The following is a formal response from the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation to Murray Mandryk’s September 12, 2019 column in Yorkton This Week, Teachers reveal urban/rural divide.
The STF Teachers’ Bargaining Committee posted the Objectives for Teachers’ Provincial Collective Bargaining document publicly on May 22, 2019 on the Federation website, www.stf.sk.ca. In reading the document, Mr. Mandryk will find that classroom size and class composition is a top priority for our membership. This topic is certainly not an easy one to table during any negotiation cycle, but if there is one thing we can all agree upon, it is the fact that this issue is highly relevant in both rural and urban schools.
Class size and class composition need to be considered in tandem, as they are interwoven. In his column, Mr. Mandryk mentioned that rural teachers have enjoyed more one-on-one time with their students for decades. While this may be true in many classrooms, the composition of the class can greatly increase the complexity. Many classrooms, rural and urban, are multi-graded with two and sometimes three or more different grades in a room. Rural and urban teachers alike welcome new Canadians and those with intensive needs into their classrooms. Teachers, both rural and urban, are concerned about meeting the complex needs of their students in a system that is not responding to change.
The Federation, through negotiations, wants to have this conversation and work with decision makers to create a process and methodology that provides data and evidence about the needs of students. With this information, evidence-based decisions can be made regarding the appropriate funding required to ensure all students receive the quality education they deserve and that teachers are working hard to provide.
This is not a divisive issue. All teachers agree that classrooms continue to grow and are becoming more diverse with less support.
Mr. Mandryk is correct; teachers are asking for a fair and reasonable salary increase after the arbitrator awarded a 0-0-1 percent compensation rate during the last cycle of bargaining. Again, that information is available in the public Objectives for Teachers’ Provincial Collective Bargaining document.
The STF Teachers’ Bargaining Committee has a lot to share with government when both sides return to the bargaining table this week, not the least of which will be to discuss how Saskatchewan’s classrooms in both rural and urban communities continue to change, while funding levels have not.
The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation represents more than 13,500 teachers employed in the province’s PreK-12 publicly funded public education system.
President, Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation