When my kids started school I was surprised by the state of the building stock. Things looked like they hadn’t been touched since 1972.
These older schools are hardly keeping pace with modern life. My kids’ schools have no cafeterias, built, as they were, in a time when most students went home for lunch. Instead, my kids eat in the gym, an organizational feat of string-cheesed savvy for which their PE teacher deserves all the plaudits we can muster.
Overtired parents are left to make lunches whenever they can. It’s a metaphor for the way our underfunded educational system isn’t able to kept up with needs. Education in Ontario is a sandwich with the crust cut off.
While I dismay at the crumbling classrooms, crappy windows, poor ventilation, and general lack of supplies, I feel buoyed by the often wonderful teachers and administrators my kids have. So many! Doing miraculous work in hot, cramped rooms, with less than stellar resources. Sure, there’s an occasional less than amazing teacher, but they are the exception.
But the problem with a system in which crumbling infrastructure is held up by good tape and great staff is that it has no room to give. It’s already at breaking point.
COVID has exacerbated the toll of years of underfunding and infrastructure backlog.
Incompetent and possibly nefarious provincial leadership has only made it worse.
Each useless press conference seems almost comically calculated to impress upon us this ministry’s evil.
Much has been memed about why our education minister and his coterie are unqualified to do the work of supporting public education. But to say that a minister who went to private school or doesn’t have kids can’t do the job is to undermine the point of elected leadership. Anyone can do the job if they listen, and support the public services they are duty-bound to protect.
And now, parents find themselves with a terrible choice: Send our kids to school according to a plan written by clowns (wait, that’s insulting to clowns.) Or, keep them home and let this government dismantle public education.
For some, this isn’t a choice at all. Many have to work, and will be forced to send their kids to school, regardless of safety. It makes an increasingly unequal system all the more so.
For those who believe in the absolute importance of public education, it’s also no choice at all. And it’s doubly shitty for women, both those who will have to leave the workforce to care for children, and for the majority female teaching staff, who must endure blame and harassment from this government. I’m so tired of well-paid male politicians insulting hard-working teachers.
I’m also galled by the stupidity of a government that would do this. Even if you’re deeply selfish and don’t care about women, the economically disadvantaged, or anything beyond the cut of your own suit, all evidence shows that well-funded public education pays huge economic dividends. It attracts businesses and employers and spurs economic growth.
If you’re not a parent and think you have no skin in the game, a well-funded public school does wonders for your neighborhood. It’s a community hub. You might vote there, or attend meetings there. Or do half-hearted pull-ups on the playground equipment after your morning jog. The strength of a school also manifests in the vibrancy of the community that surrounds it.
I want this government to do better for our kids, our teachers, for everyone. I want this government to remember that 60 per cent of voters did NOT vote for them in the last election. I want them to know that there’s no room for incompetence when it comes to the safety of our kids and the quality of education.
I mean, look at what Denmark has done and then consider what our embarrassment of a government has proposed. They’re about as serious as a danish.
So I urge you to write, call, and yell to the skies, because the more this government destroys education, the harder it becomes to build it back.
What to do?
Call! Call! Call! Did I mention you should call?
Doug Ford's number is: 416-325-1941
Share your support for our teachers, boards, and students across all your platforms!
Please write to your trustee! (ETFO)
Email your MPP (OSSTF)
Email your officials (ETFO)
Safer return to schools petition (OECTA)
Thanks for reading!