||Volume 18, Number 7, May/June 2006 |
Prep time in semestered schools
Semesters without preparation time should not exist. For three years, Alberni District Secondary School teachers have protested. This years’ protest was the biggest yet. Fifteen or sixteen teachers attended a board meeting to express concerns about workload and ask for a few more linear courses. Our appeal was denied.
However, at the same time the workload of administrators was being lightened. There will be a third vice-principal at ADSS and an assistant for the human resources director. Last year in BC, there was an average of 12.1 teachers per administrator. In Alberni, there were 8.4 teachers per administrator.
Across BC there are teachers with the equivalent of a seven-day work week. Thousands of public employees have a 35-hour week. There are teachers working 50% more than that.
I am the BCTF
In the first year of my teaching career, disagreements and problems led to teacher job action in Manitoba. I had recently graduated from university and had received employment in a rural district north of Winnipeg. At this time graduates from education were issued an interim teaching certificate. The district superintendent would authorize a permanent teaching certificate if he felt the teacher had met expectations. Many young teachers were left hanging as superintendents extended the interim status at their will.
Beginning teachers were expected to be totally involved in school curricular and extra-curricular activities. As well there was the expectation that community involvement was part of the duties. The first two years of my career were a blur as I was requested to belong to school and community programs. Many young teachers abandoned the profession.
In all this mix and confusion, job action occurred and as a young teacher without a permanent certificate, in a district with declining enrolment, a difficult decision had to be made. I believed in my career and followed the guidelines of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society. Education gained through the turmoil and the Manitoba Teachers’ Society evolved as the guardian of educational issues and practices.
An opportunity to teach in BC provided new and startling challenges. When it was announced at a local Manitoba teacher function that I was going to work in BC, fellow teacher’s applauded, for BC had the reputation of being the leader in the development of educational research and innovative changes.
I arrived in Prince Rupert on New Years Eve and purchased an old home just in time to be introduced to Bill Bennett’s restraint program. Van Der Zalm was next with his circus of news hour educational ideas and changes. As with others, my teaching position was eliminated and I was unemployed with a mortgage and a student loan. Job actions and debates fueled the career path. The BCTF worked toward educational stability and new reforms opened the future. Matters such as class size and integration created equal opportunities for all young learners.
Today there is a new threat that challenges the educational opportunities and availability of education to our students. Educators face the arrogant actions of a government concerned with it’s own agenda and willing to destroy the educational programs educators have sacrificed to create. Teachers are the advocates of children and the guardians of education. Teachers are the force that works for the educational rights of all learners. Teachers are the light for the future.
Class-size limits at last
This morning’s Vancouver Sun brings good news to the class-size front with surprisingly reasonable class-size limits being, for the first time, written into legislation. At last, the provincial government has got the message that no more than three kids with special needs should be placed in regular classrooms and that a maximum number of 30 kids in Grades 4–12 should be in place.
This is a breakthrough, and avoids the class averages shenanigans that preceded this legislation in many school districts. Also, it appears that the delinquent boards will have to fess up and comply with the legislation as 15 of the 60 school boards ignored guidelines in the past.
The minister, to her credit, recognized that with the three recalcitrant provincial "partners’’ at the round table, that no consensus was possible now or even emerging, so Victoria moved promptly to table this bill, which also removes, in large measure, some of the roadblocks to a provincial settlement with BCTF.
And what is the matter with the provincial parents’ group and their out-to-lunch comments on this positive news? Don’t they recognize good news when they see it? This is definitely good news for the kids of this province and if the ancillary supports of adequate resources, both human and material, are put in place we will begin to see a return to an emphasis on quality instruction in the system. A further analysis of the implementation process awaits, but what is definitely heartening is the fact that classroom teachers will be consulted if numbers exceed the caps in the legislation. To all of the PACs, individual school boards, individual parents, organizations that support public education, and in particular the province’s classroom teachers who fought long and hard for improved teaching and learning conditions on the front lines last fall, take a well deserved bow. Well done folks—it was a long battle.