Teachers' union day on Friday remains day off for students

Teresa Wright
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Education Minister Alan McIsaac

P.E.I. students lost 12 instructional days to storms this year, but tomorrow’s professional development day will not be cancelled and no new days will be added to the school calendar, says Education Minister Alan McIsaac.

During question period Thursday, Opposition Leader Steven Myers asked why Island children will not be in school tomorrow after McIsaac told media the loss of five consecutive days in March was ‘a disaster.’

McIsaac says after losing those five days, department officials took a serious look at the school calendar to determine how they could make up for lost instructional time.

They did look at the two remaining PD days in the year. One of them was in April and it was cancelled and regular classes were held.

Friday’s PD day is a union day, officially called the Area Association Professional Development Day/CUPE 3260 Annual Convention. The CUPE local represents over 600 educational assistants, youth service workers, student attendants and work place sssistants employed by Island school boards

McIsaac says the P.E.I. Teacher’s Federation and other unions polled their members eventually and concluded they would not give it up.

“They thought, with the professionalism of the teachers, they were quite capable of finishing the curriculum,” McIsaac said.

“They need the day on Friday to do their work with electing new executive members… it is a negotiated day and they replied back to me that they would not be giving that up because they needed it for the (union) business and we accept their decision on it.”

Myers raised concern over comments made by the president of the teacher’s federation, wherein he said they would be able to make up the 12 lost instructional days this year over the next 11 years.

“Is that good enough for you?” Myers asked McIsaac.

The minister said he has confidence in teachers being able to finish the curriculum this year, and hope to capture an extra instructional day at the end of the year within the existing calendar.

“In speaking with the union, they feel the curriculum can be met, and I take them at their word.”

But Myers accused McIsaac dropping the ball on the issue in not doing more to find more instructional time.

“It seems that this minister is happy to let everyone else make his decisions for him… what about the students who are missing out?” Myer asked.

“What about the students who are in last place in the country? What about the parents who aren’t satisfied with being in last place?”

McIsaac said he has faith in the school board and in teachers to be able to deliver the curriculum in spite of storm days.

Geographic location: P.E.I. Teacher

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Recent comments

  • J
    May 02, 2014 - 11:28

    I can't believe people are still going on about missed days due to storms, we live in P EI, it storms every winter to some degree, this winter happened to be a bad one. Teachers are professionals, they know what to do to make up for missed time. I don't hear any complaining about student absentism due to sports activities, family holidays or just plain staying at home. Teachers are expected to help those students make up for lost time too .

  • Garth Staples
    May 02, 2014 - 08:40

    Another blow to the students. Their education is cheated once again. Those with entitlements know no boundaries.

  • attitude
    May 02, 2014 - 05:58

    time for a lot of you to stop calling our kids stupid because of one measurement -- the test ,its focus, etc etc etc is more than likely the weak link- our schools are inclusive but maybe the test is not !!! maybe it was designed only for ACADEMIC students --

  • don
    May 01, 2014 - 23:45

    the minister has no clue that there is a diff from pd day to union day so they are going to get paid for union crap but not about to learn teaching our kids. minister you need help please go back to pre school i know you will fail but maybe you will learn something and please grow a back bone.

    May 01, 2014 - 20:58

    What does it matter when PEI schools are not a pass or fail anyway. Only an attend is required. Why do you think we have grade 12 graduates that can't read their diplomas.

  • Poor Myers
    May 01, 2014 - 19:52

    Myers- comedy hour/ pretending he knows something about anything!!

  • scott
    May 01, 2014 - 18:45

    Seems Myers union bashing is a hereditary thing.

  • Get real
    May 01, 2014 - 18:29

    I don't very often agree with the minister but the union would never allow their people to cancel there day. It is negotiated in the contract. Can't blame the minister for this one. The collected agreement needs to be honored. Maybe for the next contract he can remember some unions have to do this on their own time. Myers you stick with something the minister can control and I think you have lots to go with over the last few days.

    • Regular Joe
      Regular Joe
      May 02, 2014 - 17:56

      @get real you say the collective agreement and negotiated contract needs to be honored . Try telling that to the 500 highway workers that were let go by finding a loop hole in the collective agreement . Contracts mean nothing to this Government if they can find a loop hole too get out of it . They laid off 450 + workers and have slowly refilled these same positions with hand picked workers that now have the luxury of getting 20+ weeks ,but it wasn't a political purge . I don't know what else it could be called . What did the union do Nothing ,their response was nothing we can do about it . Nice to see that the union and the Government are so cozy with one another . You scratch my back an I'll scratch yours ,not sure what they got for not representing the 450 workers they allowed to be shafted but it must have been worth it .

  • sammy
    May 01, 2014 - 17:58

    If this is union business why is the taxpayer funding the meetings? This is ridiculous.. Any company I worked for, and I have worked for, some in excess of 10,000 employees, if you were doing union business then the union paid the employees not the company. Are things really this backwards in the Provincial Govt? My understanding of this after speaking to a number of teacher who have been attending this for years is that it is just a big drunk starting tonight and financed by the taxpayer tomorrow.

    • Not taxpayers
      May 02, 2014 - 09:04

      The union is paying for this day....

  • reality
    May 01, 2014 - 17:36

    time to stop ridiculing the teaching profession -- please consider the following :::: the school system is expected to deal with every aspect of a child's life --the system is not equipped, qualified nor STAFFED PROPERLY to do all these things --let the educators educate -do not throw every societal need at them - they are qualified to educate --medical,social, legal ,mental needs should be handled by appropriate professions society and government officials all too often expect the school to deal with all these issues but then they judge the educational system only on " ACADEMIC OUTCOMES "

    • Last in Canada
      May 01, 2014 - 21:11

      It PEI teachers are qualified to educate; why did PEI students finish last in English, mathematics and science on the PISA exams in the 2012 assessment?

    • Howstheview
      May 02, 2014 - 07:27

      How is the view from up on that cross? Give me a break. The teachers are failing on this Island and so are the kids. If they can deliver the curriculum in 12 less days then it's time we reduce their salary by that amount and shorten the school year.

    • JP
      May 02, 2014 - 08:13

      The biggest part of the problem here, in my opinion, is the social pass. My aunt was a teacher for many years and always had big classes where she was typically given every trouble maker in that grade. The difference was that in order to get to that grade you had to be academically at the right level. It's time to end the social pass.

    • Tracey Smith
      May 02, 2014 - 19:08

      I agree with JP. The 'social pass' needs to be put to the wayside. In 'real' life one can fail...it's a reality. The school system is setting the students up for failure when they hit the 'real' world. The students believe that they need to put little to no effort into academics because it really doesn't matter as they are going to be pushed along through the grades. When the student that has been pushed along gets to grade 10 they begin to have the opportunity to fail. It's quite difficult for a grade 10 English teacher to teach a student to read. And according to the curriculum that the government pushes on teachers, teaching a student how to read is not part of it. My question is, how does a student get to grade 10 and be at a grade 1 reading level? And don't kid yourselves, this is a reality.

  • phil
    May 01, 2014 - 16:55

    Pretty sad when the teachers want to be in school less than the kids, my how times have changed! Maybe we should tie their salaries to the grades our children get, our province sets record low test scores, maybe next union contract teachers salaries should reflect that

  • rosalind
    May 01, 2014 - 16:52

    This is an interesting phenomenon, --- the Liberal party in the pocket of the Teacher Federation, --- ugly sight, and scandalous for the education of our future leaders of the Province,

  • red
    May 01, 2014 - 16:31

    why not elect the union boss as Premier, he seems to have a great concern for the future of Island kids. It is about time to start a private non denominational school, so at least some Island kids can be smart enough to carry on.