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PECI students take a stand to support teachers’ rights

Kierstyn Bennett, Grade 11 student who organized Monday morning’s event using a Facebook group.

Wearing her “Save the Future” T-shirt, Grade 11 student Kierstyn Bennett rallied between 150-200 students at PECI Monday morning for a peaceful show of support for teachers.

The students were invited to protest the McGuinty government’s Bill 115 “Putting Students First Act” via Bennett’s Facebook group and word of mouth.

“We aim to uphold the civil rights of all Canadians, by doing what teachers cannot right now: take a stand by striking,” she said.

She had created the group in hopes of bringing awareness to Bill 115 and since has heard from both sides. She states she was not assisted in the event by teachers.

“It was my personal belief and I posted it on a Facebook group and students seemed to agree with the issue and decided to come out and show support. There’s people that agree with it, there’s people that don’t. There’s some that just don’t understand the case, I believe. I’m hoping to bring awareness about what students’ concerns are.”

“It’s a bigger deal than just teachers not getting their rights and students not getting their extracurricular activities,” Bennett told the crowd using a megaphone. “The teachers are Canadian citizens who are having their rights removed by the passing of this bill. If the government is willing to do this to teachers, who’s to say they won’t do this to others? We all could be in a similar situation in the future, so the time to stand up is now.”

Walk-outs were also held at Quinte area schools and others throughout the province.

“When I first heard about this I thought I would put a petition together that we would send to the Liberal government. I saw that Sydenham had scheduled a walkout, then Quinte  jumped on board and that’s when I decided I’d do a walk-out as well. Centennial, Trenton High and Quinte Secondary School are doing a walk out right now.”

Bennett said she had always wanted to be a teacher “but now I thought if I have a change in path it’d be politics.”

Sarah Michelle posted to the group that she was “surprised some students think that this is actually about salaries and McGuinty trying to lower taxes. Teachers would accept pay cuts, but the rest of the bill is unacceptable. All workers need the right to strike and collectively bargain in order to maintain safe and happy work environments. Whatever your opinion may be of your teachers, they really deserve that right and you should be supporting them.”

Hannah Louise Smith shared her view:
“So… What we’re doing is supporting the teachers for stopping sports and extra activities? Maybe I’m not getting this right, but why are we supporting them for stopping this? I want cross country back and supporting what the teachers are doing definitely isn’t on the pathway of “Getting it back”.

Monday evening, Bennett reported back to the Facebook group, to thank those who took part in the event.
“I thought it went very well and was a great success. Our support for our teachers has been noted and we received media coverage! Thanks again and hopefully our protest as well as other schools’ protests will show the Ontario government that we love and need our educators and will not allow for their rights be violated.”

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  1. Lottie says:

    So many kids probably took part just to get out of class. If this happened when I was there a few years ago, that would’ve been the only motive.

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