School district head says teachers need to work through problems and learn new system

Superintendent Karl deBruijn is frustrated with the union representing the region’s teachers

By Dale Bass

Kamloops This Week

Kamloops-Thompson school district superintendent Karl deBruijn is frustrated with the union representing the region’s teachers.

While he can’t stop the Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association (KTTA) from sending a letter to parents — the union won an arbitration ruling giving it freedom of speech to do so — deBruijn is unhappy with the contents, with the KTTA complaining about the new reporting system teachers must use.

The provincial government brought in the new system, My Education B.C., to replace a discontinued software program teachers use to do report cards.

The KTTA has complained to the district the new system is hard to use, cumbersome and a challenge to learn.

“You know, every day, our teachers go into classrooms and teach their students new things,” deBruijn said. “And it can be hard for some of them, but we tell our students to just work through it and we help them learn it. We have five full-time people working to help teachers learn this program.

“Little Jimmy says math is hard and we tell him yes, it is, but you need to work through it and yes, we’ll help you learn it.”

DeBruijn added that, much like in the class setting, the district is offering after-school help sessions for teachers, noting “they are poorly attended.”

The letter the KTTA wants to send to parents states the new system has “numerous glitches and faults that have not been resolved to date. . . . We have worked hard to complete reports on this program, but want you to know that the inadequacies of the program have limited us in our ability to communicate with you to the degree that we would like.”

DeBruijn said secondary teachers learned the new program last year and were able to send out the mandatory three report cards during the school year.

He acknowledged there have been some issues with the program and said the provider has addressed them. The district has also pushed back the deadline to issue a first report card from the end of November to before Christmas.

DeBruijn also noted administration has had to adjust to new systems affecting all of its business, from human resources to accounting.

“It was hard work. We had people in on weekends working on it and I never heard the kind of complaining I’m hearing from the KTTA,” deBruijn said.

“Change is hard, but we’re teachers. We should be leading the way. We should be modelling and leading the way and not carrying on like that.”

 

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