My Teacher Free Speech Ontario Contract Guide [Here!] and related blogs [OECTA] [OCSTA] are proving very popular and well read. There is a lot of discussion in the open forums below each blog. Why? Let's be quite frank! Our once proud teacher union system is badly broken. It isn't working right! It is in bad need of a fix!
Regretfully, the MOU debacle has proven that secrecy and reliance on "expert" elites within our union executives and secretariat has not served us well. Most of us were reduced to tears as our unions engaged in concession bargaining, surrendering decades of hard fought gains with the stroke of a pen! Then came the grim membership votes, if allowed, on issues and implications that were not well known nor clearly understood by most of us until it was much too late! Alas, it is obvious that our grass root teachers have been mostly cut off from full involvement and disclosure by the very "expert" people whom we entrust to take care of our union business while we have been of course busy teaching at school!
How ironic! We are teachers. We are well educated. We can read and think for ourselves. We are capable of intelligent and respectful discussions. We can even do so by ourselves without "expert" supervision!
Since I began my blog nearly 4 years ago, there have been over 583,000 reader visits. Over 2909 reader comments have been posted. I am humbled and honoured. Obviously, we have many teacher needs that are not being properly filled through the regular broken down union channels anymore!
Nowadays, teacher union members past and present, regardless of our affiliates, often express a strong shared need to exchange information and discuss our common contract issues once again at the grass roots level. It only makes sense! We want to make knowledgeable, responsible decisions for the common good. We don't want to screw anybody over! Be told who's butt to kiss. Nor get used! We are the unions. It's not the other way around, whatever the "experts" might think!
Voltaire wisely observed that those whom you can't criticize are the ones in charge. It's a sad state of affairs that our teacher unions are now ruled by a new class of executive and secretariat "experts" who stifle + squash member free speech. Since 2012, both many due paying OECTA and OSSTF members have felt betrayed, and been strongly punished and silenced when they quite rightfully argued that the MOU's often unfairly and unevenly gutted their sick days, benefit plans, and gratuities. It is most unfortunate that dissent is no longer welcome in the deeper search for union solidarity such that our self professed "experts" would sink to these depths!
Sometimes free speech is very trying. Ultimately though, it has a way of taking care of itself, given the chance. Our open forum discussions here on this site usually come full circle to constructive, consensus building, even if the consensus is that we must agree to disagree and try again! Problems are hashed out and vented. Problems are aired, rather than hidden or stomped out. Nothing is left smouldering. Action plans are still being formulated and taking place! It is far from perfect or complete but it's an ongoing process! Also please note: the existing problem issues aren't going to disappear anyway, no matter how hard anybody tries to huff or puff or just blow them away!
As teachers, we understand that without justice, there isn't any prospect for peace. We know that it is important to consider all points of view, so as to make informed and intelligent choices. Isn't that what we tell our students to do! Then why isn't that what's happening in our very own teacher unions nowadays? For shame!
To achieve justice for all our colleagues, we need to be eternally vigilant too! My site strongly supports the teacher union movement. I've made my case for unions. I won't belabour that further, you can read it [Here!]. I also firmly believe we need a grass root renewal of our teacher unions. That has always been a key principle in my union work, dating back to when I served on my local executive [Here!]. We especially need grass root renewal now, if the union movement is to responsibly and transparently meet our many different, difficult wants and needs!
It would be foolish to assume that change will be coming from top down regardless of what we are promised. That has not been our experience in practice! Far from it! In the meantime, this blogsite has the advantage of being an independent all affiliate one. My point of view is just that -mine alone. Nothing more. Nothing less. Yours too! As such, I am glad to continue to make this site available for the informed self directed discussions we otherwise are so sadly lacking, if you so choose. The Comments section is available below each blog for your use. Guest blogs are most welcome [Details!]. Please also continue to share any insightful info and links for the site via my email [firstname.lastname@example.org]
For your erudition, you can view my Teacher Free Speech News and Views Archives from 2011-15 now located in the top left column on your screen. The great historian Thucydides once said that those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. I therefore trust you will find the links here are an invaluable resource. Please feel free to use them to research the track records and issues here for yourself. Or subscribe to my Twitter hashtag [#davidchiarelli]. I regularly provide links revisiting different issues that are important as the need arises too!
One final note for those worried by the expert "manufacturing consent" hype. We are hearing it again about the need to be very quiet from the same "experts" who pulled the wool over our eyes before! Information released on the internet to ten thousands of members from whichever affiliate, is no longer secret nor privileged. Are you surprised?! Many of us still think like we did a long time ago. However, the same rules no longer apply. Technology has changed everything. The bad guys and gals find out everything immediately if they don't know all ready. They share it accordingly. Yet our due paying teachers, like mere plebs, are told not to share or discuss anything unless one of the same "experts" who screwed us around last time hears it first and is firmly in charge.
Quite frankly, that attitude is very insulting! It's childish! It stinks! It is NOT, repeat NOT, a healthy mature, responsible, union decision making scenario. Make no mistake, union building is an ongoing process. Surely, teachers as highly trained professionals are capable of more than just being force fed highly screened, pre-mediated BS and then regurgitating it in tightly controlled discussions!
The time for change is now! As teacher unionists we can make a difference! Let's get our unions back in good working order reconnected to their grass roots using what resources are still available for the daunting work at hand!
Grass roots! Grass Roots! Danger! Danger!