As an elementary school teacher for the Toronto District School Board, I cannot begin to tell you how upset I am that your child will not be getting their final report card at the end of the year. I feel terrible.
But I will not apologize.
We teachers have nothing to be sorry about. Despite what the government and the boards say, it's not our fault. It's not our doing. And it's certainly not our choice.
But based on the major hate-on for teachers that I've read about on Facebook and Twitter over the past 24 hours or so, most of you don't believe me. In fact, most of you think that we are a bunch of overpaid, lazy good-for-nothings who are holding your child's education hostage. Earlier tonight, I read an article whose headline declared that, "Teachers Get a Failing Grade." For what? Do you even know what this fight is all about?
Please don't tell me it's because we're asking for more money. Because we're not. Or that we're asking for better benefits. Because we're not. Or even that we're asking for more sick days. Because we're not.
In fact, the only thing we're asking for is the freedom to use our knowledge as professionals to give your child the best education possible. But based on what the government is proposing for our latest contract, such as increased class sizes, more mandatory standardized testing, and controlling how we spend our 45 minutes of daily preparation time, that request seems very unlikely.
That is why last month, it was announced that as part of our job action, instead of the normal marks and comments we enter into the computer, we would be giving our principals a list of our students and their marks. It would then be up to the principals and vice principals to enter the marks and print the report cards.
A few weeks later, the board announced that based on the immense amount of time it would take for principals to complete that task, it was utterly impossible for them to complete report cards at all.
Now, I may be an English teacher, but to me, the numbers just don't add up. Let me explain: normally, after completing my report cards, I give them to my principal to edit. He then spends at least 10 to 15 minutes on each one making sure I dotted all my i's and crossed all my t's. Comparatively, it takes only about a minute or two to simply enter the marks. If my calculations are correct, principals will actually be spending eight minutes less completing each report card, not more. Therefore, unless I am missing something, the whole "it's just too much work" argument the board is giving just isn't true. From my point of view, it's just another shady tactic designed to turn you against us. Just another piece of "proof" that we are punishing your kids.
Really? In the past week, I accompanied my track team to the city finals, I continued to lead our school's eco-team, and I collected money for our class's upcoming year-end trip to Niagara Falls. On top of that, I worked very hard with all of my students to ensure that the report card marks I will be submitting are as accurate and up-to-date as possible. And I'm not the only one. I know that there were quite a few teachers who were still at school late last night finishing up the yearbook, marking math tests, and setting up science labs. Can you honestly tell me that until this whole report card thing came up, you saw even one iota of change in the time, energy, and quality of work teachers have been devoting to your kids? On a daily basis, do you truly feel like we're using your kids as pawns in our game?
I hope that by now you understand that from our point of view, nothing has changed. As far as we're concerned, it's still business as usual. We are still helping our kids sprint to the finish line and do the best that they can, we are still marking tests and assignments, and we are still submitting report cards marks to our principals. What they choose to do with those marks is up to them. I really, truly hope that they choose to share them with you, because your kids worked so hard to earn them and we teachers worked so hard to get them there. I know how stressed and frustrated they got when they didn't understand something. I know how excited and proud they felt when they finally did. You, them, and us: we all deserve your kids' report cards. And I feel so bad that they're not getting them.
But... I'm not sorry.
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