Opinion: Teachers and Government Need a Time Out

Dec 19 2017, 7:55 pm

Raffi, you need to Shake Your Sillies Out. That said, maybe both the Government and the BCTF need a healthy dose of The Sharing Song.


When it comes to the teacher strike, there has been some great back and forth and exchanging of ideas on social media these days. Even Premier Christy Clark got in on the action, except she should have probably remained quiet as she got a healthy dose of unsavory comments afterwards.

I understand Ms. Clark keeping her distance from the ordeal for now as she has an Education Minister to do her bidding, but if you are going to be quiet, then be quiet and that includes social media.

I’m sure a lot of parents are sick and tired of both sides, I know I am.

Most teachers that I have been twittering back and forth with have been super polite and relatively honest on the situation. In fact, over the last few weeks I have softened a tad towards the teacher’s plight.

Let’s not get carried away though, their union (BCTF) is run by a bunch of hardcore social activists who insist it is all about the children, when really it is not. It’s all about the Bordens (The Prime Minister on our Canadian Hundred Dollar Bill)

I don’t like the idea of teachers going without a pay cheque. The idea of families and people going through financial hardships because of this unnecessary strike is tough to hear. Will it be worthwhile?

My take is that class size and composition should not be solely decided upon by teachers but should include taxpayers and government. It is not something a union should decide. What’s next? Whales in captivity and legalization of marijuana?

From talking to teachers, most of them just want to be in school doing their jobs. There seems to be more of them speaking out, just listen to CKNW on any given day and you’ll hear them. You have to wonder how long the BCTF has before there is a fracture from within. I’m pretty sure the government is hoping sooner than later.

Speaking of our precious little government, they don’t have clean hands in all of this either. They are using some very tough tactics to beat the union down. It’s the whole starve them out and they will turn on each other strategy. It’s the power of the pocket book. The government knows they hold all the cards and to be honest they come across as bullies sometimes.

It’s all about the optics and regardless of what side you are on, as a parent I’m on the side of my child. My six-year-old daughter is just starting her long journey through our public education system. She is going into grade one and has been looking forward to getting back to school all summer long.

A week ago, she was excited about picking out her school supplies and new back pack; meanwhile there was some guilt in the back of my mind that her excitement would have to be put on hold.

Why was there guilt? Try explaining to a kid that adults can’t put their pettiness aside and get along. It seems that sometimes kids can be a lot more mature than us grownups.

Today was supposed to be the first day of a new adventure. There is something exciting and fun about the first day of school, something Mr. Fassbender and Mr. Iker need to be reminded of because they have stolen that from B.C. kids.

So as parents look at their Facebook news feeds and see all their friends and relatives across the country showing off their children’s first day of school photos, we can only sit in the background and grind our teeth with frustration.

I don’t have an answer on how to fix things. Okay maybe I do, but it would require a guillotine. Heads need to roll. Mr. Fassbender and Mr. Iker have done a piss poor job of communicating and negotiating. Maybe it is time for parents to intervene.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the BCTF. They want the government to negotiate class size and composition but at the same time they won’t come down from their insane salary, benefits and bonus demands. As a parent that is what is frustrating me the most.

Sorry teachers, but do you really need free massage therapy? How does that get my kid back into class? How is that about the children?

The teachers do deserve a raise but something that falls in line with what other union sectors have been given over the last couple of years. That is how a proper budget works and this is what we have elected our majority government to do.

The real problem is with composition. There are so many kids out there that are considered special needs who end up not getting the proper care they deserve. These students can also become a disruption in a classroom. There are some elephants in the room regarding this issue and although we try and delicately walk around them, a discussion is needed.

Was it the best idea to integrate some of these special needs children into the classroom? I’m sure there are various opinions and so if we are going to talk about education reform, this subject should be looked at in greater detail.

Composition is vast, complicated and something that should be put ahead of fair wages and class size and it appears a lot of parents do agree with that sentiment.

Yet here we are, me preaching the obvious, and almost rewriting the exact same column I did months ago when all of this started. Funny how nothing has changed over the summer.

B.C. Education definitely needs more funding but throwing a bucket of hundreds of millions of dollars at it without really fixing the core issues, will just bring us back to this very spot four to five years from now.

Over the last forty years in British Columbia, teachers have gone on strike fifty times. It’s obvious the current model of negotiating between these two parties is not working.

Maybe we need to look at each school district individually. Find out who needs what to improve things. It’s not the same everywhere. I know of schools that have done a wonderful job with  progressive education, and creating wonderful learning environments for kids. They do this with the budget they are given. I have also heard the horror stories of other schools that have gone in the exact opposite direction. So what gives?

BCTF President Mr. Iker has said that sports programs should not be cut, schools should have librarians and councillors etc… The problem is, some schools have these things and some schools don’t. It goes back to handling each district on an individual basis.

It’s ironic that when teachers see two kids fighting in the playground, they separate them, give them a breather, and once the emotions have subsided, the teacher brings the two kids together and a discussion on the matter ensues. Most of the time the problem is fixed, they say sorry, shake hands and move on and the fighting stops.

We need that teacher’s touch here. Mr. Iker and Mr. Fassbender, you definitely need a time-out.


What say you? How can we solve this crisis? Feel free to comment below, or tweet at @VanCityBuzz or me @TrevDueck. Give us your thoughts, but stay classy Vancouver and that includes you Raffi.


Feature Image: classroom detention via Shutterstock

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

+ News