I can’t say enough how thankful and appreciative I am of the outstanding work put in by the teachers and students at Memorial Academy in Botwood for hosting our Education Week Opening Ceremonies. They highlighted their school and why all schools continue to provide the best they can each and every day. Education Week has been an initiative of the NLTA for more than 80 years and throughout these years the purpose has been to highlight the importance of education. Education Week is a recognition and celebration of the work that happens in schools throughout the entire year.
In order for our students to receive the education that they deserve, investments in education need to occur. As government prepares for its provincial budget, this investment is something that has to be taken into account. We all acknowledge the fiscal situation in the province, yet we also know that there are decisions that government makes all the time. It can’t always be about the money. Often it has to be about how you decide to invest the monies that are available. Moving forward, if education is truly as valued by our government as they say that it is, we will see investments in our province’s education system. The reduction of class sizes, coupled with the provision of supports to ensure that every student has the opportunity to succeed, to reach their unique potential, is critically important. We need to see additional supports for our most vulnerable students, starting with a move to enhance the allocation of school counsellors and psychologists. The availability of school administrators continues to be inadequate. The ability for schools to proactively address concerns such as those identified by the Child and Youth Advocate in the report of school absenteeism and to provide true instructional leadership is certainly compromised as a result of the reductions that occurred in previous budgets.
We know that our citizens want to see improvements to the province’s education system. If this is to happen, government and school districts need to be willing to work with teachers and parents on solutions to the major challenges facing our public education system. Policies and procedures need to be streamlined so that those that matter most – students – are not shortchanged. Teachers need time to focus on what truly matters. Teachers need supports to allow them to deliver programming to our most precious resource – our children! Anything that distracts from this effort is a disservice to those students who aren’t being adequately supported at the present time.
Over the past month we have been engaged in the process of moving forward with the tentative collective agreement. I am very appreciative of the level of engagement shown during this process. I respect the varying opinions that were offered on this and do acknowledge that it was a difficult decision for many. The negotiating team worked diligently to get to this point, and I am thankful for the work that they accomplished. It was the best deal that could be attained at this time. In the coming months we will begin preparations for the next round of negotiations. As I indicated in an email to all teachers, I am hopeful that the same level of passion and engagement will be there for the next round of negotiations. The message will continue to be sent to government and our educational stakeholders that teachers will be expecting an agreement that addresses our concerns, that provides fair compensation and that recognises our worth and responsibility of educating our province’s future.
Your Joint Council met on March 8 and brought forward a number of concerns and issues that they have heard from members. Your Provincial Executive and your branch presidents, who make up Joint Council, respond and act on the concerns and information brought forward. It is important that your concerns are brought to the attention of these same individuals who have the authority to make motions and advise Provincial Executive on teacher and education issues. The NLTA is not just your Provincial Executive. The NLTA is not just your branch president. The NLTA is the membership – you, the teachers of this province. As preparations for BGM 2019 continue, ensure that your thoughts and concerns are brought to the attention of those who will be representing you. Become informed. Become engaged and ensure that your voice is one that is brought forward.
Until next time…