U of R Education students react to STF plan for job action

The Faculty of Education sign, located in the Education Building on the University of Regina campus.

Saskatchewan teachers have voted to move forward with job action if talks are not settled with the provincial government.

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) voted 96 per cent in favour of job sanctions according to their announcement made on Feb. 24.

Education students from the University of Regina (U of R) are reacting to the news.

“I don’t think this government will budge,” said Jordan Balfour, U of R Education student. “It will go to strike and the results will happen. The public will support this.”

I don’t think any of us got into teaching because [we] wanted to change negotiations,” said Kalen Senecal, U of R Education student. “Unfortunately whether we are in the profession 10 or 20 years, we are going to have to [negotiate] multiple contracts.”

One of the biggest issues pushing the move to job action is the student numbers in Saskatchewan classrooms.

“I get asked, ‘what do you think of your profession asking for money.’ It is actually based on class sizes,” said Haley Hodson, U of R Education student.

“I have talked with a lot of people who are not teachers and they have a misconception. They think it’s just another, ‘we want a raise,’ and they’re not in support of it.”

The low student-number-average for classrooms in all of Saskatchewan is regularly used to illustrate the classrooms in the province. This frustrates Senecal.

“I went to a graduation of four students in a school, you can’t average Harbour Landing’s school with [that school,] said Senecal. “They are two different scenarios with their own difficulties.”

“I do know that teachers are not currently please with class sizes,” said Balfour. “Teachers are not asking for extra support, they are just asking for their [student] numbers to be down.”

With the now large number of English Language Acquisition (ELA) students being taught in Saskatchewan classrooms, numbers have to come down for teachers to be successful, said Hodson.

“If [they] want to continue to keep ELA or students with exceptionalities in the classroom, they have to lower the class size,” said Hodson.

Future job security is also what Education students are paying attention to.

“This is the least amount of educators that they have hired in a certain amount of years,” said Balfour.

“I am heading into a pre-internship in two weeks so I don’t want there to be a strike,” said Hodson. Then, I’m heading into my full internship in September, so if there is any kind of strike, that could affect my graduation time.”

How teachers’ unions and federations get better conditions and compensations is in how effectively they can negotiate and/or strike, said Senecal.

“Hopefully cool heads prevail through it all,” said Senecal. “And good communication can happen.”

“I’m not sure what is going to happen,” said Balfour. “I do hope that voices are heard.”

The last time all Saskatchewan teachers went on strike was in 2011 when three days of school were excused due to STF and provincial government negotiations halting. Wage increases at the time were the center issue.

The STF has to give 48 hours’ notices before any of the more severe sanctions such as walkouts or withdrawal of services

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