Local teachers held an open house at the Golden Senior Centre on May 9 to answer questions from local parents about what is happening during the current labour dispute with the provincial government. The two hour event was organized by local teachers and the local branch of the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation. Parents could stop by to ask any questions at the event.
Jennifer Isaac was one of the parents in attendance who has two students in local schools.
She said she felt it was important to stop by the event for many reasons.
“One of the traditions they do for grade sevens is a trip to Blue Lake. My son came home with tears in his eyes the other day saying the teachers can’t help. I wanted to come and see what I could do to help,” Isaac said. “It has been hard for my daughter as well. She is in grade nine and was supposed to go on a class trip with the band and it got cancelled as well. There is only so much we can do but I want to know what if anything can be done.”
Janett Schulz, who has two sons in Lady Grey Elementary, also came by the event.
“I came here to support the teaches and get more background information on what point we are at right now,” Schulz said. “It is very unfortunate to see the teachers have to go this way. I think it is good the teachers are taking a stand.”
Schulz went on to explain that to her education is not being given the importance it deserves.
“Education is the future and the government does not see the future is built with the kids,” Schulz said.
Isaac also felt it is important to support the teachers but feels this action has gone on too long.
“I understand why the teachers are such a priority for the education. I look at the young children and do not understand how you could have 21 and make sure they get the education they need,” Isaac said. As for the job action going on as long as it has Isaac said she felt it was ridiculous. “They need to sit down and do what needs to be done instead of pulling punches.”
Schulz explained she does understand the reason behind what the teachers are doing but it is hard for the students who have lost a great deal during this whole experience.
“I didn’t think it would go on for so long. It is almost like there is a wall where there is no communication. The government seems very strict and will not negotiate,” Schulz said.
Local parent and town councillor Chris Hambruch also attended the event and feels that many things need to change in the way Canadian schools are being run.
“I probably have a different perspective on things. My oldest is 32 and my youngest is 12. They have been in the education system for some time. I am hopeful my youngest can come out of the system better than the older ones,” Hambruch said. “I think education in general in this entire country needs to have a serious reconsideration with an end goal to achieve good education for those who come through the system,” Hambruch said. “I think we need to sit down and redo the whole thing. Not in an adversarial manner but in a co-operative way. The educators are the people who know what needs to happen and the legislators take recommendations from them.”
Hambruch said he feels this is a lot of protectionism from both sides which has led to an adversarially battle for many years where no one is willing to back down.
“The kids are being hurt. The people who need the education are being left out,” Hambruch said. “As a parent we need to be more involved to make sure the kids get what you as a parent think they need. You have to advocate for your children and the teachers will help you.”
He added that there is a middle of the road out there if people are willing to work together to be found.
He hopes going forward the dispute will be resolved but added the approach being taken is one which will not work. “Both sides, I don’t point a finger at one side. If you are a negotiator then you sit down and negotiate in good faith to come up with reasonable agreements for everyone involved.”