Given that the dispute between the B.C. Teachers Federation and the employer, which for all intents and purposes is the provincial government, has dragged on for months, it seems quite likely there will be no classes on Tuesday, and into the foreseeable future.
This is completely unacceptable. There is no shortage of blame to go around, but it is the two primary parties in the dispute who have brought public school students and their parents to this sad state of affairs.
At one time, the BC Liberal government banned strikes by teachers, saying that using students as pawns in a labour dispute was unacceptable. That was a move that met with considerable public support. However, teachers disregarded the ban and went on strike in 2005, and actually gained considerable public sympathy, partly due to the fact that the BC Liberals had torn up part of their existing contract, and partly due to the fact that their emphasis was on class size and composition.
That’s the emphasis again, and this time the strike is perfectly legal. However, students have already suffered considerable damage, due to most of June being a write-off from an education perspective. Now it appears that the first part of September, and maybe the whole month, won’t be any different. A $40 a day payment to parents of younger students is no recompense.
The public has absolutely no control over the BCTF, and any discipline to be handed out there must be done by BCTF members, if enough of them disagree with the union executive’s actions in continuing this strike.
The public does have at least a measure of control over the provincial government. The ability to recall MLAs exists, although it is very difficult to do. If the government doesn’t start showing a lot more concern for students’ education, and actually move heaven and earth to get classrooms open, it would be appropriate for parents in all ridings held by Liberal MLAs to look into starting recall campaigns.
The fact is, neither side is taking students’ education all that seriously. They are treating this as a political fight — something both the BCTF and BC Liberals excel at.
The education system exists so students can have a brighter future as adults. It’s high time they were back in class.