Spring report cards up in the air in Maple Ridge

LRB to decide whether report cards will be sent home

Parents and students may not be getting spring report cards, if a challenge by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation is successful.

While teachers are required to produce report cards now that the provincial government has legislated an end to their job action last month, the BCTF contends that since the reporting period landed during teachers’ job action, they are not required to make up the work.

End-of-term report cards will be completed and sent home in June as normal, however.

The BCTF has taken the matter to the B.C. Labour Relations Board. Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association president George Serra says he expects a ruling from the LRB this week.

Schools superintendent Jan Unwin said the local school district has requested teachers send home spring report cards by April 30, and will be meeting with the MRTA to discuss a course of action after the LRB ruling is handed down later this week.

Unwin said the district’s priority is to make sure students are getting the help they need and not falling behind as the end of the school year approaches.

“We need to be sure that every parent understands where their child is at this time of year,” she said. “There’s not a lot of time for interventions… and we as an administrator group are still trying to get back into the loop.”

Teachers haven’t sent home report cards since their job action began in September 2011. However, teachers have still been compiling marks, and are being encouraged by the MRTA to give them directly to students and parents.

“I think that’s being done, teachers have been communicating with parents directly this whole time,” said Serra. “A hard copy report card with school letterhead is not necessary.”

However, Serra recognized that school administrators are out of loop when it comes to student progress, due to teacher job action preventing teachers from meeting with administrators.

“Counsellors do a lot of that work, work with students at risk, talking with parents and helping students who are struggling,” he said. “For parents, if there are questions and concerns, that communication should happen with teachers directly.”

Unwin said with provincial exams coming, she doesn’t want students having to go to summer school or missing out on graduation because they were unaware of their poor standing in a course.

“I just want to make sure kids aren’t harmed,” said Unwin. “They could be failing, and not know it.”

 

BCTF action plan vote this week

Teachers across the province will be voting on the B.C. Teachers’ Federation’s “action plan” this week, from Tuesday until Thursday. The plan is the provincial teachers’ union’s response to the Liberal government’s back-to-work legislation, Bill 22. While the bill provides for mediation, which teachers have been asking for, issues like class size, composition, and the government’s net-zero mandate of freezing public sector wages can’t be negotiated according to the bill.

Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association president George Serra said he expects local teachers to support the action plan.

“Teachers are not happy,” said Serra. “They are really upset with how this has gone on.”

The BCTF’s action plan features a province-wide mandatory ban on extracurricular volunteering, and also leaves open the possibility of an illegal strike. However, that would require a second vote by B.C. teachers.

While the current local extracurricular ban is voluntary on the part of teachers, should this week’s vote be successful, teachers would have to comply, or face possible repercussions from the union.