep members informed of what’s happening and what they’re doing for their members. Your input and feedback to them can be so helpful.

One thought on “Now what?

  1. First of all, totally unrelated to this post, I had the pleasure of listening to and later having lunch with Mary Jean Gallagher as part of a CODE Summer Symposium. I mean it when I told her that she was one of the best keynote speakers that I’ve ever heard. I loved her focus on kids and on teaching/learning. As a passionate kindergarten educator, I could definitely connect with what she said.

    On the more related note, I really like what you suggested, both for what we can do, but also with “maintaining our standard of excellence” for the rest of the year. I think that this can send a strong message to kids, family, the Board, and the community, about our commitment to education. It’s why I loved Peter Skillen’s post, as I think that it also speaks to this. Which leaves me wondering what Paul thinks. I hope he blogs, and then I can figure out where I stand as well. For now, I can certainly get behind what you’re saying. I’m just curious about an alternative perspective. Am I missing something here?

    Thanks Doug for writing this post! I hope others chime in.


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