featuring the work of young journalists from Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District High Schools
Most of Ontario has been affected by strikes in these past few months and the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board (SMCDSB) is no exception. The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) is a union that represents elementary, secondary and occasional teachers at our Board. In addition, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) represents education support staff like EAs and office staff. Both of these unions are engaged in strike action in response to the provincial government’s plan to increase class sizes and have students take mandatory online classes among other things. I interviewed a few students from St.Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School in Tottenham and asked what their stance was on the recent strikes. Aside from getting a few days off from school, how do the students really feel about the strikes affecting their time in the classroom?
Rachel W. does not like the idea of larger class sizes and mandatory online classes. She says if online classes became mandatory, she wouldn’t be able to finish her work because she has no wifi where she lives. “I think the strikes are good, and I’m glad the teachers are fighting for us.”
While some students view the strikes as necessary, others are worried about being out of school so much. When talking to Lauren W., she expressed that she doesn’t support the strikes and feels they are putting many students’ education at risk. A lot of students I talked to were anxious about reduced class time, especially around exams.
Other students I talked to wondered about the effect of the strikes on teachers. Michael V. says, “I feel that it might be throwing teachers off more than anyone because tests and assignments keep getting delayed which is throwing off the way we’re moving through the curriculum.”
The main concern all students shared was whether or not the strikes were going to be worth our time away from school. Angelina D. told me, “If no actual changes are going to be made then we will have been out of school for no reason. Our tests keep getting pushed back and I’m worried that by the time we get to exams, we won’t have learned everything we were supposed to.” She also tells me she feels like her education isn’t a priority. Teachers have been teaching two lessons per day instead of one to make up for the instructional time missed because of the strikes. In the long run, is having lower class sizes and no mandatory online classes actually going to be worth us missing so much school?
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