Monday Memo – February 20, 2017

MEMO TO: Staff Reps
COPIES TO: STA Executive Committee
FROM: Gioia Breda, President
Date: February 20, 2017


Surrey Students Now:
Invitation to February 21 Event for Public Education
A parent-sponsored group called Surrey Students Now has held a number of events to help parents get involved and informed. Tomorrow, February 21 from 6:30-8:30 pm at Surrey Centre Library, this group is holding an event to help parents understand our restored language as well as government’s recent $217 funding announcement. STA president Gioia Breda has been invited to speak there, and we encourage members to attend. It’s advantageous to us to be able to meet with parents to be able to talk about our restored language and learning conditions for students. See attached poster or go to their website to register and for more details

Surrey Primary Teachers’ Association – Networking Sessions this week!
The Surrey Primary Teachers’ Association is pleased to offer two upcoming networking sessions. Come out, enjoy some collab time with colleagues, win a door prize, and share some of your best teaching practices with others. To register, please go to our website:, check out the workshop section, and register directly there. We are also looking for someone to host a Grade 3 Networking session as well. If you are interested, please email Jennifer Harder:

Kindergarten Networking:
Wednesday, February 22nd at Hyland Elementary from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

Grade 1 Networking:
Thursday, February 23rd at Frost Road Elementary from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

Implementation of restored contract language: Keep the STA in the loop
Many schools are now receiving newly hired teachers as a result of Surrey’s portion of the $50 million. We understand that there may be some challenges as schools work to include this mid-year increase in staffing. Please take a moment to welcome this new staff member, and to let the STA know if there is any confusion about the role of the new teacher and how to best utilize this increase. Ideally, staff and admin work together to sort out the best use of this additional professional.

What does the restored language say?
We circulated the restored language after the court victory, but it can be difficult to understand exactly what it means for us today, particularly as we approach staffing and class organizations for 2017-18. Please see the attached document for a chart outlining the major changes.

Please note: We have a disagreement with the District over the ratios for Counsellors and Teacher Librarians. The restored language contains two different sets of ratios:
1:628 students
1:965 students (elementary)
1:380 students (secondary)

Teacher Librarians
1:649 students
1:500 students (elementary)
1 for each secondary school

Based on a provision saying that the best ratio applies, the STA’s position is that we can take the best ratios from all of the language (i.e. 1:628 for elementary counsellors, and 1:380 for secondary counsellors, and 1:500 for elementary Teacher Librarians, and 1:649 for secondary Teacher Librarians). The District’s position is that we can only choose one set of language (i.e. either the one ratio for all levels, or the other set of ratios for elementary and secondary). Ultimately, this issue will have to be resolved through negotiation or arbitration, and we hope that will happen in time for spring staffing.

Celebrating STA History
On Wednesday, February 15, we had a special event to unveil a plaque, funded by the STA and the BC Labour Heritage Centre, to commemorate the 1974 Surrey teachers’ strike. Surrey teachers, angered at the Board’s inaction on lowering class sizes, voted almost unanimously to engage in an illegal strike, and went to Victoria in large numbers to protest at the Legislature. The returned at the end of the day with a commitment by the government to lower class sizes, which benefited teachers all over the province. Current and former presidents of the BCTF and STA attended to share memories of that strike, and comment upon its impact.

Attendees were also able to view a video created by the BC Labour Heritage Centre. Check it out! (The running time is 8:28.)

BCTF Survey: Research on Digital Assessment and Reporting
The BCTF Research Department would like to invite your participation in an important BCTF research study on teachers’ use of digital assessment and reporting tools in public schools in BC. In this era of increasing reliance on digital and social media and related tools, we have developed a survey to explore teachers’ experiences and evaluations of these tools for student assessment and reporting to parents. We want to learn more about how these tools have impacted your teaching workload, your assessment practices, and communications with students and parents.

The completely anonymous and confidential survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. We sincerely appreciate your time and participation and we look forward to sharing the results of the survey at the upcoming Annual General Meeting. The survey is now open and will close on March 10.

To participate, please click on the following link:

If you have any questions about your participation in this survey, please contact Dr. Larry Kuehn, Director of Research and Technology at the BCTF at

February Focus Day Thank You!
Thank you to all teachers who led workshops at our February 17th Focus Day at North Surrey, especially our Helping Teachers. Thank you as well to the staff at North Surrey Secondary who made their classrooms and school available to the 650 Surrey teachers who attended!

Day of Pink: Wednesday, February 22
While all bullying is harmful, we know that Pink Shirt Day/Day of Pink began in specific response to homophobic bullying. Violence and gay-bashing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBTQ) students and those who are perceived to be LGBTQ, affects ALL students. It creates a hostile school climate where anyone can become a target for abuse, simply for appearing different or for speaking up for equality.

Students who are targets of hatred at school frequently develop a negative self-image. They often experience severe isolation and depression. Many are literally forced out of the school system early. Educators who remain silent about the plight of LGBTQ students in schools are contributing to their distress in schools. Follow this link for some strategies for preventing violence –
Here are a couple of resources to be LGBTQ inclusive that could be interesting for students.
Read this article and meet Elliott Sweeney! They’re an insightful, fashion-loving, gender-nonconforming 6-year-old from Halifax who uses the pronoun “they” and has a “boy body and a girl brain.”
In 2012, Surrey RCMP championed an “It Gets Better” video for youth. The video features adults who share their stories of their struggles, with the aim of building a bridge of understanding for youth undergoing similar experiences.

Poverty-Free BC Event: Good jobs, Good Wages for BC
Saturday, February 25th: SFU downtown (Room 1300, Segal Building) at 500 Granville Street from 1:30-3:30 p.m.
We wanted to let you know about a FREE and exciting event that the BC Federation of Labour is organizing as part of the Poverty Free BC week of action. On Saturday, February 25th we will be holding a panel discussion on how we can create good jobs and good wages in BC. The panel will include discussion around minimum wage, employment standards, contract flipping, apprenticeship programs, and green jobs. It is a free event and we hope you can make it. See the attached poster for more details. Used this EVENTBRITE link to register:

Black History Month Resources
Every February, Canadians are invited to participate in Black History Month festivities and events that honour the legacy of Black Canadians, past and present. This is an important time for teachers to focus on the contributions of AfroCanadians and raise awareness of the historical injustices they have faced. Visit the BCTF Antiracism Action Group’s Black History Month web page for information and resources.
Check out for example “28 Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses or Basketball”

Last year the District approached us to seek our interest in surveying all schools through a company called BrightBytes ( to help them understand the correlation between their investment in technology and student access to technology. After some preliminary research, we were not interested in lending our support. There appears to be a connection between student use of technology and teacher professional development that concerns us .Other selling points of this company are to “prioritize professional development agenda in order of impact”and to “Increase alignment of instruction with key district goals.”

Recently the District let us know that instead of doing a district-wide survey, they would seek around 10 schools to volunteer to pilot the survey, including an incentive to motivate interest in participation. STARA passed the following motion:

THAT STARA recommend that STA members not participate in the BrightBytes survey at this time. Please contact the STA if you have any information about your teachers being encouraged to participate in the pilot survey.

Data on education funding
Alex Hemingway addresses criticism of the data comparing education funding across provinces:
To watch …
… or to read about it:

Joke of The Week
Q: What flies around the school at night?
A: The alpha-bat

This week’s joke was submitted by Connie Eytcheson. If you would like to participate in joke of the week, please submit a short, clean, (but not necessarily education-related) joke to Gioia Breda at If your joke is drawn for publication, your name will then be entered into a draw for a gift card at the end of the month! *Thanks for the jokes! Please keep them coming!

Calendar of Events:
February 22 – AGM delegate training
February 24-25 – BCTF New Teachers’ Conference
February 28 – Executive and Committee Chairs Liaison Meeting
March 1 – BCTF AGM Delegates training
March 7 – Executive Committee meeting
March 8 – BCTF AGM Delegates training

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017. Filed in Category: Monday Memos

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