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EDITORIAL: Summer strike
School’s out and British Columbia’s teachers are still on strike.
Or are they?
Drive past any of the province’s more than 1,600 public schools and the picketing teachers who waved at passing motorists, eliciting horns of support or scorn, are absent. Their signs pleading for better education for their students with smaller classrooms and better class composition are packed away.
For all intents and purposes, it looks like another routine summer holiday season around BC’s schools.
And yet it’s not.
The acrimonious dispute that put the teachers on the street, and kids’ education on hold, continues.
But there are no longer pickets to remind us that the strike is still on.
That may be a missed opportunity for the teachers’ union to score a point in the battle for public support in this dispute.
Continuing to picket the province’s schools through the summer, even in a skeleton fashion, would have been a constant reminder of what this dispute is about. Teachers could have shown their commitment to the cause they say they’re fighting for by continuing that fight even when they’re normally on holiday.
And maintaining pickets through the summer would have increased the pressure on the government to reach an agreement, as CUPE workers had pledged to honour teachers’ picket lines meaning routine summer maintenance, repairs and paperwork wouldn’t get done.
The provincial government is relying on public perception that teachers are already well paid and get to enjoy two months off every year to win support for its position.
Seeing pickets march in the hot summer sun might have won fans for the teachers.