Parents side with teachers as work-to-rule campaign commences
Administrative tasks on hold but students won't suffer, teachers say
As the first phase of job action by Ontario public school teachers kicked off Tuesday, parents of students at some Ottawa public schools appeared largely supportive of the educators' plight.
Teachers with the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) held a "solidarity march" at 117 English public elementary schools in Ottawa.
At Mutchmor Public School in the Glebe, about a dozen teachers gathered outside the school's main entrance before heading inside together, just before the 9 a.m. bell.
"I think that teachers work very hard and they have a lot to deal with, and really that only increases as time goes on, and I do definitely support them in this work-to-rule campaign and going forward," said Shelley Pynn, whose son, Hayden, attends junior kindergarten at the school.
"[The campaign is] not really having any impact on the kids or their safety, and that's my biggest concern."
Administrative tasks on hold
The work-to-rule campaign comes as ETFO and OSSTF continue tense contract negotiations with the province's Progressive Conservative government.
During this phase, teachers will cease performing administrative duties including commenting on report cards, attending staff meetings, completing board-related paperwork and taking part in standardized EQAO testing.
We're not doing anything to harm student education, so students come first.- Manmohan Panesar, Grade 6 teacher
Parent Craig Riggs also supports the job action.
"The school system's obviously under a great deal of strain," said Riggs, whose two children, 8 and 11, attend Hilson Avenue Public School in Westboro. "We're obviously sympathetic to the teachers' point of view in terms of looking for more resources or more support from the province."
Riggs suggested the province look elsewhere to make cuts.
"I think there are many other areas where the government could explore if it wished to do so, not least of which would be not cancelling a bunch of green energy projects [at a cost of] hundreds of millions of dollars. That would be my first point of advice to Premier Ford if he were to ask me about it."
No harm done
Teachers told CBC Ottawa they're feeling supported by parents and the community.
"We're not doing anything to harm student education, so students come first," said Manmohan Panesar, a Grade 6 teacher at Mutchmor Public School.
"We're really fighting for our students, what's best for our students. We see increasing class sizes. Kindergarten classes are enormous. In junior grades, the class sizes are large. We're fighting for caps. We really want restored funding to [special education] programs. That's what we're fighting for, for our students."
With files from the Canadian Press