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I Will Hold The Line For B.C.'s Public Education System

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BC TEACHERS STRIKE VANDERHOOF
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As the days grow shorter, the heat subsides and the back-to-school campaigns pop up in local stores, we teachers begin to prepare our classrooms. We gather bright decorations, arrange desks, lay out books, and markers, and science equipment, and we do what we can to make a warm, welcoming environment for the children and youth we will be inviting back into school.

This is part of the rhythm of our lives; we mark our years from September to September. We celebrate seasons and rites of passages with children year after year, and we watch our young charges grow into the adults they are meant to be.

There is a special camaraderie among teachers. There is a humour that only we share, a passion that each of us lives, and there are rewards we value beyond prestige and money. As attacks on us have grown, fostered by a neo-conservative agenda to reduce every event, every lesson, and every moment to a dollar amount, we have fought back with a commitment that could only have been fueled by the real love so many of us have for our chosen profession.

And now in British Columbia, we must fight again for "our" kids, for our society, and for our schools. Today, tomorrow, next week, and for who knows how long thereafter, we are called upon to justify our defence of public education to a hostile and punitive government.

This is hard. Many are frightened, and they have reason: we are losing our means of buying food and paying bills. Many are sad, because they fear that we will have no power to fix that which is so drastically wrong. Many are angry at the abuses they see perpetrated on children living in an uncaring and shattering system.

But I believe in B.C teachers. I believe that we can and will stand firm. This government is single-mindedly committed to getting rid of the public education system, and they are eager to see us fall. They would love to see us falter, back down... give up. I, for one, will not.

For all of the children who sit in class, waiting their turn for help, while the teacher struggles to hold on to another, more distressed student, #IWillHoldTheLine.

For all of the parents who have sat in my office, tears in their eyes and on their faces, begging for the help their children needed, but could not access, #IWillHoldTheLine.

For the school psychologists I know who have become seriously physically ill, exacerbated by the stress of knowing they cannot possibly keep up with the needs for assessment, #IWillHoldTheLine.

For the brilliant children of great promise, whose programs have been eliminated and who mark time helping others while waiting for the challenges they need, #IWillHoldTheLine.

For the new, young teachers, who have never taught in a system of caring and compassion, #IWillHoldTheLine.

For the teens who fight their own minds daily just to stay alive; the teens with whom I've sat in hospital waiting rooms, padded rooms, awaiting verdicts from an overtaxed health care system, #IWillHoldTheLine.

For the angry ones who rage in class, and the sad ones whose arms bear scars and who cannot eat, but also cannot get a counsellor, #IWillHoldTheLine.

For the "'typical" children, who watch and wait while teachers struggle with the others, #IWillHoldTheLine.

For my colleagues, with whom I have laughed, cried, danced, exulted, raged and vented, #IWillHoldTheLine.

For my grandchildren, little faces full of eager promise, born to the 99 per cent, #IWillHoldTheLine.

Whatever happens in the coming days, whether we achieve a meaningful contract or fall prey to a government that has completely lost sight of the humanity they are sworn to protect, we will prevail.

Because we care. We are taking a stand. We are passionate and committed and we are doing the right thing. And at the end of the day, we will know that. We will know that we stood for the children. That. That is worth doing. And for that reason, #IWillHoldTheLine.

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