STF declines limited opportunity to contribute to committee looking at class size, composition
The guidelines released for the Provincial Committee on Class Size and Composition fall short of addressing the issues as presented by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation during provincial collective bargaining. Therefore, the STF has said they will not participate in the process.
Citing the fact that the membership of the Committee, as determined by the Ministry of Education, would contain one representative from the STF aside from four from the Ministry, one from the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, a parent, an academic leader and a professional staff member, STF President Patrick Maze suggested the Committee lacks authority and public accountability.
“We won’t be participating when the deck is stacked with four Ministry officials right off the start. Eight of the nine members of the Committee are decided by government. Why would we participate in something like that?” Maze questioned.
Moreover, in the memo from the Ministry, the STF was informed that no members of the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee were eligible to fill the role allotted to the STF. This exception prevents the participation on the provincial committee of Maze, Vice-President Samantha Becotte, Executive Director Randy Schmaltz and three members of the senior administrative staff–all of whom would be the best positioned to support teachers on this issue.
The Federation has expressed its appreciation that Education Minister Gord Wyant has publicly recognized that class size and class composition are challenges that must be addressed in Saskatchewan’s PreK-12 classrooms.
“The list of committees and reports that have failed to implement changes in education is long,” Maze said. “Government only announced this Committee after we brought the issue forward and presented solutions during bargaining, including a fund dedicated to provide necessary supports in classrooms.
This alone is evidence of the need to address this through provincial collective bargaining.
“This appears to be the provincial government’s attempt at sidestepping the bargaining process and demonstrates bad faith,” Maze said, adding that “half of Saskatchewan’s teachers said the issues of class size and composition were as important as their own compensation, and the Federation remains committed to addressing this through provincial collective bargaining.”
Wyant, meanwhile, issued a statement expressing his disappointment regarding the STF’s declining to participate. He said the issue “is bigger than the STF, and the work of the Committee will proceed without the STF and without delay.”
The Committee will deliver their framework by the spring of 2020 in order for the recommendations to take effect in the 2020-21 school year.