Friday, October 28, 2011

Teachers on a hot tin roof

Brad Wall is either a very brillant man or unbelieveably lucky. Who would have thought that a school start date could take the focus away from potash royalities and rent control.

The school calendar is designed around when the school breaks could happen and it has nothing to do with better education for students. They plan for a break in November, the Christmas break for Dec-Jan, the February break, the Easter break in March or April and ending the school year by June 30. Administration sets up this calendar, in conjunction with teachers, for board approval. It has been, and continues to be, a contentious issue between home and school.

In many cases classes cannot be established until after the long weekend when students who did not register at the August start date, roll in.

In the twelve years I spent on the school board I did not get calls from parents asking for a August start date - but the other way around. They wanted a start date after the Sept. long weekend.

In fact in today's world with both parents working, school breaks cause child care issues for many parents. And with so many high school students working in the market place, even hiring teenagers to help out is difficult.

If you are a parent of a school-age child, be prepared for some hopping mad teachers.


  1. Teachers are the most overpaid, laziest, self-serving professionals around. They showed their true colours this past year, putting themselves on a pedestal. In the mind of a teacher, they are more important than other working professionals like nurses. In teacher's minds they are the the pinnacle of the education system, ahead of even the students.

    For the last 30 working years of my life I supported them in every contract negotiation. I've finally come to see how self serving they are.

    This has nothing to do with what is better or worse for the students and their families, but all about teachers trying to flex their muscles and tell the greater population that they run the education system and know what is best.

    Hopefully this is the first time of many that Wall and the SP "tell it like it is" to the teachers and put them in their proper place.... to respect what their bosses say and do their jobs. The main problem is that many teachers now see their boss as the head of the STF and not the government.

  2. When I heard the STF and school board reaction yesterday my mouth hit the floor. This was akin to the cashiers at Tim Hortons speaking out that no one consulted them about what the 'donut of the month' would be.

    You work for us teachers, not the other way around.

  3. Hey folks - I don't think its fair to bash all teachers. The ones you hear from are those who are politically active. I believe the Saskatoon Public system has several exceptional teachers who go above and beyond, a few that have made a bad carer choice and are unhappy with their work - but the majority who are good, solid down-to-earth educators. The biggest problem is that you can't get rid of the bad ones and they tend to tarnish the good ones.

    The problem with systems right now is that many teachers are expected to do work that does not relate to education - food/lunch programs, clothing depots, etc. that fall better in the jurisdiction of social services. And sadly, many of today's parents view schools as day care centres rather than educational institutions.

  4. Good points Anon 11:40, a couple things to think about:

    1. The good teachers should be more vocal and clarify things. I know unions like to keep everyone on same page, but when some of the ridiculous comments are made it would be helpful to hear not all teachers tow the same line.

    2. This was an issue in last contract. Why on earth didn't the teachers offer to have these services bargained in as bonuses on their job instead of demanding a blanket raise. I'd rather take the 4% a year they wanted and convert it to bonuses and pay those who do the extra curricular stuff then to pay the lazy ones what they deem their worth.

  5. O.K. folks lets stay on topic here and that is the School Year debate.

    As the Mistress kindly points out this isn't an issue that parents are going to be upset about. A win-win situation for Brad Wall. Those teachers that were upset with his party during negotiations weren't going to vote for him any ways. It costs the tax payer nothing and even today Link indicated it would be something he would be in favour of (but of coarse would only be after consultations - most likely with his labour friends first). Wonder if he consulted with them on full time day care or even the Dental Program in school and Educational Assistants or would he just consult that grade 6 class in PA that are experts on potash royalties.

    But I digress,
    Parts of the Education Act are more like a union contract than guidelines for teaching students. For the union to come out and say it takes autonomy away from school boards is ridiculous The Act already indicates every holiday stop and start Christmas, Easter etc. It spells out the number of days teachers must be at work not the number of days students must be in class. That is why School Divisions are allowed to give teachers more professional development days and keep students out of school. There isn't even a total number of hours a student needs to spend on any given subject or be in the supervision of teaching staff.

    I can only hope that Brad will go even farther once in office and change the act to a standardized spring break period and move it away from any tie-in with Easter. Not that I have a problem with allowing for Good Friday and Easter Monday being holidays (although not sure why Easter Monday) but I would love to see that being the only days students are out at that period. The changing date of Easter is very problematic in developing school calenders. And while we are at it the Feb. break could be downsized.

    The best scenario for parents is to know year in and year out when school is in. Having students out for half a day or even one day during the week causes many palpitations. Anyone remember what happened when the teachers pull that stunt last year.

    I will agree our system has turned into a form of day care for many families that, for whatever the excuse, have two parents working. But then again it has evolved into the beast it is today because of things such as moving to full time Kindergarten and even government sponsored pre-kindergarten programs, before and after school programs etc. Is this really a bad thing?

    Given that the NDP wants to open-up even more Government Day Care spaces, thus giving parents an even easier time of making the choice to have the state look after their kids, is is no wonder some teachers feel they are being treated like glorified babysitters.

    I was once told by a teacher friend of mine that any good teacher should be able to adapt their lessons and suit the time they are allotted with the students to teach what they need for their discipline. Whether that be kindergarten or up to grade 12. So instead of whining teachers should be making the adjustments accordingly. Just as everyone else in this world has to do. Oh and don't forget teachers, you get paid by the parents of those children you are suppose to be teaching all without any form of standardized outcomes because as we all know each child learns at their own rate and God forbid if the teacher is to be held responsible for their lack of learning. "Oops was that my outside voice."

  6. The school calendar has always been what is best for teachers - never for students and their families. The school year (number of days) is the number of days that teachers work. There is no set number of days that students attend school for learning. Therefore, students could still have all their breaks throughout the year; the teachers would, however, have to schedule professional development or other activites during breaks and/or before Labour Day. It's also time to re-think the whole Easter break fiasco - set a standard March break like the rest of North American does. Kudos to the SK Party for finally stepping up - something that school boards and their adminstrators have never had the guts to do!

  7. why are unions dictating what is "best" for our children and youth? That is soooo self-serving. Shame!

  8. "why are unions dictating what is "best" for our children and youth? That is soooo self-serving. Shame! "

    You mean like the "tourism industry" deciding how many days kid are in school?


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