It is Monday morning, just over a week before school is scheduled to begin, and there is no word of any pending deal between the B.C. Teacher’s Federation (BCTF) and the provincial government.
The last time there was word from the two parties, they seemed so far apart that a resolution seemed unlikely. Aside from class size and composition, the two sides seemed far apart on wages and a signing bonus. While I may be wrong, anyone holding their breath for a return to the classroom on Tuesday morning may want to exhale.
This year’s seemingly bi-annual teacher job action has had a polarizing effect on the people of B.C. — some point the finger of blame squarely at the government while others point the finger of blame squarely at the BCTF. But the truth of the matter is that, in this case, it takes two parties to make negotiations work and it takes two parties to make negotiations fail.
Aside from the last few weeks, both the government and the teachers have turned this round into a public-relations war, with each side having its own unique ammunition. For the government, they are using your tax dollars in the battle of popular opinion. The teachers, meanwhile, are using the students and youth of the province as fodder to win support.
In both cases, the arguments are seemingly filled with half-truths and innuendo.
The province says it doesn’t have the money to pay teachers more or put additional resources into the classroom. Maybe the government would if they pulled their heads out of the vote-rich Lower Mainland and looked at the province as a whole. Instead of putting money into new bridges and improved stadiums, put it into the classroom.
For the teachers, to say what you are doing is all for the children is tough to believe when the BCTF is asking for a larger signing bonus for all of its members. A signing bonus in no way, shape or form helps students and it is money that could go back into the classroom.
Even if a settlement is reached before month’s end, neither the province nor the BCTF should be given a free pass on this latest debacle.