06/09/2014 02:59 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:08 EDT

Christy Clark's High School Clique Won't Stand Up For Public Education


If you bother to check the credentials of B.C. Liberal MLAs, and I hope you do, you'll notice a common denominator: a quality public education. They are doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, scientists, school board chairs, foresters, dentists, and business owners. Where did the foundation for those successful careers come from? A Cracker Jack box? I don't think so.

Why won't a single member of Christy Clark's government stand up for the importance of public education? Were our current MLAs not once students themselves? Are they afraid they'll get kicked out of the cool kid club? Does she tell them what to wear? How to do their hair? Who to sit with at lunch? I know a high school clique when I see one.

That they are not morally compelled, especially those members of caucus who worked as teachers, professors, and school trustees, to stand up for public education for the families who elected them is, well, to be frank, greatly disturbing.

I have tried to reach out on three occasions to my own MLA who works across the street from me and knows me by name. Nothing. Not a single word. He is a former small business owner whose company employed many labourers and tradespeople. Surely he has to know this education impasse is having a devastating impact on his own town and his own neighbours. In fact, I'm sure he has a comment. I'm just not sure he's allowed to share it.

I've been doing some studying. Something I learned from my own teachers who had my best interest at heart. Three in particular.

I had a micro-economics prof who used to say that baseball statistics were more complex than his course. I had a stats prof divide the class by alphabetical order for group projects. He said it wasn't fair, but neither was life. And I had an art teacher who understood that not all kids could be artists, but all students could be creative. Turns out, they were right.

Humanity is obsessed with the unimportant. Our relationship with one another is more important than statistics and every problem is an opportunity for a community to design a creative solution.

This government-imposed public education impasse has me craving their advice yet again. I know there are important lessons going missed. What are we teaching our kids about humanity, relationships and community? It's a question we each need to ask of ourselves. All of us, because this isn't just about teachers -- it's about educators, administrators, trustees, parents, students, and legislators. It's mean of us to pick on one group alone.

We all deserve better. How far will we have to go? By all accounts, we'll go as far as June 16 when the teachers will go to full walkout. An early start to summer will be welcome by the kids but worrisome for the teachers who'll spend the time on the line worrying about being broke and getting sun stroke. That will change their resolve.

The government will keep the pay and use it to offer a slight increase when negotiations resume. A two-week strike in a 44-week school year is 4.5 per cent of their wage based on the 10-month pay schedule.

Premier Christy Clark might not like teachers, but her caucus has greatly benefitted from the tax dollars spent by the public on the education that got them to their privileged seats of power in the first place. The base salary for an MLA is $100,000, or twice as much as that of the average teacher. Perhaps the scariest lesson of all is that when it comes to public privilege and power in B.C., it pays to keep your mouth shut.

More blogs on the B.C. teachers' strike: