I have had access to a blog for many years now. I have actually never written a post. Until now. Recent news has made me feel the need to write my thoughts and feelings. So here goes, my first blog.
1) The Government of Alberta has recently asked the ATA (Alberta Teachers' Association) and the ASBA (Alberta School Boards Association) to re-open the current agreed upon contract that is due to expire in 2012.
The current contract is a 5 year contract that ties teacher salary increases to the Average Weekly Wage of the province. According to the Government, this is how they give themselves raises. Next year, teachers are slated to earn a 4.3% wage increase. The Government feels this is too much and will seriously hurt the province. Thus they have asked everyone back to the table.
The rumoured proposal by the Government is to reduce classroom instruction hours, supervision/extra-curricular duty, and more teacher guided professional development. The public already has a pre-concieved notion that teachers are overpaid and underworked. They point to summers off and Christmas/Easter holidays.
Second, the reduced supervision is a difficult proposition. Someone has to supervise. Who will do it? Volunteers? Not likely. Hire people to supervise? Seems like teachers are already hired.
Lastly, the increased professional development time. Where will this PD occur? Afterschool? Weekends? Will we have to be out of our classrooms? The latter will lead people to say "Oh those lazy teachers...another day off."
Now before you get all angry and say, "hey Ryan, how can you turn your back on the province when it is in trouble." Let's look at the other side of the current contract. Teachers voted to accept the 5 yr contract and as such whatever raise was deemed appropriate using the Average Weekly Wage Index. Teachers also agreed not to strike or have a labour disruption for the term. We also agreed that if the wages were 0% or less, we would not get a pay increase. The Government agreed to no pay cut and that the lowest pay increase would be 0%.
So teachers have kept their end of the contract, the ASBA has kept its end of the contract. Now the government has to keep its end up.
I only wonder what the Government would have said if the tables were reversed and after multiple year of 0% increases, teachers asked to re-open the contract.
My recommendation to teachers is to take the 4.3%. The reason will tie into #2 below.
2) Premier Ed Stelmach has announced he will not seek re-election in the next provincial vote. As such, he is stepping down as leader of the PC party. Many people in the following days and weeks will clamour for his position. MLA Ted Morton has already resigned from cabinet and has put his name in the ring for leader.
In 2006, Ed Stelmach beat Morton and Jim Dinning to become leader. I voted for Stelmach. Not that I thought he was great, but the Ultra-Right wing views of Morton were not palatable and Dinning saw the leadership race as a pre-disposed coronation.
Morton is an American. Born in Los Angeles, Lived in Wyoming, moved to Canada. We clearly do not need an American form of ultra-conservatism in this province. I suspect that Morton's ego will again lead to him NOT being leader of the PC Party.
With this uncertainty of who will be the next Premier, it is important that teachers take the 4.3%, because a new premier may seriously impact the teaching profession.