A sliver of optimism is visible this weekend as the two sides in the B.C. teachers’ strike remained silent Friday while lead negotiators met behind closed doors. Nevertheless, emotions continue to run high for parents, students and teachers, and there are several signs of that as the strike is almost certain to stretch into a 10th day of cancelled 2014-15 classes on Monday.
10 a.m. Sunday, Vancouver
A so-called “super rally” calling for arbitration is being organized at the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown for Sunday morning, plainly backing teachers. From the organizers:
This is going to be big. Organized by parents, backed by students. Arbitration is supported by public officials across the province, including the Vancouver City Mayor. We want to hear your voice in support of public education.
Attendees are being asked to wear red, and the rally will begin at the gallery’s north plaza. More details here.
5 p.m. Sunday, Surrey
A peaceful protest in support of public education will take place at Holland Park on Old Yale Rd., according to organizers.
Raffi Cavoukian, the beloved children’s entertainer who has made no secret of his support for teachers and anger at the provincial government, wrote a blog post for the Huffington Post Friday detailing his position.
It pains me to conclude that my provincial government lacks heart, and it has its priorities backwards. It views public education as a costly burden, not an investment in kids, our future, and a requirement for enlightened culture.
I’ve been reflecting on why the months-long dispute between the B.C. government and teachers has shaken me so. Why should I be this bothered about a labour dispute? Why am I so mad at Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender — aren’t there two sides to any story?
In a letter sent to The Globe and Mail this week, one teacher pulls no punches in his disdain for both sides but especially the union, and ends up supporting a legislated settlement:
For three months the teachers’ strike has seriously hurt students and parents, and sullied the image of the province. So a solution is long past due.
The BCTF is fighting an ideological, polarized battle against the government and has no intention of stopping its action, despite its futility, despite its cost to member teachers, despite its cost to students, despite its cost to public education (which it purports to defend).
Individual teachers cannot bring this strike action to an end. Article 1 of the BCTF Code of Ethics states: “The teacher acts in a manner not prejudicial to job actions or other collective strategies of her or his professional union.”
Parents are divided and busy making arrangements for their children, so their pressure, while appreciable, is not enough to end the strike.
So there is only one party left — the government. They have essential services law. The Minister of Labour can say the dispute threatens the health, safety, and welfare of people in the province, and especially students.
The ball is in the government’s court. Further inaction by Minister of Education Peter Fassbender is inexcusable and should cost him his job.
Jim McMurtry, public school teacher, Surrey