The latest attempts by officials with the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) to dial up the volume or their labour dispute by engaging in province-wide strikes brought me back to 1997…

The latest attempts by officials with the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) to dial up the volume or their labour dispute by engaging in province-wide strikes brought me back to 1997.
I was the Toronto Suns education reporter on Oct. 27, 1997 when 126,000 teachers left their classrooms to protest on the front lawn of Queen’s Park against cuts to education by then-premier Mike Harris.
On Tuesday, all ETFO teachers will walk off the job yet again, just as they did last week.
Over what?
The province-wide strike of 1997 was all about protecting public education and about the kids — as it supposedly is now.
The education file was bloated, school trustees were useless (many used the job as a stepping stone to loftier political ambitions) and teacher unions, headed by overpaid militants, believed they were untouchable in 1997.
Nothing much has changed in 23 years.
Most teachers, other than the more entitled, just wanted to do the job for which they hired back then — as they do now.
And the kids? They’ve been the pawns of these loudmouth militants for the past 23 years.
For heaven’s sake, nothing seems to please them except more money, more members to bolster their war chests and power.
Let’s not forget that to try to buy labour peace with teachers before she went to the polls, former premier Kathleen Wynne extended teacher contracts for two years in 2017, giving them 4% wage hikes — plus a 0.5% lump sum payment  and a 4% bump to their generous benefits packages.
Those increases brought the highest paid teachers up to $100,034 by Aug. 31 of last year.
Don’t forget, that’s for less than 10 months of work.
This is not all about teacher-bashing.
I have tremendous respect for teachers who, courtesy of weak virtue-signalling trustees and board bureaucrats, are trying to cope with a myriad of issues that impact on their abilities to teach.
There’s a growing epidemic of violence in the classrooms. Some students feel they are entitled to say whatever they so choose (including obscenites) to their teachers — a state of affairs enabled by principals and bureaucrats, and parents who are either not engaged or believe their little darlings don’t need to be disciplined for bad behaviour.
I’ve talked to many teachers who spend half their class time just trying to deal with discipline issues.
Nope. I’m calling out the teacher unions which appear to enjoy picking fights with whatever government is in power if they don’t get what they want.
I’ve written about enough teacher issues to know that when push comes to shove and teachers are either placed on leave for trying to discipline a disrespectful student or, in worst-case scenarios, assaulted by students, the unions are conspicuously absent. The general consensus from the teachers I’ve spoken with is that their unions are useless.
I guess that’s because unions like ETFO — and make no mistake, the others follow in lockstep — are too busy either throwing temper tantrums or trying to indoctrinate their members to become social justice warriors.
In other words, they don’t seem to believe that actually protecting members is their mandate.
For example ETFO is holding a series of equity workshops for its members this year.
The themes of these workshops include understanding anti-black racism, learning about the experiences of racialized educators, building awareness about Islamophobia, busting myths about Indigenous peoples and — get this — rethinking white privilege.
ETFO even provides white privilege lesson plans.
Like many unions in Canada, Ontario’s teacher unions have become completely disconnected from the real needs of their members.
Their demands are tiresome and frankly, plain childish.
That’s why I have all the respect in the world for governments who stand up to their nonsense.
Here are the teacher strikes planned for this week:
Feb. 10: Elementary teachers (ETFO) to hold one-day strike at Durham District Board and Halton District Board.
Feb. 11: Elementary teachers (ETFO) to hold a province-wide strike.
Feb. 12: Elementary teachers (ETFO) to hold one-day strike at the Toronto District School Board. Early child educators to walk off the job at the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
Feb. 13: Elementary teachers (ETFO) on strike at Peel District School Board and York Region District School Board. High school teachers (OSSTF) to walk off the job at Peel District School Board and eight other boards in Ontario. All French language teachers (AEFO) to engage in a province-wide strike.
Feb. 14: No strike action planned but it is a PA day for all students with the Toronto public and Catholic school boards.