Teach­ers rally at MPP’s con­stituency of­fice

Smith tells ed­u­ca­tors he can’t say much about what’s go­ing on

The Peterborough Examiner - - FRONT PAGE - JOELLE KO­VACH EX­AM­INER STAFF WRITER

MPP Dave Smith said he couldn’t ad­dress in de­tail the con­cerns of 30 teach­ers who ral­lied out­side his con­stituency of­fice on Thurs­day over cuts to ed­u­ca­tion.

Smith said the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment is ne­go­ti­at­ing a con­tract with On­tario’s teach­ers, and it lim­its what he can say to those who brought to him con­cerns about bal­loon­ing class sizes or vi­o­lence in the class­room.

“Un­for­tu­nately, I’m very limited as to what I can talk about, be­cause we’re go­ing through the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing process right now,” Smith said.

“And as some­one who rep­re­sents the Crown, I can­not say much about the ne­go­ti­a­tions.”

The rally started at about 3:30 p.m. with a dozen teach­ers.

Within a half-hour, more had come to join them adding up to about 30.

Teach­ers from high schools, ele­men­tary schools, sup­ply teach­ers and stu­dents in the fac­ulty of ed­u­ca­tion from Trent Univer­sity were all at the rally.

Start­ing Mon­day (Nov. 18), the On­tario Sec­ondary School Teach­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion could be in a po­si­tion to be­gin work-to-rule ac­tion.

Mean­while, pub­lic ele­men­tary school teach­ers in Peter­bor­ough and Kawartha Lakes plan to be­gin a work-to-rule ac­tion Nov. 26.

The Ele­men­tary Teach­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion of On­tario (ETFO) is­sued a news re­lease Thurs­day stat­ing that means teach­ers won’t carry out ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties such as fill­ing out re­port cards un­til they have a con­tract — their last deal ex­pired on Aug. 31.

Key is­sues for ETFO in­clude re­sources for kids with spe­cial needs, re­as­sur­ance that the gov­ern­ment won’t can­cel full­day kinder­garten and a plan to ad­dress is­sues such as vi­o­lence in schools.

Jen Deck, pres­i­dent of Kawartha Pine Ridge ETFO for oc­ca­sional teach­ers, said at the rally that Grade 1 and 2 teach­ers are in­creas­ingly be­com­ing the tar­gets of vi­o­lence from their young pupils.

She said she re­ceives reg­u­lar re­ports from teach­ers who’ve been punched, hit or kicked in the class­room by their pupils.

Deck said in­ci­dents like these are on the rise — and she thinks smaller class sizes and fund­ing for ed­u­ca­tional as­sis­tants would help.

“We need those sup­ports,” she said.

Mean­while, the On­tario gov­ern­ment also pro­poses to re­quire all student teach­ers to pass a stan­dard­ized math test.

That con­cerns Brit­tney Van­der­sel, who is in teach­ers’ col­lege at Trent Univer­sity.

Van­der­sel is the co-chair of the On­tario Teacher Can­di­date Coun­cil, a new group of student teach­ers from across On­tario who want to speak up on is­sues such as the math test.

She said on Thurs­day the gov­ern­ment plans to test math skills, math ped­a­gogy and on ped­a­gogy in gen­eral — but that’s been the ex­tent of the in­for­ma­tion avail­able from Queen’s Park.

Fac­ul­ties of ed­u­ca­tion aren’t be­ing told any­thing more, Van­der­sel said, leav­ing prospec­tive teach­ers won­der­ing how to pre­pare for a test they’ll have to take, start­ing in March, as they apply for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“We’re go­ing into this blind,” she said. “We’re here to speak up. We want re­sources, we want an­swers, and we want eq­ui­table test­ing and as­sess­ment.”

Van­der­sel asked Smith about this, but he added this is also an is­sue he can­not dis­cuss.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT EX­AM­INER

About 30 high school, ele­men­tary, student and sup­ply teach­ers shouted and called for an end to ed­u­ca­tion cuts on Thurs­day.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT EX­AM­INER

Teach­ers from high schools, ele­men­tary schools, sup­ply teach­ers and stu­dents in the fac­ulty of ed­u­ca­tion from Trent Univer­sity talked MPP Dave Smith out­side his con­stituency of­fice on Wa­ter Street.

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