Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The trouble with school is, they always try to teach the wrong lesson

My, it's refreshing to have to have the ire of local teachers' and allied unions directed, for once, at someone other than the provincial PC Party: IT'S OFFICIAL---there will be no school tomorrow for 78,000 Ottawa public school students. After meeting for more than four hours yesterday, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board officials decided they could not keep their 145 schools running safely without the 2,600 support workers who could hit the picket line at 6 a.m. tomorrow. "We did receive notice early Friday morning that employees of our administration and support groups will not be reporting to work on Wednesday and we cannot ensure the health and safety of our students under those circumstances," board chairwoman Lynn Graham said after the meeting. "We will be giving daily information updates and we're certainly hopeful that we will be reaching a fair and reasonable settlement with these employee groups in a short period of time." Negotiations are expected to resume today. While it's possible that a settlement will be reached -- thus staving off a full-blown strike -- the board requires at least 24 hours to prepare. Granted, this particular dispute is only between the board and unions; still, if the provincial government wasn't Liberal right now, I'm sure someone would have found a way to blame the province as well. Rage at the Mike Harris government was practically an article of faith for teachers during my high school years, and it predictably rubbed off on many students. (I shouldn't complain; rational re-examination of PC policies on education did end up taking me further rightward than I realized at the time.) At least the worst kind of poisonous environment this could generate would be disdain for bureaucrats of the regional school board. That's probable a healthy attitude to have, regardless.

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