Monday, June 14, 2010

Harris backlash

Kudos to the North Bay Nugget, who've been all over the developments in the Nippising University decision to award an honorary diploma to former premier Mike Harris. That includes running plenty of letters from those both in support of Nippising's decision and those opposed to it (here, here, here, here, here, and so on..) underpinned by an editorial critical of teachers' federations for their calls that working teachers boycott Nipissing teachers' college students seeking practicums.
From the editorial brick:
(Ontario Teachers') Federation president Reno Melatti told The Nugget this week unions such as the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation and the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario are vehemently opposed to the honorary degree. There could be boycotting," he warned. If there are not enough placements, it could be difficult for faculty to place them." Harris was tough on education during his time as premier, but to target hardworking education students because of the university they attend sends the wrong message. No matter how appalling the federation finds Harris, its actions to target Nipissing student teachers would be just as offensive.
I agree, completely.
This move by the OTF is another one that is simply too rich to miss commenting on. Luckily, I had graduated from high school before the OTF really started to ramp up its opposition to some of Harris' more controversial legislation and amendments. So I was never impacted by their job action.
I would note, and will always remember, with a smirk, that the teachers' federations very own disgust over Bob Rae's social-contract and "Rae Days" is what in part led to the defeat of that government. Federations and other public-sector unions turned their backs on the Ontario NDP in 1995, which led in part to Harris' victory. Then they all got burned.
To continue this opposition over things Harris did over 12 years ago, which have largely been reversed in the years since, is simply petty.


Anonymous said...

it's not only petty ER it's a case of the old boys fighting their fight on the backs of new graduates.

Unfortunately intolerance is just as rampant among the union bullies and their supporters as ever.

Very glad that the university stood up to the OTF.

Like him or not Harris drove dollars to that University, and for that he was being honoured.

I was listening to a talk radio show last week where the very much liberal-leaning host suggested that the OTF was actually sending a message to Dalton McGuinty and any successive provincial leader a message that put them on notice.

What a horrible reminder of the type of PR the OTF likes to flaunt.

banderblogger said...

First, the role Teacher Associate (mentoring Teacher Candidates) has always been a voluntary one. It is a cycle of training that goes back to before the era of of Normal Schools in Ontario. Everyone who is a qualified teacher in Ontario today owes, in part, their skills and knowledge to several senior teachers that volunteered their time and effort to train them. (Hugo, here is good fodder for a future article - calculate the amount of time that teacher candidates spend in the faculty lecture halls versus the time they spend practicing in actual classrooms and then compare the honorarium given to Associate teachers versus the rest of their tuition swallowed by the University - teacher faculties are cash cows). Teacher have always shown great generosity and professionalism in offering to train new teachers.

Secondly, even though the OTF is an umbrella organization for the four Ontario teacher unions, it does not speak on behalf of them. Visit their individual websites and you will hear what they think about Melatti's words.

Thirdly, I don't think it was the teachers who ushered in Mike Harris. They certainly didn't approve of Rae's tearing up of legal contracts (something which was recently proven as illegal and unconstitutional in B.C.), but let's face it, teachers are not powerful enough to appoint a premier.

Finally, I don't think there is anything to smirk about when over 8 years one party drained the province's education system and dragged it down to the level of some American states in terms of quality, innovation and democracy.

I cringed at Melatti's words because I know that they did not represent the voice of teachers or their unions.

Anonymous said...

banderblogger Doug - it was a stupid and petty move

Agree with ER that the unions showed no class whatsoever and continued in their usual destructive ways.

Bravo for the University for standing up to the bullies. The province is in now mood for this type of politics. Not when taxpayers are being made to pay more for less...even in education.

banderblogger said...

Dear Anonymous,

The OTF is not a union. The teacher unions did not support the OTF's stand on this issue.

As for teachers' unions' "usual destructive ways", I just spoke to a teacher who was gearing up for her summer vacation which will be working on her teacher union's project of promoting women's education in Benin. Very destructive.

BTW, my name is not Doug.

Education Reporter said...


Interesting points. I agree, the value in many teachers' colleges are in the practicums, not the university component. Certainly, the references and portfolio teaching applicants amass as they complete these placements are given far more weight in a hiring process than the degree.

I never said teachers elected Harris. However, the federations' abandonment of Rae's NDP played a part. Had teachers (and every other Ontario public sector union) not turned their backs on Rae, Harris may not have been elected.

Teachers don't win elections for parties, but they are subject to much wooing (or derision) and that leaves the impression they are a political force.

The federations do many worthy projects. I make no attempt to tar every member with a single stroke. However, the executive of the federations, some times, do and say things that are just puzzling. Every time I read some federations' member magazines, I'm left wondering (after certain articles) when and where the discount on rose-coloured glasses was held.