Lockout will certainly impact students

I, and many others, are puzzled by how Education Minister Peter Fassbender could possibly stand in front of the media and state that class size is of no consequence in determining educational outcomes for students.

Certainly there will be those who quote “research” supporting this view, but much more research supports improved student learning outcomes when students have more individual support from a teacher.

The BC Public School Employer’s Association’s misguided partial lockout of public school educators started on May 26, with puzzling proclamations being made by BCPSEA’s lead negotiator, Peter Cameron.

The letter sent from BCPSEA to the BCTF specifically prohibits teachers from working more than 45 minutes before classes in the morning, or more than 45 minutes after classes end. We are not even allowed to work with students during our lunch at the risk of disciplinary action. And Mr. Cameron says while imposing this lockout they are, “trying to avoid impact on students.”

These comments can be made with a straight face because it seems clear that Cameron, Fassbender and Christy Clark all have no idea how our schools and classrooms function.

The results of BCPSEA’s tactics will most certainly impact students, and will likely result in lower final grades, possible subject failures, and delayed graduation for some of our most vulnerable students. There could not be a worse time for the government to pull this type of provocative antic.

As the year end nears, many teachers routinely offer out-of-class tutorial times and exam prep sessions to help students prepare for their finals and provincial exams. At lunch time and after school, students seek out teachers for extra help or to catch up on work missed due to absence. None of this can happen now.

I spend many hours organizing supplies, preparing materials and classrooms for lessons and cleaning up afterwards; this will be impossible in the two 45-minute allowances a day rather than the three to four hours I normally put in outside of class time. And marking? When might that happen? Report cards? Report cards are always done at home, on my unpaid time. They are homework, but we are directed by the BCPSEA letter not to do any “paid work” outside of our defined day.

Right. No impact on students. But, thankfully, I do see that after the employer docks my pay 10 per cent they will allow me to continue providing my unpaid volunteer time and  services for my students. Big of them.


Mike McElgunn, Delta

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