I don't understand how teacher's volunteer choices outside of school hours can be viewed as "illegal" but I am interested to see how this plays out.
I have a lot of opinions on extra-curricular and this whole situation, but first, let me share with you the information in the media:
Teacher withdrawal from after-hours work is illegal, employers say
A protest that has resulted in teachers withdrawing from all after-hours activities in B.C. public schools amounts to an illegal strike, the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) alleges.
On Wednesday, it filed an application to the B.C. Labour Relations Board (LRB) seeking an order that would end the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) protest and require teachers to resume all such activities.
The crux of the issue appears to be the definition of extracurricular. The BCPSEA says it is not trying to force individual teachers to coach sports teams, for example, but does not accept the union’s broad definition of what constitutes voluntary activities.
“The BCTF has directed its members to withdraw a very broad range of duties that teachers typically perform as part of their teaching job, based upon the fact that those duties are typically performed either before or after the school bell rings,” the association says in a statement. Those activities include parent-teacher interviews, student tutorials, writing reports and talking to principals.
“The BCTF’s call for service withdrawal captures both duties that are clearly and expressly required of all teachers and duties that are performed by some teachers at those teachers’ option.
“In our view, the BCTF’s direction to its members to engage in a concerted refusal to perform these duties constitutes an illegal strike in violation of the Labour Relations Code and the Act,” the association states.
My fear is that voluntary activities become mandatory. Thus, forcing teacher's to take on some form of the 'obligated' volunteer time. This seems to defeat the purpose of any volunteer activities. Teacher's often take on areas they are passionate about, be it sports, drama, clubs, or other events. If there is a need in the school, teacher's interested or connected to that area may volunteer, but by making voluntary activities "part of the work day" it takes away the passion and the point... "I am doing this extra because it is important to my students, important to me, important to our school community"
The Globe & Mail writes:
The British Columbia Teachers’ Federation maintains teachers are withdrawing from what they consider voluntary activities – such as coaching sports teams – and that the withdrawal was the only tactic teachers had left to protest against what the union characterizes as punitive legislation.
This is the only action teacher's can legally take to voice their concern with the current government's attack on public education! It is to raise awareness and take action against the threats being imposed against public education!
The activities are extra's and voluntary. This is not stopping MATH class or skipping lessons - this is stopping out of school hour activities, such as overnight camping!
Since when did teacher's taking students camping become the norm? When I was in school, my teacher's didn't give up their evenings to take me camping - that is what Girl Guides or my parents were for!
Our "wrap-up" activities were within the school day, a school picnic in the park, a field trip to the waterslides, and so on.
When did the expectation change? Why now do we expect so much more from our teacher's spare time? I would encourage anyone to come into a classroom for a day, observe, or help run the class for the day and then after school there is the marking, preparation for the next day, photocopying, and possibly some coaching or meetings afterschool. Planning and taking a class camping seems like a far stretch from the "regular teacher duties"
I have heard of some schools where teacher's who run lunch time intramurals get a different block for their lunch (which they still often spend planning or marking). I have seen schools where teacher's who plan Sports Day or awards ceremonies and assemblies are given additional preperation time to do so, instead of using their own time at home to plan. PACs stepping in to plan activities with teachers is another strategy I have seen to ensure programs still run at schools, despite teacher's decision to stop voluntary activities.
It can be done! It is not the end of these extra's, it is a shift in how they are approached!
I don't disagree with teacher's doing extra-curriculars, I am a teacher who enjoys doing extra's with my students and like most teacher's who do extra curriculars, we don't want to stop forever, but right now, given the threats from this government and the corner we have been backed into, this is the only thing we have control over - our own voluntary time! And if this is the only way to deliver the message - it is what we must do.