The provincial government and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation have an assignment and it’s due next week: resolve this labour dispute.
The teachers’ strike began in the spring semester and there’s now a real possibility it will impact the fall semester. There are no signs of progress or reasons for optimism. The B.C. Public Schools Employers’ Association, representing the government, and the BCTF, representing 40,000 teachers, claim not to be speaking publicly about the bargaining, but that’s OK, because there doesn’t seem to be any bargaining to speak of. The two sides continue to argue over wages and class size and composition, as they have for months.
We kind of understand that there wasn’t an urgency to spend these last couple of months at the bargaining table, when summer holidays beckoned and back to school seemed a long way away. But somewhere along the line, both sides should have noticed that there was a deadline approaching. They should have circled the day after Labour Day in their homework planners and realized that’s when they have to submit their work to us – B.C. taxpayers and families – or risk a failing grade.
As it stands right now, the government and the teachers should not be proud of the work they’re expected to hand in on Tuesday. Sure, they can spin their stubbornness as resolve and good intentions. They can throw us $40 a day, something shiny to distract us from what we really want.
This Sept. 2 deadline matters to British Columbians. Our kids need to go to school, not just for an education, not just for a place to go, but for both those reasons and a million others.
We knew school was going to be out for summer; we know school isn’t going to be out forever. It should be in session, as scheduled, or else both sides get an F for effort.