Covering education issues has been weird the last couple of years during the pandemic; while keeping schools open for in-person learning was a priority, teachers felt that their concerns weren’t being heard. Now, education is struggling to be made an election priority, and education workers have been trying to put their concerns back on the frontburner since March 2020, so this seems like an interesting place to begin a provincial campaign.
Ironically, education issues were very front of mind on the provincial agenda just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of Ontario’s education unions were undertaking job action with rotating strikes, but then COVID-19 arrived on our shores and schools were shut down, along with the job action. Questions about schools moved away from resources and jobs to making schools safe for in-person learning.
Oddly enough, the concerns about keeping schools safe from COVID, and just making our education system better, are not mutually exclusive goals. What is the effort to improve ventilation and air quality in school buildings but an admission that those facilities need billions of dollars in infrastructure improvements? Going into an election season, teachers are concerned that they’re long-standing issues won’t get air time, so we’re going to give them some.
This week we’re joined by Karen Littlewood, the president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Association (OSSTF) to talk about what might have happened with the teachers’ strike if there was no COVID-19 pandemic, and how education is in danger of not being treated as a priority in this election. She will also talk about the rural/urban divide in education issues, the infrastructure backlog for schools that has nothing to do with COVID, and what education workers are looking for in a candidate and a party.
So let’s do some online learning about education issues on this week’s Guelph Politicast!
You can see the OSSTF’s 2022 education platform, “Strengthen Public Education – Rebuild Ontario” at their website. If you’re interested in hearing from the candidates themselves, we will be hosting all of the Guelph candidates over on Open Sources Guelph in the weeks to come, and we will also be marking the return of the Wellington-Halton Hills Politicast starting this Saturday.
Also, when you subscribe to the Guelph Politicast channel and you will also get an episode of Open Sources Guelph every Monday, and an episode of End Credits every Friday.