Friday, February 06, 2009

Tracing the route to the BCTF vote on the FSA's

As we outlined on Wednesday night the BCTF was issued a compliance order by the Labour Relations Board over the controversial planned boycott of the Foundation Skills Assessment testing.

It was an order that arrived just as those tests were to be implemented across the province, providing a sense of relief for the Ministry of Education, and disappointment for the Teachers Federation.

But before the teacher's union would report back on the order there was the need to hold a vote of the membership, seeking out their guidance as to what their wishes were as far as their planned boycott in light of the latest development.

Wednesday's Daily News provided a guide of sorts to the process that the PRDTU was taking as part of the province wide vote on the issue, Thursday's paper provided the results of the vote and the interpretation of the issue so far.

Teachers under pressure to support FSA tests
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Page one

The Labour Relations Board decided Monday that teachers in British Columbia are "obligated" to prepare for, administer and mark the controversial Foundation Skills Assessment.

But that doesn't mean teachers are going to accept the decision.

After scrambling to organize emergency vote for local teachers yesterday afternoon, the Prince Rupert District Teachers' Union is waiting patiently tonight to learn the results of a province-wide vote that will determine whether teachers are willing to abide by the Labour Relations Board ruling.

"Because it was an action that started with a vote taken provincially, it has to be stopped with a vote provincially," said Gabriel Bureau, president of the PRDTU.

"Obviously, we are very disappointed with the LRB decision."

In the order from the LRB, the Vice-Chair Southern stated that the FSA tests are "prima facie work which teachers are obligated to perform," and ordered the BCTF to cancel its direction to members to not administer or supervise the tests and stop any further direc-
tion to boycott the tests.

The BCTF was given until tonight to inform members.

"We had hoped that the board would rule in our favour and recognize that teachers have professional autonomy to decide on the presentation of classes and the assessment of kids, but they didn't," said Irene Lanziger, BCfF president.

"We've had a very significant campaign which has been very successful so far, and so now we're meeting with members to decide what the next steps are."

Given the size of Prince Rupert, Bureau said he didn't have much problem meeting with teachers from all schools in the district yesterday and informing them of the emergency vote.

However, given the size of some school districts, neither he nor Lanzinger expected to have the results of the provincial vote until at least 8 p.m. tonight.

Monday marked the first day of the allotted four-week period for the FSA tests to be prepared for and administered this year, twice the amount of time given to teachers to complete the testing than in previous years.

Superintendent of Schools Eric Mercer said nobody from the district or the Ministry of Education is willing to speculate on the outcome of the vote, or what action may be taken if teachers vote against following the LRB ruling.

Teachers vote to abide by ruling on FSA tests
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Page one

Despite a well-publicized campaign d strong support from members, the 3ritish Columbia Teachers' Federation ~ no longer boycott standardized provincial tests.

Three days after the Labour Relations Board ruled teachers in British Columbia were obligated to administer the controversial Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) tests, the final numbers collected from votes held in every school district across B.C. show 83 per cent ofteachers voted to abide by the LRB decision, nearly the same percentage of teachers who voted in favour of
refusing to administer and mark the tests in December 2008.

However, that does not mean teachers will be the excited about including the FSAs in their daily schedules this month. Due to the fact the BCTF vote was provincially administered individual locals are not divulging the results of president of their own votes.

I can say that at the meeting we had yesterday, the opinions of people voting were very divided," said Gabriel Burea, president of the Prince RupertDistrict Teachers' Union. "For a number of people the feeling was 'Well, we have no choice,' and for a number of people the feeling was 'We need to continue.'''

The order from the LRB that came down on Monday afternoon stated that the FSA tests are "prima facie work which teachers are obligated to perform," and ordered the BCTF to cancel its direction to members to not administer or supervise the tests, and stop any further direction to boycott the tests. The BCTF was given until last night to inform members and. announce their acceptance of the ruling.

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