(Toronto)—Today, as part of Education Week, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) celebrates the thousands of educational support staff workers whose essential contributions have helped make Ontario’s public education system one of the best in the world.
“OSSTF/FEESO initiated Education Week in Ontario more than eighty years ago to celebrate and highlight the crucial role publicly-funded education plays in the life of our province,” said OSSTF/FEESO President Paul Elliott. “In 1999 we introduced Support Staff Appreciation Day as an integral part of Education Week to ensure that the important roles played by all education workers are fully recognized.”
“Elementary and secondary schools, as well as colleges and universities, all rely on an education team that includes many types of educational workers and staff,” continued Elliott. “Every person on that team plays a part in ensuring safe, clean and welcoming environments for learning, and equipping Ontario’s students with the knowledge, skills and sense of community they need to succeed in a rapidly-changing world.”
“But even as we celebrate the many contributions of these workers,” Elliott continued, “this is also a day to condemn the disturbing frequency with which school boards and post-secondary institutions, suffering from woefully inadequate government funding, resort to cutting back on frontline support staff positions for the sake of their budgets. Our most vulnerable students are always disproportionately impacted by those cutbacks, and that is certainly not the way to deal with what is really just a lack of commitment and political will on the part of the government.”
Elliott concluded, “Today we recognize the importance of all the staff within our schools and universities who work to ensure that students’ needs are met. We ask all Ontarians to join us in celebrating Support Staff Appreciation Day, and to express their gratitude to educational support staff for the important roles they play in ensuring that all students succeed and reach their full potential.”
OSSTF/FEESO, founded in 1919, has 60,000 members across Ontario. They include public high school teachers, occasional teachers, educational assistants, continuing education teachers and instructors, early childhood educators, psychologists, secretaries, speech-language pathologists, social workers, plant support personnel, university support staff, and many others in education.