Teachers share their top concerns from the picket line

Teachers share their top concerns from the picket line

Members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation took part in another one-day strike Wednesday, closing many elementary and high schools across Ottawa. 

The OSSTF launched a work-to-rule campaign in late November that has involved a series of rotating one-day strikes designed to put pressure on the provincial government. 

Teachers say they're concerned about larger class sizes, proposed mandatory e-learning and dwindling supports for vulnerable students. 

Teachers, educational assistants and janitorial staff walked picket lines across Ottawa Wednesday, including one outside MPP Lisa MacLeod's constituency office. We spoke with some of the pickets to find out their biggest concerns.

Andrew Williams, teacher, Sir Robert Borden High School

Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC

E-learning

E-learning is really a big issue in an era when kids need less screen time. Trying to take away opportunities to work one-on-one and help them with interpersonal skills and teamwork skills in the age of automation, I mean that's a highly prized skill. I'm not just going to stand by and just be like, 'Yeah, I signed up for something and then it's changing drastically and I'm cool with that.' Really, to me, I signed up to be with kids, to work with them ... and help them out. I didn't sign up to sit in front of a computer and deliver some kind of curriculum.

Katherine Birrell, teacher, Sir Robert Borden High School

Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC

Class sizes, e-learning

I can't be in a class with that many kids. I can't reach those kids. I can't help the kids that are struggling.... So the job that I can do and the teacher that I can be is compromised with so many kids in the class. E-learning I find really disturbing. As an option, I think it's fine for kids that are maybe higher-level kids or kids that are self-motivated and are able to keep themselves to a schedule.... But the teenagers that I work with, they really struggle with that. They don't necessarily have the skills that adults would have if they were doing an online course, for example. And I think about the at-risk kids that just would not be able to do that and be successful.

Ali Guvenc, educational assistant, Ottawa Technical Secondary School

Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC

E-learning

The special education students, the students with the anxieties and different exceptionalities, how they will succeed?

Those kind of approaches show me that the intention for public education is not ... the priority."

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said it's the job action by teachers that's setting students back, and said it's unfair to children and their families.

On Wednesday, Lecce announced the Ontario government will offer parents compensation of up to $60 per child to help them cover child-care expenses for next Monday's one-day walkout by elementary teachers.