Trustees call on end to strike, lockout

BC School Trustees Association weighs in on school strikes and calls for an end to the impasse.

Shortly after the Ministry of Education announced scaled-back provincial exams and no report cards for younger students, the BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA) Tuesday called on the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the BC Public School Employer’s Association (BCPSEA) to immediately resume bargaining and to suspend all strike and lockout actions now that both sides have agreed to engage a mediator.

In a letter to BCTF President Jim Iker and BCPSEA Public Administrator Michael Marchbank, BCSTA President Teresa Rezansoff urged both parties to commit to “non-stop, face-to-face bargaining away from the media” while a mediator is being sought to assist both sides in reaching a negotiated settlement.

“Our public education system is in turmoil, relationships in our districts are fractured, and our students are caught in the middle. This is damaging, unnecessary, and unacceptable in the face of this mutual agreement,” wrote Rezansoff.  “Furthermore, until a mediator is found and can begin working with you, we urge both BCTF and BCPSEA to immediately suspend all strike and lock-out actions. Such a move would be an act of good faith by both parties and significantly increase public trust in the public education system. Most importantly, it would permit students to end their school year with their teachers.”

The letter was emailed to BCTF President Jim Iker and BCPSEA Public Administrator Michael Marchbank on Monday evening, and copied to Minister of Education Peter Fassbender.

Late last week, the ministry announced report cards would not be going out to households of students in grades K-8 this spring, as the information necessary to compile them is held by teachers who are still out on picket lines.

On Monday, School District 85 on North Vancouver Island sent letters to parents of Grade 10-12 students who are writing provincial exams. The letter explained that, due to concerns over accuracy and timeliness in marking the exams, the written, or essay portions of the exams are being suspended.

The one exception is a single written problem in the English 10 exam.