Conflict in B.C.’s education system continues to escalate.
Teachers are slamming a move by the B.C. Public School Employers Association to have the Labour Relations Board declare report cards an essential service and reduce teachers’ pay.
“It will only serve to inflame the situation and pose additional unnecessary obstacles at the bargaining table,” said Bruce Cummings, Vernon Teachers Association president.
During an ongoing labour dispute, teachers across B.C. have refused to do certain administrative duties.
On Wednesday, the BCPSEA filed an application with the LRB to require teachers to prepare and distribute report cards. It also wants the B.C. Teachers Federation to reimburse each school district a monthly amount equal to 15 per cent of the total gross salaries and benefits costs paid to teachers.
“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,” states a release from the employers.
“Parents, students, teachers, and administrators all need to know if a student is progressing satisfactorily before it becomes too late to address concerns.”
However, Cummings says it was the employer who proposed report cards not be considered essential when terms of job action were developed.
“Report cards are not essential to learning,” he said.
“Stable funding, sufficient resources, small classes and specialists to meet students needs — these are the essentials for the delivery of quality educational programs.”
Cummings says teachers continue to communicate with parents over students’ activities.
“The overwhelming majority of parents seem satisfied with the informal reporting and home-school communications currently taking place,” he said.
Education Minister George Abbott believes report cards should be an essential service.
“Report cards and reporting generally are hugely important to us,” said the Shuswap MLA.
“It is not acceptable to me, nor to the ministry of education, to have children and parents in British Columbia not understanding how they are progressing.”
The ministry has directed principals to send out report cards, but without teacher input. Abbott says report cards may only contain attendance figures.
— with files from Black Press reporter Tom Fletcher