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My story

Dear editor:

Recent letters to the editor concerning Bill 160 have been written by teachers who have been in the game for a while. I thought the public might be interested to hear what a first-year teacher had to say.

I graduated from university this past spring with seven years under my belt and enough student loans to choke, at the very least, a miniature horse, if not a full-sized one. I knew that job prospects were slim and that the odds of getting a full-time, permanent job were almost nil. Ah well, I thought, even a part-time job would put me in the classroom with the kids.

Having grown up in Fort Frances, I had come back here to do my practice teaching (for those of you who are not familiar with the term, practice teaching is where you are required to take over a full load of classes under the supervision of a qualified teacher and do everything an employed teacher would do but without the pay. In fact, it’s considered one of the classes you have to take at university so I ended up paying to teach instead of being paid. Que sera sera!)

After practice teaching, I stayed in Fort Frances and hoped that a teaching position would open up. Lo and behold, a position came up at the high school and I found myself employed for one semester only teaching three completely different classes. I knew it would be a lot of work but I felt I was ready for it.

To make a long story short, I had been in the classroom exactly 40 days before we walked out. In those two months that I was teaching, I was working about 86 hours a week, both in school and out. I was always taking marking and lesson planning home with me, and all my students have my home phone number so they can call me at home in the evenings or on weekends for extra help.

At my current rate of pay and working 86 hours a week, I am making roughly $6.40/hr. This is less than the minimum wage in Ontario.

I am also currently on a contract that ends in January so after that date, I am once again unemployed.

So for those of you that think teachers are overpaid and under-worked, I submit to you my story. It may not hold true for all teachers but I can tell you one thing—teachers are not fighting Bill 160 because we want more money. I work 86 hours a week because the education of my students is their future and I refuse to short-change their future. I am walking the picket line even though in three months, I will no longer be employed as a teacher.

Bill 160 wants to take $600 million away from the future of Ontario and of our country. I, for one, am not willing to let the Ontario government do this. Are you?

Respectfully yours,

Connie Schwartz

High school teacher

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