by Hugh Secord
On September 17, 2011 a protest movement began in New York called Occupy Wall Street. It was initiated by a group of Canadian activists who operate under the name Adbusters. The purpose of the movement, which spread in the subsequent months after the first protests across North America, was to simply point out the greed and corruption in the financial sector and amongst certain giant corporations. The movement never intended to make changes per se, it was intended to make a point.
I’d like to make a point about the current labour disruptions amongst Teachers and the province of Ontario. As a long-service labour relations specialist I can readily sympathize with the Teachers with respect to the restriction the government has placed on their bargaining rights. I believe that government interventions into collective bargaining tend to damage the process and hurt the relationship over the long term. Good, bad or indifferent at some point the province made it lawful for Teachers to organize, bargaining collectively and exercise their right to strike. They have a point in suggesting we should respect that.
However, there is something greater at stake here. Our children are unwitting pawns in a political struggle. While they may have bargaining rights, Teachers are also professionals who have supposedly entered a “calling”. I honestly have difficulty reconciling how their interests supersede their professional responsibilities. Surely one consideration holds greater weight than the other and for my money the education of our children should be the first priority for the Teachers.
Are the kids who will suffer through this dispute to be forgotten? As a parent I say we should collectively get involved and Occupy the Education System. What I mean precisely is let’s not let our children sacrifice their growth for the interests of a group of professionals. As parents we can get involved to ensure there are extra-curricular activities for our kids to participate in. Organize a dance, coach a team, facilitate a field trip. Everyone these days seems entitled to a voice - why not lend our voice to the interests of our children?
Please leave your questions and/or comments below.