Jamil Jivani: Despite classroom wake-up issues, teachers deserve our gratitude

Teaching was seen as a thankless job long before COVID, but it’s only become more of it

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Another difficult school year has just ended. Now is the time to show our appreciation to the teachers who have helped Canadian children through the pandemic, including school closures and other very serious learning challenges created by government policies.

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Teaching was considered a thankless job long before COVID, but now it is. Over the past school year, Ontario has faced a shortage of teachers And one Alberta Teachers Association Poll found that more than a third of Alberta teachers are considering leaving the profession or their home province.

It’s not hard to see why teachers across Canada would feel like they’ve been pushed to their limits. The job has changed drastically many times over the past two years. Uncertainty over whether schools would be open and whether they would be safe took a heavy toll. Adjusting to remote learning has been difficult for students and teachers.

Canadian parents have fair and important criticisms of the state of education in our country. Unfortunately, these criticisms are often unfairly directed at teachers, who are the de facto face of the public school system. Teachers are the ones who interact with families, but the policies that shape those interactions are created by school board administrators, provincial bureaucrats and elected officials who may never set foot in a classroom.

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Reactions to the social media activist known as “TikTok Libs” show how teachers get a disproportionate amount of critical attention. Libs of TikTok focuses on sharing disturbing videos made by teachers in the United States, but has also released a series of disturbing reports from Canada.

These reports include: “Schools in Canada tell students 18-month-olds can tell if they’re transgender”, “Wellness center in Canada is hosting an ALL AGES ‘twerkshop’ to teach people how to twerking” and “during a (Waterloo Region District School Board) meeting this week, a teacher reads an inappropriate book available to elementary school students and gets arrested by the president.

Libs of TikTok has over a million followers on Twitter alone and has drawn viral social media attention to hundreds of controversial teachers. This attention to a small number of teachers, however, fuels a wider mistrust of the majority, which has nothing to do with what is posted on TikTok.

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The people who make education policy are rarely visible online. In effect, this means that some teachers lose their jobs because of controversies, while administrators and bureaucrats who allow madness must operate in the shadows. Elected officials are rarely asked to answer questions about how and why woke ideologies have become so influential in our schools.

On the ever-important issue of pandemic-related learning disruptions, teachers have largely been left to their own devices. There has been virtually no relevant local data influencing policy making, which means teachers are not getting adequate support from school boards because no one can truly gauge the extent of the problem.

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Unfortunately, the best available research comes from other countries, such as the United States. A recent essay published in Atlantic describes some of the latest information. In it, authors Meira Levinson and Daniel Markovits note that “Even in schools that only closed in the spring of 2020 and reopened more or less the following fall, students a full year later were about two months academically behind where they would normally have been. . And when schools remained closed longer, students fell even further behind, with the poorest students losing out the most. »

The essay concludes: “The disruption the pandemic has caused to the lives of American children has no historical precedent; the damage that this disruption has imposed on them, taken as a whole, is equally significant. Our response must be large scale.

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If school closures are hurting American children so badly, imagine what has happened to children in Ontario. Under Education Minister Stephen Lecce, Canada’s most populous province has closed schools for an unusually long period. Ontario’s Science Advisory Table on COVID-19 noted in January 2022 that “Ontario schools have been closed for more than 27 weeks since March 2020, longer than any other Canadian jurisdiction and most countries. Europeans”.

A Cardus research report estimates that number exceeded a total of 29 weeks by the time children returned to school without interruption. By comparison, in May 2021, the average American student had been absent from the classroom for 65 days. In Ontario, there were 140 days of non-schooling at the same time of the pandemic.

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Ontario is also the location for Canada’s next major labor negotiations with teachers’ unions. And it will be a good opportunity to assess whether Canadians value teachers as much as we should.

When the time comes, we should talk about limiting class sizes so that teachers can give students the attention they deserve. We must ensure that the negotiations are not co-opted by the administrators and bureaucrats who push for awakening in the schools. Perhaps more than anything, it would be great to see elected officials finally held accountable for what has happened to the education system over the past two years.

national post

  1. None

    Munk Debates: Is Remote Learning Making Kids Dumber?

  2. Toronto Public Health has ordered schools closed on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

    Jesse Kline: Why Ontario’s last-minute school closures were entirely avoidable

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