Rotating teacher strikes begin, students walk out of class
Published Monday, December 10, 2012 6:40PM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 10, 2012 9:39PM EST
Rotating teacher strikes have begun and one local school board is among the first to walk out. The Avon-Maitland School Board started the rotation.
Hundreds of teachers walked the picket line in nine locations in Stratford. By Christmas public elementary school teachers across the province, will have walked off the job for one day.
It would normally be a school day, but today for the Purdy’s, it's game day.
Sean Purdy says, “Fortunately my wife works part time and we didn’t have to seek supervision for them.”
Purdy’s teachers are marching on a picket line, as part of the one of the rotating strikes by elementary teachers in the province.
Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario president, Sam Hammond, says, “What we're trying to do is to bring attention in a very focused way to Bill 115, to the concerns we have.”
In Stratford, 650 teachers from the Avon-Maitland school board call for respect for collective bargaining.
The local union president, Merlin Leis says, “That message has not been going through, and so this is the next step and who knows where it goes from here.”
As long as there's 72 hours notice the government is doing nothing to stop these one day walkouts. Education Minister Laurel Broten says legal documents have been drawn up to stop any strikes that stretch beyond a single school day.
But even a one-day strike can be inconvenient for some families. With strikes and cancelled extracurricular activities, parents are worried about what will come next.
“I certainly hope it doesn’t go in a direction where the kids are impacted further.” says Purdy.
There were parents and kids who joined teachers on the picket line
Marc Mageau says. “There’s no school today, so we have to bring her somewhere and I think she's learning more here than she would learn in a normal day at school today.”
Hammond says, “It’s a regrettable situation we're in but we have no choice, and I would ask that they be patient and actually have a look at Bill 115 and why my members are out on picket lines today."
Rotating strikes will continue tomorrow, when the District School Board of Niagara and the Keewatin Patricia district school board will strike.
Students within the Avon Maitland school board will return to class Tuesday.
Student rallies and sit-ins
Meanwhile it wasn’t just teachers, who walked out of the classroom. Hundreds of high-school students also walked out to protest a new law that would allow the Ontario government to impose a collective agreement on teachers.
Walkouts were organized at 16 different high schools in the Waterloo Region. Students say while they are not taking sides, they are caught in the middle.
Nicola Loghrin from KCI says, "I’m very involved in music at my school and unfortunately we've already had three of our music concerts cancelled this year."
Shane King a student at Grand River Collegiate says, "We've only had three games together as a team, lots of us are back as fifth years for the hockey team."
While Abbi Longmire a student at Waterloo Oxford says, "Our extra curriculars keep us going and they're really important to going to a schoo,l and having a full experience and they get us scholarships to universities."
Some students had sit-downs inside their schools, over the lunch hour, our cameras were not allowed inside.
Other students from Sir John A. MacDonald secondary school talked to us about the situation.
Adam Okeil says, "Our message to the union and to the government is at the end of the day we are the ones being affected and we want to show them how we feel about this whole situation."
Some students like Kerrigan Dubeau are talking about how athletics have been affected.
"Some of us wanted to go for curling swimming, basketball, guitar, drumming and all that." says Dubeau.
Athletics and the arts, Kevin Haycock says he's missing out on theatre.
“This one play, a play I was already in might have been my only one and you're going to be able to do that now? Yah"
Kids caught in the middle say they want their message heard.