Teacher clarify what is voluntary

The teachers of Sunset Elementary School clear up some misunderstandings about the teacher strike

Dear Editor:

We would like to clear up some misunderstandings that appear to be widely held within our communities, and which have been propagated by the reporting in your newspaper. First, we would define the word extra-curricular as meaning activities that are not directly related to the curriculum being taught in the classroom. This would include activities such as Student Council, sports teams, library club, and any field trip that does not directly support the learning in the classroom.

Second, we would define the word voluntary as that which is done by a person for no pay, and by their own initiative. Coaching hockey, leading a section of Girl Guides, and cleaning up the community would be examples that many take part in outside the school setting. These are undertaken by wonderful volunteers, but if nobody steps up to the plate to do them, they simply do not happen.

Now, the school setting has been portrayed as something completely different in your paper, without any clarification. To be clear, field trips and sports teams are voluntary activities. That means that teachers do them on their own initiative. If they then choose not to do them, they should be viewed in the same way that someone who chooses not to coach hockey would be viewed. This is our time we are talking about, time we give to our students above and beyond the classroom setting for no gain other than seeing the pleasure it brings our students. This is time we give away from our families and other commitments.

To have a community tell us they view us with disgust and disdain, or that we are being less than responsible adults because we choose not to do a particular activity, is insulting. Even more so when the reporting of the issue is clearly designed to propagate this misconception.

Just because teachers have traditionally done an activity does not mean it will always be done. When teachers are pressured to do an activity, it becomes something other than voluntary, yet we are still not paid to do it. The hurtful attitude shown toward your teachers has severely damaged an integral relationship within our community, one that may take a long time to heal.

Respectfully,

The teachers of Sunset Elementary School