I DON’T THINK THERE is any doubt that Ontario parents owe teachers a great debt of gratitude for taking on the Ford government over the changes it had proposed to our education system, increasing high school class sizes to 28 from 22 and requiring students to take four mandatory online courses.
The teachers, according to a story by Jesse Kline in the National Post, got the government to lower its class-size total to 23 and reduce its online requirement to two courses.
“So having won major concessions in regard to the classroom, it would seem that the last step, an agreement on wages and job security, should be easy to attain,” Kline wrote.
But that doesn’t appear to be the case. Although last year’s average class size was 22.9, Kline says the teachers are sticking to their demand that class sizes remain at the present mandated total of 22.
Considering the total class size last year worked out to 22.9 when it was actually supposed to be 22, I can’t understand why the government just doesn’t go along with the 22 figure.
After all, it started at 28, dropped its total to 25, then dropped it again to 23.
Since it is so close, would another drop of one to make it 22 really matter?
Of course, the same can be said of the teachers. Since 22.9 was the effective number last year, would going up from 22 to 23 make that much difference?
I can understand the teachers still balking at the online courses. Even the government dropping the requirement from four to two will probably eat into the number of teachers required.
From my viewpoint, I wonder where the government sees this leading. Will high schools, which in the Sault have just been built at great expense, become a thing of the past, students being able to get their educations through a computer at home?
I think we really need to know the government’s end game before we call on the teachers to throw in the towel.
I know a lot of parents understandably just want this dispute to end, the rotating strikes causing them all sorts of problems as they have to make alternative arrangements for their children in order to be able to go to work.
But they should remember what the teachers have accomplished, many, like those in the Sault, doing it in some pretty harsh winter conditions.
However, I think we will know for sure shortly where the teachers stand in regard to a final contract.
Kline says Ontario teachers are the highest paid in the country. Will all that has gone before end up becoming a dollar and cents issue, with the children as pawns?
I trust that will not be the case.
YOU SEE ON TV IMAGES in news reports of the empty shelves as people are stocking up on supplies of all kinds because of the COVID-19 virus
And reporter Brian Kelly of The Sault Star reveals that customer demand for hand sanitizers and face masks is especially high in the Sault.
“It’s insane,” he quoted Jim Mills of Healthgear Medical and Safety as saying. “It’s crazy. I’ve never seen anything like this. SARS wasn’t nearly as bad as this.”
Mills’s Queen Street East business received 900 236-millilitre bottles of hand sanitizer at 11:30 a.m Friday. Five hours later, he had 120 left, or about 15 per cent of his shipment.
N95 masks, good to wear for five to seven hours, are on back order with one supplier telling Mills more won’t be available for 10 to 20 days.
Considering the virus is cropping up in more and more places I can understand people rushing to protect themselves.
My wife Barbara and I will not be among them.
Although I will be 88 later this month and she will be 87 in September, we don’t see ourselves in the category of those in deadly danger from the virus, the elderly whose systems are already compromised from other ailments.
I take half a water pill three times a week and Barbara, although she has some issues, seems to have an immune system second to none.
So we wouldn’t want to take anything away from those who can really use it.
I would hope everyone, especially the young and those who have no ailments, would take heed of the advice of the many medical professionals who are continually outlining who the vulnerable are when it comes of COVID-19.
The young have little to worry about. Some may not even know they have been infected.
The medical people explain that having hand sanitizers on hand is good but they also push for people to wash their hands often and to not, if possible, touch their face.
The latter, they agree, will be hard, and it certainly will be for me, but it is not too much to at least ask.
The coronavirus will, of course, get worse before it gets better but we should remember that we have been through such things before and recovered.
We can, as the medical people ask, all do our bit by washing our hands constantly and, it should go without saying, by not going into panic mode.
Along with the affects of the virus, there is more bad news in that some who are selling the required items have jacked up their prices immeasurably.
But there is also a tick in good news, the federal government announcing it will provide financial help for Canadians forced into quarantine by the virus.
Many people live pay cheque to pay cheque and the 14 days in quarantine could impose a
hardship on them and their families.