Teachers in tough come September
By Ian Cobb
In one month we will begin to learn exactly how committed members of the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF) are in their bid to wrest more bucks from the B.C. government.
Finance Minister Mike de Jong’s recent announcement of a subsidy of $40 a day per child to parents of children 13 or younger, aimed to offset the costs of child care, tutoring or online courses, is more than a warning shot across the BCTF’s bow. It is a shot aimed mid-ship with intent to damage.
Essentially, the $40 a day per child, or roughly $12 million a day province-wide, is what it costs the province, in our taxpayer dollars, to run the education system.
It is obvious that Christy Clark’s Liberal government intends to continue going toe-to-toe with the BCTF.
Several weeks ago when Clark toured through the East Kootenay, she made it clear that she and her government colleagues are sick and tired of “years of bickering” between the provincial government and the teachers’ union.
“We’ve put about $1.2 billion on the table” for wages and class composition support. “It’s significant, but the BCTF wants $2.2 billion more. My bottom line is I believe teachers deserve a fair raise,” but classroom conditions must also be improved, she said.
“We have to find a way to get kids out of the middle of this. There is nothing more frustrating than a fight between adults that hurts kids and it is time for that to end,” she said, stating she’d like to see 10 years of labour peace emerge from the resolution she is confident will be found.
There was much whispering from government officials and sources at the time that there would be no legislating teachers back to work come the start of the school year in September and then de Jong announced the subsidy program.
There has been a loud uproar following the announcement, including a great deal of ire from union supporters and parents who want to see the government do a better job of solving this labour crisis.
It’s curious to see a government that marches to the beat of fiscal responsibility and tight-fistedness three of every four years state it won’t bank and save $12 million or so a day.
This money is being spent on the gamble that the public-at-large will grow weary of their convenient babysitting service/education tool for their children being waylaid at the start of a school year. There is the ominous vibe of a major pain in the ass for hundreds of thousands of people looming on the near horizon.
It was relatively easy for most parents to scramble and find babysitting etc. during the start of the strike, held in the final couple of weeks of the school year. The general sense was ‘oh well, good luck to them; this won’t matter to us in a couple of weeks.’
In the heat of summer, many parents sympathetic to the teachers can easily see the hardline nastiness of the provincial government and Tweet away in opposition.
But come September, with 10 months of a school year set to begin, objectivity and sympathy will wane as the pain in the ass turns into a major thorn in the foot.
The government has been called “divisive” in its fight with the teachers and that is accurate.
The government is also intending to hang in for the long haul, with the dice being rolled with the hope that the ‘average’ provincial parent will be on side with them after a month or so of no classes.
And we agree. Speaking as a grandparent who was part of the salve for the pain in the ass being experienced by a single mother who is barely getting by, we don’t just want the province and BCTF to solve this scrap, we DEMAND it.
If the province thinks it is going to actually help parents by forking out $40 a day for this inconvenience, it is delusional. And the government isn’t delusional (on this issue); it is annoyed and determined. This is window dressing and political gamesmanship, albeit ballsy.
It is signs of a government that is really cheesed off and it knows it has plenty of time to grind the BCTF down once and for all, or for 10 years at least.
The BCTF is truly in tough now. If this was a war, they are about to come under siege. Many of the people in the castle with them now will want out once the wear and tear starts to take a toll.
At the end of the day, nobody on either side of this scrap wants to see kids’ education being screwed over but that is exactly what is happening and will happen if it spills into the school year.
So with that simple thought in mind, to the BCTF and provincial government, we ask that you do your best to seek compromise and resolution or we the people are going to get really ticked off. Enough of the puffing chests, fist waving and shouting; get it done. You are on notice; your bosses (the people who pay the money you are fighting over) are not impressed.
And isn’t that just what the provincial government is expecting?