LINDSAY MEWHINEY, For the Independent
The recent action of the high school teachers’ union that has forced teachers to withdraw from extra-curricular activities or face fines of up to $500 a day has understandably angered many students.
But students aren’t the only ones angered by this decision. Teachers are also upset by this course of action, but unless they want to face fines, are forced to wait out the decision alongside students.
While some students are placing the blame on teachers, others are more understanding.
“Teachers love coaching, so it doesn’t make sense for us to blame them [for the strike],” says EDSS student Esther Schwarz.
Many students are unaware of the underlying issues surrounding the job action, which adds to the frustration.
When it was made public that all extra-curricular activities would be cancelled for the remainder of December, some students made the assumption that it was their teachers who were responsible for making this decision, placing the blame accordingly.
“I haven’t had one teacher try to explain [the strike],” says Emilie Mechler.
Mechler said that students are not well-educated on the current situation, and that this is leading to many misconceptions and an abundance of misconstrued information circulating around schools.
But some students feel that it is not the responsibility of the teachers to share the details of their contracts and the actions of their union with their students
“It would be irresponsible for them to try to tell us, because they’re partisan to the issue,” says Keenan Courtis.
Courtis also adds that if teachers were solely responsible for educating students on the issue, the information students would be receiving would most likely feature some sort of bias.
According to the Waterloo Region District School Board, it is best that teachers are not sharing their opinions on the matter with students, to avoid any possible bias, as well as to eliminate any speculation that students are being used to gain support for the union’s position.
“Teachers, who have the most direct connection with students, typically try to avoid commenting with their perspective in ‘explaining the situation,’ as they could be seen as advancing the union’s position with students,” says Abigail Dancey, Manger of Communications for the Waterloo Region District School Board, “Traditionally, school boards make an effort to avoid commenting on politically sensitive educational matters within the school setting.”
While extra-curricular activities have been officially cancelled until the end of 2012, it is not certain when they will begin again in the new year.
In a press release earlier this month, WRDSB Executive Superintendent for Human Resources Services Mark Schinkel stated that it was unclear what actions would be taken next, and that it would take some time to determine what students can expect when they return to school after the Christmas break.