Teachers protest new computer system

Yukon’s teachers are refusing to learn how to use a new computer system unless the training occurs during class time – or they’re paid more money.

Yukon’s teachers are refusing to learn how to use a new computer system unless the training occurs during class time – or they’re paid more money.

The Education Department has begun rolling out the Yukon Student Information System, which tracks students’ attendance, behavior and academic performance. But the Yukon Teachers

Association protests that it was never properly consulted, as required under the collective agreement. It’s filed a policy grievance.

In a February newsletter, President Katherine Mackwood compared the government’s actions to that of a dictatorship, with teachers playing the role of downtrodden citizens.

“We speak of values we want our young to possess, yet all too frequently we fall prey to authoritarian behaviour either as an autocrat or as a casualty too intimidated to let our voice be

heard,” she wrote.

“Many of you who read this may think these are strong words and are not indicative of your experience. However, others encounter circumstances such as these, daily.”

Mackwood didn’t respond to an interview request. But the newsletter spells out the union’s complaint.

According to the collective agreement, the territory needs to give the teachers association three months written notice before introducing any technological change that affects teachers. The

two parties are also supposed to sit down and hash out an agreement as to how workers will be trained.

Mackwood argues that work performed by teachers outside of class is “voluntarily.” And because the computer training is proposed to happen outside of class time, “members are entitled to

be paid for that time.”

Holding the training in place of a regularly-scheduled staff meeting is a non-starter with the union. “Training shouldn’t be shoehorned into scarce staff meeting time,” Mackwood wrote.

The territory purchased the computer system over the past year for $625,000.

The system was installed in response to criticism by auditor general Sheila Fraser, who took the Education Department to task for not keeping adequate track of the information it collects.

She was particularly concerned that information on students with special needs was not always transferred from school to school.

The Public Service Commission isn’t commenting on the grievance.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.

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