Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one. ~ Brad Paisley
My musical preference has been varied and multi-dimensional. When I read this quote from country music artist, Brad Paisley, it did strike a chord with me. With the year 2020 underway we all need to reflect on what we need, what we want and what we are willing to do to push for those things that we value and prioritize.
When I look back on the “Up Front” I wrote at this time last year, I was struck by the opening paragraph. It is as relevant now as it was then… As I gather myself and reflect on the year that was 2018, I can’t help but also look forward to 2019. While I am proud of what has been accomplished, I also acknowledge that there remains much to be done. Concluding this round of negotiations, preparing for the next provincial budget and advocating for our profession and the province’s education system chief among them. (January/February 2019 Up Front, The Bulletin).
The Collective Bargaining Committee has undertaken its work. The Negotiating Team has been formed and discussions are happening to address the concerns raised by our members. Through member input, Town Hall meetings, email and other submissions, the needs of the members have been clearly articulated. In order for there to be changes to the education system of this province, we must realize that just asking for needed improvements, despite the strength of the arguments, may not be enough. We have to collectively determine and be prepared to decide on what lines we are collectively prepared to draw and actions we are prepared to take to bring about these changes. We are seeing across this country how other teacher organizations are being forced to take strong actions to fight for what is needed in their education systems. We have to consider the possibility that we may need to also take similar actions at some point.
If the last round of negotiations indicated anything, it was that the NLTA membership doesn’t simply desire change for the sake of change. We see parts of the province where recruiting and retaining educators are becoming more and more challenging. We see a drop in the number of students pursuing education as a career choice. In order to reverse both these trends, the environment in which teachers operate, the environment that potential future educators are aware, must see significant change.
So this brings me back to the statement I made earlier about what are we willing to do and what lines are we collectively willing to draw to bring about change. The Class Size Matters Initiative has had an impact. When teachers wear the Class Size Matters buttons in their classrooms, awareness is raised on the issue. Other initiatives are being considered that should achieve the same. We want and need the province to understand how important education is to all of our collective futures.
Governments communicate their values and priorities through the budgetary process. Early in the year there was a call to action for our members to complete the pre-budget consultation survey. Thank you for doing so. The work of advocating for what is needed is so much more effective when the message that is sent is reinforced by membership engagement. I will continue to press, on your behalf, that we need investments in education. We need changes to the system for the benefit of our students and our schools. We need a review of the allocation model, an independent review, sooner, not later. We need education to be viewed as the long-term investment that it truly is!
The most important individuals in our schools are our students and they are best served when teachers and schools are provided what is needed. The understanding is most likely attained through advocacy, not just from the NLTA, but from all our members and education partners. With this in mind, the question bears repeating. We know what is needed, we know what changes need to occur, but what are we collectively willing to do to convince the policy makers, decision makers, the school districts, Department and the Government to make the right decisions for education in this province?
Until next time…