Let teachers teach

Since Bill 160 reared its ugly head last year, teachers and the province have been sparring over two contentious issues resulting from the legislation: instruction time and, believe it or not, what actually constitutes instruction.

But the dirty details of Bill 160 alone aren’t to blame for the current upheaval in Ontario’s classrooms — and both sides know it.

The problem, as Rodney Dangerfield would say, is teachers “don’t get no respect.”

The government is forcing teachers to spend more time in the classroom — four hours and 10 minutes a week. Teachers say hall monitoring and counselling should be considered instruction. The government says not. But who actually cares?

Constant criticism from the government and the public has seriously overshadowed the consequences of Bill 160. More and more, the bill has become a battle for control between two sides who are unwilling to compromise.

This is a government with a fundamental lack of respect for its teachers.

Educators. Role models. Coaches. Counsellors. Friends.

Teachers are expected to wear many different hats. And contrary to the government’s assertion, their heads aren’t getting any bigger.

Excessive government pressure has spurred public scrutiny and has led to the perception that teachers are to blame for the education system’s woes.

Teachers are unfairly maligned. Handling oversized classes and students with various learning disabilities and behaviourial problems are just some pressures facing teachers. On top of that, they are expected to give up their personal time for extra-curricular activities.

The purpose of a teacher is to educate students and help them grow into responsible, hard-working people. Why should teachers not expect better working conditions in order to ensure these tasks are met?

We say teachers are using students as political pawns in this fight. While they don’t want to exploit students, they don’t have a choice.

Concessions are inherent in any negotiations. But the current round between the province and teachers is clearly hindered by animosity.

Demands for a reasonable definition of what is instructional time can only lead to a better education for students.

After all, isn’t that the point?

Let’s ignore politics and just let teachers do their job.