A hundred North Vancouver elementary school parents are patting themselves on the back today because they volunteered to ensure an end-of-year track meet took place at Swangard Stadium.
Normally run by teachers, the event almost didn’t happen today due to rotating strikes across the province.
While this track meet could have been rescheduled, the school district opted to cancel it outright, making it look like striking teachers were big mean villains who didn’t want students to enjoy a day of athleticism for which they’d trained for months.
In an interview with the CBC, parent Mathew Young, who rounding up volunteers for the event, said, “We're not here to make a political statement at all. We're here to say it's unacceptable to us as parents that the kids are not being put first."
If this is really about putting kids first, like Young said, every single parent in this province should be supporting the teachers 100 percent.
A parent stepped up and found a solution to the problem, and it was a lot of work, right?
Now think about it from a teacher’s perspective: they do this all year long. Hours upon hours are spent coaching sports teams, providing school trips, marking your child’s homework, drafting lesson plans, supervising recess, running track meets, conducting after-class music programs, ensuring school plays takes place, et cetera, ad nauseum.
And they do this for free.
If parents want to put kids first, they wouldn’t be blaming the teachers for striking.
No, they would be joining them on the picket lines—and they would be demanding that Premier Christy Clark give the teachers a fair wage increase as well as increasing education funding in general.
The 2014/2015 budget froze K-12 spending for three years, while last year’s budget only increased education funding by $22 million—which was a whole .44 percent of the province’s $5 billion budget.
To be clear: I’m not a parent. I am not a student. I graduated from high school 15 years ago, so it’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with the day to day experience of public education.
However, I started elementary school in 1987—the same year that B.C. teachers gained the right to strike and full collective bargaining abilities. There were 48 strikes in B.C. between then and 1994, which was the year the NDP government imposed provincial bargaining legislation on teachers. By the time I graduated high school in 1999, I had been through so many teachers’ strikes I couldn’t count them all.
Through all that, my teachers worked hard to make sure their students had a positive educational experience and graduated on time, even when class sizes were growing and wages were frozen.
Teachers are moulding a new generation of people—your children. Why wouldn’t you want the absolute best possible education for your kids? Don’t you care about them? So, why wouldn’t you want teachers paid a reasonable wage for the hours they work?
You know what else teachers are? Free childcare so you can go to work. If you don’t want teachers to make more money, why aren’t you lobbying the provincial government for universal daycare?
Yes, there are problems, and not every teacher is a saint. It can be difficult to get rid of problematic teachers. But do you think that if maybe you compensated teachers better, you would attract better quality candidates? Did you ever consider that highly educated people don’t want to work for shit pay and contribute unpaid hours on top of that? And do you suppose that maybe if class sizes were a little smaller, teachers wouldn’t be so burnt out?
Let’s be clear: the average minimum salary for a B.C. teacher is $48,000, while the average maximum salary is $74,000. That works out to $23 to $35 an hour—provided a teacher only works 40 hours a week. If they work even 20 more hours a week than that, that turns into $15 to $23 an hour before taxes.
Teachers are not getting fat off the provincial teat. They are getting by just like the rest of us in this province.
According to Stats Canada, B.C. spends less than $12,000 per student per year. Maybe if education was funded the way it needs to be, adequate numbers of teachers and support staff could be hired, which would lead to healthier, happier teachers, staff members, and students.
Why aren’t you mad at your MLA? Why not stop calling teachers lazy and hold your elected officials accountable? When you have to take a day off work because you can’t find childcare (because, hey, B.C. doesn’t have a universal childcare program), you should march them down to your MLA’s office and ask them to baby sit. An MLA’s base salary is $101,859. Why aren’t you mad about that?
Christy Clark—who makes over $193,000 a year—and her government are bullying teachers and they are bullying you. By locking teachers out from their workplaces, the government is the one that is causing your scheduling headaches, sporting event cancellations, and inconveniencing students.
It’s great that the 100 parents from North Vancouver found enough community spirit to come through for their children today, but what about the other 364 days of the year? Why do parents let these sorts of events fall solely on the shoulders of these damn lazy teachers you keep moaning about?
In 2001, the B.C. Liberal government declared teachers to be an essential service, but nothing the government has done since then reflects that classification. If teachers are essential to the operation of the province, treat them as such.
Support the teachers. Right now, they’re the only ones putting your children first.