As thousands of B.C. elementary, middle and high school students head back to class today, they do so under a cloud.
The example being set for them by the adults who oversee their education is nothing short of a poor one.
For months the government, through the organization that represents school districts across this province and the union that represents teachers in B.C., have had the opportunity to negotiate a new contract but have failed to do so. During the summer both sides showed little enthusiasm for even trying to negotiate.
Sure, there was lots of public talk but little of it was actually directed at the other side across a negotiating table.
As a result, students are heading back to school with a teachers’ strike hanging over their heads. Teachers will still teach but a raft of other duties, all important to the proper functioning of the elementary and secondary education system in this province, will go wanting.
Both sides point the finger of blame at the other for the impasse. But once again, it is the kids who are caught in the middle of a fight between adults.
The kids are suffering because the grown-ups can’t get their act together.
If the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association were to receive a report card like their students, the mark would have to be an F. Ironically, reports cards are one of the duties teachers are refusing to do as part of this first phase of job action.
Both sides may claim to be right but no matter which side is correct, what’s important is they get back to the table and hammer out a deal so the young people who are will benefit from an education can do so.
Both sides also claim to have students’ best interests at heart.
Alistair Waters is the Capital News assistant editor.