I didn’t intend on writing another piece tonight, but we had a bit of an interesting development in our household this evening that made it necessary to write one last post for the day. It’s about education, the Ontario governments lacking response to the re-opening of schools and the so-called “Best School Re-Opening Plan in the Country”, as Education Minister Stephen Lecce called it. For a bit of context, there was a story last week that came out that showed how this “plan” was already failing:
Of those two boards, my daughter is a student in one of them. Last week the Conseil Écoles catholiques Centre-Est (CECCE), the French catholic school board that covers all of Eastern Ontario including Ottawa, announced that they were short 90 teachers a day in their schools. That was because they were having teachers needed to go out because of the correct COVID measures. This has been putting strains on full time staff and draining supply teaching pools, which for a couple of decades have been heavily dependent on retire teachers, the same people who fall into the highest risk group for COVID.
That news came only a day after an email from the Ontario College of Teachers landed in my inbox, in which they were begging for those who could to recertify and get into the classroom. If it wasn’t getting clear, this top notch, best plan in the country of the Ford Conservatives was coming apart at the seams. Well tonight I got another email in my inbox, this time from my daughter’s school board, which I am going to post in full below. And folks, it’s a stunning development:
For those that don’t speak French, I will give you the gist on the email. Basically things have gotten so desire for CECCE, they have been struggling so hard to find supply teachers to fill in, that they are now asking the community for volunteers to step forward to fill in and replace teachers who fall ill or to cover for supply teachers they can’t find. And the reason that they give for taking this extraordinary step? To avoid the closing of classes or schools due to a lack of teachers. Yes folks, we’re still in September and we’ve arrived at the point where school boards are begging volunteers to keep schools open.
As a parent, this has me seriously pissed off because we have managed to arrive at this point. It pisses me off because it’s been clear for months that the Ford Government hadn’t done their homework, had refused to take their responsibilities seriously and instead attacked teachers’ unions and opposition parties all while calling their plan the bees’ knees. It was clear way back in the Spring that in order for schools to re-open properly, you were going to need more teachers to do it. That was always clear, yet that’s exactly the kind of thing that this government fought to avoid.
The fact that there were always going to be shortages in supply pools, as it was fair to assume that many retired teachers weren’t going to risk their health by going into these schools. Yet Lecce, Ford and all did nothing, nothing to prepare us for that or to hire new supply teachers. The fact that this board has been forced to beg and plead for volunteers from the community, people who are well intentioned and kind-hearted but unqualified to teach, is appalling to be happening. It’s embarrassing, a totally failure from this government and is no way for a proper education system to be run. I refuse to believe that my daughter, her classmates or other students in that board are going to be getting the quality education they deserve when they are being taught by people with no qualifications to do so.
And let’s be clear, I’m not mad at the school board here. They are doing everything they can to work with the little resources they have been provided by the province. They are doing everything they can to make this crap situation work. The fact that they have been reduced to such an extreme measure is no judgement on those dedicated professionals. The fact is everything they have done to date has been done with two hands tied behind their backs, as Premier Ford and his government had refused, time and again, to get ahead of this, do the proper planning and actually do some of the things they could do. With all the unknowns in this moment, with all the moving pieces, this is something they could have acted on and planned for since the Spring. This they had to know was coming and if they didn’t it’s a sign of complete incompetence on the part of this minister and Premier.
I truly hope that some of our elected leaders in the Opposition will keep beating the drum on this because this failure cannot stand. We are not expecting perfection in the face of this pandemic but damnit, we are expecting some level of basic competence. That hasn’t been achieved here, not even close and at this rate my patience is quickly evaporating. Time to crap or get off the pot Mr. Ford and Mr. Lecce, enough is enough. Our children deserve much better than this and if you don’t believe so, resign and let someone else do the job you refuse to do.