Attrition to reduce 70 positions in schools over next two years
The P.E.I. Teachers’ Federation is confusing arithmetic with reading and writing. The federation is arguing against the province spending $1.6 million on standardized student tests over the next two years. Instead, the PEITF wants government to use the money to save some of the 70 teaching positions facing elimination over the same period.
The numbers are painfully obvious. Teaching positions are being cut because over the last 12 years, the Island’s school system has 4,506 fewer students. In that same period, 80 more teachers were hired.
PEITF president Gilles Arsenault prefers to read something else into the situation. He says the federation was never happy with the standardized tests introduced in P.E.I. six years ago. But the tests are standard and accepted across Canada and elsewhere. Education Minister Alan McIsaac says there is a benefit to students, to parents, to teachers and to the department to find out exactly how students are doing and where more work is needed.
Mr. Arsenault is getting pressure from teachers who are nervous about losing their jobs or seeing their numbers dwindle, and that’s completely understandable. And it’s easy to pick on the standardized tests as the villain here.
Mr. Arsenault says the federation is looking at what is most beneficial for students and not teachers. More teachers in the classroom over 10 months would certainly be a benefit to students. There is certainly merit in the argument that more teachers means additional one-on-one time in the classroom.
Teaching positions will be cut with or without standardized tests. To say otherwise just doesn’t add up. Teachers are not being laid off. Instead the Department of Education is reducing teaching positions through attrition due to a freeze in its operating budget. The 70 teaching positions lost through normal retirement will not be filled. In this case, the writing is on the blackboard.