Dysfunctional ‘marriage’ hurting students

Christine Wood / Coast Reporter
April 25, 2014 11:05 AM

It’s during times like these that I wish I could be paid to home school or that there was a private school option available at little or no cost on the Coast.

For those of us who can’t afford the time or money to try something different, public school is the only choice for our kids and right now I don’t feel good about it.

It’s not that my kids’ teachers aren’t giving their all every day to the students in their classes and it’s not that there isn’t enough support from the school district, it’s that a bunch of adults who rely on each other can’t come to an agreement. This forced dysfunctional marriage between the teachers and the provincial government has resulted in public attacks against each other and there are little ears listening to the insults.

The unwillingness to give an inch from either side has resulted in a withdrawal of administrative duties and any mandated supervision of students (outside regular class time) by teachers, and while they want to make the province pay, right now it’s the principals who are being pinched.

Should this job action go into stage two, teachers are talking rotating strikes and while withdrawing administrative duties may not directly affect students, rotating strikes most definitely will.

Regardless of an escalation, tension has already developed between many teachers and principals who now must add more work to their busy schedules, and the kids can feel it.

Parents are obviously negatively impacted too. The uneasy feeling a strike gives a parent, whether stage one or stage seven, is a constant concern that has them scanning the news sites for any sign of an end.

We parents of public school students are left with few options. Teachers want us to chastise the government and pressure them to give into teacher demands for more money, more specialist teachers and smaller class sizes.

The government wants us to turn our anger towards teachers and tell them there’s no more money in the budget, no matter what they do.

Suddenly I feel like a kid caught in the middle of a messy divorce, only these two sides aren’t allowed to split!

Here’s what I want, and it happens to be what my kids want too: I want smaller class sizes. My kids need more one-on-one support and from talking to other moms, I understand it’s a common concern.

I want more specialist teachers, so students who need them aren’t being left behind academically.

And I want teachers to feel they are making a good wage, but I don’t think the province can afford a 13.5 per cent wage hike over three years. There’s got to be a magic number in there somewhere, but both sides have to be willing to give.

That’s the main problem. I don’t think anyone’s willing to give anymore. Both sides seem to feel slighted and, just like in a bad marriage, they’ve put up walls and can only see the negative things about each other.

I challenge both sides to get a new perspective before they sit back down at the bargaining table.

Have a look at this situation through a child’s eyes and find some room for compromise. Kids need to be able to learn in a stable, fun and safe environment and you were either elected or hired to meet those needs.

Work it out, for the children’s sake.


© Coast Reporter

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