Dear Mr. Lecce,
This is now my second open letter to you as a concerned Vaughan-King constituent.
As today marks OECTA’s first province wide withdrawal of service since 1997, I wanted to share my thoughts with you as a taxpayer, parent, dedicated teacher and someone exhausted by your pseudo-expertise.
As a proud Ontario Catholic teacher, this is the first time in my 15 year years of teaching that I am part of a strike action. As I prepare to stand in solidarity with my colleagues today on the picket line, I wanted to provide you with some context as to why I stand in strict opposition to this government’s education plan (or lack thereof) and your disconcerting handling of the education portfolio.
Contrary to your political spin and that of your Conservative colleagues, teacher strikes are not a normal every three year occurrence. Although, all bargaining has moments of significant problem-solving, this is the very first time that many teachers like me, have left the classrooms to stand as a collective one in the face of an ideology that looks to strip publicly funded education of its potential and promise.
Trust, not being in the classroom as a result of this governments’ disdain for publicly funded education and disrespect for all stakeholders (parents and their children), is not why I completed a Bachelors of Education way back in 2004 – 2005 at Brock University. In fact, it was because of Ontario’s reimagined education philosophy and framework under Dalton McGinity’s Ontario Liberals, that I found myself to be called to the world of teaching.
As someone who began his post-secondary studies in 1999 as a film production student, my journey to teaching was not accidental. It was not because of summer vacations (unpaid and which unemployment is not attainable), a pension (which all teachers contribute to) or benefits (which teachers also pay into), but rather the renewed passion the Ontario Liberals ignited their education portfolio with after the years of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves. In fact, I was a high school student during the Harris’ years and stood for and with my teachers then like I stand for my profession, colleagues, students and my own children today.
This is to say that today’s Conservative government is consistent in one thing: destruction. Whether it is stripping meaningful support for Autism programming, actively fighting climate change or investing in a world-class publicly funded education system, this government is a master dismantler. This government is not for the people, but rather for the select elites who can financially afford to navigate the dark aftermath of deep system cuts and lack of forwarding thinking vision.
Specifically in regards to education, you must take ownership of the chaos you are creating. With your cuts, lack of investment and overall vision:
- Elementary and High School students will find themselves in classrooms that are oversized and depersonalized;
- Fewer teachers will be working to enrich the lives of Ontario’s young people;
- Increased class sizes, will impact the safety or students and teachers;
- High School Students will continue to lose the opportunity to take much needed elective courses, thus impacting their readiness for post-secondary;
- Full Day Kindergarten will no longer serve the potential of early learners as it won’t exist or be taught by a team of Teacher and ECE;
- The lack of support for vulnerable and at-risk students will cause these young people to lose hope and belief in their potential;
- Mandatory eLearning will displace learners in need of face-to-face instruction and who are still growing in their cognitive ability;
- Special-Education programming will continue to severely under-serve students and their families;
If this government is for the people, where will the average Ontarian go when these cuts hit home?
Are you expecting parents to go bankrupt to provide their children with access to quality education by highly educated professionals?
It’s because of all of this that I stand in solidarity with my OECTA colleagues and all Ontario educators and stakeholders. I will not be out in the cold today away from the classroom that I love just because of compensation and benefits alone. It’s so much more – you know this but choose to create a facade in public. You continue to spin the truth.
This is about the educational future of my own school-aged children who you have met and for all young people who call Ontario home. I stand against the privatization of our world-class education system. You are not just attacking me as a teacher but as a parent. I will not be bribed.
I encourage you to look at this issue through a non-partisan lens. I encourage you to think of all children and their families who comprise our wonderful educational communities at elementary and high schools across the province. Paying parents today out of the money not paid to striking teachers is not paying them tomorrow with the promise of a world-class education system that is protected.
I encourage you to be a true leader. This means, for you to be reflective, courageous, in the pursuit of knowledge, empathetic and selfless.
If you consider yourself a leader, then I encourage you to speak to your cabinet colleagues and be autonomous from Premier Ford. Stand up for children and families across the province.
If you consider yourself a leader, I ask you to immediately resign from the position of Minister of Education and admit that your lack of expertise in all aspects of education and bargaining, does not make you effective in your current portfolio.
No one will fault you. In fact, many will applaud you.
A true leader knows what is right and just. Do you you?
A an MPP, you must serve in the public trust. You no longer have that trust.
Sign and share the resignation petition: Demand More: Stephen Lecce Must Resign