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Just imagine

Dear sir:

A letter to Mike Harris, in the context of the corporate environment because that seems to be what he understands.

Just imagine being required each of your working days to make six 40-minute presentations to groups of about 30 people each, a total of 180 people each day, with up to three of these back-to-back with five-minute breaks in between, probably in several different rooms.

About 10 percent (18 people) will be absent each day and they depend on you to help them catch up.

Just imagine the responsibility and the time involved in preparing six presentations on diverse subjects which will keep each group of 30 involved, interested, and excited about what you have to say—all this with massive mandated changes and diminishing resources, materials, and support over the past three years.

Just imagine if each group of 30 includes some who don't want to be there listening to your presentation, some who through personal difficulties and problems just can't learn some days, some who had no breakfast or lunch, some who smoked a joint for lunch, some who speak little or no English, some who just can't quite grasp what you're trying to help them to learn, and some who learn so quickly they require extra resources before the end of the 40 minutes.

Just imagine trying to keep up to the technological resources that are rapidly becoming available to complement and enhance your presentations, and helping those in your presentation groups to learn to use them as well.

Just imagine leaving your third presentation of the day, ready for a lunch break, and being met by some of the 18 people who were absent yesterday or some other days, and some of those who were there today but didn't quite get it, all of whom need extra help. And imagine that same scenario when you arrive early in the morning, or after your sixth presentation at 3:30 when you are anticipating a short coffee break (first of the day).

Just imagine the time it takes each day to try to contact those who have been absent or require extra help but haven't made the effort to meet with you.

Just imagine getting to know the 180 people whom you see only 40 minutes a day well enough to understand their learning styles, and to help them through their learning difficulties and their personal problems.

Just imagine having to test these 180 people, evaluate and record their performance, and provide remediation on an individual basis.

Just imagine having to report the progress of each of these 180 people on a regular basis to your supervisors and their supervisors, and at a moment's notice when requested.

And imagine adding to your day individual meetings with some of the people from your presentation groups and their supervisors trying to solve a myriad of learning and personal problems.

Just imagine spending personal time in the evenings coaching a team, directing a drama performance, rehearsing a band, fundraising, tutoring, and on and on...

Just imagine having to spend vacation time each summer travelling to a major centre or taking correspondence courses at your own expense to keep up to date with the latest information techniques involving your area of expertise.

And then, just imagine learning that someone with power forces your company to amalgamate with others in the area, cancels the contract you have negotiated over the years, and tells your company that he's going to take more money out of it because he needs it for other things. As well, he tells you that next year you will be required to add an additional presentation, with an additional 30 people, to your daily routine. Along with this there will be less money for resources and support.

And then he buys TV time and print ads to tell the world that you have too much free time, and don't work hard enough, and besides that you're doing a lousy job!

And, most important, just imagine that that person has decided to take unfettered control of the finances and conditions related to your daily work, with no chance for local input or recourse or appeal. Even your democratically-elected representative will not be consulted.

How would you feel, Mike! What would you do if you knew that already you cannot properly attend to all your groups' needs, and that anything extra is unthinkable! Would you resort to anything to protect the working environment at a level that you require to meet the needs of those people you are responsible for?

Especially if those people were our province's kids, our most precious natural resource?

If you were one of Ontario's dedicated professional teachers charged with the intellectual and personal growth of our kids in our schools during their most formative years, you likely would do exactly what Ontario's teachers are doing to protect their students' futures and the future of Ontario education.

Please listen to them, for the sake of our kids and grandkids. A jurisdiction which does not celebrate its children has a dark future.

Carol Lyons

Retired after 30 years Ontario classrooms

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