Public element teachers in legal strike position today – won’t walk off the job yet

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Elementary teachers across the province are in a legal strike position Sunday.

But they won’t be hitting the picket lines just yet.

This is the first year the province has implemented two-tier bargaining; the province takes care of the money issues and the school boards deal with local issues.

Ron Rivait, the president of the Lambton unit of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, says bargaining has begun in Lambton and Kent. “We met once and it was a very positive day and we’re meeting again this Friday,” says Rivait.

The problem, he says, is not at the local level. Provincial bargaining with a premier who has already said there would be no new money for education has been difficult.

“It is completely about the provincial bargaining,” says Rivait of the May 10 strike deadline. “initially it sounds like it is just about money, but it is a much bigger issue than that.

“We’ve heard from the school boards that the money coming in this year is not a big as last year and there will be cuts to special education,” says Rivait. “When you lose support of education assitants it makes it hard for a student to reach their maximum potential…and there is less time for the rest of the kids in the classroom.

The union announced late Friday that teachers would engage in an administrative strike – giving just grades, not comments, on report cards and  refusing be part of standardized testing. No school trips or extra curricular activities will be affected. Officials say unless the province removes some of its main stumbling blocks, the strike could escalate.