By David F. Rooney
Striking teachers received tangible support from parents and children who came out to join their pickets outside local school on Tuesday, September 2.
“It’s very frustrating,” said mom Britt Hunchak as she joined a small clutch of teachers in front of Columbia Park Elementary.
“Class size and composition are very important issues. I noticed it in one of my son’s classes. One student had an aide but I’ll bet there were four other kids in the class who could have had one – but didn’t.”
Class size and composition are major issues for BC’s teachers who want to see limits to both the size of the classes they teach and extra help for children with special needs in those classes. All too often, teachers say, kids who require the assistance of an educational assistant or aide don’t receive it. That forces the teacher to devote more time to them as opposed to the rest of the class. (Please click here to read a thoughtful description of the class size and composition issue by Vancouver School Board trustee Reema Faris.)
Hunchak was one of the at least 30 parents who braved the rain to join Tuesday’s cool and damp picket lines.
While that undoubtedly gladdened the hearts of teachers, the continued disruption of school was disheartening for School District 19 officials.
“It is extremely disappointing that this labour dispute is once again impacting our students, staff and our entire school community,” SD 19 Superintendent Mike Hooker said in a letter for parents. “I am hopeful that the current impasse is resolved quickly and that our students are back in schools as soon as possible.”
However, that does not appear to be likely this week. Even if both sides reached an agreement today teachers would still need to vote on it and that would take at least a couple of days to accomplish.
The government and the BC Teachers’ Federation continue blaming each other for the failure of negotiations and mediator Vince Ready, who many people hoped could resolve the impasse left the negotiations last week saying the two sides were too far apart for mediation to work.
Money is one stumbling block. Teachers want an 8% pay increase over five years while the government is offering them just 5%. The teachers say they have not seen a wage increase in years while the government points to the 125,000 other public servants who accepted 5% over five years and says that if it was good enough for them it should be good enough for the teachers.
For more information please see:
- Local information at www.sd19.bc.ca;
- A parent information website created by the Ministry of Education at http://bcparentinfo.ca;
- The perspective of the BC School Trustees’ Association at http://www.bcsta.org;
- The BCTF’s point of view at http://www.bctf.ca;
- The BC Public School Employers’ Association take on things at http://www.bcpsea.bc.ca/;and
- the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils at http://bccpac.bc.ca.