Maple Ridge teachers doing a good job

Concerned about BCTF job action but it's working out OK

Editor, The News:

Re: Maple Ridge father demands end to teacher job action (The News, Jan. 27).

I was saddened to read that Alan Richards’ experience with his children’s teachers surrounding the current BCTF job action has been so overtly negative.

I thought it was important to add balance to his views so that not all School District No. 42 teachers get painted with the same brush.

I have three children in SD42 – two in elementary school and one in high school.  I can honestly say that my own experience with their teachers has been completely the opposite of Mr. Richards’ experiences.

I went into this new school year with a bit of trepidation, wondering, like many other local parents, if my kids’ educations were going to be compromised because of the BCTF job action.

However, I have had nothing but positive interactions with all of my children’s teachers this year.

True, they have yet to receive official report cards.  However, I have found that communication between their teachers and us, as parents, has far exceeded the levels of communication we have ever experienced with any teachers in our entire 10 years in this school system.

They may not be “officially” reporting my kids’ marks to administration and the government,  but every single one of them has kept me and my husband in the loop the whole year with everything from their marks to whether they are meeting certain milestones and to how they are relating to their peers.

I get regular email updates from a number of them (which, by the way, were initiated by them, not me) and I always get quick responses to email inquiries that I make.

In lieu of official report cards, I received for my two elementary children detailed reports written by their teachers directly to us, and which covered everything that an official report card would have covered.

The only elements missing were attendance records and the principals’ signatures.

A number of my high school child’s teachers provided similar reports, and those who didn’t have been eager and willing to answer my questions when I’ve asked them.

I know exactly how all three of them are doing, whether and when they miss assignments or neglect homework, and whether they are on track for finishing the 2011/2012 school year well.

I understand that it is frustrating for most parents not to receive official report cards, especially those with senior students whose academic futures may be impeded as a result.

Fortunately, none of my children are yet old enough to be in jeopardy of missing out on university application deadlines because they lack complete transcripts.

I do hope that this does not remain the case much longer.

And while I agree with Mr. Richards, at least on the point that BCTF members may be prudent to give a little on some of the demands they’ve made, I also recognize that the government has, unfortunately, taken away nearly every single potential bargaining tool that teachers have to negotiate wages, working conditions and ideal learning environments for students.

The government does not play fair because it does not have to.  It simply passes laws and sits back and waits until the teachers give up because there is nothing left to bargain with, and because most, unlike some of the teachers Mr. Richards has crossed paths with, are too human, too professional, and have too much integrity to force children to suffer so that they can get their way.

As far as I can see, teachers are not using my kids as “pawns,” as Mr. Richards has suggested. My children are still playing school sports, still doing school plays, still going to dances, still participating in school clubs and extra-curricular activities, still getting homework help (even after regular school hours), and still not getting away with letting school work slide despite of teachers’ job action.

I, for one, am very grateful to my kids’ teachers for this.

Jenny Schweyer

Maple Ridge