I should be sorry. Or at least that’s how the government makes me feel. In fact, that’s how a portion of the public makes me feel.
I should be sorry for making a comfortable salary while only working 10 months a year and then receiving three to four weeks of paid vacation.
How could I ask for an increase? I wonder if the mill workers who work four-on, four-off feel sorry for only working six months a year and then taking additional weeks of paid vacation. I wonder if the dentists who work seven-on, seven-off feel as sorry as the mill workers. Of course they don’t. They, along with countless other professions, work less days, but they don’t work less. As a teacher, I don’t work eight hours a day, five days a week. I work much more than that. I could never expect someone who has never had my job to understand the hours I work, no more than I could understand the hours a dentist works.
I don’t receive overtime, nor can I ever expect a Christmas bonus. I do, however, earn my time off. I am finishing my third year of decreased spending power due to the government’s net zero policy. I believe I deserve a wage that, at the very least, keeps up with the cost of living. I am willing to fight for this. For that, I am not sorry.
I should be sorry for trying to cost taxpayers too much money with my class size and composition demands. I wonder how Mr. Fassbender would find the time in a class of 30 to connect with the student who was, the night before, placed in a group home for the first time.
Or the student whose brother was shot over the weekend. Or the student who can’t take his medication because it makes him feel like a zombie but, as a result, can’t focus long enough to learn. Or the student whose dad was killed shortly before the beginning of the school year and struggles to prioritize learning.
Or the five other students (ranging from severe behaviour to reading and writing Learning Disabilities) with IEP’s. This was my Grade 9 class not so long ago. After three months I was able to ‘secure’ an Educational Assistant in the class every second day. Never mind limiting the number of kids requiring special support, the ‘flexibility’ created by Christy Clark when she was Education Minister in 2002 wasn’t even flexible enough to provide an EA every day. I, too, am a taxpayer. I believe our kids are worth it. For that, I am not sorry.
I’m supposed to be sorry for “using kids like pawns” in my labour dispute. I find it absolutely offensive to suggest that I would treat my students as a sacrificial game piece. We are not putting students in the middle of our dispute. Students are, by the very nature of education, always in the middle. Funding cuts, school closures, and stressed teachers all impact students.
These are just some of the impacts facing students, and while they are easier to sweep under the rug than child care difficulties during a strike, they are the real detriment to public education.
They have been impacting classrooms for over a decade. I am fighting for more than wages I hope to see. My colleagues walking the line who are retiring this year are fighting for more than the wages they will never see.
We are standing up to a government that is slowly eroding public education. And We are using the last tool available to any worker. Our labour. For that, I am not sorry.
I’m supposed to feel sorry for asking for more than other public sector unions. The government insists it is only fair that ‘we’ all receive the same wage increases.
I wonder how this self-described conservative government so comfortably spews a blatantly socialist public sector agenda. I’m not claiming to be worth more than other sectors. I couldn’t possibly understand their jobs and could never estimate their worth.
That is for them to advocate. I’m not complaining that some of those sectors received wage increases during my last three years of zeros. They were successfully able to negotiate settlements while we were not. I am, however, worth more than the government is offering and refuse to accept the ‘because then they’ll want more’ argument.
I work with the most precious resource our province has. Some of those teenagers come to school excited to learn, some come excited to socialize, some come to get away from an abusive home life. I am the one who is trusted to teach, console, and shape these students.
I deserve both a wage and the resources which are appropriate for this tremendous responsibility. For that, I am not sorry.
I am a teacher, a parent, and a tax payer. I believe in public education. I will continue to fight for public education. This government picks and chooses where to allocate provincial funding.
Unfortunately there are not a lot of ribbon cutting opportunities when it comes to funding education.
The incentive to properly fund education doesn’t seem to be there. For that, the government should be sorry.