It’s now been nearly a month that the students and teachers of Ontario colleges have been left out in the cold by the college administration. Searching for better pay, more full-time teachers, and academic freedom teachers walked out of classrooms across the province while their union negotiates with the colleges. Unfortunately, it seems that there is little either side is willing to budge on.
“…students are done being used as a bargaining chip. We are not pawns” ~ Andrea Pond
The consequences of this stalemate are many and deleterious. First and foremost, there are over 300,000 students going without an education at present. Some have been at least given some work by their teachers before they went off to the picket lines, but there are many more who are waiting in some intellectual limbo. These students have lost about a month of a semester they have already paid for. Some have children to support. Some have placements to ready themselves for. Others have jobs waiting for them after graduations meant to happen in December.
“we feel like we are being left in the dust. Canadore has been saying since the beginning the the main concern is students being in the classroom, yet are the only school not preparing students for the loss of the semester.” ~Taylor Lewis
Secondly, there are over 12,000 fulltime and partial-load teachers literally left out in the cold, marching the picket lines, while they wait for mortgage payments and hydro bills that they won’t be able to pay this coming month because of the meagre amount afforded by the union for picket pay.
Thirdly, there are many thousands of teachers who are without a union, without picket pay, and without work or a say in what happens with their jobs. These are the teachers who are brought in on contract at a far lower rate than either full-time or partial-load teachers in the college system. Already earning this comparatively miniscule amount many of these teachers have already been forced to find other jobs and/or sell off vehicles and other possessions.
“We support our faculty and want to ensure that they get a fair deal. We stand with them.” ~Angelo Ierullo
Both teachers and students are being heavily affected by this and it seems that the colleges are aiming to point the blame at the teachers for not taking previously offered deals at the negotiating table. To be fair to the colleges, the teachers may be in error for seeking out full academic freedom. Certainly, teachers need to have a say in how their classes are to be taught to be relevant and current for their students, their community, and for the times, but there must also be checks in place to ensure that teachers do indeed teach and relevantly so.
“This strike has put a lot of stress on the shoulders of thousands of students resulting in many resorting to putting dropping out into consideration since no one is sure if we will be able to pass our courses with how heavy the workload will become.” ~Taylor Lewis
A balance must be found between fair pay for quality education and relative freedom of curriculum for teachers.
No matter where you sit on this issue, several things are very clear: students need to get back to class. They need to be guaranteed the same quality of education in spite of the time taken out of their semester. That time must be made up for in the most efficient and accommodating way for students. Students aren’t pawns or bargaining chips..or rather they should not be. The teachers, the administration, and the province need to think of the students here and the quality of their education.