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Teachers going too far

The one-day walkout that local public elementary teachers will stage Friday probably isn’t alarming many parents. After all, at this time of year parents have to be prepared for what to do with their children in case of snow days – which come with much less warning than the 72 hours notice of Friday’s walkout given by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.
ETFO’s series of one-day walkouts across the province aside, though, there’s a lot that is alarming about what’s happening as ETFO and the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers’ Federation escalate their protests against Bill 115, the provincial government’s education legislation.
Unlike at times in the past when there was considerable public sympathy for teacher protests against Ontario government actions, it appears ETFO and the OSSTF aren’t winning the public relations battle this time around. The union representing Catholic teachers was willing to compromise with a provincial government that’s up against a fiscal wall, but ETFO and the OSSTF weren’t willing to follow suit.
These two unions have painted their fight against Bill 115 and the government that wrote it as being about protecting their right to bargain. But a great many people see it as really a fight about protecting their financial perks.
The two unions have taken the government to court over Bill 115. That’s a good place for this battle.
It shouldn’t be fought using children as hostages, which is what has started happening as the two unions have escalated their strike actions to include such things as a refusal to coach sports teams and run school clubs. (At the Upper Grand school board, where high school teachers have ratified a new two-year contract, an unknown number of them will nevertheless join the OSSTF’s widespread pullout from extracurricular activities on Monday.)
Incredibly, it’s being suggested that public teachers might not return to extracurriculars for two years – the time frame for contracts that the provincial government could start imposing on ETFO and OSSTF locals after Dec. 31. This suggests the public teachers and their unions have become so obsessed with their struggle against Bill 115 that they have lost sight of its effects on students and parents. Either that or they know very well what they are doing and don’t really care how much students suffer.
It’s time for these two unions to change course.

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