LILLEY: Teachers campaign against Lecce and for their fat salaries

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Remember, it’s all about the kids. That’s what teacher unions and their activists say every time there is a conflict with the government.

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As teachers are campaigning to defeat Education Minister Stephen Lecce almost a year before we go to the polls, part of their literature shows that it’s really about them and their generous salaries.

A group calling itself Ontario Education Workers United says they have now “delivered 2,000 flyers spreading truth.”

The flyers being handed out say they are alerting the public to Lecce’s lies.

“So many families having crucial convos about his lies. Thanks volunteers and coordinators! This could not have happened without you! This is not the end,” the group said on Twitter as they boasted of their work.

The flyer itself is filled with lies and opinions that side with the view of the teacher unions, and aren’t based on fact. Much of the flyer is the group pushing union talking points on how the government responded to COVID-19 in the school system.

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Saying that Lecce claimed to have “implemented enhanced COVID-19 safety protocols” before reopening schools in February, the group then links to a CTV article saying that “nothing changed.” The whole article is based on comments from teachers and parents but ignores what the government actually did.

Apparently, increased testing, including of asymptomatic students in hotspots doesn’t count. Neither does stricter screening or improved mask quality for teachers.

Of the six “lies” that the teachers put forward as needing correcting, it’s mostly just a matter of the group pointing to favourable media stories that don’t even say what the group claims.

The biggest failure of the group, though, is claiming that Lecce and the Ford government are cutting education funding instead of increasing it.

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Under “Lie #2,” the group says, “Minister Lecce claimed they are investing more in public education than any government in Ontario history.” They then link to a report by the Financial Accountability Office which states in the headline, “FAO projects education spending shortfall of $12.3 billion over nine years.”

That’s a pretty jarring headline and seems to say that the Ford government is shortchanging education. That is until you read the FAO report and find out that most of the $12.3 billion difference is all about raises for teachers.

Enrollment is expected to grow over the next decade, and the province is also in the process of building 30,000 child care spaces through the education ministry. All of this requires hiring more teachers and, paying them more.

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The FAO report shows that annual growth of non-compensation costs is expected to sit at 1.5% while growth overall is expected to be at 2.3% per year. As the report notes, school boards account for 87% of all education ministry spending and salaries are the biggest cost.

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“The largest component of school boards spending is compensation, which comprises about 82% of all school boards operating spending,” the report states.

The government’s forward-looking spending projections don’t account for raises for teachers that have not been negotiated and nor should they. That would signal to the unions how much the government is willing to pay, a bad negotiating tactic.

The claim that the Ford government is spending more on education than any government in history is entirely accurate in real dollar terms. For the teachers to say this is a lie shows that this issue is really all about compensation, as it normally is.

  1. It's important that our kids return to school because we know that in-person learning is key to creating stability for students and improving mental health.

    LECCE: Priority No. 1 is to keep schools safe

  2. Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce (behind) toured Kensington Community School in Toronto on Sept. 1 to see what safety measures were in place for COVID-19.

    ‘COMPLETELY INEXCUSABLE’: No one tracking data on Ontario school staff vaccination

  3. Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks as Education Minister Stephen Lecce listens at Father Leo J Austin Catholic Secondary School in Whitby on July 30, 2020.

    No in-person learning for students this school year

Remember that more than 20% of the teachers in the province are on the Sunshine list for government employees earning more than $100,000. In the middle of the pandemic, the number of teachers on that list grew from 14,757 to 29,902 members.

The teachers campaigning against Stephen Lecce aren’t doing it for the kids, they’re doing it for their salaries.

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