EDITORIAL: North Okanagan students are finding a voice

North Okanagan teens, as well as those across B.C., walked out of class Friday to have their say.

North Okanagan teens, as well as those across B.C., walked out of class Friday to have their say.

And while some parents may have wrestled with their children missing the last hour of their studies or they had philosophical differences with their kids’ support of teachers, it was a legitimate protest.

After all, both the teachers and the provincial government go on at length about how they have the best interests of students in mind. But if they did, this dispute wouldn’t have got as far as it has. Both sides would have sat down, tried to find some middle ground and toned down the name-calling — something we encourage our children to do when conflicts arise.

Missing throughout the dialogue has been our youth — those who are directly impacted by the inflexible attitudes of the B.C. Teachers Federation and Education Minister George Abbott. Because they are there every day, students can bring a unique perspective on what happens in classrooms.

Now Friday’s rallies were organized by students who support the teachers, and that is not surprising given the close relationships teens can develop with their teachers. But there are also students who have looked at the situation and have concerns about the union’s demands, particularly a wage hike.

If adults can learn anything, it’s that our youth aren’t just fixated on the latest technological gadget before them. They are inquisitive about the world around them. They are speaking up and finding a voice.

And given that they are going to be our future teachers, politicians, parents and business leaders, we should be encouraging them to embrace the democratic process and become active.

—The Morning Star