With the teachers’ strike looking like it is finally coming to an end, the question needs to be asked: What next?
The immediate job, of course, is getting students back behind their desks. That is, assuming both the province and the teachers ratify the tentative agreement reached in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
But in the long term, we need a solution to terminate the seemingly endless labour disputes between the province and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. Students looking forward to graduating this year, after 12 years in the system, have never known an educational environment free from labour strife.
They’re not likely to be the last students to be able to claim that. Even as teachers head into classrooms. There is still the issue of class size and composition currently before the B.C. Supreme Court, a legal dispute over contract language the two sides have been squabbling over since 2002.
That’s just the latest salvo in over four decades of labour unrest and bickering between the province and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, with more than 50 strikes, lockouts and labour actions since the first province-wide teachers strike in March 1971.
Robbing students of education through strikes and lockouts is bad enough, but that much strife is not a record that either the province or the BCTF should be proud of, certainly nothing that would earn either side an A for effort.
We’re doing this to protect our student’s education is a catchphrase used by both sides. It’s time to make that principle a reality, rather than just a sound bite. Stop the game-playing and work to build a sustainable relationship between educators and the government, and put an end to the never-ending cycle of disputes. Now that would be a lesson to pass on to the province’s students.