Opening Statement



Monday, 26 January 2015

Free Speech + Safety: Do As We Say, Not As We Do?



Recently, Canadians have demonstrated much chest beating in our staunch defence of the "freedom of speech". Especially the right to draw cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad it seems. Also in letting everyone everywhere know that we aren't afraid of terrorists, even if it means joining a war we know nothing about. On the home front, we have also proudly launched an "anti-bullying" offensive guaranteeing our "right to safety". Indeed, in Ontario, laws now exist to protect both teachers and students from assaults, threats and bullying, so our schools can be safe places of learning for all. 

Unfortunately the underlying problems are a usually a lot more deep running and systemic than that. Far too often much of what we are really hearing at school from those in charge in all cases is "do what we say, not what we do". When we consider the behaviour of the very officials and administrators who should be enforcing these rights from on high, one must wonder: how can we lead by example as teachers, school workers, and staff when we are often bullied and afraid to really speak out ourselves? And if we can't then how can we expect the students to learn to speak and stand up for these rights too?



Four news links from my January Teacher Free Speech News + Views blog especially highlight my unease: 

A Canadian survey of student classroom assaults against teachers shows that they are widespread across the country and go largely unreported. Why aren't victims speaking out? Why aren't the laws being enforced?  Why aren't our school boards and unions clearly + forcefully standing up to protect us? More Open Season!

At the OECTA union offices a non elected "Personnel Committee" goes against the decision of a member duly elected provincial executive to renew the contract for a controversial General Secretary. Everyone is reportedly afraid to speak out or discuss the situation when asked about it. Who is really in charge then? What credibility is there that anyone really enjoys freedom of speech or from bullying within the teacher representative association? More @ Sun

In Toronto Ontario, Education Minister Liz Sandals issues a scathing report on TDSB Director and trustee abuse of public money, powers and trust. It highlights the "administrative culture of fear" within the school board to speak out against let alone report abuses to the ministry without fear of job loss or other retribution! If the MOE has passed laws against bullying and intimidation but school board staff are afraid to discuss or report these to the MOE itself, what credibility does the Safe School Act and our Health + Safety Laws have in practice? For admin? Teachers? Students? Parents? More @ TDSB

In Toronto, a TDSB school principal reports that "My students are afraid of getting shot!". One might ask how safe the principal is at the school too? If principals aren't confident that they can protect the students and teachers in their care, than who's really in charge or for that matter safe at the school? More @ Toronto Life


One strongly senses that these huge problems are only the tip of the iceberg! Dollars to donuts they also run deep and rampant throughout many of our educational organizations and institutions here in Ontario and across Canada. These recent cases show that we often don't truly feel free and safe to speak out in either the public or separate Ontario school systems against abuse. Considering the all affiliate teacher discussions on my site of the 2012-13 MOE debacles,dare also say within all of our teacher + school worker unions too, including AEFO, ETFO, OSSTF and CUPE if the truth be known. 

Grass root educators can well worry that our very own "freedom of speech" and the "right to safety" are but empty buzzwords. How can we expect to teach our students by example without our own backs being covered? If we are not safe as teachers, then how can our students be? Moreover, what are they really seeing and learning in practice about safety and free speech in such a hypocritical bind? Regretfully, the real message often being sent out is "do as we say, not as we do". Systemic abuse continues to run deep within the actions if not the words being so proudly and adamantly exercised with abandon in our brave new world of the 21st century. For shame and a poxy on all our schools!

COMMENTS? Use space below ......


Ontario motto?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

What was William Markle's legal opinion about not renewing the General Secretary's contract? The entire OECTA Provincial Executive needs to come clean and tell OECTA members what is going on here. What was the General Secretary paid this year?

Anonymous said...

could be OECTA's G.S. saying this

David Chiarelli said...

If your Comments are slow to post fret not -they are coming!

Anonymous said...

Interesting.....I guess it was precedent setting when OECTA Provincial treated Halton Elementary Unit Executive in such a severe manner....do not train any OECTA Unit Executive members then assume no responsibility when they make mistakes. OECTA Provincial Executive under James Ryan created the" no checks to his power" General Secretary and now he is biting them back. TRUE WELL DESERVED KARMIC PAYBACK!

Anonymous said...

Those who post opinions and make anonymous calls on union personnel matters are no friends of labour and would be irate if school boards acted like them.

David Chiarelli said...

Responsible unionism: Hear no evil? See no evil? Speak of no evil?

Anonymous said...

The provincial president aided and abetted the general secretary in the Halton Unit situation. It seems that a non member and paid employee can act to remove a paying member without due process simply because the paying member objects to what the paid employee is doing. So a non member can use members money to remove a paying member.
So, I guess the employee will use members money to try to have the provincial executive decision overturned.
Why not just pay out his contract and escort him out the door?

Anonymous said...

Union Personnel Matters???? You mean like the way union members pay the salaries of union staffers but are kept in the secret darkness of how much these union staffers are paid by union members dues????
TRANSLATION : Like a Corporation....Union members need a yearly report of all union staffers making above $100,000., working for the shareholders of the corporation (union members). OECTA could be the first in creating this yearly SUNSHINE LIST to transparently inform OECTA MEMBERS who pay the bills.
Why not have an OECTA SUNSHINE LIST?????

Anonymous said...

OECTA should hire Howard Levitt. If the General Secretary's Employment contract ends it ends. Rehire the Deputy GS as an acting GS and get rid of the GS position altogether. Refund the GS's monstrous yearly salary back to OECTA members to reduce their yearly union dues.

Anonymous said...

All union members of all affiliates...ask your Unit Presidents for a complete list of what head office union staffers are paid and their benefits. They work for you!

Anonymous said...

OECTA $189,000
ETFO $326,000
OSSTF $295,000
AEFO $248,000
OTF $219,000

Anonymous said...

This is a ridiculous post.
The GS, albeit a polarizing figure, is so Union savvy it would be so damaging to not have him around. Put your personal feelings aside and do what's best for everyone. Also, this rift clearly demonstrates how out-of-touch some exec members are and how they will continue to act as dividers. Using the "free speech" argument in this context is irresponsible.

David Chiarelli said...

Thanks for this. But will have to respectfully disagree. Many of us feel that the MOUs were a mistake and feel it is important to be able to freely discuss what is going on with our union affiliates. Bad things happen when we don't.

Ms. Chievious said...

Dear Anonymous, Since when are people speaking the truth and demanding integrity considered dividers? I will agree that MJ is savvy though. With synonyms like cunning, calculating, slick and cagey the term savvy definitely applies to a GS. notorious for doing what's best for himself. If by "out of touch" you mean exec members who expect the rules to apply and integrity to prevail-agreed.

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