Prince George District Teachers Association President Matt Pearce says imposing Bill 22 has demoted teachers from employees to public servants. Teachers in School District 57 have voted to withdraw all volunteer and extracurricular activities for the end of this year, and into the next, unless Bill 22 is repealed. He says the controversial bill was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and he’s never seen teachers this angry. The withdrawal is effective immediately, though he adds teachers will follow through on commitments that have already been made. In the absence of teacher support, he says it will be up to the community to pick up the slack. Pearce says they are considering some other things on a province-wide basis, but for now this is what local teachers have decided.
Dr. Charles Jago to mediate teacher contract talks
VICTORIA – In line with the provisions of Bill 22 – the Education Improvement Act, government has appointed Dr. Charles Jago to mediate contract talks between the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA).
As mediator, Jago will be guided by the best interests of students and the pursuit of high-quality learning as he assists the parties in negotiations. The scope of mediation is broad and will seek to address all issues outstanding at the bargaining table, including:
- Manner and consequences of class size and composition.
- Local-provincial split of bargaining issues.
- Effective feedback and evaluation of teachers to promote improvements.
- Alignment of professional development with teaching needs.
- Scheduling and selection of teachers suited to student needs.
Jago can help the parties arrive at compensation improvements, whether to wages or benefits, by looking for trade-offs within the contract – just as other public sector unions have achieved under the net-zero mandate. However, contract proposals or agreements cannot impose net additional costs on the employer.
Jago will have the resources he needs to fulfil his mandate, including the ability to engage support staff and independent advisors. The mediation period will run to the end of June. If there is no agreement, Jago will issue a report with non-binding recommendations.
The existing collective agreement remains in effect during the mediation.
Dr. Charles Jago is the author of the 2006 report, Working Together to Improve Performance: preparing BC’s Public Education System for the Future.
He is a former president of the University of Northern British Columbia and he has held academic appointments in Canadian universities for over 40 years, serving on the boards of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada as well as the Association of Commonwealth Universities. As UNBC president, he initiated the development of the Northern Medical Program.
His extensive involvement in major public issues includes service as a commissioner on the Nechako Environmental Enhancement Fund, chair of the Fraser Basin Council and co-chair of the Premier’s Consultation on Northern British Columbia Cancer Care, which has led to the construction of the Northern Cancer Centre.
He is the recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and the Order of Canada.
|Contact:||Government Communications and Public EngagementMinistry of Education
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect
Most school districts will be returning from Spring Break on Monday and BCPSEA has received some inquiries about what to expect over the next few weeks. After any strike action a period of adjustment is necessary for the workplace to return to normal and we will be reporting to districts as matters arise.
We also encourage districts to work closely with their principals and vice-principals during this time. We understand that some of the local teachers’ associations have been contacting principals to ask to speak with them about teacher actions and to ask that they delay the re-introduction of activities such as supervision schedules, staff meetings, report cards, etc. It will be important to support principals and vice principals as we now require teachers to perform duties they were previously permitted to withdraw.
The following topics have been raised as pressing matters that districts will need to resolve upon return from Spring Break:
- Supervision of students — Districts should develop a transition plan so that student supervision that was previously being done by excluded and management staff in lieu of teachers during the strike is returned to teachers.
- Currently due report cards and reporting of marks — We understand that most schools in the province are now at a point in the year when a report card is due (or was very recently due) to be issued including for linear, semester, and year round schools. This is an important report for students, parents, and the school administrators as it would normally update a child’s learning progress (since the beginning of September) and identify problems that may exist or if additional supports are necessary. It is BCPSEA’s position that all such report cards should now be prepared and issued. The dates when this report card was or is due vary greatly school to school. During the strike teachers were required to continue to perform assessment, evaluation, and marking. Districts should speak to their local teachers’ associations to discuss the contents of the report card (e.g., will the current report card reflect all progress and/or the cumulative grade from September to the current date or will separate entries be made for September to November and November to March?) and the timing of this report card. It may be necessary to provide additional days for teachers to submit the marks and/or prepare the report cards. Districts should also begin to confirm with teachers that all marks for Grade 12 students will now be entered in the normal manner so that acceptance for post-graduation institutions will not be delayed or compromised, and that other marks for students (e.g., semester one final grades) have also been entered appropriately.
- Staff meetings and other meetings — We suggest that administrators begin to schedule staff and committee meetings in the normal manner which meets the needs of the students, teachers, and the school. Given that many of these meetings have not occurred this school year, it may be necessary to remind teachers about the specific purposes, timing, agendas, and procedures for the particular meetings.
As we all know, a strike disrupts work routines and can strain relationships. Part of a plan for
getting back to normal work should deal with these realities. We encourage school districts to work with their local teachers’ associations as we move forward through the process of return to full duties. BCPSEA will also communicate with districts and liaise with the BC Teachers’ Federation over the next few weeks. It is important that regular routines are re-established reasonably soon, and we hope this will occur through a cooperative approach.
It is a measure of the depth of teachers’ outrage at Bill 22 that the action plan includes the possibility of a future vote on a full withdrawal of services, among other measures. As always in the BCTF, the members will decide whether this is the correct future course of action. The plan will be put to a province-wide vote of teachers on April 17 and 18, 2012.
Under the plan, teachers will also decide whether to begin a province-wide withdrawal of all voluntary extra-curricular activities. “This government has repeatedly demonstrated such profound disrespect for the work we do that members felt they had to take a stand,” Lambert said. “It’s one of the only options left open under Bill 22.” Local teacher associations in about a dozen school districts have already voted independently to withdraw participation in extra-curricular voluntary activities.
Under the action plan, teachers will of course continue teaching and will prepare year-end report cards. As always throughout this job action, marks that are required for graduation, post-secondary application and scholarships have been, and will continue to be provided.
For recent articles including a discussion of whether or not teachers may withdraw from extra-curricular activities, BC superintendent reactions to Bill 22, how the contract dispute may threaten graduation ceremonies, and financial compensation to teachers if class sizes for grades 4-12 exceed 30 students, please view the Vancouver Sun Report Card Blog:
Additionally recommended is a recent article by Vaughan Palmer:
Apparently, the debate on bill 22 will end in time “for the bill to be given royal assent by Lt.-Gov. Steven Point, just after 5 p.m. Thursday.”
For the Prince George District, this would presumably mean that teachers will not be on strike or in phase 1 of job action for Friday, the day before Spring Break. Younger students may be well be looking forward to recess re-starting at that time.
Striking teachers in B.C. say they will be back in the classrooms on Thursday, but will continue their previous job action and could exercise their right to strike again next week.
Lambert says teachers will continue their previous job action when they resume work on Thursday, which includes not filling out report cards, supervising recess and meeting with school administrators.
The government has said it could be a week or more before Bill 22 is passed into law. The legislation is designed to end the teachers’ legal strike action and appoint a mediator to settle the contract dispute.
Until the legislation is passed, teachers will be able to strike one day a week, according to a recent ruling by the Labour Relations Board.
In the Prince George District, Friday March 9th is a professional development day, with no school for students on that day.
If Bill 22 is passed in its current form, it would impose a cooling off period to the end of August, which suspends all strike and lockout activities while a mediator attempts to facilitate a negotiated agreement between the BCTF and BCPSEA.
Teachers have been on Phase 1 job action (a “teach only” strike) since the beginning of the school year. Teachers have not been attending any other meetings called by administrators, accepting any printed, written or electronic communications from administrators, providing any routine printed or written communications to administrators, or collecting money from students, in addition to not providing official report cards or supervising students at recess.
Email sent from BCCPAC on March 6th:
These are challenging times for parents and students. BCCPAC will endeavour to provide information on the current dispute between the BC Teachers’ Federation and the Ministry of Education as we receive it from both parties over the next couple of days.
We have received several comments in response to the two emails that were shared yesterday, 1) from the Ministry of Education, 2) from the BC Teachers’ Federation. BCCPAC would like to clarify that these information bulletins represent the position of the authors (the BC Teachers’ Federation and the Ministry of Education) and should be viewed from these perspectives.
The information we receive from 3rd parties is shared for your information only and we provide no guarantees or warranties (expressed or implied) as to the reliability, accuracy or completeness of the information shared. Additional links to information on Bill 22, 27, 28, BCTF and Ministry of Education positions and today’s news releases can be found here http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/index/
We encourage our members to continue to support parents through these challenging times as BCCPAC continues to work with educational partners to build relationships, seek solutions, and opportunities for collaboration to support student success.
Email sent from from PGDTA on March 6th:
Press Release March 5, 2012.
Bill 22 Hurts Public Education!
There will be a rally for our PGDTA members, families and supporters of Public Education on Wednesday March 7 at 6PM at the Civic Centre Plaza- Outside.
A Message to Parents from your Teachers
How does Bill 22 The “Education Improvement Act” actually impact classrooms and make class size and composition worse?
Bill 22 removes the soft cap of three special needs children per class and will result in worsening class composition issues resulting in less attention for the learning needs for your child.
Bill 22 removes the hard cap of 30 students in grade 4 to 7 classrooms paving the way for classes over 30. There will be no upper limit.
Bill 22 removes the requirement for the Superintendent to publically report on class size and composition so parents will have less information about learning conditions in their school system
Bill 22 introduces the “Learning Improvement Fund” to address class composition issues. The fund is $165 million over 4 years. For your child that works out to 29 cents per day next school year.
Bill 22 makes it illegal for a teacher contract to have any limit on the number of students assigned to a teacher. You child may be one of hundreds seeking attention from a single teacher.
Bill 22 makes it illegal for a teacher contract to have any limit on caseloads for Learning Assistance/Support teachers. Teachers may be assigned far more children than they can possibly help.
Bill 22 makes it illegal for a teacher contract to require hiring to be done by qualifications and experience and lets the school Board hire less qualified non-teaching staff to teach your children
Teachers want a fair deal! Our working conditions are our student’s learning conditions. Please come to the Rally to hear about what the Liberal Government is doing to Public Education!
Press Release March 5, 2012
There will be a demonstration walk for PGDTA
members, families, and supporters of public
education on Wednesday March 7 at 11:30
AM outside the old Integris Credit Union located
Teachers want a fair deal!
Our working conditions are our students’
learning conditions. We invite all supporters of
public education, parents, students, labour, and
the general public to come to the rally to show
support and to hear about what the Liberal
government is doing to public education!
The attached files are materials supplied by the BCPSEA, and the BCTF:
- 00-DS-Backgrounder-Bargaining Proposals Feb 2012
- 20120228_081219147_No 2012-02-DS-For the Record-BCTF Fact Sheets
- An Overview of Bill 22
The Hansard (transcript of what is said in the Legislature) also makes for some interesting reading:
Search for “BILL 22 — EDUCATION IMPROVEMENT ACT”, as there is some discussion of other matters before this bill.
More interesting links:
SD 57 Prince George – school facilities open. Students should not attend school but any that do will be given access to warm, secure room while principals make contact with parents/guardians to get students home. Requesting parents keep children at home. No bus service.
Note that Friday, March 9th, is already scheduled as a professional development day for teachers.
What other school districts are doing across the province:
A variety of camps and child care options are being publicized. Some that have been sent to me are: