School unlikely for our little Dicks and Janes this week

By David F. Rooney

Attention, Revelstoke parents: Don’t plan on sending your little Dick or Jane off to school this week. However, you may want to make a placard of your own and go picket your nearest school.

In the wake of mediator Vince Ready’s walk out of the perennially stalled labour negotiations between the teachers’ union and the province, local educators are asking school children’s parents to join them on the picket line on Tuesday, September 2.

“Parents, students, teachers, and other community members concerned with the current state of education in BC have been invited to join teachers on the picket lines in front of local schools at noon for about half an hour or so,” RSS English teacher Erin Williams said in an e-mail to The Current.

You can also expect to see teachers handing out flyers downtown this week.

This is, of course, all in support of their ongoing strike.

The BC Teachers’ Federation job action shows no sign of ending. Even the efforts of mediator Vince Ready have so far failed. He walked out of a meeting between the union and the BC Public School Employers saying they were too far apart for mediation to be successful.

Here in Revelstoke, School District 19’s support staff and teachers worked last week to get their classrooms ready for the resumption of school. But that vote of confidence in the ability — and willingness — of BCTF and BCPSEA negotiators to reach an agreement was misplaced.

On Sunday BCTF President Jim Iker called on Premier Christy Clark to meet with him to help reach a fair settlement to the current strike/lockout before September 2.

Iker said that during weekend talks with Vince Ready, the BCTF trimmed its package by $125 million. By contrast, the BC Public School Employers’ Association did not bring one penny to the table. Furthermore, the government is insisting upon a court case escape clause, that would in effect nullify two class size and composition wins in the BC Supreme Court and any future decision in teachers’ favour.

“The BCPSEA didn’t get the job done this weekend,” Iker said. “They weren’t prepared or authorized to make the moves necessary to get the deal done. Now it’s up to the premier to step in and help get this deal done so that kids and teachers can get back to class.”

As of Sunday afternoon there was no word from Premier Clark as to whether she would intervene to facilitate an end to the strike. And even if she did intervene, a return to class this week is still unlikely because teachers would have to vote on a proposed contract. So, barring a miracle it appears unlikely that Dick and Jane will be back in school before next week.