2007 03 12 Parkland trustees grasping at straws in effort to evade accountability, say teachers

The dispute between Parkland teachers and trustees is a local dispute. Far from pushing what school board chair Grace Gruber calls a “shopping cart of demands,” Parkland teachers have repeatedly encouraged the board to find a made-in-Parkland solution to the key issue of hours of instruction, says Robert Twerdoclib, president of the Parkland Teachers’ Local of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

Twerdoclib said that Parkland teachers do not understand why the board insists on accusing them of promoting a provincial agenda. “Parkland teachers have made all their decisions by secret ballot, and they vote according to their conscience. Even I as president have only one vote,” he said. “We have tried to negotiate. Our opening position focused on class size and hours of instruction, and class size quickly fell off the table. The board still refuses to talk about hours of instruction.” He added that the Parkland situation is unusual. Fifty-five school boards across Alberta have locally settled collective agreements.

Twerdoclib pointed out that, at some schools in Parkland School Division, teachers teach far more than the maximum 23.8 hours a week their colleagues teach in the rest of the Greater Edmonton region. “For every hour teachers spend in front of their students, they spend at least another hour preparing lessons; personalizing instruction; marking; preparing reports; completing assessments; serving on district committees; and liaising with parents, educational specialists and other educational stakeholders,” he said. “In fact, a study conducted in 2003/04 by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education shows that Alberta teachers spend on average over 50 hours a week on instruction, preparation and evaluation.”

Teachers employed by Parkland School Division provide educational services to more than 9,500 students in 22 schools located between Entwistle and Spruce Grove. They have been without a collective agreement since August 31, 2006.

For more information, please contact Robert Twerdoclib at (780) 963-3842.