Saturday, December 3, 2016

Thank you, Minister Casey


Dear Minister Casey,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your decision to close Nova Scotia schools on Monday. 

I know you are only too aware that the teachers voted to implement work to rule measures.  This would mean only working to contract.  All the extra work that teachers do on a day to day basis would be put on hold until an agreement was reached between the government and the teachers' union.

As a parent of a child in the seventh grade, I am past the point of needing to be concerned for my son's safety if,  by chance, the school bus were to arrive before the principal or teacher.  But this scenario could indeed be dangerous for a younger child and I am grateful that you had the foresight to realize that if the principals arrived only twenty minutes before the start of the school day and left twenty minutes after the end of the day, as is written in their contract, that we could be putting the safety of our children in jeopardy.

I have to confess, though, that I was shocked to learn that the government  has felt comfortable leaving the safety of our children up to the kindness of teachers and principals. In all these years, it never once occurred to me that when the teachers and principals arrived earlier than twenty minutes that they were not being paid for their time.  Not that I would have felt any apprehension had I been aware of this fact.

You see, teachers and principals going above and beyond the call of duty is something that most parents understand well.  Whether it be school carnivals, Christmas concerts, band practices, drama clubs, communicating with parents, self funded trips to the dollar store to purchase prizes or after school sports, we all know that teachers are motivated by something much greater than money.  They are motivated by love and devotion.    Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine a teacher sacrificing the safety of a child.  But that's neither here nor there because, as I'm sure you would agree, the safety of a child should never be left to the assumption of a teacher's love and devotion.  Something as basic as the safety of our children should  not be on par with after school soccer. 

So, once again, I thank you.  Your decision to close schools on Monday has highlighted how much we owe our teachers and how much we are failing our children.  I look forward to hearing future news stories of a government that is truly listening to the people who we have entrusted with our children's futures.

Sincerely,

Anna Shoub,
Lunenburg


35 comments:

  1. Nicely written. Thank you from a retired teacher and retired member of NSTU executive staff.

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  2. Merci beaucoup!I am extremely proud to have worked with a family as appreciative as yours. It was always a pleasure and it means so much for you to understand the immense difficulty that teachers are facing because of this government. Can you believe that Karen Casey was once a teacher!!??

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  3. But am I not correct in saying that with most job you must arrive 15 to 20 mins before work begins, or your shift starts?? Im sure that we non teachers dont get paid for that either, but in this case I guess its interest of the kids to NOT go to school and get an education��.

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    1. As a university teacher (part-time) and a retail employee (part-time), I can tell you that yes, I too often arrive early for work. Yet I do not start working, I am getting good prepared for work, getting proper footware on or starting the machines. I do not actually serve customers or start the class until the appointed time. Name me one job that requires you start your job before you start getting paid.

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    2. I'm an essential service Healthcare worker and it's not in our employe handbook that we have to arrive 20m early for our shift. We just do, because it gives us the time to be prepared for the shift. Teachers it's total different. They arrive far earlier for their shift and work well past that time too.

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    3. I'll take that a step further GCanning, Catherine - what job can you name that you're REQUIRED to show up 30min early and begin working on something that isn't even in your job description? Then be required to give up your break time randomly (or repeatedly, in some cases)? And how many lunch breaks do you get in a week at your job? Five out of five? No teacher I know gets an actual lunch break EVERY day. And how about being required to stay after your shift ends? Teachers must stay until students are gone...then they go back inside and finish all the things they didn't get done that day because they were required to come early, give up breaks, skip lunch, and stay late...

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    4. Thanks for the support for teachers. I am one.. Sr. Science is my specialty. There are not many teachers who do not go to school early to do the stuff to get ready. Classes at our school start at 9:10. We are required to be there at 8:50. Recess is 15 min. but by the time the class your finish teaching leaves, and the others come in with their books and get extra help or pick up stuff they missed due to absence, I rarely have recess. The same with lunch, kids come to my class to work on projects, study, read .. whatever.. and I stay there and work on my stuff or help them. They just need a quiet place to go. We don't have a break in the afternoon. I'm lucky if I can find enuf time in the day to find the bathroom. Honestly, we are there for the kids and with this technological age, it doesn't end when we leave 20 minutes after classes are over. Parents and students email/text/Remind/ me at all hours of the day. Even at 10:30 on a Friday nite of a long weekend, I have replied to a parents concerns. We are on-call for what feels like Sept. 1 to June 30. It is exhausting work with the multi-level learners and lack of support in the classrooms. I've taught for 28 years. I love teaching, but I'm not able to meet all the needs of all of the students in one classroom. It is not humanely possible. I could go on and on.. but I've stuck it out for the kids and continue to try to do my best despite all the challenges we face.
      I also average a 50+ hour week thru the school year.. and that includes a lot of weekend/evening time (unpaid time)

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  4. Thank you. So well said and appreciated, I am sure, by all teachers in this province. Obviously the present day government doesn't understand or have figured out what a teacher does, every day.

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  6. So I guess we should base their salary on a 6 hour day and a ten month year. Maybe we need them to be at work 8 hours a day and 12 months a year like everyone else. They used to say that was because of all the marking and prep work in the evening. I guess that's not so after all.

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    1. They are paid for 195 days a year which gets divided into 365. You have a valid point. Pay them 100% of their salary in those contracted days, allow those that qualify for unemployment to draw the days not under contract.

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    2. That's already how it works! Teachers are only paid for the 195 teaching days they work per year. They distribute this salary over 26 pay periods so there is no disruption in income. There is no "paid summer vacation" that money is from time already worked. In fact teaching is one of the few professions where you don't get a paid vacation, if you request time off for other than a sick day it is deducted from your salary.

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    3. Anyone who works 12 hour shifts (4 on/4off) only works 1/2 year and with time off for vacation, stat holidays and overtime, works less that 1/2 year.

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    4. Taxpayer, which scenario are you advocating for and how would either one change anything?

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  7. I for one am happy about them closing the schools but only because i fear for my childrens saftey. I however also did not know until now that the teachers where not paid to watch our children. Silly me, to assunme that when they told me the school board was responsable for my children 30 minutes before class started in the mornings until 30 after class ended each day the teachers where paid for that as part of their salary, and that all the extra after school stuff was out of their own time and pocket. I now feel terrible. Name me one other proffession where this would happen. Where you would work for free and go above and beyond your scheduled hours or dutied. I cannot think of one. So to all the teachers out there. Thank you so much for what you do for our children each and evety day.

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    1. As a school bus driver, I can tell you that we were instructed to keep children on our busses until the teachers came out. We would never risk the safety of the students. We all need to work together and support our sister unions.

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    2. This whole "not paid" thing is silly. They are paid. It says so in their contract. They are paid to be on the school premises between 8am and 4pm. If they say different they are flat out lying.

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  8. Blow government phones up with calls,call all departments!!!!!

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  9. Yes some teachers put in extra work and time...i also know some that high tail it out of school soon as their class is out. Why should the citizens of NS pay an extra 2% HST for a straight across the board raise? Why not an OT clause for those who work extra? At avg salary of $76k for 195 days worked, you dont have my sympathy. And when more and more salary stories come out the public will turn by mid week...

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    1. I do not understand why you would not want teachers to be well paid. They are, after all, charged with getting our children ready for the world, for the rest of their lives. If course the government can afford the cost, it just has to change its priorities - less subsidy to large corporations, higher taxes on incomes over $150,000 - no increase in taxes for working class Nova Scotians necessary.

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    2. Obviously has no idea what a teachers job actually .... Talking out his pipe!!

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    3. Maybe Jimmy wants to return to the day when teaching was "women's work" and so could be poorly paid because it was seen as short-term employment until they could get married.

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  10. Having been married to a teacher, I can attest to the fact that their workday does not end when the students go home.
    There was very rarely a day throughout my entire relationship with John when he didn't bring work home with him.
    He spent evenings, weekends, and holidays marking students' work and preparing lessons.
    Some friends will remember him going out to Reilly's with me, but drinking only coke and marking papers at the bar - they even bought him a little lamp to clamp on the bar so he could see better.
    He had to take exams with him on our honeymoon - he marked the essay questions and gave me a sheet with the correct answers for the true/false and multiple choice questions so I could mark them.
    Christmas and Easter vacations were not times of rest, but times to try and catch up.
    Like a great many others, he often spent part of the summer taking courses (at his own expense) to become a better teacher.
    There were times I was able to accompany him on these courses - I remember an especially hot, humid week at the old Teachers' College, when everyone sat through classes with no air conditioning, melting, but working hard and learning.
    John went above and beyond for his students in a great many ways, which was demonstrated vividly by the kind words of admiration and praise I received from so many of them upon his death.
    I've been fortunate to have participated in many "in-service" days over the years - sometimes as a presenter, sometimes as a learner, and I can tell you that these days are important for on-going teacher education, and while the students get a day off, their teachers are striving to become better at their craft.
    It must be stressed that teachers' working conditions are your children's learning conditions - if you doubt how hard a job teaching is, spend some time in a classroom and see first hand what they are facing.
    You could not pay me enough to do what they do, day in and day out!

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    1. Thanks to John, and to you Anne for supporting John so well. John sounds like he was an amazing man - sorry for your loss.

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    2. Sorry for your loss Anne. John seemed like a very dedicated man who loved his profession and a true role-model for other teachers.

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  11. As a school bus driver, I can tell you that we were instructed to keep children on our busses until the teachers came out. We would never risk the safety of the students. We all need to work together and support our teachers and sister unions.

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  12. I don't believe for one second that the safety of our children is the reason for keeping them home. The bus schedules could easily be altered to coincide with the Work to Rule schedule. This is merely a Government ploy to try to get parents on their side by making life more difficult for them. People can talk about the wages that teachers earn all they want, but that is not the biggest hurdle in negotiations. Teachers want the help in the classrooms that they were promised as well as the class sizes that the Government has promised. The same things the Government has been saying it has been doing but has not really been doing. My issue is that our Government has no qualms with giving themselves healthy raises and benefits but when it comes to their employees, the well always seems to be dry. Neither side is 100% right and concessions will have to be made, but the Government's "Do as I say and not as I do" attitude is not a great negotiating tool.

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    1. All the government did was turn the public against them even more.. Obviously no regard for the student...all about the dollar!!

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  13. #takeyourkidstoschoolNS Say no to the GovNS! Teachers are ready to teach,kids need to learn, parents need to work! All workers deserve a contract, stand with your teachers NS, tell the government NO thanks, this kid lock-out is not appropriate!!!

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  14. Money is obviously not the issue, since both sides have plenty to waste on TV ads, lawyers, conciliators, travel,etc. Which is all of our monies since all these services are funded by our taxes and union dues. So that being said, communication seems to be our biggest issue, from both sides not sharing all of the information and not trusting one another. If we truly value education lets try something new, both sides could meet at the various schools around the province with the children, each side would present their side, listen to the other and the children could act as the moderator. Perhaps if both sides knew the children were listening to what was being said, they could act as adults should. Obviously the education system is broken and something needs to change, may be the children who are being directly impacted by it have something valuable to contribute. If nothing else, it would be a valuable learning opportunity for all involved and both sides would be speaking to each other. May be we would all learn something...

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    1. I seriously doubt this is just a case of miscommunication when the government side seems to be generating propaganda like fake costing of teachers' suggestions and "oh dear talks broke off" videos before talks actually broke off.

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  16. Well, it was said money is not the issue, but when you talk about lack of compensation, not being paid for volunteer work, have to do work before and after classes and sometimes at home, I truly doubt that money isn't an issue. It isn't the only job or as most people say profession where people do volunteer people don't get paid (that is why they call it volunteering). It was also said "what other jobs (professions)requires employees to come in early and stay late (without compensation)", Well there are several, example shift employees may have to do briefings before and after shifts (not uncommon), special meetings (most are not compensated excepted in rare circumstances, but this depends on the collective agreement of course. Working at home...teaching is not the only profession that works at home with any compensation, if one "truly" loves their work and wants to prepared, perhaps doing a presentation, plan and improve operations (It is not uncommon for individuals to work at home without compensation it is called dedication.)

    I do not have a degree(s)but that was my choice as I didn't think I or my parents could afford it; however, I do support the teachers for the right to legally strike to support their cause. In fact we did it four (3) times during my first 10 years... 2 lasted 3 months and one 9 months so I know what it is like to live on strike pay and how it bled our RRSP's to survive, but I was one of the lucky ones I didn't loose my house ( I would do it again if I felt the need was there). I do know what it was like when we worked Work-to-Rule and receive a Cease and Desist Order from the government; I have also seen your benefits decrease because of company hardships, it was a matter of the lesser of two evils (no job or less benefits). You see this is what is unique about the private sector, if a company fails, you lose your job, benefits and your pension or a percentage of it, as there are no additional funds being added to your pension plan, whereas with the public sector it is viewed as a bottomless money pit, after all the province won't go bankrupt(we have the taxpayers to provide the funding) or so we think.

    So in closing, if you do choose to have your legal strike, please do so and I will support that, but please don't use our children and working parents of those children as leverage. When you return do the best job you can possibly do as most will.

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  17. I'm sorry. but a starting teacher makes 46,000 a year and teachers can make up to over 92,000 a year. You decided to be a teacher. Not a layer or a doctor, You get every stat off every Holiday plus a summer. Oh your so HARD PRESSED. Please... Oh numbers are from NSTU.ca before you go an say I'm wrong. If you where asking for stuff for the schools or students fine BUT YOU'RE TRYING TO LINE YOUR OWN POCKETS AT OUR EXPENSE,, MORE MONEY FOR YOU HIGHER TAXES FOR US.

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