The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on September 23, 2000 · 15
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 15

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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Saturday, September 23, 2000
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15
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THE OTTAWA CITIZEN SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2000 A15 ETTBR: Staying Canadian Charles Gordon examines two views. A16 Thrills, chills CBC's 'live' Olympic coverage. A17 INAFEWWORDS War machines keep us free Richard Sanders's letter ("How can a 'war show' be delightful?" Sept. 20) saddened me. He expressed regret that we regard the machines of war as objects at which to marvel. Like many special-interest groups, his Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade looks at only one side of the issue. True freedom has always been paid for by war. It is not possible, and the very height of irresponsibility, to try to separate a violent past from a current liberty. I'd like to think that we'd have pilots as skilled as the Snowbirds were we thrust into another world war. James V. Kautz, Ottawa Missed the mark Who killed Canadian history? I would suggest that the "experts" who decided that a hockey player scoring a winning goal was one of Canada's 10 most significant historical events in almost five centuries are guilty, if not of the actual murder, of at least abetting the crime ("Embracing our collective history," Sept. 18). LesPeate, Ottawa Handle with care Re the Sept. 19 article, "Dirty habits": As far as washroom habits are concerned, it has always been in the back of my mind that washing up after using the facilities is something of an exercise in futility. Sure, you soap your hands, rinse them off, blow dry them and then what? You grab the door knob to let yourself out. But the door knob is one of the dirtiest objects in the place as everyone touches it. Now if there was just some way to avoid the door knob ... And wasn't it just a few days earlier that I read an article saying we are so preoccupied with cleanliness that we don't expose ourselves to enough dirt to build up a good resistance to those germs? Everett E. Stevens, Ottawa Write to us We welcome Letters to the Editor, which must be exclusive to The Ottawa Citizen. Please include your home address, as well as home and business telephone numbers, for verification. Please cite the page and date for articles mentioned. Due to space limits, letters of 300 words or less are preferred. We reserve the right to edit, condense or reject submissions. Although we are unable to acknowledge letters we cannot publish, we value the views of all readers who take the time to send us their comments. Mail: Letters to the Editor Ottawa Citizen, 1101 Baxter Rd., Ottawa, Ont. K2C 3M4 Fax: 596-8458 E-mail: lettersthecitizen.southam,ca The Citizen Online: www.ottawacitizen.com Letters Editor: Brian Sarjeant, 596-3785 Copyright in letters and other materials sent to the publisher and accepted for publication remains with the author, but the publisher and its licencees may freely reproduce them in print, electronic and other forms. Boomtown The redesigned Citizen's Weekly presents the first stories in a special report looking at how, why and where Ottawa has evolved from a government town to a vibrant high-tech hub. Throughout the series, we will tell the stories of the changes that have taken place in homes, offices and neighbourhoods across the capital and where those changes might take us. Teachers can t do any more Let's crunch some numbers: Teachers must teach a minimum of four hours and 10 minutes a day. In a semestered school, there are four classes per day and average class length is 75 minutes, meaning that if the teacher has a full timetable, that person is teaching for five hours. For those of you who have had to make presentations for your workplace, you know that preparation is essential it doesn't "just happen." The average for an experienced teacher is about 45 minutes of prep per class per night about three hours. If the teacher is not experienced, that person can be working until 1 or 2 a.m. Marking tests takes 10 to 15 minutes per paper, times a class of 30, about another seven hours. Marking essays times 30 is another eight hours. So a teacher who is working a 60- to 70-hour week is tired and feels he or she can't devote any more time to school. What a surprise. Nobody else in the working world is expected to work punishing hours, with unruly clients, have TV commercials reinforce fallacies about their jobs or professionalism, and then be criticized because they fail to do "volunteer" work. Even the military is given time off, in lieu of overtime pay, when they organize something like a Terry Fox Run. Shall we criticize the members of the Citizen's editorial team because they do not volunteer on demand? (I know many of you do, by choice.) And gosh, volunteers have to have police screening. There is a hardship. When I paid for mine, it was about $11. If the parents want teams for their children, why don't they volunteer? Because of the imposition of police screening? Why shouldn't I scream that all of my personal medical, psychological, financial and other records may be examined by the minister of education if she has "concerns" about "possible" malfeasance. (Check the Safe Schools Act.) Teachers are saying that they can't do any more. Some are trying to do more and are going to burn out really soon. Children have the right to enjoy extracurricular activities. Parents have the right to help them get there. Teachers have the right to have some sort of family time during the school year. There needs to be some compromise on the part of the community as well as on the part of the teachers. Eleanor M. Abra, Ottawa Fine example I feel we are setting a fine example teaching for students ("Teaching a fine example," No extracurricular activities means I am the mother of a girl in her fifth year of high school. She would normally be involved in multiple extracurricular activities (band, sports, athletic association), but now, however, instead of doing these activities she is in her classes. And her teachers are in theirs. I, for one, applaud this arrangement. ? ! 1 V Children have the right to extracurricular activities, says Eleanor M. her colleagues have the right to some sort of family time during the compromise on the part of the community as well as the teachers. Sept. 18 editorial). We are teaching them that no one should be taken advantage of, publicly insulted and ridiculed for standing up for the things they believe in. Your paper has done all of these things to the teachers in Ottawa and across the province with your editorials, slanted news stories and Harris hype in the past four years. When the teachers were protesting Bill 160 in 1997, 1 never once read a positive editorial about the dedicated teachers thanking them for their past coaching and extracurricular activities that they had been doing for years. In all of the disputes that the teachers' unions have had with this current government, I do not recall this newspaper displaying any of the "sense of fairness and perspective" that you believe the teachers should have. Yes, teaching is getting harder and harder. I am pleased and surprised that your newspaper has finally realized this. No, teaching and education will never be the same again. We told you that in 1997, but you were too busy booing the teachers to hear the message we were trying to give. The public has taken advan- Last year during one of her semesters, my daughter missed about 31 of 89 calculus classes because of extracurricular activities either she was absent or her teacher was, and this was only one subject of four. As my daughter prepares to enter university next fall, marks are critical for her success. SUNDAY IN THE CITIZEN'S WEEKLY CRISIS IN EDUCATION 1 1 " , tage of the teachers' good humour for so long that they thought all this volunteering was part of the job. Well, it never was. Now, with the increased workload, lack of prep time and no supply teachers, it likely will never be part of school life again. Is this a bad thing? I think so, but I am not surprised it has happened. If your newspaper were aware of what has been occurring in education since the Harris government took control, you wouldn't be either. As far as teaching the students a lesson, we have taught them that you stand up for what you believe in even if you are standing alone. Pat Clark, Almonte Fair workload Amanda Rheaume claims that she and her classmates are "suffering" because of the lack of extracurricular activities in the high schools ("What can I do about 'disgusting' situation?" Sept. 18). Perhaps, like many teenagers, Amanda is unable to see beyond her own individual situation. (If so, she is not unlike most teenagers, and I am sure I was like this as a teen.) Teachers, like many others, particu- So I am delighted that her teachers are available to teach and tutor. So what is happening in her life now? She's involved in club volleyball, indoor soccer, teaching swimming, taking piano, community volunteer work and going for a bike ride or run after school. The biggest differences are that the day doesn't start at 1 VI i 3 J St, f AV 'f W ..' "a' JOHN MAJOR. lHt 01 IAWACIIILN Abra, a teacher, but she and school year. There needs to be a larly in the public sector, are fighting for fair, humane workloads and trying to protect their own sanity. In this way, they are paving the way for reasonable working conditions for future workers, including Amanda. If Amanda were to decide to become a teacher, she too would be grateful that what is expected of her is not inhumane and would be grateful that those who came before fought to achieve reasonable working conditions. If extracurricular activities are an important part of education, then it should be written into a teacher's timetable, replacing something in the teacher's existing workload. This would necessitate more teachers which in turn would require more money allocated to the education system. And here is the nub of the problem: More money to our public systems means fewer tax breaks for the voting public. But you cannot get the same service for less money unless you ask fewer workers to do a punishing workload. Even then, workers being human and not machines, they cannot provide the quality of service if they are suffering from exhaustion and burnout. my daughter is in class 5:30 a.m. so she could make the 6 a.m. practice with one teacher, then the missed breakfasts so the 7:15 a.m. practice is made with another teacher, or the skipped lunches to attend planning sessions for sport or charity fund-raising with still another teacher. Then there were the late suppers because of band practices or buses arriving back . V ...- In this case, teachers no longer can do what they used to and now the public might have to use the services of community centres such as the Walter Baker Centre to augment their children's schooling a kind of user fee. What I hope that Amanda and her generation will learn from this "disgusting" school situation the Harris government has created is that you get more from workers if you treat them justly and humanely. And if you pay less through taxes, you will not get the same calibre of service. Katharine R. Elliott, Gloucester Denigrating us Michael Harris (the journalist, not the premier), has put forth a job description for new teachers in Ontario ("Teachers' self-interest distorts the task at hand," Sept. 6). I am a retired elementary school teacher with 34 years' experience. If I were to return to teaching full-time, I would not qualify based on his criteria. Mr. Harris must be quite pleased with his ability to denigrate most aspects of an old and noble profession. My list would include: Behave like a bad waiter while teaching the children in our schools. Allow one's private parts to be jarred by the minister of education. Allow oneself to be tested ad nauseam despite possessing a B. Ed., M. Ed., and an Ontario Teacher's Certificate awarded by the Ontario College of Teachers. Be a whiner and a corn-plainer. Never ask for a raise or for improved working conditions because one is widely viewed as overpaid and underworked. Never give up summers off in order to use vacation leave for professional development. Never jeer down or treat any education minister in an ill-mannered way. This may give the wrong message to children. Never display any form of self-interest. This is not helpful in making good citizens of children. It is also shameful. Take guerrilla-warfare training. These skills are necessary to change the hearts and minds of Ontarians. Finally, be prepared to enjoy the same esteem as convicts and welfare bums. Unlike the other Mr. Harris, who could not make the grade as a teacher, why not walk a mile in my shoes? If you dare and if you can stand the heat, then feel free to offer up your cavalier comments and colourful innuendoes. Rick Gervais, Hammond from games at 7 p.m. with still other teachers. Probably one of the best features of this new arrangement is that homework starts early and bed is by midnight now, not 1 or 2 a.m. I do thank her teachers who are teaching their classes, researching their lessons, and evaluating their students. Thank you. Carol Ross Books The elusive truth of Jesus; David Adams Richards mixes artistry with serious flaws; Elmore Leonard still in top form; the posthumous masterwork of Hugh Hood; the O'Shaugnessy sisters are back; and much, much more.

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