Monday Memo – November 28, 2016

MEMO TO: Staff Reps
COPIES TO: STA Executive Committee
FROM: Gioia Breda, President
Date: November 28, 2016


Our RESTORED Collective Agreement Language
Attached you will find our restored language (with no strike throughs, making it easier to read and appreciate). Soon you should no longer have to simply imagine having a maximum of 25 students in secondary English classes, or 1-15 ratios for Integration Support Teachers. Staff reps are encouraged to hold a study session with teachers at your school to review the language and what it will mean at your site. Those of you who worked prior to our language being stripped, this is an opportunity to share your experiences with colleagues about teaching prior to 2002.

Restored Language: Non-enrolling staffing ratios
Counsellors – 1 FTE for every 965 elementary school students
Hearing Impaired – 1 FTE for every 28 hearing impaired students
Hospital/Homebound – 1 FTE not to exceed 10 students on a weekly basis
Integration Support – 1 FTE for every 15 students on the caseload as of September 30
Learning Assistance Elementary – 1 FTE for every 410 students
Learning Assistance Secondary – 1 FTE for every 550 Grade 8-10 students and 1 FTE for every 1000 Grade 11-12 students
Library Elementary – 1 FTE for every 500 elementary school students
Library Secondary – 1 FTE in each school
School Psychologist – 1 FTE for every 3410 students
Speech and Language Pathologist – 1 FTE for each full group of 2319 students
Visiting – full-time caseload not to exceed 12 students

Restored Language: Release time for IEP meetings
Release time for teachers of students with special needs will be granted to develop an individual educational plan (IEP) for students with special needs in the “Low Incidence” category.

SD 36 Class size and Comparison report:
At the November School Board meeting the school district published its annual “Class Size and Comparison Report.” You will find it attached. You can use the information to compare class size and composition ratios from last year –for instance there are more elementary classes with 4+ IEPs in them than the previous year. Secondary schools can use the report to see how their school compares across the district in terms of classes over 30 and classes with 4+ IEPs. This report may be particularly interesting this year, in light of the provisions in our restored Collective Agreement language.

Grades 10–12 Curriculum Implementation extended one year!
Last week, Education Minister Mike Bernier finally announced that the curriculum implementation timeline for Grades 10-12 will be extended for another year. The province has agreed to the call from the BCTF and others to push back the timelines, in particular due to the logistical considerations with preparing calendars for courses that may or may not exist, courses that still may change considerably during the revision process still underway, and other practical realities. Teachers and the BCTF had been pushing for this outcome for some time, and the Federation will continue to advocate for more time, resources, and support for all grade levels.

Grievance: Use of Personal Devices for Reporting
Last week, the district sent out a Reporting FAQ (attached) to principals, and posted it in their Communicating Student Learning website: The FAQ advised teachers who were having trouble uploading content to FreshGrade from their mobile phones to use their own data. We are very concerned about this advice and we raised our concern with the district and filed a grievance. Using your own device for work purposes raises a number of issues, including security, privacy and teachers using their own money to subsidize hardware and systems that should be provided by the employer. On the advice of the BCTF, the STA Executive passed the following motion last week:

THAT, based on the advice of the BCTF, we recommend that members should not use their own mobile devices and data plans in taking and then uploading pictures of students, school activities, or students’ work to any reporting tool.

New STA Survey to members on Elementary Reporting
We have developed a new survey for elementary teachers on reporting, as we need to gather feedback and data to best advocate on your behalf. This survey includes some general questions as well as some specific questions on the use of your own device and how much time you are spending on reports. Please go to to fill out the survey. It should take you only a couple of minutes if you just want to fill out the check boxes, which in itself provides important data for us. If you have a few more minutes, please take the time to fill out comment boxes as teachers sharing their own experiences and views are very valuable for our advocacy. The survey is anonymous.

NDP Education Forum– Friday December 2 in Surrey
It’s time to make public education a vote determining issue! The NDP is holding an Education Forum at Sunnyside Elementary in Surrey on Friday, December 2, 2016 from 6:30 pm-9:00 pm. This is an opportunity to hear directly from the NDP on their vision for education as well as an opportunity to ask questions and give feedback from the perspective of teachers. See the attached poster for more details.

CSL Template/Reporting Deadlines (Elementary)
We made a request to the superintendent last week to delay the deadline for sending out reports to December 16th to alleviate some of the pressure teachers were expressing about not having enough time to learn a new tool before their reporting deadlines. Our request was denied. We also made a request that principals shorten up the turnaround time for reports due to the office/reports going home. We have heard of some schools where the turnaround time is two weeks. We believe that even one week is more than should be required. We also made a request that principals minimize their feedback on reports, recognizing that 1) teachers have professional autonomy over their reports (see Collective Agreement language below*) and 2) teachers are having to learn how to use the reporting template and write their reports in a very short period of time. While the superintendent did not agree to send out a communication to principals and teachers addressing these concerns, he did agree to bring up the matter at the principals’ meetings this week, so they “can discuss the points and pressures face to face with principals”.

Please also contact Anne McNamee at ASAP if:
you believe the turnaround time for reports is too lengthy at your school,
you find you are getting excessive feedback on your reports, please contact us as soon as possible,
your principal has been applying pressure for you to report using one tool rather than another, or to deliver grades or not. (This may be school-wide pressure, or grade-group pressure.)

Subject to the School Act and Regulations and Article E.30, the application of consistent evaluation and grading practices including the pass/fail provisions applying to each student shall be under the individual professional autonomy of the teacher.

Disappointing news from government on Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA)
After many, many months of BCTF pushing for change in the FSA, the Minister confirmed last week that the province will not be going with the recommendation from the Advisory Group on Provincial Assessment thatFSA school and student data should be protected from misuse by third parties. The “replacement FSA” has been posted on the Ministry’s website for several days now. Instead of protecting the data from misuse, the Minister has informed the Federation that the data will be released in a way that tells the “holistic whole story.” What that will mean in practice remains to be seen.

Given that this does not satisfy any of the Federation’s concerns about the misuse of school or student data, or about standardized testing, BCTF will not be in a position to be reinstating members on the development teams?and the Federation will continue its opposition to the FSAs. Members are reminded that the BCTF has advised we not participate in or put forward names for the FSA or provincial exam development teams from the Ministry. After many years of work on this it is extremely unfortunate that the Minister has decided to not go with the Advisory Group on Provincial Assessment’s recommendations.

On the FSA page of the BCTF website there are this year’s FSA withdrawal letter and what the Parents Should Know: FSA tests are not useful brochure, both available in languages. More information will be sent to schools in the coming weeks.

Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA)–Calling all Grades 4 and 7 Teachers/Parents
We’d like to hear from you! Are you are frustrated with the FSA interfering with your students’ valuable learning time? Are you concerned about it upsetting your vulnerable students, and also unfairly ranking Surrey schools? Maybe your own children are in Grades 4 or 7 and you have some concerns or input. If so please contact Laura Barker at We want to put the nail in the coffin of this outdated and highly criticized provincial assessment!

What can we do? We want to send a delegation of interested teachers, students, and parents to the upcoming December 8th Board of Education meeting to help trustees appreciate the disruptive and often upsetting experience students have writing the FSA. We want to encourage trustees to respect parents’ choice in whether their child writes the FSA. Please contact the STA for more info and ways to support your students and school community on this issue.

Grades 4 and 7 teachers: Please send us your numbers for Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA)!
More information will soon be coming about this year’s STA/ BCTF anti-FSA campaign. In order to best communicate with parents of Grade 4 and 7 students about reasons that teachers oppose the test, please send us the following information as soon as you have it: the dates when the FSA test will be held at your school; the number of Grades 4 and 7 students at your school; a rough estimate of languages spoken at home for the Grades 4 and 7 students (e.g. Punjabi 40%. English 30%, Mandarin 30%). Please send this info to Dana at

Surrey Primary Teachers’ Association Networking Meetings – tomorrow!
Calling all Grade 2 Teachers! The Surrey Primary Teachers Association is having a Grade 2 Networking Workshop on Tuesday, November 29th at Hazelgrove Elementary from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. Registration and info are available on our website at: Come out and share some ideas/brainstorm with colleagues, have snacks/refreshments, and win a door prize!

We are also hosting a Kindergarten Networking meeting on the same date, Tuesday, November 29th, at Hyland Elementary. The session will be from 3:30 – 5:00 pm. Snacks/refreshments and door prizes included! Whether you have a straight K or a K/1 combined come out and collaborate with colleagues. Registration and info are available on our website at:

White Ribbon Campaign:
The White Ribbon Campaign is a means for men to speak out against violence against women, and to safely and effectively challenge the attitudes and behaviours of a minority of men who use or condone violence against women. For too long, violence against women has been seen as a ‘women’s issue’.

This week, white ribbons will be delivered to your school for our male colleagues to wear as a symbol to demonstrate they are against violence against women. This action will culminate on December 6th, our National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
It starts with you, is a great resource for “teaching boys and young men how to achieve consent, set boundaries, use respectful communication in all their relationships and value women and girls is something we can all do.”

The 14th Annual Shoe Memorial December 6th:
This memorial will take place on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery to commemorate December 6. This date has been declared Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. It commemorates the 14 engineering students in Montreal who were killed simply because they were women.
The shoes collected represent women killed by violence annually. All shoes are then donated to women’s shelters and women in need after the event is over. Visit or see the attached poster for more information. If you are coming to Vancouver for a BCTF meeting before November 30, you can drop them off here at the office and I will take them to the Vancouver Shoe Memorial.

8th Annual C3 Climate Change Conference 2016:
Where: Windermere Secondary School, 3155 East 27th Avenue, Vancouver
When: December 5th
Register at and see attached poster.

Joke of the week
Q. Why did the banana go to the doctor?
A. Because he wasn’t peeling well!

This week’s joke was submitted by Angie Tilton. 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! *We NEED more jokes! Please keep them coming!

Congratulations to Elise Rozander as the draw winner for November! Your gift card will come to you in the courier!

Calendar of Events:
November 28-December 2 – BC Federation of Labour Convention
December 6 – Executive Committee meeting
December 6 – Day of Action for Violence Against Women
December 14 – STARA meeting
December 16 – Last day of school before winter break

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016. Filed in Category: Monday Memos

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