After a long summer hiatus, we are back in town and walked with the Ontario teachers at Queen’s Park earlier this week.
It reminded us of the protest we did 12 years ago, during the dreadful Mike Harris years of education cuts and teacher bashing. Noah was just a baby at the time, barely able to walk. It has certainly been a long – and rather peaceful – road since then. Lindy actually joked that things have gone so bad in Ontario that teachers are forced to the streets every 12 years!
While the political climate of recent years has been rather positive and conducive to raising the level and quality of education in Ontario to one of the very best in the world, the latest measures undertaken unilaterally by the Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal Government have drenched the entire system under a cold and regressive shower of mistrust and disrespect.
The worst aspect of these unilateral measures is not so much the measures themselves – although they are wiping out years of constructive collaboration – as much as the way they are being shoved down the throats of the teachers without any form of negotiation or consultation. This is particularly disappointing coming from a Liberal government that has enjoyed continued support from the teachers for decades and has called itself a pro-education government.
Full-day Kindergarten is certainly a wonderful move forward for the province, and unquestionably a move that enjoys the support of most Ontario teachers. It should not be financed, however, at the expense of the existing education system. It very much sounds like a French nursery rhyme: “Un pas en avant, trois pas en arrière”.
The current political tactics will certainly force many thousands of people to shift their votes to the left, or perhaps to the right, in the future and will likely benefit the NDP or PCs and further weaken the Liberals. This is unfortunately a political “grand écart” that many may wish they were not forced to perform.