The Grumpy Giraffe

Critiques on social and education issues

Wage freeze on teachers

Teachers from various school boards in Ontario flocked to Queen’s Park to rally against a wage freeze to fight off Ontario’s $15 billion deficit. The intentions are great horrible, but I understand it, and yet I don’t understand it.

What upsets me the most is how the self-appointed “education premier”, Dalton McGuinty, is actually in favour of freezing the salary grid, along with other things. Below is a comprised list of the “benefits” teachers will not have after this bill:

  • wage freeze
  • take 3 unpaid days off
  • 20 sick days bumped down to 10 sick days
  • no banking sick days to cash at retirement
  • gov’t ban strikes and lockouts for 2+ years


On the surface, it does seem quite greedy of us teachers. 20 sick days? Banking them to receive a lump sum of cash? But if you divvy up the days, it’s really 2 sick days per month. If a teacher really needed to take a sick day to recover or visit the hospital, 2 sick days a month would be stupidly useless.

At my placement school, Fifth’s Disease broke out, and this one teacher who was pregnant had to take a sick leave of 35 days.

People look at these “benefits” and think that taxpayer money is wasted. Really? I’m not complaining about the profession of teaching: I think it’s fun. However, we’re handling 30 kids simultaneously in a classroom for 6 hours straight, minus one for lunch. We organize field trips. We create and design lessons so your children can be engaged and learn effectively. We solve conflicts you probably have not heard of because they are scared of being judged by their parents. We probably know more about your child, academically and personally, than you would think we know.

We stay after school to organize clubs so your children aren’t playing in the streets. We host clubs and teams so your children understand that school is not just a building in which you sit and leave; you get involved and passionate in something you’re interested.

Debate clubs? Model NATO/UN/EU? Eco clubs? Rights clubs? DECA? We got’em, but they take up our time.

I don’t want to look down on the 9-5 jobbers, because they’re woven deeply within the fabric of our society and economy as well, but what do you think a teacher’s job hours are? We work almost in all of our waking time. Our work goes straight into our personal time. Saw a good SNL episode? Better incorporate that into the media strand of language. Water shortage in Sierra Leone? Better think about how that can work into the volume/capacity/money unit into math (which is actually what I did).

We teach them critical thinking so they won’t be cheated in this scary world that we live in, where anyone can pose as a threat to your children’s safety. We teach them how to analyze, criticize, scrutinize, and how to articulate their thoughts coherently so they can pursue whatever their ambitions are. So they can have a future and a life that they will be happy to look back on.

Teachers need to be on high alert through all of their waking time to gather bits of news so they stay current. Please, we don’t like Justin Bieber. We don’t like the Jonas Brothers, or Carly Rae Jepsen. Sure, they could be catchy, but we don’t like them. We have no interest in One Direction or Drake. However, we pay attention to these things so we stay in the loop with your children, the children you have brought into this world through your own care.

You have given us your most precious loves to us so we may care for them. It’s always scary to give over your child to a stranger, a stranger that you are told to trust.

Our benefits aren’t benefits. They’re tools for teachers to function at the top of their level. Those sick days? Teachers hate leaving their post, not necessarily because they love teaching (although this honestly should be a requirement, from my own experience as a student), but because their lesson plans and schedules will not be the same. They will, for a moment, lose track of each student’s progress, and then their lessons would not be as effective.

A ban on lockouts? I’m sorry, but losing the right to negotiate is just so stupid that it must be self-explanatory. Education is already always the first sector be cut. Why should teachers be forced to pay for McGuinty’s mistakes? We elected a leader, not a guy who points at the most vulnerable sector to pay the tab.

McGuinty, education premier? Please. What has he done for education that is actually revolutionary for education? Critical for the field? Beneficial for teachers?

He blames Laurel Broten for this mess: obviously the Ministry of Education is a whole different planet for him. This is Broten’s deal now.

No, McGuinty, the Ministry of Education falls under Ontario, and you are the leader of Ontario. We know debts accumulate faster than surplusses, so we aren’t surprised we’re in a deficit. But you know what the first rule of kindergarten is?

The first rule of kindergarten is that if it’s your mess, you clean it up.


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This entry was posted on September 2, 2012 by in education, politics, society and tagged , , , , .


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