My Hour on a Teacher Picket Line

This week I spent an hour with teachers from my son’s school on the picket line.  It was an interesting experience, and one that has left me thinking about it for days.

While there were the occasional honks from drivers passing by, there were also the drivers making rude, or impolite gestures at teachers.  While both of these stand out, the more I thought about it, the thing that really stood out was the general apathy of those driving by.  Most didn’t care one way or the other, or at least they didn’t express support with a honk, and disdain with a gesture.

I have to wonder if it were nurses, firemen, or policemen on that picket line if people would have made rude gestures or been so apathetic.  Why is it we see teachers differently than these other occupations that provide valuable and often lifesaving services.  Why is education not seen as life-changing, valuable, and honourable?  The BC Government is sure drilling home the point that they aren’t worth it by their media sound bites and propaganda.  How much are those ads on Facebook costing us anyway?

The Government is spending $9 million dollars a day, according to a recent CTV article by Harvey Oberfeld, http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/ctv-exposes-myth-of-no-money-to-settle-teachers-dispute/.  This is just the money they are paying for daycare for parents of children under 13.  As one of the commenters added, this doesn’t even consider the money that they are paying to CUPE members to stay at home, which was a deal they negotiated in their contract at the end of May.

The Government is totally ignoring the high school students.  The ones whose entire futures are on the line as they should be focusing on applying for scholarships and university right now.

How did we get to the point where educators, the people parents partner with to shape the minds of our children and prepare them for adulthood mean so little?  Why do we see them as less important than our child’s doctor?  The doctor doesn’t shape the mind our of child or prepare them to maneuver the rigors of adulthood.  They treat our child when they are sick, they make sure they are overall healthy once a year during a routine physical, but they have very little contact with our child in general.  Yet the adults, the ones they spend nine months of the year, five days a week, six hours per day with seem to be dispensable and easily cast aside. At least in the minds of the BC Liberal Government, in my opinion.

How do we expect strong motivation from teachers to continue to make strides in the way they teach and offer curriculum when they are constantly being told they are undeserving of improvements inside the classroom, and to funding increases for education?  Would any of you feel like staying in a relationship where your partner belittled you constantly, threatened you, and made you feel worthless repeatedly?  This is the legacy the Government is leaving for teachers.  A wound that is so deep it can’t properly heal. It is a wound that will fester and inflame further as time goes on.  While we will eventually get a settlement; the pay raise, the increase in classroom support and funding will do little to ease the hurt that this on-going dispute will leave behind.  Brokenness does not lead to innovation. Anger doesn’t produce gains in education.

The Government’s short-sightedness in saving a loonie today leaves us with a stream of brokenness, littered with un-kept promises of families first. The reality is, they haven’t even saved a loonie when it is costing the taxpayers $9 million dollars per day in daycare subsidies.  Money that should have been paid to the schools to educate our children who are getting further behind their peers in other Provinces every day they remain at home.

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