Our annus horribilis, 2012-2013, is, mercifully, drawing to a close. It was a year in which our erstwhile partners in government turned on us, and seemed to go out of their way to destroy goodwill that had been built over years. The reasons for the McGuinty-Broten-Duncan axis’ action are still subject to speculation, but plundering about $1.6 billion of paper liability by eliminating our accumulated sick leave surely had a lot to do with it.
Our resistance both to the mugging, and more importantly to the associated trampling of our constitutional rights, was strong and effective. Four members of the government responsible, including the Premier and the Education Minister, have seen their political careers, and reputations, turn to ashes. By skillfully playing the very poor hand we were dealt, our provincial leadership was able to mitigate the damage done by the government, and also redress the 2% inequity in salaries immediately upon conclusion of the “me too” period which OECTA established. Members overwhelmingly voted to accept the agreement.
Our infrastructure – goodwill, trust, respect for our professional judgment – was seriously damaged by the government’s disastrous decisions of 2012-2013. Restoring teacher goodwill and rebuilding trust and respect will take years, but I believe it is a goal we should make our priority.
I am pleased to report that TDSB Director, Donna Quan, also believes in these goals, and we are engaged in respectful conversations, such as have been modeled by the new Premier, Kathleen Wynne, as to how to move along this path.
One significant obstacle to healing relationships between us and our employers is the ongoing dispute over issues relating to Progress Reports going back to November 2012. I continue to raise our concern about the difficulty of moving forward with the agenda of rebuilding relationships while so many of our members have faced, and are continuing to face, disciplinary action due to circumstances that arose at the provincial level. I am cautiously optimistic, given my discussions with Director Quan and the Board’s senior team, that a mutually satisfactory resolution of this issue is achievable, and will provide impetus to the restorative work we need to do together.
On a go-forward basis, we acknowledge that the Board has management rights in the matter of policies respecting reporting, among other issues. We insist, however, that these rights not be exercised in an arbitrary or unreasonable manner, and we assert that the way to ensure that this is not the case is to develop and implement these policies in a collaborative and cooperative way with the professional partners involved, the teachers.
I would like to recognize the commitment of Director Quan and the Board’s senior team to a constructive approach to implementing the MoU, and I look forward to working to build bridges which will be to our mutual benefit as we seek our common goal, the best possible education for all the students in our community.