In your May 3 edition, school board chair Tom Weber explains that the alternate instructional week “will translate into potentially somewhere between 17 and 19 full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers.” He also states that, “from a student standpoint, there should not be an impact.”
Parents and the community need to know that, without question, the loss of 17-19 teachers in the system will have a negative impact on students. The district is expecting a loss of about 140 students next year. This would equate to a natural loss of about four to five teachers. In its simplest terms, the alternate instructional week will require every teacher in the district to do more work to make up for the lost teachers.
The effect will be the greatest at the secondary schools (grades 8-12). Currently, secondary teachers teach seven classes in one year. The alternate instructional week increases that number to eight classes in one year. While that may not sound like a lot, the result of that is that each teacher will be required to plan, prep for, assess, and report on up to 30 additional students. These activities take up a majority of a teacher’s time.
Teaching students is often the easy part; it’s all the work that goes on behind the scenes that makes up a majority of a teacher’s job. In addition to the planning and reporting to parents, teachers contact parents, meet with administration or counsellors, and tutor students at lunch. Teachers will have less time to do these things regularly in the alternate instructional week.
Some students are already falling through the cracks in our current structure. Teachers are feeling overwhelmed, anxious and guilty that they are not able to meet the needs of all of their students. The needs of the students are too great and there just isn’t the time in the day to take care of every student in the way that they need to be cared for. This has a negative impact on the physical and mental wellness of teachers.
The Liberal provincial government has created an education system that is severely underfunded, understaffed and under-resourced. Students and staff are feeling the results of that. School trustees are being forced to do the dirty work of the provincial government. Some school boards have had the courage to stand up to the provincial government to say enough is enough! What will our local group of trustees do politically to take a stand against the underfunding of public education?
Put the children of our community at the top of your mind when you go to the polls in May 2017. It’s time to vote in a government that puts public education near the top of its priority list.
Comox District Teachers’ Association