Grumpy Wants to Walk in the Shoes of ETFO’s Sam Hammond for just One Day
Grumpy wants to get back to writing humorous blogs that make you laugh and make you titter.
Because, it says here, that this whole situation with Bill 115, is no laughing matter. Remember Grump’s taught in the system for 26 years and coached, ran clubs and organized student activity all the while.
Nevertheless, Grumpy will attempt one more kick at the cat. Here’s what Grumpy would do if he could spend one day in the shoes of EFTO President, Sam Hammond.
Sam, let’s not look at this Bill 115 fiasco as a big loss –let’s look on this situation as an opportunity. Let’s look at this as an opportunity to rub the Liberals (Conservatives) nose in it.
You have had Laurel Broton spew the Bill 115 reasoning then promise to withdraw the Bill. This is sort of like offering you a tissue after someone has punched you in the nose, causing a nose bleed.
You have stated this as a reaction to that punch in the nose: “Given the actions of the government, members will continue to focus only on the direct instruction of students and ensure student safety. It has always been the position of the Federation that participation in extracurricular and other non-instructional activities is voluntary. There are times when it is both appropriate and necessary to withdraw from voluntary activities. We believe that these are such times. For the time being ETFO members should continue to push the pause button on voluntary activities.”
I think this would just be falling into another public relations trap. I think this would serve no purpose whatsoever. I believe taking such action is hard on teachers as it is hard on students, schools and their communities.
I know the union line is “the only way we can show our displeasure is to withdraw from volunteer activities.” And, we have no other option! But, the fact is that everyone knows teachers are upset. Everyone knows teachers are angry. Everyone gets it, Sam.
Following this path, to me, is beating a dead horse and really throws gasoline on the fire of public outcry. Don’t direct your protest at children and schools – DIRECT YOUR PROTEST AT POLITICIANS, MANAGEMENT, ADMINISTRATORS, GOVERNMENT AND CABINET MINISTERS AND, OF COURSE, PRIEMIERS.
Know thine enemy. You are pointing your firepower in the wrong direction. You are killing your support base with what on the battlefield would be called “friendly Fire” that has disastrous results .
You cannot win a battle without a direct confrontation with the enemy. Schools, kids and parents ARE NOT the enemy of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario. Belligerence toward your constituents and your clients is COUNTEPRODUCTIVE.
Continuing on you current path breeds more public indignation (bashing), it hurts students and the school community, it can be toxic to school spirit and the frontline worker –the teacher –takes all of the criticism 24/7. They must deal with family, friends, the community, the press, the call in shows, the newspaper editorials, blogs and bulletin boards and the constant microscope focused on their behavior. Then, on top of this, they must try to continue to do their job well. And, they must do so in a school atmosphere that is becoming divisive, toxic, full of factions and a variance of opinion, led by some principals who have their own agendas. This destruction of morale effectively takes the heart out of teaching.
With Broton’s announcement, continuing to withdraw volunteer involvements only hurts students, teachers and school communities. This has absolutely no effect on politics or politicians. If anything, it plays into their agenda, where they can espouse that teachers really don’t care and the government is the only one, “Putting Students First”.
Sam, isn’t it better to starve the beast than to feed it?
You see, you don’t turn out the lights to enlighten. You don’t stop the activity that is the most visible and praised gift of the profession: that of going the extra mile every hour of every day for kids! That is what defines an Ontario Educator. That is what extols the profession, putting it above mere labour, and makes teaching a noble pursuit.
The microscope of public scrutiny should be focused on the GOOD teachers do and the positive aspects of the profession. Really, as I outlined in an earlier essay, ““DON’T PAUSE, WHY NOT REWIND AND GO FASTFORWARD.” Develop a new paradigm, a new strategic approach and don’t just fall into what is expected.
I say, that in this instance, you don’t confront the opposition with your own defiance and opposition (No gain here because that is called friction!). After all, the DIRTY DEED IS DONE, is it not?
Rather, you take the opposite course and throw them off their game plan. They want you to react in order to bring on public indignation. You should act to create public support and commendation.
So, if Grumpy were Sam Hammond for a day he’d open 2013 by saying this publicly. This would be his message to the teachers, students and families in Ontario.
“First and foremost, my members always put students first and despite the attacks by the government we want to continue to put students first. The government has demonstrated through their edict, Bill 115, that they are circumventing democracy to put teacher’s feet to the fire and rescind their right to negotiate and to develop a fair compensation package. None of these governments’ actions puts students first.
Read the Act and you will find it very hard to find the word “student” anywhere in the text.
Although my members are very angry and disappointed, they feel in their hearts that the school, their students and the community should not suffer under conditions brought upon by government intervention and political maneuvering. I hear this from my members each and every day. And so, we intend to protect you from this uncertainty. We intend to continue to put students first.
Therefore, I declare this day and the year 2013, “A Teachers Celebration of Learning Year”. My members will continue extracurricular activities and teach to the best of their abilities, giving students in Ontario the best environment, and the best education possible even under these dire circumstances. My members always have and always will put students first. They will continue to do so with vigor and unbounded enthusiasm.
Notwithstanding this focus, Ontario’s teachers, using every resource at their disposal will continue to fight the draconian effects of Bill 115. Thy will attend the Liberal Leadership Convention in full force and will , in no uncertain terms, let those individuals that wish to be Premier of Ontario know that a contract by edict is not negotiation at all and that it is totally unacceptable in a democracy.
We will use direct Political Action to make this point, plainly and clearly. Federation leadership at the provincial and local level will spearhead the effort toward reversing the application of Bill 115 so that our teachers can teach, coach, mentor and direct your child’s educational experience, totally and completely and without interuption.
We will pursue our court challenge, knowing well that we will be victorious. We will fight our constitutional battle with vigor and with steadfast resolve. We will fight an adult battle and allow students to continue to find success within the parameters of our mandate. We will put students first for it is them and, them alone, that give us our motivation to teach!
Citizens of Ontario, this is your opportunity to decide who really puts students first; who really has your child’s interests at heart and who really is at the frontline of education in Ontario. It is your teachers and your support staffs that; each and every day, nurture and interact with your children, care for them and allow them to be the best that they can be. It is your teachers and support staff that go the extra nine yards for your kids. It is teachers who spend hour upon hour with your children, each and every day, and who give of themselves, and volunteer despite the criticism/cynicism from those that are ill-informed and could never understand this challenge.
I ask you this. If Ontario has the best education system in the world with the best teachers; why then is your provincial government using bully tactics to get what they want? Why would you attack and destroy the good will that has made positive inroads in our schools? Why is the education sector the focus of deficit reduction in the province? Are there not many ways to tackle and maintain a fiscally responsible Ontario? Wouldn’t discussion and negotiation expose many more areas for savings?
Creating a crisis in education is the flavour of the day for politicians. Attacking educators is the way to deflect attention from other issues. (List them here)
I will tell you now and I will make this clear, “Teachers don’t care about politics, they only care about your children.” That will be our focus, and that will be our goal. We will put students first as we always have and always will do, now and into the future.
We hope the electorate of Ontario will give careful attention to the who, the what and the wherefore when it comes to the next election. Who really cares for education in this province? Who really cares for your kids?
Think long and hard about this, Ontario. Ask yourself this: do you want the best education system in the World or are you in favour of supporting the worst kind of government?
In closing, I ask you to help your teachers do what they do best: TEACH. Support them in the classroom and in the schools. And know this; my members will continue to prove they are worthy professionals that make Ontario’s education system the World’s best.
Citizens of Ontario, the Ontario I want to live and work in will be one in which every teacher can answer the question, “What do you do for a living?” this way, and do so in a proud strong voice without any recrimination.
“I’M PROUD TO BE A TEACHER IN ONTARIO!”
Sam, this is not capitulation that I’m suggesting. Far from it!
I’m suggesting that your counter attack with a strategy that veers from predictable and historical norms. I’m suggesting that you regroup. The only thing that would be “business as usual” is how teachers serve kids, including volunteer acts. After that – all bets are off!
In other words, don’t give the opposition what they expect but rather counter with the unexpected. The element of surprise is a powerful tool that I think you can use with impunity.
Don’t attack their strength – build firepower to attack their weakness. Their Achilles heel would be a mass of voters who support education and teachers and who will vote with that in mind.
It’s bad enough that government has stomped on teachers. Teachers don’t need parents, editors, talk show hosts, commentators, newspapers, parents, friends, kids, educrats and family joining in the beat down.
So, go for that Achilles heel. Teach your ass off and win the public over. Work towards grassroots support at the school level; empower the public and use that synergy to your advantage. Stop “burning your bridges”. It’s like fighting a battle on two fronts.
On the one hand you struggle to battle the bully (The Government) on the other hand you try to appease your clients (Students, parents, communities) when your actions, to them, seem like an attack on something they, rightly or wrongly, feel entitled to. Why not put all of your energies into the former and build community and mend relations with the latter?
Those folks need to be our allies don’t you think? And, the battle needs to be focused on one front? Fight the enemy you know!
GRUMPY QUOTE OF THE DAY: ETFO’s volunteer strategy is not unlike a group of scalliwags who embark to disturb the honey bees nest thinking the farmer will get stung and then quickly finding that the only person getting stung is themself!
GRUMPY’S ORIGINAL POST ON THE ISSUE OF VOLUNTEERISM CAN BE FOUND HERE: