Sam Hammond and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario have a lot to answer for.
Their job actions and threats during labour negotiations had students and parents on edge for months. Now, it’s come down to this: The teachers finally have their new contract, but are refusing to send out report cards for kindergarten students.
As reported by the Toronto Star’s Kristin Rushowy, students in Grades 1 to 8 will receive report cards by Dec. 11, the union says. But parents of 4- and 5-year-olds who were looking forward to getting their youngsters’ first-ever report cards will be denied the opportunity to see how they are doing.
If anyone was wondering how petty the union could get, now we know.
They are prepared to target tens of thousands of kindergarten students for job action, for no reason that we can discern, even when labour issues should be behind them.
When the contract was signed, Education Minister Liz Sandals assured the public: “We have specifically agreed that the full progress reports — including comments — will be prepared for all elementary students in the English public system.” That was universally welcomed.
Now, all of a sudden, the littlest kids don’t count?
“I’m disappointed, because this is a critical component of that parent-teacher relationship,” says Michael Barrett, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association. He speaks for a lot of people affected by this nonsense.
After all, it’s not just that kids won’t receive report cards. Many parents haven’t yet even managed to meet their child’s teacher this year. They have no way of knowing how their child is doing.
During negotiations, teachers were working to rule and were refusing to meet parents who requested one-on-one get-togethers. In addition, regular meet-the-teacher and curriculum nights were cancelled. Moreover under the new contact’s provisions, teachers aren’t required to meet with parents in this first term.
Upshot? Many parents have not had any contact with their child’s teacher this year. How frustrating, unhelpful, and unprofessional is that?
This latest job action follows other frustrations parents have endured at the union’s hands.
Last spring, for example, teachers refused to write comments on year-end report cards. And this fall, as contract negotiations were underway, field trips were off and teachers refused to coach sports teams, direct school plays or run after-school clubs.
Whatever residual good will the teachers could have hoped to marshal for their cause was then further undermined as talks dragged on until the first week of November — long after deals had been reached with the secondary, Catholic and French unions that should have led to a speedier deal with the public elementary union.
Now, even though a deal has finally been agreed on, the youngest kids are still paying a price.
The teachers have until Dec. 11 to get out the report cards. After all our parents and kids have been put through, they should make sure kindergarten students receive theirs, too.