The crisis in B.C. is an engineered one. It was deliberately set in motion in 2002 when the B.C. Liberal government tore up the teachers' contract. For which they have been sued in court and lost. Twice.
If you live in British Columbia you HAVE heard about it and the current teachers' strike. Maybe even in the rest of Canada. And some of you around the world have heard of it thanks to the power of social media.
Maybe for you it's background hum, another boring news story. Not your problem.
For me it's a problem.
I am a parent of two high school students. My kids started in the system in 2002 when things went awry and I have had a front seat view of the increasing "asks" from schools for basic supplies, seen the dated textbooks, the overworked counsellors. I've seen kids with complex needs from complex families struggling to get what they need.
My kids are lost in the shuffle because they are not at the very top or the very bottom. They could use more teacher face time but it isn't there.
I have seen my kids' teachers standing on cold sidelines cheering them on at 4 p.m. on a Friday across the city because they volunteered to sponsor the team. I don't want my kids' teachers to be overworked, under-motivated and overwhelmed.
My daughter is entering Grade 12. Do I want her in school for a year of productive education starting September? You betcha.
Am I worried that the government meddling in the Socials 11 exam might jeopardize her applications to universities? Oh yes I am.
Have I sent several emails to my MLA and the minister of education? Sure have. I am a mom. I want my kids in school. Good school.
I'm also the wife of a teacher. I live this crisis alongside him.
I see what this crisis and attendant media circus is doing to him. To his morale. To his desire to stay in this profession he loves and excels at.
None of it is good.
Like the vast majority of his colleagues, he's not an 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. teacher. We leave home together at 7 a.m. and he is often not home before 5 p.m. He's sponsoring clubs and sports teams; helping kids who need more time, more instruction than the current classroom environment allows; helping kids work through issues -- not always educational issues but sometimes life ones. Because "life" happens inside those school walls, and kids need adults who give a damn while they figure it out.
They need mentors and role models -- not some worn out, faceless dude at the front of a classroom that you never get to talk to.
My husband gave up a week of his Spring Break to chaperone a trip. 24/7 for two weeks with no breaks. That's commitment, people. Not to a paycheck but to kids. To offering kids experiences and opportunities that change lives. To building relationships that make school better for those kids.
But I see how much his marking has increased, hear his stories of class sizes that jeopardize safety, of dwindling budgets. I see his weariness, his demoralization.
Why would ANY government disrespect the people teaching their children? Lock them out but ask them to volunteer to do their work for free?
Sometimes on the several sleepless nights I have had this summer I try to play out a scenario where we get out of this crisis happy, satisfied. And then I wake up -- and the pit returns to my stomach.
I have engaged, I have been to protests. I have written letters, emails, shared Facebook posts.
I have been in struggles before; I know that hopelessness is the enemy... that if we believe we are beat then we are beat.
Tonight I am angry. I am sad and I am worried. But I am NOT beat.
RELATED ON HUFFPOST:
Related blogs on The Huffington Post B.C.:
- I Will Hold The Line For B.C.'s Public Education System - Cecelia Griffiths, teacher
- A Teacher's Appeal To BC Liberals Of Conscience - Lizanne Foster, teacher
- Private Schools Aren't The Only Place For Diverse Education In B.C. - Ashley D. MacKenzie, teacher
- A Letter To B.C. Parents, From A Striking Teacher - Sarah Collins, teacher/author
- Simple Math For B.C. Teachers: Economic Growth = Higher Wages - Jordan Bateman, Canadian Taxpayers Federation