The constant struggle young people are having to put down roots has come to light as teachers with little experience fight to hang on to their jobs in Burlington.
Teacher X asked that her named not be published because she doesn’t trust the government of Premier Doug Ford.
She graduated from teachers college in 2015 and, because there were no immediate job openings, first served as a volunteer in a school. Subsequently, she worked as a supply teacher, then got a long-term occasional position.
Finally, she was given a full-time teaching job starting in September of 2018.
“I did everything I was asked to do, everything,” she said. “We got these redundancy letters and had to go back into our classes and keep teaching. Do you know how hard that is to do? To see their little faces.”
The young teacher said she’s particularly frustrated to see the comments of supporters of the Premier on social media.
“I have five years of university, I volunteered, I worked my butt off to get fulltime,” she said. “I’ve taken extra courses every summer so that I could be the best teacher I could be.”
Meanwhile, school boards in British Columbia have started advertising in Ontario for teachers now that it looks like there will be layoffs.
“What our Premier is trying to do is dismantle our public school system and create a private one,” she said. “He’s creating chaos intentionally so that parents will put their children in the private system.”
Teacher X said she’s particularly disappointed in Burlington MPP Jane McKenna.
“She has not stood up for her constituents. All she’s doing is toeing the line for Doug Ford. I think that’s shameful.”
The Bay Observer left messages for McKenna, but she could not be reached for comment by press time.
Teacher X said she purchased a home right after she started working and now has a mortgage, which will be almost impossible to pay off if she loses her job.
“It was something I was very proud of.
“I don’t know what positions there are going to be for me in the fall. It’s left us dangling, which is a terrible place to be in.”
“Why are the cuts coming from frontline teachers?” she asked.
Asked if she thinks the Halton District School Board really needs 10 superintendents, each earning salaries of close to $200,000, she replied, “They’re certainly not frontline workers, are they?”
In an interview with host Mark Carr on the Burlington Cablenet program The Issue, Halton District School Board Chair Andrea Grebenc expressed disappointment at Premier Ford’s announcement, saying the board could lose $14 million from its overall budget of $750 million.
“Why would you starve an education system you think is not up to snuff, rather than investing in it?” she asked.
Grebenc said she’s hopeful that through attrition and an increase in student enrolment the board will be able to keep most of the teachers from the elementary school panel who received notices. However, she said it might be more difficult in the secondary panel.
“If teachers are redundant, they’re going to have to leave the province if they want to stay in education,” she said.
In September, she said, class sizes will be larger and it’s possible some art, drama and high level tech courses no longer will be offered.
Grebenc said the board will first look at cuts to central staff – personnel who serve as coaches or organize events like the Halton Skills Competition and Halton Music Showcase.
Halton Music Showcase is a long-standing tradition for elementary and secondary students at the Halton District School Board.
Approximately 1,000 students from Grades 4-12, representing more than 55 schools, began rehearsals in February in preparation for this annual spring concert. Performances include concert bands, choirs, string orchestra and the board’s Halton Junior Jazz Band.
Grebenc said performance is a very important skill to have. Students, she said, can translate their skills in music, art and drama into other aspects of their lives.
“I don’t know what a drama course would be like online,” she said. “I would like to see some evidence that e-learning is effective for every student in our system.”