Covid Journal, August 6, 2020
Back To School
I need to rant about what a trainwreck our education system is. Again.
So, as the hours close in on ‘back to school’, I have discovered why I will not be sending our child back to school in just a few weeks.
As we all know from the constant reminders via the media and countless shitty and unimaginative ads, we are indeed in u precedented times.
Of course, when I reached out to our school board to find out how to modify my child’s school picks for the fall (ie. THREE weeks from now), the response was that no one was available.
ME: Hi. We have questions about our child’s schedule this fall. He has already indicated that he wants to balance between in-class and online and choose a couple of online courses once he knows what the options are. There are some other changes to be made before school is scheduled to start. I’m sure we’re not the only ones, so is there someone available to speak with?
BOARD: Schools are closed for the summer and will reopen August 24. We will be asking families to identify if their student is opting out of returning to school in the coming days to help us plan. If they need to alter their courses, they need to wait.
ME: Given the circumstances, wouldn’t it be prudent to be available now so that it’s not complete mayhem August 24?
BOARD: Teaching and teaching support staff do not work through the summer according to their collective agreements.
Translation: it’s a union thing.
Interpretation: kids and parents are not the clients. We are bargaining chips caught between two steaming piles pf ego.
As parents, all we want to do is show our support for our child and register him for a couple of online classes (as lousy as the online platform is) so that it creates a triple-win: he gets the classes he wants, room is made for students that want to be in-class (vs online) and people can plan accordingly for room sizes, etc. And we want to do it now. But agreements signed long before Covid prevent any logical planning from happening.
I don’t blame just the union. We have had terrible leadership on the Education portfolio at least since September 2019, when the boards and the Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, were supposed to be acting like professionals and adults. They weren’t, so now we’re still scrambling to make sense of what to do in just a few business days after months of sitting on our asses.
My message to those hiding behind contracts: it’s going to be busier than you’ve ever had it in a few days and you’ll have no one but your union to blame.
And the Minister: cut funding until boards decide who their customers are: the students and parents of this province.
Clearly, there is a vacuum of leadership everywhere, from the Premier’s office, to the Minister to the unions and teachers and even parents. The latter only because we haven’t called bullshit sooner and demanded better service long ago.
I suppose parents toss their hands up and just say “Ok … it’s just a couple of years. Once our little offspring is finished grade 12, we’ll be back to real world scenarios”. Of course, people living in their university worlds are also protected by bubbles that are oblivious to reality and treating students like clients as opposed to numbers … but let’s save THAT rant for another day 🙂
Generally, it’s exhausting.
And we need answers now before the lives of kids are put in jeopardy.