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March 14, 2018

The final Joint Council meeting for the 2017-18 school year occurred on March 9-10. As always I appreciated the sentiments that were expressed and the debate that ensued. The best decisions are always those that are thoroughly discussed, examined and critiqued. The contributions of all in attendance helped ensure that this was indeed the case.

International Women’s Day was March 8th and during the week in New York the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women began its 62nd session. While the NLTA did not have a representative there, the topics of discussion and the issues raised are as valid to our membership and to our province as anywhere. I want to recognise the important work and leadership provided by our female members throughout the province. From our Provincial Executive, our Branch Presidents, our school reps and our classroom teachers, the contributions made by our female colleagues are incredibly important to the work that we do for our members and the province’s education system. On behalf of all of the province’s teachers, I ask that we all recognize the work of our female colleagues and acknowledge their most valuable contributions to the Association and the teaching profession.

It goes without saying that a lot has happened since my last President’s Digest. As we all know NAPE reached a tentative agreement and that deal was one that they thought was appropriate for their membership. I do want to make it clear, however, that just as we do not negotiate for NAPE, NAPE does not negotiate for us. Our negotiating team, your negotiating team, is working diligently on your behalf. There is a process to be followed as we collectively work towards getting the best possible deal, a fair and reasonable deal for our membership. We do not have a deadline; we do not and should not feel any undue pressure to get a deal for the sake of one. I have every confidence that your team with Trent Langdon as Chair, and Stefanie Tuff as Chief Negotiator, will ensure that our positions are strong and our membership’s needs well represented.

As this process unfolds there will undoubtedly come times where we need our complete membership expressing their views. We have seen firsthand how this can make a real difference. Our last round of contract negotiations clearly illustrated the power that our members holds when they choose to exercise it. Recently I sent an email to our members asking them to complete the survey that was part of government’s pre-budgetary process. In order for us to ensure that our voices are heard, we all need to play a part in promoting the importance of using our collective voice. Provincial Executive, Branch Presidents, School Reps, and every member including myself, should make an effort to encourage everyone to provide feedback when such is needed. We want to ensure that the message is clear – education is important and the means to protect and improve education is through the address of teacher issues. When we have limited feedback that sends the exact opposite message. My continuous visits to our schools and conversations with our teachers have made it clear that so many of the issues that have been long-standing ones are still there. These concerns are real and if our students are to get the quality of education that they need and deserve, action is needed.

I recently wrote a Letter to the Editor of The Telegram that indicated that I am hopeful that we will see changes – changes that will have a positive impact on our schools and our members. I do hold that while the Premier’s Task Force report does have recommendations that can be positive, those recommendations can only be of benefit following a successful implementation. The greater the degree to which we are consulted, the higher the likelihood of success will be. This is the premise under which I wrote to the Editor of The Telegram (read here).  To improve education the decision makers must consult us, listen to us, and act on the advice we give. The individuals that know education best are our members.
Until next time.