Excerpts from a letter I wrote today:
There is no doubt that throughout the Province a demoralizing cloud of despair has settled upon Public Education. I suspect that many people will look back on this experience with sincere regret; our legacy will be the fallout of an acrimonious debate that has done nothing to improve education – but that has contributed to severe and long lasting negative impact. Rather than creating a space of enlightened, collaborative opportunity to work together for a preferred future, a space of heat that distracts from the heart of the matter has been established.
I am an educator who since 1987 has taught hundreds of children, worked tirelessly in various school environments and who has sought to improve learning conditions by means of various administrative appointments I have held since 1998. My path shares more similarities than differences with teachers and administrators throughout the province. It is from this place of common interests and shared vision that I wish to move forward.
A question I am asked frequently is how I feel regarding Bill 22. In my opinion the legislation opens more windows of opportunity for the future of public education than it closes. Admittedly I harbor significant distaste for any legislated conclusion to a bargaining process and I have spoken publicly about that. The inclusion of the Learning Improvement Fund to attend to the needs of “unidentified” or “grey area” students, and the requirement for whole school collaboration regarding organization for learning are important steps forward – valuing the voice, expertise and contributions of our Teachers. These two aspects of the legislation move us away from a silo model of decision making and school organizational structures designed around students’ “codes” rather than students’ actual needs.
I disagree with any legislation that directs class size. In my opinion class size should be neither legislated nor bargained; class size decisions should be data driven and made at each school. We know, for example, that some classes can be bigger depending on the instructional style or content requirements, or needs of the students. On the other hand, we know some classes should be smaller – depending on the same factors. With regard to hiring practices, our District’s Collective Agreement already contemplates a process that honors suitability for a position, along with seniority, so I can support this part of the legislation. Supervision and evaluation are a normal requirement for any profession – and, when approached from a perspective of growth and support – are a very helpful means of moving an organization forward.
Collective Bargaining will continue, and hopefully at the end of it we will see a contract that will advance us forward. You can already see that there will likely be parts of it with which I disagree – but I will work with it – hopefully in a space of enlightened, collaborative opportunity to work together for a preferred future – as I mentioned before.
I hesitate to express myself in writing in these tenuous times, because there is a chance that my words could be twisted and used to propagate an “us versus them” trajectory in the District. In spite of my best efforts, this has happened before. However, I trust that my words will not be twisted into some sordid tale that I disrespect our Teachers or that I do not support our Teachers even though some of our colleagues are quite intent on chiseling deep crevices between Administration and our Teachers. To me, this practice is distasteful and simply makes it more difficult to move forward together.
Although I disrespect some of the means that are being employed, I do value the right of every human being to express themselves and to protest where they feel they need to. In the end, I hope that you will join me in a more productive conversation about how our District can work together – moving forward.