Let's face it, kids at that age can only take in so much learning. It isn't necessary to have a teacher in the classroom the whole day.She makes a point, one that I'm hesitant to agree with. Despite the coalition of federations that pumped mucho dollars into election ads to elect and re-elect McGuinty, Wynne and the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario are not what I would call bosom buddies. ETFO members have already seen that in their smaller retro cheques and lower salary increases after their latest contracts compared to their peers teaching high school and working in French and Catholic schools. The move towards salary parity amongst teachers is gone, at least until the next round of negotiations. ETFO bit the hand that fed it in negotiations and its play for full-day kindergarten is, in my eyes, a thinly veiled attempt at doing nothing more than increase the number of school staff members paying it dues. For their own sake, I hope ETFO members don't abandon this government and toss their support behind another party-- it could have disastrous results as it did in 1995.
Pascal's plan makes sense. Why pay a teacher's salary for a full day when kids of that age are more likely to spend most of the day glueing pasta to paper or making monsters out of Play-Doh? Why pay teachers to be babysitters?
The problem is, the government owes the teacher unions -- big time. They contributed huge amounts of money to Liberals in the last election.
I think Wynne's dilemma speaks to a bigger problem. I believe it is a conflict of interest for public sector unions to contribute to election coffers. Essentially, they're giving money to their employer. Is it any wonder the government constantly caves in to their salary demands?
In this case, they are trying to influence public policy. It is simply wrong for a union to have a disproportionate say on how a program will be delivered. It is wrong for them to influence how taxpayers' money will be spent.
I do object, however to Blizzard's characterization that Pascal's recommended model of full-day learning is nothing but a daylong babysitting service. She must have missed the part in Pascal's report and other early learning reports pointing to the importance of learning through play such as crafting things out of Play-Doh and glueing macaroni to things. She also gives opposition leader Tim Hudak his space to promote his perspective on early learning-- which given he was one of the leadership contestants to come out against Pascal in his campaign is only telling.
Blizzard's best point? This one:
Here's what I hope won't happen.
I don't want to see high-powered parents putting pressure on trustees and school boards to get full-day kindergarten in up-market schools.
The neediest schools -- where parents can't pay for decent daycare -- should be the priority for this program.