© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
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.