A Parent’s Point of View

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If you are a parent in Ontario, then these rolling strikes at public schools are all too familiar.  On December 18th,  the first of the strike happened and today the teachers were supposed to strike.  Supposed to as in ended up changing their decision at 4 am this morning.  Now I’m not going to get into who’s right and who’s wrong here as I see both sides of the argument.  I am not a teacher nor do I have a country to run, but I am a parent and a taxpayer, I’m beginning to become overly frustrated with these strikes and whatever side had my support, is now losing it.

On what they called “Super Tuesday” nearly 1000 schools closed while teachers and their support staff protested against Bill 115.  I was able to find alternative care for the Princess and went to work as usual.  I had kept my opinions on whom I thought to be right to myself as I wasn’t in their shoes.  I have always supported the school the Princess attended such as donating money so they could balance their school budget and buying new sports supplies, fundraising for school trips, and volunteering my time and craft supplies.  I’m willing to go that extra mile to help enrich my daughter’s education, but now from the bickering between the parties involved has left the Princess without extra curricular and school trips.  So what happened to the over $400 I gave and fundraised for the school?  But reassured Dalton McGuinty promised families that the strikes would only be one day.

“To those parents who are making special arrangements, I thank them for their patience, for their understanding and all the extra efforts they are making to manage this circumstance. Thankfully, it’s just the one day,” Mr. McGuinty told Citytv.

Wrong.  All this past week, the news kept saying that the teachers were yet again walking out and that parents would have to find alternative options to care for their children.  We received a notice from the school that the school would be in fact closed, and despite the government warning the teachers that they would be fined if they striked, the school boards maintained that regardless, the schools would stay closed.  I had no alternative care options for the Princess so I had to book the day off.  My shift was covered by a coworker and when I picked up the Princess from school yesterday, there was a bright pink notice on the door saying the school would be closed.  So much to my surprise, I wake up this morning, 2 hours later than my usual wake up time to find out, not by phone call or email from the school, but from Twitter, that at 4 am, the schools announced they would be open and it was business as usual.  Hmm.  So not only did I needlessly take the day off WITHOUT pay as I do not get PAID sick days, but they were fully expecting parents to send their children to school.  A spokesperson for the school board said that “parents would be sighing in relief” that the schools were opened.  Well Mr. Spokesperson, I’m not sighing.  I missed out on my pay because I had to stay home, because a lot of day camps will not take children under the age of 5 for the full day.  I am begrudgingly shaking my fist and cursing all of you for complete and utter foolishness.  You could have made the decision prior to 4 am.  Who the heck is up at 4 am watching to see if schools are open?

I am also frustrated that all parties involved are so quick to ask students to resolve their issues without involving outside parties, but yet they cannot do the same.  Instead the Government and the Unions are using children as bargaining chips in this political game.  My daughter’s education is paid for through the taxes I pay working 5 days a week.  I expect that these two parties can pull their heads out of their rear ends and find a more suitable way to resolve their problems.  The Ontario Government said that it will not reimburse parents for lost wages and child care costs and the Toronto District School board said that the 50% of students that did not show up today will not be marked absent, but that still leaves not only parents in the lurch as well as the many daycare that opened and ordered extra food and staff to take in the extra children.  Seems like everyone except the Government and Teacher’s Unions, School Boards, and Teachers were left feeling the sting.  I really hope that they are able to come to a collective agreement and we are able to move on from this and the children will get the education they have a right to receive.

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