On these pages a few weeks ago, Robert O'Donnell, a second-level student and Education Officer, Irish Second-Level Students' Union (ISSU) criticised the industrial action taken by Association of Secondary Teachers' Ireland (ASTI). Teacher and ASTI member Yvonne McDonnell replies:
Teachers are not heartless. Sick at heart yes, with savage pay cuts and rapidly deteriorating working conditions.
On the day the education officer of the ISSU penned his article, I had supplied a student with a set of exam papers she could not afford and bought soup and a roll for a hungry first year student. So, your point that teachers are heartless is false.
Secondly, with regard to "slamming the door in your face", take issue with the government. They are slamming the door in your face by opening another at Dublin Airport, allowing you the "opportunity" to take a one-way Air Canada or Qantas ticket, if you are one of the lucky ones. As a profession, our vocational aim is to open doors. And well you know it! Please direct your second argument to the correct body. Go raibh maith agat.
Your suggestion that "teachers will get their pay and life will move on" is naïve.
So many colleagues are in difficulty with meeting financial commitments on a weekly basis. We have the right to say "enough is enough".
We do not have bathrooms stuffed with cash. In fact, the "Kleenex Double Velvet" days of the Celtic Tiger are over. Our future is more of the Aldi "Saxon Soft" kind. And as my late mother used to say "you get what you pay for".
You claim correctly that as a citizen of this State, you have the right to an education. I wholeheartedly agree. I believe and value democracy.
If you could stretch your lateral thinking a bit further, you may, with mature reflection, conclude that teachers too, are citizens of this State. Citizens, who can be relied upon in "the best of times and in the worst of times" to provide for our students. That's what we do, day in, day out.
As a parent of this State, and as a taxpayer, I too, have the right to safeguard my career going forward and to provide a reasonable standard of living for my two Irish citizens, ages 10 and 7.
I maintain the right to vote for what I believe in.
According to Plato, "democracy is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike."
Plato's philosophy could read as follows: "Teaching is a charming form of profession , full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike!!"
So Robert, allow for disorder and disruption for a period of time. Every dispute causes upset to some people. Be brave Celtic Tiger cub. One day, you too shall roam this jungle.