Nfld. & Labrador

Dean Ingram starts 2-year NLTA stint at critical time for education system

The Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association welcomed its newest president on Tuesday.

Ingram, the union's new president, says improved classroom conditions a top priority

Dean Ingram, a teacher with more than 25 years experience, started his two-year term as president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Union on Tuesday. (Submitted by NLTA)

The Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association welcomed its newest president on Tuesday.

'If you're looking to the group of individuals that know education best, it's the practitioners.' - Dean Ingram

Dean Ingram, who has taught in the province for more than 25 years, has officially begun his two-year term as head of the NLTA. Ingram replaces outgoing president Jim Dinn.

Ingram has taught in several different regions of the province over the years, including Twillingate, Pilley's Island, Bonavista and Swift Current.

In the last few years he taught biology and science through distance education and video conferencing, as well as serving in various jobs with the NLTA at both the branch level and in the executive, most recently as vice-president from 2013 through 2017.

Critical period

Ingram is starting the job at a time when the next contract between members and government is being negotiated, as well as just a week after Premier Dwight Ball released his task force report on education in the province — which included 82 recommendations to improve issues around inclusive education, curricula and school supports.

Contract negotiations are currently ongoing between the NLTA and government, as the last teachers' contract expired in 2016. (Canadian Press)

Despite tight budgets and slow-moving contract talks, Ingram said he is committed to two very simple principles in his approach to being president.

"Rest assured, the NLTA will be lobbying – will be pushing for – an improved education system and a improved set of classroom conditions," he told the St. John's Morning Show.

"My firm belief is that the best pathway to the best possible education we can possibly get, and our students deserve, runs directly through the teaching conditions that the teachers face in the classroom."

Dean Ingram says the task force report on education is promising, but it remains to be seen how successful the implementation will be. (Paula Gale/CBC)

Ingram said the recommendations in the task force report reflect what teachers and the public have been saying for years.

While those recommendations are important, he said they're useless without the proper resources — and if teachers aren't consulted along the way.

"As the report moves from being a paper document to a working document, it's critically important that the teachers of the province are involved in those discussions," he said.

"If you're looking to the group of individuals that know education best, it's the practitioners. And those practitioners are our members."

Cabinet shuffle

With the news on Monday that Tom Osborne was taking over from Cathy Bennett as provincial finance minister, Ingram said he doubts it will affect ongoing contract talks between the NLTA and government. 

We look forward to having productive discussions no matter who's sitting in that chair.- Dean Ingram on negotiations

That's because negotiation packages have already exchanged between the two sides, and he said the union is still raising the same points it has been since the last contract expired in 2016.

"We look forward to having productive discussions no matter who's sitting in that chair," he said.

"The challenges that our members are facing are really, in many ways, the same issues we faced in the spring and through the course of last year."

With files from St. John's Morning Show