Opinion Column


B.C. teachers should be praised for trying to fix broken classrooms

By Laila Yuile, City Hall




Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of last week’s duel on civil disobedience was Laila with 67%.

This week’s topic:

Did the strike vote by B.C. teachers help or hurt their cause?

As results came in last week for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation strike vote, I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take for the pro-government supporters to start spinning the news on social media. Within seconds of the live-streamed announcement the first anti-teacher tweets began, calling out those dreadful teachers for using our children as political pawns.

What they would like parents to forget is that the government calling out the BCTF for holding a “premature” strike vote is the same government that was recently criticized by a B.C. Supreme Court justice for failing to negotiate in good faith. For years, while the government has been pointing fingers at teachers, the only people using our children as political pawns have been those with the Liberal government.

As a parent of four, this strike vote didn’t fill me with sadness or gloom at all. In fact, like many other parents I know who were appalled by the court’s ruling in January — declaring the government tried to provoke a strike with teachers — I was buoyed by hope the results would show the government these negotiations need to be taken seriously.

Read Brent Stafford's column

It hasn’t been the teachers who have been in the wrong all this time, it’s been the government. Teachers in this province used to have a collective agreement that ensured smaller class sizes and guaranteed crucial classroom supports that are essential to education — supports like special education assistants, counsellors and teacher-librarians. When the government stripped those rights out of the agreement, all kids suffered from a lack of access to the supports they need, with children who require special education support impacted the most.

The thing that’s bewildering to me in all of this is why the government refuses to see the direct impact of their failed education agenda in the classroom.

BCTF president Jim Iker is a smart, reasonable man and has been around the block with this government long enough to know its tricks.

The BCTF hasn’t given up its strong position in holding a strike vote — teachers just solidified it by showing they take this seriously. Seriously enough that if the government again resorts to political treachery and insincere bargaining to further their own political agenda, the union must consider further action.

Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.






Who wins this week's duel on the B.C. teachers' strike vote?

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