The PRDTU is committed to supporting and advancing truth and reconciliation with Indigenous communities. We all have a role to play in restoring integrity to the relationship between public education and Aboriginal peoples. As teaching professionals, the PRDTU recognizes the role that our profession must play in advancing truth and reconciliation – in every SD52 classroom and school.
The news of unmarked children’s graves in First Nations communities, located at former Indian Residential School sites throughout the country, is a stark reminder of the need for truth and reconciliation. As the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said:
“Education got us into this mess and education will get us out of it.”
We can help get out of “this mess” by working with First Nations and other Aboriginal peoples and communities, educating all students on the tragic and unjust legacy of the Indian Residential School system, celebrating the many accomplishments of First Nations and other Aboriginal peoples, promoting Sm’algyax in our schools, centring the curriculum on the cultural knowledge of the Ts’msyen and other First Nations of the North Coast, and by providing quality education for all students.
The BCTF has resources for teachers to support truth and reconciliation in our classrooms, schools, and communities. Teachers can also visit the following sources for classroom resources:
The PRDTU welcomes the recent decisions made by the SD52 Board of Trustees to improve access to meetings and increase accountability of school district management. Three decisions made by the Board of Trustees at the September 14, 2021 meeting will improve public access and increase accountability and oversight, which will help the Board of Trustees in good governance of the School District. These decisions were:
To hire an accounting firm to conduct a forensic audit of school district finances and oversight
To continue to provide online access for the public to remotely participate in board meetings, even after COVID-19 measures are no longer necessary
To record board meetings and to make these available to the public for viewing in the future
Teachers support public schools that work for the benefit of students, families, and the community. Having strong and effective oversight of school district management, and widespread participation in public school governance, helps us all work together for our schools and students.
Last year, senior management of SD52 made statements at a public board meeting that clearly indicated that the cuts to instructional staffing would be fewer than what was carried out. Had that school board meeting been recorded and publicly available, the record would make this clear. Greater accountability for management builds trust in our schools and improves governance.
There should be no cuts to teachers or other instructional staff when there are overcapacity classes in our schools. Hopefully the forensic audit will investigate the actual level of spending on non-instructional spending, including on management and administration. The funds should stay as close to the students as possible.
DI (District Itinerant) teachers are like all other teachers with continuing, full-time employment in School District 52. Their role is to plan and implement student learning programs, support students through instruction, assess and evaluate student progress, report student progress through both formal and informal means, and contribute to the overall health of the school community.
Why was the DI teacher position established?
SD52 established the District Itinerant (DI) teacher position to solve three problems:
Recruit and retain certified teachers to SD52.
End teacher shortages – so all leaves are covered when a teacher is absent.
Provide student support – such as helping students with special needs for when a class is over capacity.
Before the DI teacher position was established, SD52 struggled to recruit and retain new teachers. The DI teacher position provided SD52 with a competitive edge when attracting teacher talent to our community. Prior to the DI teacher position, shortages were a common problem. Teacher leaves (due to sick leave or other reasons) were often uncovered.
That often meant pulling special education teachers, teacher librarians, or teacher counselors from other programs to ensure that a classroom had a teacher. This undermined student learning services. All too often, uncertified teachers were required or special education supports were cancelled. Student learning was frequently impacted by these teacher shortages. The layoff of 8% of teachers in SD52 will make it harder to retain teachers, will result in shortages, and will undermine student learning.
What do DI teachers do in our schools and classrooms?
Like all teachers, DI teachers support student learning. DI teachers do this by:
Providing learning supports for classes that are over-capacity (i.e. for classes that exceed the limits for total students or of class-composition – based on the ratio of students with special needs in a given class).
Covering for both short-term and long-term leaves of other teachers.
Providing at-home learning supports for students who need them (during COVID-19).
DI teachers are generally placed in a “home school” where the bulk of their work is done. This builds community and establishes relationships. It provides more continuity for students and improves communication between teachers and other educators. To provide flexibility, DI teachers can be assigned to any school, ensuring greater coverage based on need.
A major role for DI teachers is covering for “remedy”. Remedy provides extra learning supports when a class is overcapacity. This can be in the form of helping students through one on one and small group instruction, co-teaching in a class that’s over capacity, and providing additional time to prepare lessons and support students. Remedy must be provided according to the Collective Agreement. The DI teacher position ensures that remedy is provided. It also increases continuity by making it more likely for the same teacher to support students across the school year.
What benefits do DI teachers provide for SD52?
Increase retention of teachers, lowering recruitment costs and increasing stability for schools and classrooms.
Provide flexibility for difficult-to-fill positions – throughout the school year and at all worksites and schools.
Provide continuity for students when DI teachers are providing in-class supports for students or when DI teachers are providing on call coverage.
Ensure that new teachers can stay in Prince Rupert and build roots in the community.