Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. teachers being asked to 'scrounge' is an insult, union says

The union for teachers in NL says it's a "slap in the face" for kindergarten teachers who've been instructed to scrounge for teaching tools for their classrooms.

Education minister Dale Kirby says the union is being 'petty'

Scrounging for school supplies

6 years ago
Duration 3:07
The NLTA says kindergarten teachers who've been encouraged to scrounge for teaching tools for their classrooms, have been "slapped in the face."

The teachers union in Newfoundland and Labrador says kindergarten teachers who've been encouraged to scrounge for teaching tools for their classrooms, have been "slapped in the face." 

James Dinn, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, says in a recent full-day kindergarten workshop it was suggested, in a presentation, that teachers "scrounge" for items that can be used in play-based learning.

The presentation also suggested teachers visit hardware stores, dollar stores, arts and crafts supply stores and garden supply companies. 

NLTA president James Dinn says kindergarten teachers are upset with suggestions they scrounge for some of their classroom learning materials. (Keith Burgess/CBC)

"I'm not sure if what they're suggesting is that teachers now go to these stores and look for freebies and handouts and extras or if they're even suggesting … teachers go out and spend money on it," said Dinn.

"That's the insult, the salt in the wound if you will."
In a recent workshop for kindergarten teachers, a handout from the provincial government suggested they scrounge for their played-based, or "loose parts," materials. (Submitted)

'Unreasonable expectation'

Dinn said teachers already spend on average about $500 a year on materials for their classrooms, but that's not something the department should encourage. 

This is pretty petty in my opinion.- Education Minister Dale Kirby

 "There seems to be an expectation, an unreasonable expectation, for teachers now to go out and buy this," said Dinn.

"I've run into several teachers this year who are already up to 300 [dollars]. And I met a teacher last year who spent 1,500. I probably wouldn't have believed it except for the fact I saw the receipts."

"Loose parts," like household items, can be used to give kids a hands-on learning experience, says James Dinn. (Submitted)

Teachers face significant challenges at work daily, with increasing class sizes and, according to Dinn, they're finding it difficult to meet the needs of their students. 

"To have this added to them is, I think … a slap in the face," said Dinn. 

'Not mandatory' 

Meanwhile, Education Minister Dale Kirby said Dinn is taking the handout out of context.

"We're not asking people to go out and buy things and it's also not mandatory," said Kirby.

"At no time did we ever suggest that teachers have to mandatorily pay for resources for classrooms."

Minister of Education Dale Kirby says some teachers spend their own money for their classrooms. (Gary Locke/CBC)

He admits some teachers use their own money for items for their classrooms, but that's not expected or demanded from them.

"I don't know how we would enforce not letting them do that," said Kirby.

He added it's "foolishness" that the NLTA president is zoning in on one page of a 20-page PowerPoint presentation which was intended to offer ideas for teachers to help engage with children in the classroom. 

"This is pretty petty in my opinion," said Kirby.

"Would anybody suggest we have a public tender for buttons, beach rocks, and shells?"

Kirby said Dinn's criticisms stem from his opposition to full-day kindergarten.

With files from Julie Skinner and Jeremy Eaton