02/22/2017 04:06 EST | Updated 02/22/2017 04:06 EST

It's Time For Ontario To Cap All Classrooms At 20 Students

student diverse classroom

I don't want a four per cent raise. I want better learning conditions for our students and better working conditions for us. Most of all, I want to work on regaining the trust of the public again. Ontario has the greatest sub sovereign debt in the world. I don't want to leave that legacy for my own children or for my students.

Why doesn't the public understand that we work so hard? That we care so much? The public doesn't understand because we choose to accept raises from the scandal-ridden Liberals instead of following through with action to show that we will fight to support lower class sizes. I want all class sizes to be capped at 20. Period. No exceptions. And I'd be willing to take a pay cut and go on strike to make that happen. I'm a mother first -- a citizen concerned about the future of this province.

Goal #1: Better learning conditions for our students and working conditions for us; the two are so closely intertwined that I do not wish to separate them.

Our excellent salaries come at a cost to other operating costs. Good working conditions for us and good learning conditions for our students are more important to me than a four per cent raise. I want my own children and my students in classes of 20, so that I can do right by them. I'm more than happy with present teacher salaries. Let's advocate for our students by walking our talk. Be willing to stand up for them. We have enough money.

Class sizes of 20 would do more good than any other single initiative.

I think that 90 per cent of the problems in our Ontario public education system would be solved by having classes of 20 or less. We all want to do right by our students. And our families. And ourselves.

Goal #2: We as teachers need to make steps to regain the trust of the public. Demonstrate that we recognize that "we are all in this together" as a province, and take what steps WE can to set a good example to other groups, regardless of the subsequent choices of other groups.

The median family income in Ontario (latest statistic available) is $78 790. That means that most families that we serve, as public servants, make less than just one of us. Our province is in crippling debt. Our students are in crisis. The families that we serve are truly struggling with a number of issues, including financial issues. We make enough. Let's improve the quality of life for the students. They are the reason the education system exists in the first place. It was not created for us. It was created for them. Let's do our part to try to give them what they deserve. Class sizes of 20 would do more good than any other single initiative.

Goal #3: Do what we can to begin to address our province's incredible debt problems, understanding that we have played a role in creating that debt.

The Liberals are now offering us a pay increase to buy our votes, shut us up, and pay us off.

Our province is in financial shambles, and the Liberal government responsible for this mess has been propped up partially by us, the teachers. We've given them the power that resulted in their poor choices for our province. Do we really want to participate in going further down this road? Don't we want to get our "provincial house" in order?

We are in a dire financial situation in this province. Ontario owes about $21,000 for each Ontarian. That's a lot of debt for us to carry as a province. And high electricity prices are driving businesses away. We need strong businesses to pay taxes for the services we need. We are all in this together, as a province.

Our teachers' unions have accepted questionable "gifts" from our provincial government. The Liberals are now offering us a pay increase to buy our votes, shut us up, and pay us off. This is at the expense of our children's quality of education now, and our children's financial future.

Goal #4: Most importantly, we as teachers should follow through on our rhetoric. Strike if necessary. Take a pay cut if necessary. Just make sure, in the end, that we achieve the one goal of a hard cap of 20 students per classroom.

students diverse

In summary, it is "TIME FOR TWENTY"

1. Ontario teachers' unions should focus on the one issue of class size, in order to finally get this integral issue resolved.

2. Accept a maximum class size of 20. No exceptions.

3. In exchange, teachers should accept no raises for a number of years (the least number of years that promote the stability of this arrangement), thereby assuaging concerns regarding current teachers' family budgets and financial circumstances

Our approach needs to change, soon. Not just our rhetoric but our actions. If we don't change from within, we will likely face a further crisis of some sort in the next few years, which fiscally affects our profession more than what I'm proposing now.

More importantly, we now face a crisis of students and families in dire need, which could be largely relieved by giving our attentions to smaller class sizes.

I want us to choose the right path, without coercion from the public and the government.

I've been waiting years for this to improve. It won't improve without a shift on our part.

I care about our students and their families. I know you do too. More committees and meetings won't solve the problems.

Choosing to do nothing is a choice, too.

I want us to choose the right path, without coercion from the public and the government. I want this to come from us. I want us to hold our heads high and say with conviction, "I am a teacher and I will stand up for our most vulnerable members of society -- our children."

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