Education Minister Jeff Johnson met recently with officials from the Alberta Teachers’ Association and effectively rejected the fair and reasonable offer presented by President Carol Henderson on November 30.
Teachers are disappointed with the Minister’s rejection and the Premier’s refusal to aid in achieving an agreement. We worked hard to address the fiscal and stability concerns of government, including offering to limit salary grid increases to 0 per cent, 0 per cent, 1 per cent and 3 per cent over four years. Teachers attempted to meet school boards’ commitment for cost containment by limiting the scope and potential expense of other items that might be bargained.
In exchange, teachers sought to improve the conditions of their practice by reducing the time spent on administrative and bureaucratic tasks, which have little or no cost and detract from their ability to focus on student learning. Our proposals relating to teacher work and professional development would go a long way to enable the implementation of Inspiring Education and improve the ability of teachers to do their best work for students.
Teachers value the good working relationship that has been established with government, and we look ahead to moving forward together on a number of other important issues. However, teachers’ concerns about their conditions of practice remain, and they will need to be addressed. We will attempt to resolve these issues in bargaining with local school boards, but there are already warning signals that the positions of school boards may not enable easy settlements.
Last week’s offer to government was a package proposal for provincewide implementation, and none of the pieces (including the proposed salary concession) carry forward to local bargaining. At the local level, bargaining will now extend to include those issues having substantial financial impact that were held in abeyance while the tripartite process was ongoing.
While teachers offered significant constraints on salary increases over the four-year term of the agreement, government did not offer any real, measurable improvements to teachers’ conditions of practice. While reviews and studies are important pieces in understanding the increasing complexity of today’s teaching and learning environment, teachers would require tangible results in order to achieve agreement on a framework.
The government plans to proceed with “any pace, any place, any time” learning, which will increase the personalization and individualization of student learning. The changing role of the teacher will demand increased lesson preparation and will change how teachers work. Our proposal provides security for students, parents and teachers in knowing that teachers will be able to focus on learning first.
Read the letter from President Carol Henderson sent to the Education Minister Jeff Johnson December 12, 2012.
Read the ATA's November 30th proposal to Premier Redford and backgrounder document.