Job action won’t prevent progress reports: MRTA

But report cards may not be going home in Nov.

Job action by public school teachers in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows isn’t hurting students, and back-to-work legislation is unnecessary, according to the local teacher’s union.

The Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association issued a press release Friday, addressing parents’ concerns about how ongoing Phase One job action by teachers might be affecting students.

The statement was in response to comments made by Education Minister George Abbott last week that he was considering back-to-work legislation to end the strike.

“Teachers fully understand that you are concerned about your child’s education,” the MRTA stated in the release. “Because of this, we have structured Phase One so that it is all about teaching and not about administrative and paper work that often take up considerable time. That time is better devoted to the classroom.”

Last week, Abbott said he wasn’t happy about parents potentially not getting first term report cards in November.

However, MRTA president George Serra stressed that current job action does not stop teachers from providing students and their parents with progress reports.

“In fact, [we] expect that informal reporting is occurring on an ongoing basis, be it teacher-, student- or parent-initiated and that if there are any concerns, that they are discussed with parents at the earliest possible date.”

These communications could be informal meetings, phone calls, assignments sent home to be signed and returned, comments in agendas, notes home, emails or online, depending on the usual method employed by the individual teacher, according to the MRTA.

In addition to higher salaries, teachers are looking for improvements to classroom conditions, including higher staffing levels.

“The intent of this job action is for teachers to get back to the basics of teaching by limiting administrative duties with as few disruptions to students as possible,” the MRTA contends. “For the minister to even suggest legislation this early in the process, for reasons that are unfounded, is disingenuous and appears to be based on misinformation.”

Better conditions for teachers means better conditions for students, Serra contends.

“Teachers are increasingly having to work in classrooms with unmanageable combinations of students with special needs, English as a Second Language, and uncoded, yet very needy students,” Serra said in a statement for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. “These unmanageable classrooms are a direct result of cuts to funding and are resulting in conditions that many teachers are finding unsafe for students.”