We all have dates that mark significant events in our lives. The day we were born, got married, had children, or other life altering events and situations. One of those dates for me was the day I became a teacher and at the same time also became a very proud member of the NLTA. Like all teachers in this province, the moment I taught my first class I became a part of our Association. The journey that eventually brought me to be your President started when I taught my first class. I’m very proud to be able to represent all of you and the day I was elected as your President marks another one of those significant life events.
The NLTA is not the President, the Provincial Executive, or the staff at 3 Kenmount Road. It is our members throughout the province – you are the NLTA. Our voices will be heard and will be supportive of decisions and directions that are in the best interest of our members and the province’s education system. However, rest assured that our voices will be equally present in opposition to decisions that do not serve the system and our teachers or students.
We are entering a time where there are numerous challenges for schools and for our members. Last year your NLTA partnered with the Federation of School Councils and Memorial University’s Faculty of Education to form the Panel on the Status of Public Education in NL, which gathered feedback from the public as to where they saw the state of public education in our province. The resultant report, appropriately titled Better Together, brought forward 32 recommendations based on feedback that was gained through consultation with the public. Without exception, the feedback that was gathered clearly illustrated not only that the province’s education system needed greater attention and support, but also that the pathway to a better system ran through support of the province’s teachers.
Fast forward to July 25, 2017 with the release of the Premier’s Task Force Report on the Status of Public Education, again aptly titled Now is the Time. I couldn’t agree more. The time is now to make strategic investments in our province’s education system. The time is now to consult and engage with those who know education best – teachers. The time is now to make changes that will better the delivery of services to our most valued resource – our children. The time is now to realize that the question to be asked isn’t if we can afford to, but rather can we afford not to? If education is as important to government as they claim it to be, then we will indeed see constructive dialogue and real solutions to the issues that are identified.
As we move forward into the fall we need to look ahead to the implementation phase for the 82 recommendations that were brought forth in the Premier’s Task Force. The findings in many ways mirrored the findings of the Panel on the Status of Public Education and as the title of this report suggested, we are better together. I would urge Government to recognize the importance of consulting and involving teachers in the discussions around how best to properly implement these 82 recommendations. I would urge each of you to let your MHAs know how important it is to involve your Association in the discussions, because without effective implementation the Task Force Report will be little more than a paper document and an exercise in futility. I am hopeful that we will see an effective implementation that can only happen if the experts on the issues – teachers, are part of the discussion.
As I stated in my opening, I am honoured to be your President for 2017-19. In my office there is a poster that has a picture of a teacher asking two questions. These are: “What have you done for me today?” and “What have you done for all teachers today?”. Every day I am going to be guided by these questions as I work on your behalf to improve the working conditions for all teachers and the learning conditions of all students.
Until next time.