Friday, January 18, 2013

A Teacher's Response to Bill 115

[Jaden Lairson is a secondary teacher in Ottawa. His letter, dated January 10th, to colleagues is reprinted here with permission]

Dear Colleagues,

The Minister of Education recently stated: “the Bill has worked well and
served its purposes.” I can’t believe that this is passing for legitimate
government reasoning, it reminds me of quotes from the Ministry of Truth in 1984
or things that used to come out of John Snobelen’s office when he was Minister
of Education in the Harris government. This Bill has been and continues to be a
disaster for public education, civil society, and labour rights. Right to work
legislation can not be far behind if left unchecked.
The Bill has forced all of us as educators to make some incredible
decisions, decisions that go against the very core of why we decided to become
teachers. Like most of you I believe that a full service, well funded public
education system is the backbone of a democratic functioning civil society.
Participating in a system that values every individual, provides the highest quality
education possible, and challenges young people to grow not just intellectually,
but also encourages them to be engaged active citizens that participate in
Canadian society. I believe that extra-curricular activities are an important
element of education and have over the last 10 years devoted untold hours to
that belief that engaging students outside of the classroom is key element of
education that builds better a better society.
Bill 115 has had a devastating impact on me personally and quite frankly
makes me question my decision to become a teacher, because we have a
government that clearly does not value education. They have used the most
basic and fundamental right of education as a crass political tool. However my
convictions have not changed. I became a public school teacher by choice
because I felt it was the best way I could affect positive change in my society.
Without the right to collectively bargain we will very quickly become a second
rate profession, which consequently will lead to a second rate system. A system
quite frankly I do not want to be a part of. The choice for our society to make is
do we want a system like Georgia or a system like Finland. Our profession and
our system is worth fighting for with everything we have, using every tool we
have. This fight will force us to make some difficult decisions and it will come
with personal sacrifice. It is a fight that is worth it. At this difficult time, more
than ever, we have to remain united and remain strong. We all have to
remember why we became teachers. We all have to dig deep and ask ourselves
what type of society do we want to live. A society that values the principals of
egalitarianism, hard-work, acceptance, respect, and empathy is a society worth
fighting for.

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