open letter Oct 9 .pdf

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Title: open letter final version Monday noon

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October 7, 2017
RE: An open letter for the 2017 Board elections (Westwind School Division)
Dear Trustee candidates, teachers, parents, voters and other stakeholders:
My executive and I would like the public to understand the obligation teachers have to their
employer and the strange predicament it puts them in during elections. Contractually, teachers
cannot publicly criticize the employer. This is problematic because teachers and principals are
best situated to understand concerns they and their students are experiencing, yet their voices
fall silent because they cannot express themselves to the ones who hold the school board
accountable, the voters.
In order to avoid the possibility of repercussions toward any individual teacher, as a Local
executive, we feel it is important to voice the concerns clearly expressed by Westwind teachers.
We believe addressing these issues will also improve student learning. Our intent is not to
criticize but to advocate for change.
1. Improve teacher morale. In our most recent survey of teachers—one that had the highest
participation rate in the province—the vast majority indicated that a noticeable decline in staff
morale is a prevailing concern.
2. Decrease the number of board mandated non-instructional hours (PD days, PLC days,
in-services—time where teachers are in the building but students are not). The majority of
teachers worry that board mandated PD has become excessive. This time is putting pressure
on the other tasks teachers take on such as more appearances with students, coaching,
tutoring, bus-driving, compiling yearbooks, supervising after school events (dances, grads), etc.
3. Value teachers’ expertise. The School Board has invested heavily in teacher development
(PD/PLC days, books, guest speakers, retreats etc.). We respectfully submit these have been
over-emphasized while undervaluing the significant in-the-trenches experience and research
that our capable teachers have acquired through their years of practical classroom experience.
We encourage voters to ask the Trustee candidates about these issues and to carefully
consider their responses before voting. We have tried to raise these issues as respectfully as
we can in a context of contractual obligation and electoral accountability.
Sincerely,
Stephen Gibbings - President, Westwind ATA Local No. 12
Scott Quinton - Vice President
Kelly Thomas - Secretary
James Heninger - Treasurer
Darry Christensen - Past President
Chris Goble - PD Chair
Cory Bevans - EPC/NSC Chair


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