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Backlash begins over empty classrooms

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Classrooms are expected to stay empty at least for the rest of this week. (FILE PHOTO)

Classrooms are expected to stay empty at least for the rest of this week. (FILE PHOTO)

Parents aren’t holding their breath that public schools will resume this week — or this month, for that matter.


Richmond District Parents’ Association president Anne Chen said she lost hope of any return to school when mediator Vince Ready walked out of negotiations over the weekend.

But she’s well aware of pressures on both sides — some parents have called for MLAs to step down, and others who are teachers are calling for union leaders to wrap up the dispute.

She’s hoping those pressures would cause one side to buckle before the month’s end.

“This is going into our 12th week of no school ... now parents are going rogue. There are a lot of parents coming out of the woodwork — they’re upset,” Chen said Monday.

However, there’s little parents can do aside from urging both sides to adopt a long-term agreement, she said. Some parents are set to stage protests at various offices of MLAs around the province today and anger has been palpable on social media since talks broke down.

Chen has already spoken multiple times with the school board, MLAs and other parents around the province for a solution.

“The bottom line is parents aren’t sure what they can do.”

The situation is similar in Vancouver, where District Parent Advisory Council chairwoman Melanie Antweiler said parents are willing to wait if they have to, as long as it doesn’t end in a “BandAid solution.”

“Whenever there’s been legislation back to work, it doesn’t solve any of the core issues and I don’t want that to happen again.”

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said on Sunday the two sides are no closer than they were before.

“School is not going to be opening on Tuesday and that, indeed, the strike is going to continue,” he said.

Fassbender said he put out a proposal to suspend lockout provisions and for teachers to suspend the strike, but “did not hear back.”

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation, meanwhile, said it trimmed its package by $125 million in attempt to “kick-start meaningful talks.”

“Unfortunately, the government did not indicate they were willing to make any meaningful moves in return,” said Jim Iker, BCTF president, in a statement.


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