Collective bargaining between teacher unions and the government is an experience which effectively excludes most people who are intimately concerned with the outcomes — parents, students, taxpayers — the public generally. There are two parties who meet in secret to arrange a peace pact.
Invariably, the teacher union — reading from some international union playbook — produces some “noise” to boost their demands.
This year in British Columbia Canada — following earlier established procedures (so, so civilized, you know) — the teacher union has received a legal judgment from the Labor Relations Board as to what they can and can’t do in Phase 1. There are 30 actions which they need NOT perform — see http://www.bcpsea.bc.ca/documents/teacher%20bargaining/00-WP-Essential%20Services%20Update%20No.%202011-02.pdf
One duty public school teachers can be relieved from doing are preparing and distributing report cards. I maintain this is illegal. I wrote a comment
Parents Undermined By Strike
It is the parents who are ultimately responsible for the education of their children.
Compulsory education acts were enacted as back-up, the safety net, for those parents unable to educate or afford tutors or private schools.
Unfortunately, this provision has become perverted so that the prime beneficiaries now are those in the education industry, not students. This benefit for needy parents has now been universalized. This system has become hostage to the civil servants (public school teachers) now threatening to strike.
Withholding reports to parents under the School Act is illegal. Parents depend on regular reports so that they can fulfill their duty. When a student is not meeting expectations the parent needs to know this so as to move the child or press for better services.
The government should stand by with a contingency plan — to provide the sum of $8357 for each child whose parents will seek an education in a non-striking school.
In a blog comment one teacher agreed with me — “…withholding reports from parents is illegal and parents need to know how their child is doing.” But, then the teacher goes on, and on, about how workload has increased, and reporting is time-consuming and they deserve raises, etc., etc.
Below is the letter to the Editor of the Vancouver Sun I just sent in (not yet published)
Re: Job action means no report cards this fall, Sun, August 05, 2011
BC public school teachers have a list of 30 job actions they intend to follow come “strike” time in September.
BCTF vice-president Glen Hansman assures parents they won’t see “…any negatives. In fact, things actually may be better for their children this fall.”
I strongly disagree with Hansman and the rest of those who believe this is acceptable. In particular I am horrified that the permission has been given to NOT produce or distribute report cards.
This grossly undermines parental duty for it is the parents who ultimately are responsible for the education of their children. Without feedback from the school they are unable to judge if learning is going on or just babysitting.
If the parent finds that the child is not meeting expectations they indeed have the duty to pursue remedies or to withdraw to another school.
The fact that parents are to sign-off on receipt of report cards testifies to the legal recognition of parental primacy. Canada is not a totalitarian country like Germany and Sweden where parental sovereignty or home education, for example, are forbidden.
I assert that not fulfilling the report card function as prescribed in the School Act is illegal. The government should be prepared with vouchers for those parents not receiving their obligatory report cards and who wish to seek alternatives to public schools.
Allowing public school teachers to remove themselves from preparing and distributing report cards is an affront to civil society, contributes to the erosion of the family, and is an utter failure on the part of government and its agencies that are supposed to serve the public interest.
Failure #1 Government Failure in allowing the teacher union to call the shots in bargaining, therefore a failure in governance.
Failure #2 Education in BC is an essential service, and no report cards to parents from a compulsory public school system fails the public interest in neutering parents’ ultimate and primary responsibility in education. A government service in education is the “safety-net” for those parents otherwise unable to provide private or home education or other provision for their children.
Failure #3 The School Act mandates that parents are to receive periodic report cards (failure in statutory duty).
Failure #4 The School Act mandates that parents are to sign-off on receipt of report card (failure in statutory duty).
Additional Information 3 days later …
Only the Province newspaper picked up on my fear about the demise of the family via public education. The Labour Relations Board granted BCTF teachers the dispensation from producing and sending report cards to parents in the latest round of teacher bargaining.
A mild editorial called for the BCTF to get their hands slapped. [Shouldn’t they get their hands pulled out of the cookie jar altogether?]
Time teachers’ union got its hand slapped (Aug 10, 2011)
My comment to the editorial
The State Is Stomping On Parents
I wrote to newspapers about my fears that parents would be totally excluded from their education duty to their children if the teacher strike prevented reporting to parents.
My concern about attendance has now been settled (as of yesterday) and parents will be able to find out from the office if their child is in school. At least we’ll know that babysitting is happening!
However, instruction is unknowable unless reporting happens. In Phase 1 of the protest teachers will not prepare or distribute report cards according to union orders.
This is in defiance of legislation and I assert that the withholding of student reports about learning achievement is illegal.
Furthermore, by denying tools to parents to enforce their duty actually damages civil society. Is there an international court of law, maybe the ILO, to take this to?
I expect to present this issue to advocates of the family and champions of the individual. The modern “nanny” welfare state does not serve the family well as it is permeated with self interest groups who would expand the state, make work for themselves at the expense of the family and diminish the sovereignty of the family and the individual.