BY RON DALE
The current situation between government and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has reached a severe impasse.
To prevent another job action at the end of whatever agreement is made this year, we must completely overhaul the delivery model. All players have an important role to play; all must want to improve our system. Here are my suggestions:
Government and school boards – Take back education policy from the BCTF; listen to the union when they bring forth realistic concerns regarding funding and positive initiatives. Look at ways of reducing downloaded costs to districts. Develop in-district statistics on use and misuse of benefits. Streamline administration, commit to regular teacher evaluations, develop Pro D activities that pertain to hot-button issues such as class size and composition.
Take a strong position in terms of changing the delivery model. Should not all schools have a special needs component? Inclusion is a wonderful and idealistic concept, but it puts too much stress on the expansion of the scope of learning abilities within each class.
Consider the year-round school model. This would provide a better use of facilities, and most important, reduce loss of retention caused by a seven-week summer break. Study the utilization of school libraries now that technology is prevalent and research can be done using technology. Let’s catch up to the kids.
Demand that teacher-training institutions dedicate significant curricula time and research to special needs training.
Implementation of new programs in technology, trades, and construction. Reinstate the porfolio program: what better way for students to prepare themselves for a future?
Parents – Public schools are not a babysitting service, where teachers are often dealing with issues that should be developed at home. Prepare your child for elementary by having him or her recognize letters and numbers. Teach and model sharing, social skills and how to behave in a social setting.
Monitor their progress and communicate regularly with teachers and the school.
Keep children active at home with physical and mental activities.
Teachers and educators –
Your 190-day contract is fairly compensated and has a generous benefit packages. Asking more than what other public sector unions get is unrealistic.
Be prepared to work outside the clock and contract hours. Precious teacher student contact time happens outside the classroom. Preparation, marking and parent nights are a reality. They are an important part of your job.
Support ways of change that will allow new models of delivery that address problem areas in your school and school district.
Please consider the above because, if we continue to do things the ways we have already done them, public education in B.C. will continue to be dysfunctional.
Change is necessary.
Ron Dale is a director with the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation and a retired teacher, administrator and school trustee.