Sometimes I get to the point of frustration, that I just become silent.
This is not one of those times.
A year ago, I posted on social media about how frustrated I was that the opposition party in Ontario was running on a platform of laying off 100,000 public sector workers which would, of course, include education workers.
Two years ago, I was discussing the tough negotiations that were happening with the provincial government, including the threats of cutbacks to crucial benefits, like sick days (which in the field of special education frequently means “injury recovery days”).
This translates in to two long years of fighting. Fighting for my rights, the rights of people I work with, the rights of students I support in the school system.
Yes, my peers and I knew what our working conditions were when we signed on with our respective school boards. We knew that we would be called on to do hard work and that the pay was not commiserate with our value to the system, our students or their families. We hoped that when feasible, the government would step up and recognize that value.
Over the past two years, we have been beaten down in the media, vilified for wanting to be recognized and compensated in the only way our society seems comfortable acknowledging value: monetarily.
Over the past two years, I have seen a shift, a dangerous shift, towards the edge of disaster. I have seen people become tired of being made out to be greedy and selfish. People who continue to work hard to deliver amazing programs to students, but who question why?
Why do I continue to do this work – especially when this honorable profession is vilified by the media and is now disdained by segments of the public? Why do I continue to do this work when my own government, the keeper of civil society, no longer feels that funding education is more important than funding votes?
Many capable and enthusiastic young people have turned away from a career in education because of these same circumstances.
What is happening to education in Ontario? Education is being eroded to pay for the government’s future, plain and simple.
We cannot be silent in our frustration – we must speak out at every opportunity. We, educators and the public, must work to save the future of our province by saving education and the hard-working, dedicated educators of our province’s future citizens.
“…it only takes one voice, at the right pitch, to start an avalanche.” (Dianna Hardy)