A move to force teachers to write report cards and reimburse pay is “vindictive,” says Campbell River District Teachers’ Association president Neil Thompson.
Last Wednesday, the B.C. Public School Employers Association (BCPSEA) requested that the Labour Relations Board (LRB) change report cards to an essential service, and that the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) reimburse 15 per cent of monthly wages since teachers stopped doing administrative tasks as part of job action at the start of the school year.
“I think it sort of disrespects the whole idea of essential service,” said Campbell River District Teachers’ Association president Neil Thompson. “One would think that in framing it as an essential service that it’s important for this thing to happen or otherwise the public well being is threatened, and I’m not sure report cards fit into that category.
“My concern is that this is some sort of vindictive – that (BCPSEA is) upset that it’s lasted so long, they thought that we would be legislated back to work or whatever, and now they’re going back on some of the things they agreed to.”
According to Thompson, the LRB approved the omission of administrative tasks in August, and BCPSEA agreed it was okay then. However, BCPSEA has now changed its tune.
“Since the commencement of school, the conditions regarding student performance and progress have been building as the information parents have received has been inconsistent, district by district, school by school, teacher by teacher,” said the application from BCPSEA.
“BCPSEA’s position is that the preparation and distribution of complete report cards is now essential to prevent immediate and serious disruption to the provision of educational programs and/or immediate and serious danger to the welfare of students.”
The LRB has not made a decision on the matter yet, but Thompson said it won’t look very good if the LRB goes back on a decision it already made.
“It sort of makes them look wishy-washy if they were to suddenly go back on a ruling that they’ve already made,” he said.
“The ruling was clear – it’s based on past practice, it’s happened in the past when we’ve done job action – so I don’t think it would send a good message.”
Thompson is adamant that impact on students has been minimal, and teachers are keeping lines of communication open with parents regarding student progress.
“We wanted to make it clear to parents that teachers were still there for inquiries as to student progress, and were in fact letting parents know if there was any concerns,” said Thompson.
As for the proposed 15 per cent reimbursement of teacher pay and benefits, Thompson said it’s uncalled for.
“We’re still doing our teaching in our classrooms, we’re looking after our students, we’re communicating with parents, we’re doing all the things that are important to our job and that we’re paid to do,” said Thompson.