Intermediate students at Pine Glen Public School held a peaceful sit-in in response to the latest job action required of teachers by their union, the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario (ETFO).
“We thought of not coming to school on Wednesdays which is when our teachers wear the red shirts (as part of their job action). But then we though instead we would come to school and not go to classes to show that we can come together and we can be positive and we can show leadership,” said grade 8 student and organizer Megan Cameron.
The protest, which spanned the school’s entire first block of classes, was attended by 25 students as school administrators and some parents looked on. It was pulled together by students in a matter of hours Tuesday evening.
“Just seeing everyone come together makes my day,” said Cameron. “I can’t explain how amazing this makes me feel. It shows the teachers and the union and the government that kids can come together and they can make a difference.”
The students are hoping for a quick resolution to the negotiations between the ETFO and the government. “I’m hoping that we can get our basketball and glee and badminton back before the end of the year. Everyone was really disappointed. We feel that when we come to school we should have things that we actually want to do but learn at the same time so it can be a great experience, especially for grade 8’s for their last year.”
Trillium Lakelands District School Board Superintendent Andrea Gillespie was present for the protest. “I think that what they’ve done here is a very respectful protest. They’ve exercised their right to make a comment around social activism. I’m really impressed with their respectful approach. We’re all looking for a resolution to this.”
David Crawford, Pine Glen’s Principal, added, “I’m pleasantly surprised – they are so well organized as a group of student leaders. It’s very respectful and organized. I think it’s a great example of social activism from our youth. I’m proud of them.”
The TLDSB released a statement today that in addition to not participating in voluntary extra-curricular activities, teachers will not be completing progress reports to go home with students in November:
Trillium Lakelands District School Board has determined that due to the current labour situation in our 41 elementary schools, progress reports will not be going home with students on November 13th. Kindergarten classroom observation opportunities are also postponed at this time.
As of Wednesday, October 28, 2015 elementary teachers are not participating in extra-curricular activities as part of the strike action already in place in Phase 3 of their strike protocol. All public elementary teachers in Ontario began strike action in the spring as part of contract negotiations through their teacher federation, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). On Monday, September 21, 2015 additional sanctions were added to the elementary teachers strike protocol.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) began strike action on September 10, 2015. On Tuesday, September 29th additional sanctions were added to the CUPE staff strike protocol.
All TLDSB schools remain open as usual during this strike action by ETFO and CUPE staff members.
Student and staff safety is always our primary concern. We will continue to provide information to parents about any strike action that changes the regular operation of our schools.