Total Pageviews

Friday, December 28, 2012

Reflection of Thoughts

Sometimes it takes a little nudge to get moving, in this case writing another post to my blog. It Would Be Easy Not To Care by @sheilaspeaking was my nudge. I DO CARE.

Education & schooling requires the mutual efforts of children, parents, teachers, (unions), administration, trustees, ministry & community to succeed. Nothing new there but the recent labour issues here in Ontario have put a different perspective(s) on this.

I will be blunt here, the labour situation is a mess and there only is going to be losers. Some voices are not being heard , others are not being listened to. Mistakes are being made by all. There are many issues at stake. I will confess I don't know all the ins & outs and I don't have the knowledge to answer everything. I am not a labour negotiator or lawyer. These are my abbreviated views.

For years the education sector through bargaining made great gains for its members. Yes, there were a few bumps in the road and steps backwards but overall teachers have moved forward. Teaching is an important job and does have its increasing challenges. Have they reached the peak or a plateau?

Many of these gains were initially obtained through local bargaining. However, maybe for the better, local bargaining (except for local issues) gave way to provincial bargaining. The SAME for ALL across the province. I cannot say whether boards liked this arrangement or not but the province does control the purse strings and it took a lot of responsibility off the local boards. However, there was no legislation outlining the parameters, lengths or degrees this bargaining would or could take. It went well when things were good.

The Ministry (government) realized it was in a financial bind but it had been good to education (always could use/want more). It wanted constraints and savings but instead of saying "This is what we want" and asking "How we can achieve it?", they said "This is what is happening", Bill 115. This created two issues: financial implications & bargaining rights. Can the two be separated out from each other?

Provincial bargaining failed for the Public System but agreement was reached in the Catholic System. I cannot speak how those in the Catholic System see or feel about the process & the agreement, so I will leave it at that. There were no ground rules in place for failure but local boards were now to negotiate what the province could not. Who was now going to look like the bad guy?

Should have local boards spoke up sooner about Provincial bargaining? Was it an issue before? Things went okay in the past so why rock the boat? When things went south this time though, boards did oppose and ask for changes to what was to be negotiated and how. A bold move to maybe bite the hand that feeds you. Could local & provincial bargaining occur at the same time? Some Boards & Trustees took very vocal stands while others took various other degrees to show displeasure or concern.

What avenues were/are open for teachers and educational workers to show their opposition? What drastic steps can Boards take?

Bargaining, negotiations or discussions (what ever term you want to use) requires two or more sides. The sides or players in this bargaining changed at the end from provincial to local parties (boards & unions). What players should have been involved? What players were involved? What players were never asked to the table? What players walked from the table?  Can or should the two issues of financial & bargaining be separated out? The details would make for a long(er) post.

It is interesting to see the sides play out/ promote their positions. At times you think 'They are not talking about the same thing'. As trustees maybe we hear or follow staff & ministry too much. Can the interpretation of various things be so different? Is each messenger giving a different message? You may ask yourself "Who is correct?" Maybe each side should pitch they side to the other's members. Discrepancies have been there from the beginning. Could teachers strike? Can the Bill be challenged in court? Who is the employer?

Some Boards did come to what appeared to be settlements/agreements, then the floor fell in. What changed? The Province had to agree to the contracts.

No matter who you side with, there are 2 groups that are being affected by this unrest that have no direct say or course of action.  Parents & Students. They can voice their opinions & demand action. Should they be pawns or victims of things? There have been established cultures, traditions &/or expectations in schools. What is the role of the teacher? Should they be clearly defined or once defined leaves no room for change? Schooling/education is more than what is taught in the classroom, extra-curriculars have become part of the process. How did they evolve to what  & how they are today, considering they are not happening? This (these) is another issue even though it clearly cannot be separated from the current ones.

The moral of a school means so much. Are these short term or long term actions going to have long term or short term affects? We all say "We are there for the kids." I think everyone needs to step back and rethink the consequences of their actions. Is the short term gain &/or pain worth the long term ...?...? or is it the long term gain &/or pain worth the short term ...?...? . Should teachers be made toe the official line?

I have maybe tried to simplify a complicated situation too much. Is inaction leading to reaction instead of pro-action? Is this the accepting or un-accepting the better/worst of 2 evils/goods.

My Path of Learning has been very bumpy recently and educational but has created more undefined territory.

I posted this awhile ago at @yesknowno.  "If talks dn't lead 2 talks & actions dn't lead 2 actions or talks dn't lead 2 actions & actions dn't lead 2 talks, what is left? Start new?"


  1. Hi Robert,
    Thank you for being blunt and upfront about "the mess". I appreciate your thoughts on this (and now I don't feel so alone in my writing about how I feel, and in my confusion :))

    I know you care and that you take a stand where you can on this situation. I guess we can only hope that our own questions may help to clarify the paths taken by others.

  2. Thanks Sheila. I am working on a second part to this post with various links.