On Sunday night hours from a strike deadline, CUPE representing 55,000 Ontario education workers, announced they achieved restored services for students and a fair contract for workers. For months, the government has been playing hardball with workers, students and parents in the education system. But workers, students and parents are fighting back.
CUPE’s incredible win demonstrates that when families, students and education workers stick together we can win the schools our children deserve. We have won back vital supports and services, and a fair deal for workers, but we still need to win much more for our kids! On October 10 over 750 schools across Ontario are planning Walk-in rallies to keep fighting for public education including:
- Low class caps.
- No mandatory e-learning.
- Adequate special education supports.
- Protecting the teacher/ECE FDK model.
We can keep making gains if we stay united and keep fighting for strong public education.
As Laura Walton, President of OSBCU, representing 55000 CUPE education workers, stated: “I am so grateful for the support we received from parent groups, allies and the public. I firmly believe that because of those shows of support, the loud ones and the quiet ones, we were able to reach this deal. I think the government knew that we would not be divided from the students and families we work with and care for every day. Together we defend public education.”
While CUPE education workers are still voting on their tentative deal, their willingness to fight shows that Ford can be beaten. In addition to winning a restoration of the Local Priorities Fund at $58.3-million per year for 3 years, an additional $20-million/year for more support and service positions was also won for students.
But despite these impressive gains, there is still much ground to recover. If left unchallenged the government cuts will result in 10,000 fewer teaching positions over a 4 year period. This year alone, there’s been a 3% cut in per-student funding for all school boards. The cuts to custodial staff have resulted in classroom closures and unsafe building conditions. High school classrooms are overcrowded with reports of as many as 46 students. Fewer teachers has meant course cancellations, and reduced access to courses meaning some kids won’t graduate on time.
If Ford is able to continue his attacks after the election there will be long-standing repercussions for the state of public education in this province. The stakes remain high.
The Tories plan to defund the public education system and implement a private, for-profit education model, drastically increasing inequity and further disadvantaging poor and racialized students.
The government will continue to bank on pitting students and parents against education workers, during the current bargaining rounds with elementary and highschool teachers. But the truth is, this is their kryptonite. This is a fight over the future of public education in this province, and parents and families know who their allies are, not Ford and the Conservatives who are holding the hatchet. We know we have workers on our side. And our side is getting organized.
All major education unions are supporting this action and mobilizing members to participate. This level of organized solidarity and strength between parents, students, education workers and teachers is unprecedented in Ontario. The Walk-in action takes place as elementary teachers are participating in strike votes, to send the message that we will be there, supporting the job action that is needed to take the cuts off the table.
This is an opportunity to highlight Ford’s unpopular attacks, quash Andrew Scheer’s electoral dreams, and win the schools all kids deserve. Ford is vulnerable on education especially right now. We need to hit him where it hurts. If we can push back and stop this attack on public education, we will empower all workers to fight Ford’s cuts. Ford and Scheer have the same privatization agenda, this is also our chance to broadcast to the rest of Canada what the destructive impacts of a Scheer government would be like: this is why Ford is currently in hiding.
Walk-in for public education
Parent groups have called for a province wide Walk-in action on October 10. Students and workers are on board. Anyone can check the public list of registered schools at linktr.ee/schoolwalkins, and sign themselves up to join in! The walk-in action itself is a short rally, parade, or flyering session outside schools in the morning, or after classes end depending on what the school community decides is best.
Last June, 309 schools in 16 school boards, (mostly in the GTA) mobilized for school walk-ins. This time we are building for a province wide action! For October 10 we have over 500 schools registered in over 46 different school boards all across Ontario!
Check this link to register your school, for materials, flyers, and organizing guides: www.linktr.ee/schoolwalkins
Walk- in demands:
- Reinstate all education worker positions that have been cut to ensure adequate staffing and supports, including but not limited to Teachers, Education Assistants, Special Needs Assistants, Custodians, Psychologists, child and youth workers, social workers, International Language Instructors and Library Workers.
- No mandatory e-learning.
- Well-maintained, safe buildings.
- Equitable enrichment opportunities across the system for all that reduces reliance on school-based fundraising.
- Provide an inclusive curriculum that respects the diversity of our students and educators.
- Low class caps and excellent needs-based support to ensure all kids have the support they need to reach their potential.
- Reinstate Indigenous-led curriculum updates, and full Health Curriculum including health education that includes transgender children.
- Protect Full-Day Kindergarten program.
- Provide quality, free, safe, universal public childcare.
Educators, students and parents across North America have begun to stand-up against attacks on public education and win something better. Students have had two large walk-outs in Ontario to protest Ford’s education policies and cuts. And just last month students were front and centre in striking for the climate. Parents, students and workers uniting, is a powerful and vital step towards defeating Ford.