B1 Intermediate 4 Folder Collection
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In the beginning, every town had a school. Many schools had only one room with all grades
and as many as 100 students. Teachers in these schools were expected to teach, clean the
school, chop the wood, stoke the fire, prime the pump, and feed the children in return
for poverty-level wages. At the same time, they were required to be models of virtue
and sobriety. In 1888, eight women elementary teachers formed
the Lady Teachers' Association of Toronto to fight for better wages and working conditions.
By 1920, elementary teachers had two voluntary organizations, one for woman - FWTAO - and
one for men - OPSMTF. In the 20s, teachers made gains in salaries,
but a teacher surplus, a recession, and the stock market crash brought these gains to
a halt. Sound familiar?
Between 1930 and 1936, men teachers lost about 38% of salary and women about 55%. Your pay
depended on where you taught, the grade you taught and whether you were a man or a woman.
In 1944, the government passed legislation that made all teachers members of a federation.
Membership doubled overnight. Resources could now be directed to teacher protection and
programs rather than to sign-up campaigns. Following World War 2 federations developed
a grid system for salaries based on qualifications and experience. It wasn't until 30 years later
that the grid applied to all teachers. Between 1945 and 1955, the average wage increased
by 90% for men teachers and 130% for women teachers.
In the early 50s the baby boom hit schools. Enrolment increased from 437,000 in 1945 to
645,000 ten years later. The government responded by lowering the standards to become a teacher;
the federations responded by introduced professional development and additional support. Married
women returned to teaching and brought with them new bargaining priorities - equal pay
and maternity leave. Thanks to the federations, by the time the
province passed maternity leave legislation in 1970, most elementary teachers were already
getting it. The seventies. Many things contributed to
change. Teachers were part of that change.
On December 18, 1973, 80,000 teachers left their classrooms to protest anti-teacher legislation.
30,000 protested at Queen's Park. It was the first ever walkout by teachers.
It was illegal, but the teachers were supported by other workers and by students. The government
gave in to teacher demands. In 1975, teachers won the right to bargain
collectively and to strike. Peel Teachers were the first to strike. Their issues were
seniority and redundancy from declining enrolment. In April 1989, over 20,000 Ontario teachers
demonstrated in Hamilton calling for an equal teacher voice in their pension plan. This
became law in 1991. In 1993, the government made cuts to the public
sector. Sound familiar?
Education share was $520 million. For the first time, teachers sat side by side with
their union colleagues from municipalities, universities, and hospitals.
In 1998, Mike Harris cut 2 billion dollars from public education, and restructured education
and teacher bargaining. Teachers walked out for 10 days, not in an illegal strike, but
in a political protest. The same year, public elementary teachers
created the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, ETFO, the largest teacher union
in the country, and the only one to have designated funding, programs, and executive positions
for women. From its beginning, ETFO was committed to equity and social justice.
We learned to work together and, in 2003, defeated the Harris government. We worked
with the new government to get smaller classes in the primary grades and eliminate teacher
testing. ETFO members became active - in their union,
in the labour movement, in politics and in their communities.
In 2008, the stock market crashed. Provincial revenues dropped. The Liberals introduced
an austerity agenda. Along with other public sector workers, we suffered. We lost two percent
in wages, but not everything was bad. In 2010, the government introduced full-day
kindergarten staffed - at ETFO's urging - with teachers and early childhood educators working
side-by-side throughout the school day. These early childhood educators, DECEs, are
now an integral part of our union. And recognizing how children learn, we advocated for play-based
learning in kindergarten and beyond. At the same time, we escalated our campaign to eliminate
standardized testing. In 2018, the government announced a review:
some things take a long time. In 2010, ETFO launched 21 online Additional
Qualification courses. ETFO is the first AQ provider to focus on inclusive classrooms
and teaching LGBTQ and FNMI students. Bargaining became more difficult.
In 2012, the government demanded a salary freeze. ETFO wanted their two percent back.
We campaigned: "Respect Teachers, Respect Bargaining." and took to TV with "Teachers
Change Lives." The government introduced Bill 115 to impose
OECTA's concessions on other education unions. ETFO rallied; we "paused" extracurricular
activities; we participated in McGuinty Mondays. Then we moved to one-day walkouts. We took
the government to court; Charter rights are for everyone, we said.
In 2016, the court agreed. We are still waiting for compensation.
Bargaining moved into the political and public arenas. We challenged the premier using his
own words - "We respect the bargaining process and the results of that process. We don't
tear up collective agreements." He resigned. The new Liberal leader, Kathleen Wynne, moved
quickly to start bargaining: we got our two percent.
In 2014, ETFO began bargaining with OPSBA. They demanded big strips. We mobilized members
- "Our Union, Our Values, Our Profession." We withdrew services. We protested OPSBA and
the Liberals and we won public support. By November, ETFO had an agreement.
Health and safety emerged as an issue. Staff, activists and members confronted hazards -asbestos,
radon and classroom violence. ETFO is known for its commitment to equity
and social justice. We introduced White Privilege and Welcoming Newcomers workshops. We helped
build Pride House and created resources for LGBTQ students and educators. We developed
training and resources to engage Indigenous students and teach Indigenous history and
culture. ETFO - the largest teacher union in Canada
- stands with unions and community groups for equity and public education. Members participated
in campaigns for the $15 minimum wage and better employment standards.
On June 7, 2018 Ontario had an election. A Conservative majority government was elected,
promising spending cuts. Thus, our second decade ended as our first began.
We will stay strong. We will stay united. We will continue to work to build better schools
for students and better communities for the people of Ontario.
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It's Elementary - 20th Anniversary Edition

4 Folder Collection
林宜悉 published on February 26, 2020
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