UPDATE ON SUMMER SCHOOL: The government asked the B.C. Labour Relations Board on Tuesday to declare that summer school for secondary students who need to improve their grades is essential work. If the board agrees, some striking teachers would be ordered to teach the courses. A Vancouver Sun story can be found here.
As teachers began the second week of their province-wide strike, there was more disappointing news for students and their families.
The two largest school districts, Surrey and Vancouver, announced they will be unable to produce report cards for most students as long as teachers are on picket lines. Several other districts followed suit and more are expected to do so in coming days.
“Our school year is ending in a way that is difficult for everyone in our school community,” John Gaiptman, New Westminster’s superintendent, said in a letter to parents. “Please be assured that, although you will not receive a final report card, your child will be placed in the next grade level for September.”
Students in Grades 10-12 will receive final marks under orders from the B.C. Labour Relations Board. While provincial exams are going ahead, essay questions for English 10 and Social Studies 11 have been eliminated, leaving only multiple-choice or short-answer questions.
The fate of summer school, meanwhile, hangs in the balance. The government has said it will lift its lockout to allow summer classes to proceed, but the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has not yet indicated whether it will remove picket lines for the summer.
Given the lack of any bargaining progress in recent days, that appears unlikely. Some pundits have suggested the strike might last throughout the summer and into September, and there’s no pressure in July or August for government to legislate its end.
The BCTF is urging its members to write their MLAs and school trustees, asking them to back the union’s call for mediation. BCCPAC has already indicated its support for mediation, although finding someone to accept that job won’t be easy.
There are potential problems for both sides if this strike continues much longer. The union will face more questions from members about why their leaders thought a full-scale strike at the end of June was a good idea. And government will find it increasingly difficult to engage teachers in educational reform when the dispute is over.
Last week, some teachers were furious after the BC Education Plan tweeted: “Teachers deserve a fair wage but it needs to be affordable.” That prompted one teacher to reply: “Since when does a curriculum reform account make political tweets? Just lost all respect for BCEdPlan.”
Added another: “BCEdPlan loses credibility when tied to the same folks who are hell-bent on putting the BCTF in their place.”
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and do not speak for the organization.