Catholic teachers unappreciated at least 200 days a year

Dr. Quinn Medicine woman may scream "what about the children?" but Calgary is finding real cause for worry. With a Catholic teachers work-to-rule campaign in full swing and a possible strike or lockout just over the horizon, word came this week that St. Mary’s Catholic High School may have to cancel a student trip to California.

At the heart of the problem lies the fact the Alberta Teachers Association has forbade Catholic teachers from engaging in extra-curricular activities until the school board resolves their long-standing contract dispute; the teachers have been without a contract since Fall ’98.

The trip–an annual occurrence for the past nine years–is classified as one of those extracurricular activities that teachers do out of the kindness of their hearts.

On the surface it could be said that teachers are holding the trip hostage until their demands are met, but isn’t that the goal of a work-to-rule campaign? It’s meant to demonstrate to the public what education is like without the extra sacrifices teachers make. The band and drama rehearsals, the sports teams, the help with homework, detention, and yes, the trips, have all been axed temporarily to demonstrate how many life-enriching experiences come for free, every single school day.

And the work-to-rule campaign is necessary, especially when the root cause of the contract dispute is examined. There’s still a major hold-up over scheduled lesson planning. The school board argues that if they allowed for a couple of hours of lesson planning per week, per teacher, they’d loose millions of dollars. Maybe if the school board examined how schools function in reality, they’d discover that most schools already operate on this basis. Through some creative scheduling and without the sacrifice of quality instruction, teachers already have weekly planning and developing time. The teachers are only asking for this to be included within their contract so they can continue delivering quality education. Why? Because lessons plans and curriculum development time are completely necessary to instruct students–it’s not an extra. Teachers shouldn’t have to make time sacrifices to do nothing more than their job.

Until the school board realizes teachers deserve this much in their contract, the public and even the students, can buck up and try to appreciate the situation teachers face.

Without the extra effort of teachers organizing these type of trips, they would not happen in the first place.

It’s time the board recognized this and stopped hurting kids.

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