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Hudak accuses teachers unions of having taken over education system

February 27, 2013 - All News

Tory Leader Tim Hudak says a Progressive Conservative government would not cosy up to teachers and their “union bosses” but rather would put them in their place.
“The teacher unions are not there to run the education system,” Hudak told reporters at Queen’s Park Wednesday.
Still stinging from losing a motion in the legislature Tuesday that would have imposed additional work on teachers, Hudak scolded the Liberals and the New Democrats for siding with teachers in opposing the motion rather than parents and students.
“We owe it to students and parents to raise the bar . . . but we’re not going to do that by handing the keys to power over to the union bosses in our education system,” Hudak said.
“Last night’s debate shows that Premier (Kathleen) Wynne and the Liberals are again taking their marching orders from the teacher union bosses,” he said. “Quite frankly they’ve got no better friend in the premier’s chair, there is nobody closer to the teacher union bosses than Kathleen Wynne.”
Wynne and Education Minister Liz Sandals have said the Tories are only interested in creating chaos in the education system.
The motion introduced by Tory education critic Lisa MacLeod would have redefined the role of teachers by forcing them to perform certain duties, such as attending parent-teacher interviews, completing report cards and helping students with extra work after school hours. It addition it would prevent union leaders from threatening members with fines and embarrassment if they don’t follow union directives.
Teachers now are not required to participate in after-school parent-teacher interviews and are required to fill out report cards only to the best of their ability, which during the recent labour strife over extracurricular activities often resulted in one-line answers.
“Parents should have a right to a parent-teacher interview after three o’clock outside school hours. Two, it is dead wrong for the teachers unions to be able to able to bully classroom teachers with threats of $500 fines if they stay after school to help the kids . . . coach the football team or do the drama club,” Hudak said.
Hudak said a Tory government would take much of what was in the motion and put it into legislation, even though he suspects there would be serious push back from the teachers, reminiscent of the bitter disputes between the former Harris Progressive Conservative government and teacher unions in the late 1990s.
“We stand with classroom teachers, we stand with parents, we stand with taxpayers. That’s the big difference between us and the other two parties,” he said.
“I expect the unions to always fight any chances they are going to lose power in the system.”
He said fundamental changes have to be made to the law governing teachers “so this doesn’t keep happening over and over again. They have a right to strike but they don’t have a right to hold hostage students and parents in these work-to-rule actions. There is nothing extra about extracurriculars.”
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) and Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) withdrew from extracurricular activities earlier this year when the Liberal government imposed contracts on the public elementary and high school teachers that froze their wages for two years and took away paid sick days, among other things.
The OSSTF just last Friday agreed to a deal with the government that it restart extracurricular activities, leaving ETFO the lone holdout.
— Torstar News Service

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