Teacher’s Strike against Ford’s Neo-Feudalism

Teacher’s Strike against Ford’s Neo-Feudalism

As published in the Ottawa Citizen: December 14, 2019

Ontario’s striking teachers are mainly concerned about the Ford government’s plans to force students to take at least one online course while increasing class sizes and shrinking teachers numbers through early retirement and other tactics.

While this sounds great from a short-term financial perspective; students, teachers and parents will eventually suffer under Ford’s simplistic scheme. Expanded online learning means fewer teachers and also frustrated parents solving more problems for students with learning and motivational challenges. It seems only the Ontario cabinet is permitted to do the same (or less) with more.

Since teachers are also seeking a modest wage increase, it’s worth remembering that the Ford government recently awarded a 14 percent hike to 31 MPPs now categorized as parliamentary assistants. Regardless of the reasons for Ford’s sudden generosity with public funds, it is an ugly coincidence that will antagonize the teachers and their union.

Much of Ford’s education policy is based on public misconceptions about teachers’ supposedly pampered existence. Teachers receive pay and benefits commensurate with the considerable task of simultaneously imparting subject matter while managing overcrowded classes replete with a taxing spectrum of students including the gifted, dedicated, immature, unstable and violent.

Many of these children are empowered by their parents to do and say as they please; freely insulting, sexually-harassing and even assaulting teachers. Of course, like any profession; education has its share of slackers but teaching is mainly a vocation that attracts genuinely-dedicated individuals.

Worse still are the implications of Ford’s subtle appeal to selfish individualism and the perverse notion of wealth as an indicator of moral superiority. Behind every attack on public education, healthcare and social welfare is an odd belief espoused by so-called think tanks like the Fraser Institute. They, and others; claim that democracy is threat to capitalism and that economic freedom is the ultimate human achievement.

Concerning education; this bleak philosophy promotes the notion of expensive private education for the deserving wealthy and a shabby, underfunded system for working people. In other words, an updated version of feudalism that can only be countered by organized and well-informed citizens who recognize the power of communal action.