Teacher job action may be done, but the waters are still muddy as to what teachers should or should not be doing.
Chilliwack teachers received a letter of expectation from the school district’s superintendent last week requiring them to write report cards, which is a responsibility as outlined in the school act.
However, the issue lies with the expectation of elementary school teachers having to write term-two report cards, which would have come out mid March – around the same time teachers were still engaged in job action.
(Middle and secondary school teachers only have to write term three and final report cards as per the letter of expectation.)
“The union is looking at the expectation of the school district and determining whether any of the requests are something we would consider to be struck work and not necessary, particularly at the elementary level,” said Chilliwack Teachers’ Association president Katharin Midzain.
“The issue with the union is whether sending that information … is contrary to our job action.”
When interviewed by The Progress, Midzain would not publicly take a stand either way. She would not state whether the CTA believed the request to be reasonable, or whether it was in fact directing elementary teachers not to write report cards.
“We recognize that we’re not in job action right now, and so writing report cards is a reasonable request,” said Midzain. “But what we need to determine is it reasonable for all grades.”
Still, last month Susan Lambert, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation, stated teachers would not be writing retroactive report cards.
“Struck work is simply not done,” she said in a March 8 news release. “Clearly a requirement to make it up would render any strike ineffective. In this dispute, report cards would be considered struck work.”
When teachers started phase one of job action, one of the things omitted from their responsibilities were writing report cards.
The strike ended with the passing of Bill 22 legislation on March 15.
According to superintendent Michael Audet, term-two report cards for elementary schools would have been issued either the week before or the week after spring break, which started on March 19, depending on the school.
Midzain said the confusion stems from Bill 22.
“Bill 22 is a really complicated issue,” she said. “The unclear definitions of what is or isn’t job action and what is therefore subjected to fines and consequences has very much complicated something as simple as report cards.”
All teachers in B.C. received similar letters of expectation from their school district officials.