EAs deserve recognition from school district

Re: Students first, Ed. Assistant told (Letters, July 6),

Despite a stated wish not to sound disrespectful, School District 69 Assistant Superintendent Gillian Wilson, in her interview with The NEWS, shows disrespect for the contributions of education assistants (EAs) to the learning and growth of students in the district.

Ms. Wilson condescendingly dismisses concerns presented by Julie Fowler, blaming “a lack of communication on proper procedures, or the realities of the job.”

If there is a lack of communication here, it is because of the district’s failure to listen. Our local has been trying for years, through the labour-management process, to raise the district’s awareness around the plight of EAs while seeking ways to work better with school staff to assist kids. Having failed in those outreach efforts, CUPE 3570 was left with little choice but to take those EA issues directly to the trustees.

Ms. Wilson and board chair Eve Flynn both seem to accept 20-hour work weeks as a consequence of budget realities and do not regard what EAs do as full-time work. Our union’s position is that the needs of students should not be driven by budgets but the very reverse.

The need for full time EA positions has been demonstrated.

Otherwise the provincial government wouldn’t have initiated the Learning Improvement Fund, which in part was to recognize ongoing unpaid work by EAs.

Ms. Wilson’s inability to grasp this reality, or to link the contribution of EAs to the success of students, is unfortunate. That the assistant superintendent instead prefers to isolate the needs of students from the direct provider of services to address them is mindboggling.

Our union believes that EAs matter and are important to students. We only wish the board chair and assistant superintendent felt the same.

Troy Forster

CUPE Local 3570

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