Millions of years ago, a triceratops and a Tyrannosaurus rex fought it out as the Cretaceous period came to a end. Neither realized their struggle was futile since they were both about to become extinct. The B.C. teachers' strike is another epic struggle of dinosaurs as the Ministry of Education and teachers' union are locked in bitter dispute over issues that have little significance since the market for education has fundamentally changed.
Then there is the issue of school supplies. I have watched the list steadily lengthen over the years. This year alone, I have spent $300 just so my children can have adequate supplies for school. Not to mention that their supply lists include ridiculous items like Kleenex, photocopy paper and Ziploc bags. If our schools don't even have the funding to supply children with something to wipe their noses with, then like one parent said to me, "What's next, toilet paper?"
Everybody watching the B.C. public teachers' strike has heard of E80, and nobody understands it. Even the negotiating teams can't agree on what it means -- a pretty good sign that it should be deep-sixed pronto. The bottom line is that the parties' positions on E80 is fatally poisoned by distrust. Many fault the union, but it's the government who wrote the script.
The current teachers federation vs. government struggle is more than a labour dispute. For those who look closely, what's revealed is a style of government that appears to disregard facts, deceive the public, tarnish the reputation of teachers, all in a move to pit the people against teachers and their legal right to due process under the law. Government's disdain for trained professionals in order to gain a political advantage is deplorable. No government should hide the truth of its past misconduct. No government should balance the budget at the expense of teachers and kids.
I sacrificed myself, along with my army buddies, to help children in other countries to attend school, but what can I do in my own country to get children back in school in B.C. Madam Premier, this is our province. Not just mine and definitely not just yours. This province is not just yours to destroy the rights and freedoms of the people.
As a mother of a nine-year-old boy in the public school system and a working physician, I am seeing the effects of the strike on many of my patients. So I have compiled a list of five steps for all of us dealing with this time of uncertainty.
I am a B.C. teacher, and lately I feel like I should apologize for that. I'm so tired of hearing how awful I am. How greedy. How I shouldn't want more for my students. Let's get teachers feeling valued because things are rough right now, and it's getting hard to remember by ourselves.
When we have eight or more students in a class who have various levels of learning difficulties or special needs and there is only one education assistant to help, we are being asked in effect to either perform a miracle, or to play God and decide who gets the help and who does not. We cannot do this. We cannot perform those miracles.
If you pay attention to all the ruckus about massages, you may miss the fact that teachers are being asked to give up their Charter rights in exchange for a promise of better learning conditions for students. No amount of massaging a political message can detract from that fact.
I worry the B.C. Teachers' Federation is actually counting on government to legislate an end to this strike so they can avoid having a difficult conversation with their members about what is realistic and achievable.
B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender has decided that because about 10 per cent of all B.C. students were identified as having special needs last year, only 10 per cent of students in B.C. schools have special needs. But in fact, the number is a great deal higher that.
The two eldest, going into Grades 3 and 6 are outright depressed. They know what they are missing (friends, fun and a fresh start to the year) and instead they have Mom, Dad and a list of educational websites hastily tossed together and thrown at them. This is what happens when ill-prepared adults with no teaching credentials are forced to use their mediocre skills to attempt to educate our kids.
Blame generally does not help resolve issues, and it is a poor platform to negotiate from regardless of the issue. Blame is not going to help us get our children back in school, nor is it going to assist us in dealing with the reality that is about to hit.
Today I'm writing to you about what you've said in response to the breakdown in talks to end the teachers' strike. You said that you want a negotiated deal that taxpayers can afford. This has left me with a lot of questions.
B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender has asked the teachers to stop striking now, please. I hate to disappoint you, Mr. Fassbender, but it doesn't matter how nicely you ask. What matters is that you fund public education. Properly.
I'm a 16 year old student whose future is at stake, my rights are being violated, and I need you to hear me out.