Better before best
Your Wednesday editorial (Better Before Best – Aug. 22) calls for getting "more value out of teachers' wages." How's this for value: I'm a high-school teacher with four university degrees, including a PhD, and I don't get paid a cent for either of my graduate degrees. My colleagues and I spend countless hours each week supervising sports teams and clubs that we do not get paid for, and many of us purchase classroom materials out of our own pockets. This is in addition to the unpaid summers off that many of us spend returning to teachers college to get additional qualifications at $1,000 per course.
As for the salary grid that "allows young teachers to move fairly quickly toward the highest pay level, regardless of merit," most young teachers spend several years just trying to get into the system, cobbling together a living from supply teaching or a patchwork of half-time contracts that get terminated every spring, all the while trying to pay off student debts on a marginal salary. It took me three years just to find supply work as a teacher, and another three years to get full-time work. I didn't make it to the top of the grid until I was 40 – 14 years after graduating from teachers college.
Jason Kunin, Toronto
Parents and educators are deeply concerned that Ontario's students will be harmed by the two non-monetary measures hidden in the proposed teacher-wage restraint legislation.
They reject forcing boards to assign supply teachers by seniority instead of by quality. And they reject allowing individual teachers to ignore a principal's game-plan by opting out of critically important diagnostic assessment tools.
The provincial Liberals seem to have abandoned the principle of "student achievement and well-being." And, by seeing only dollars ignoring student needs, your editorial writers seem to be willing them to let them get away with this.
Howard Goodman, Toronto District School Board trustee, Eglinton-Lawrence
Canadian companies operating overseas carry our brand or flag as much as any government program. Geoffrey York (Young And Dying: The Scandal Of Artisanal Mining – Aug. 18) and Samantha Nutt (Time To Extract Responsibility From Mining Companies – Aug. 22) have demonstrated serious concerns about human-rights issues regarding industry. While Canadian mining companies leap to mind, there are many other sectors operating outside our borders.
Surely it's time for Canadian leadership in this area. Federal legislation could clarify that Canadians expect our businesses, regardless of sector, to live up to the same standards we expect at home, especially regarding children. Corporate directors could raise this issue in boardrooms and lawyers could advise business clients to follow the UN's Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Penny Collenette, adjunct professor, common law faculty, University of Ottawa
While I appreciated Mr. York's article on artisanal mining, I felt it mixed two important but different subjects. Child labour is wrong in any industry – whether children are farming with their parents in palm oil plantations or sewing soccer balls. By linking it to artisanal mining, the opportunity is lost to explore the complexities of artisanal mining.
Artisanal mining has been practised for hundreds of years and can range from informal, sometimes illegal, subsistence mining to small-scale, regulated, commercial mining operations. The International Council of Mining and Metals believes that globally, artisanal mining makes up more than 100 million people's livelihoods. Artisanal mining must overcome issues associated with child labour but it must also develop broader environmental and health and safety regulations to continue to be an important livelihood for many people in the world.
Gillian Quigley, Vancouver
She's got game
National Golf Club of Canada member Lee Abbott states that a prospective female member "would quit golf before she would want to join because it is so hard" (Augusta's Ripple Effects Not Reaching Canada – Sports, Aug. 22).
As all golfers know, it's not the long game that makes a golfer great; it's the short game. There are women playing amateur golf with handicaps lower then some National members. Marlene Stewart Streit, the only woman to win Canadian, British, American and Australian amateur titles and inducted in 2004 as the first Canadian member of either sex in the World Golf Hall of Fame, might be able to find another woman to join Mr. Abbott and his guest at the National for a game. May the best golfer win.
Judith Wardell, Toronto
Le bon Jack
I'll tell you something that made Jack Layton different from other leaders in Parliament (Can Mulcair Complete Smiling Jack's Revolution? – Aug. 22).
I often send my thoughts and opinions to leaders and MPs on issues in Canada and one thing that always stood out was Mr. Layton's personal replies. Most politicians will send a standard form reply, if anything, but not him. He'd reply literally with his own personal thoughts on the matter. He even shared his love for The Simpsons with me! He had a collection of all the seasons of the show.
Rest in peace, Jack.
Ron McIsaac, Saint John
Better than nothing?
Formula is less nutritious than breast milk and feeding formula does carry greater health risks. But my goodness, of course this doesn't mean formula is "wrong" – it does, after all, nourish non-breastfed babies, the vast majority of whom grow up healthy.
So, please, Lindsey Kent-Robinson (Feeding Frenzy – letters, Aug. 21), don't feel you are being shamed for feeding formula! As a parent you will make a thousand more decisions that will be better and worse – riskier and less risky. Just like every other parent.
The thing is, it's only fair to provide research data on formula risks to women who are trying to make an informed decision. And women do have a better chance at meeting their breastfeeding goals when they receive knowledgeable support. An initiative aimed at providing women with accurate information and better support isn't meant to shame parents who feed formula – it's meant to support parents who want to breastfeed.
Susan Vukadinovic, Calgary
How can anyone justify paying someone a $950,000 salary when all the person is doing is cutting jobs, streamlining operations and promoting austerity in a dwindling sector (Rewriting A Dire News Story – Business, Aug. 18)?
This is just another clear example of the massive discrepancy between pay for CEOs and pay for the average worker. At 73, his more formidable years behind him, and I would imagine of significant net worth, could Paul Godfrey not just accept a $1-a-year salary to show that he stands behind his fallen comrades?
Mark Defalco, Gatineau, Que.