It’s very good news that the B.C. government and the B.C. Teachers Federation have come to a contract agreement. If teachers vote to ratify it on Thursday, it appears students will be back in school by possibly Monday, Tuesday at the latest.
Credit for the settlement rests primarily with veteran mediator Vince Ready, who was able to get two very entrenched sides to bend enough that they could come to an agreement.
On his first attempt, neither side was willing to budget and he quickly determined it was a waste of his time to remain involved for the moment.
Obviously something happened while he waited for a more conciliatory tone from both sides, likely caused by the growing frustration of parents, which were largely favouring neither side, but simply wanted classes to resume.
The BC Teachers’ Federation and the government deserve credit for finally getting down to brass tacks, after far too many false starts in the past several months.
The agreement will not resolve the court cases over the 2002 contract stripping by the BC Liberal government, which was the underlying issue which kept the two sides far apart.
That matter will go to the B.C. Court of Appeal next month, after two B.C. Supreme Court judgments that went against the provincial government.
Hopefully, that matter will be settled sooner rather than later, but given the glacial pace of court proceedings and the likelihood that the Court of Appeal decision will be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, a final resolution on class size and composition in B.C. schools is still years away.
From the beginning, this strike was all about the students, and the quality of their education in our public school system, according to both the teachers and government. Given how this dispute unfolded, most parents will and should now look to teachers and the provincial government to live up to prove the integrity of those statements through their actions.