On January 24, the fourth International Day of Education, OPSEU/SEFPO salutes the thousands of members it proudly represents who contribute to the excellence of Ontario’s public education system, from early childhood education to university degrees and everything in between.
“Changing course, transforming education” is the theme for 2022. Certainly, we’ve seen how educators have changed course on a dime during the pandemic. They’ve put their creativity, resourcefulness and energy to good use by dramatically transforming the delivery of education.
The pandemic has underscored how vitally important our members are for the well-being of our children and their families. Studies have shown that kids just don’t learn as well outside the classroom, though your superhuman efforts to provide them with the best possible online learning have gone a long way to bridge the gap.
Mental health experts continue to raise the alarm on the harm to children who are deprived of human contact with educators and fellow students.
Even once the pandemic is behind us, it won’t be business as usual in education. The ripple effects will be felt for years. Whenever there’s a fundamental shift, there’s potential for abuse. OPSEU/SEFPO will watch developments to ensure that new ways of doing things don’t short-change students or take away the working rights of our educators.
We’ve already seen college employers bloating virtual classrooms and callously exploiting faculty, particularly vulnerable part-time faculty. This is supremely unfair both to instructors and students. It’s also yet another important reason why now, more than ever, faculty need a seat at the governance table.
Nor will OPSEU/SEFPO allow government to use online learning to compromise already over-stretched education budgets by seeing online learning as some magic fiscal bullet. It is nothing of the sort. Particularly at the primary level and secondary levels, online learning may be a helpful tool – not a financial panacea.
With the spring election, Ontarians will have a golden opportunity to grill politicians on their commitment to education. As the key to our economic recovery, education must be a top priority for the next government. Get them to commit to a concrete plan to bring financial solidity to our education sectors.
In the face of the many pressures our educators face, we want to renew our appreciation for their dedication to their students. Amidst the gloom of the pandemic, you have been the beacons lighting the way ahead. As a new term begins, we wish you success and personal satisfaction.
OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) ThomasOPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida