This is a painful blog post to write. I have stopped talking about the strike because the feelings from everyone are strong and fiery, and almost always framed in a way that leave me defending the teacher union position.
Let me start by saying I am on the picket line. I am a due paying member of the BCTF and I am also a taxpayer. This means that I am paying for both sides of the labour dispute.
I echo the sentiments well summarized in Alex Tsumakis’ article. The intention of the government is not about restoring public education, nor is their intention to negotiate an agreement. This is personal, and there is a strategic, well calculated plan to break and bankrupt the BCTF.
Fassbender introduced the 40 dollar a day scheme and comprehensive website that was two months in the making.
As Neil Godbout from the Prince George Citizen writes:
The Liberals came to the table with a [simple] strategy. Break the union. It was never about the kids or about education. It wasn't even about winning. It was about administering a crushing defeat in the most humiliating fashion possible
The Liberal government has been clear by their practice, that they are not willing to take any responsibility for the Supreme Court Ruling supporting Class Size and Composition Language. This is a big deal if you are a teacher in a classroom with a group of students with increasingly complex and diverse learning needs and challenges. This is a big deal if you are a parent of a child who has complex and diverse learning needs and challenges. It should be important to all of us but I am not so sure it is.
More importantly, the government has relinquished its responsibility to ensure children have access to public education. One of the key responsibilities of any government is to protect our public spaces and public education. Children should be able to assume that they have access to public education. As 16 year old Callista Ryan writes, public education is a basic human right according to the United Nations Treaty on the Conventions on the Rights of the Child.
This should matter to all of us.
The BCTF has their part in this, and a mighty big one I might add and I will definitely get to that in my next blog post, but our elected government has the responsibility to ensure public education remains open.
Instead, government has chosen to use their power and their financial resources (which we all have provided via our taxes) in toppling a union. That is fundamentally not okay with me, and it should fundamentally NOT be okay for all of us desiring a society that puts access to education as a non negotiable.