Good morning county.
Obviously, lots has happened since the last time we spoke. The Liberal government has released the details of Bill 72, the Provincial Executive has decided to halt job action, and law amendments starts today.
May you live in interesting times, indeed.
We must recognize that we have made some gains since Avis Glaze first dropped her report on February 23rd. The impending legislation is at least somewhat softer than first expected, and having the government change its tune on such issues as standardized testing and the College of Teachers is a welcome relief. These changes were undoubtedly enacted in response to the efforts of teachers.
However, this is still one nasty piece of legislation. Yes, it allows principals and vice principals some protections through the NSTU, but it still removes their right to collectively bargain. Their union affiliation will be replaced with forced enrollment in an Association, to which they will pay dues. Furthermore, their contract will be replaced by a memorandum of understanding, which will deal with such things as working conditions and, presumably, compensation. However, as reassuring as some may find that, the language of the new bill does not allow for a grievance process, while at the same time stating equivocally that administrators can be demoted at any time, at the whim of the employer.
Now, I may have read this all wrong, and I reserve the right to defer my understanding of Bill 72 until after the information sessions, but as it stands now, I still have some pretty good reasons to continue to fight.
In fact, for the time being at least, I have about two hundred of them.
We all know that removing principals from our union and setting up an “us against them” reality in our schools has the potential to create some pretty toxic work environments. I for one suspect that the role I have now will change pretty significantly. However, this is a long game. We need, now more than ever, to think strategically.
It could be that this move changes little. Maybe, principals will not leave their posts, and schools will not change. I don’t believe that, but I have been wrong before.
If, however, things go as I suspect they will, this stands to be a rough few years. Replacing strong, experienced principals and vice principals with inexperienced, weak ones stands to do some pretty serious damage to our system. And I, for one, have every intention of ensuring that, if that does happen, the blame is placed directly where it belongs.
If we have learned anything from this government, it is that laws can be changed. Legislation can be created, and it can be destroyed. Bill 72 will survive only if it results in positive changes to our schools.
And, for the life of me, I can’t see how that happens.
This fight, at least as far as I am concerned, is a long, long way from over.