Opinion

The endless summer of our discontent

Aslan is coming! Aslan is coming!

I mean, Vince Ready is coming!

In the enchanted land of Narnia — I mean, B.C. —  it was endless summer, just like the Beach Boys compilation album. It was endless summer, but never vacation — for the parents were restless, anxious and angry. The children were bored and unfulfilled. That’s endless summer for you. It’s like endless winter without Christmas, only different.

When summer stretches into September, into October, into — what’s that you say? Possibly November? — that’s not summer vacation. That’s a long period of unemployment.

When a teachers’ strike/government lockout begins at the end of the school year, one would think it would be easy to forget about it, as summer vacation begins. But no one really did, neither parents nor students. “How will they resolve the issue before September,” we asked plaintively. “What will happen if they don’t? How will it affect our kids if school doesn’t begin in (two/three/four) months? What contingency plans can we make? OVM (Oy Vey ist Mir)!

“The two sides are so far apart. The bitterness, mutual distrust and dislike goes back so many years. Is this the end of public education as we know it? Oh woe!”

But, what’s this? A rumour of hope!

Mediator Vince Ready has agreed to monitor the situation between teachers and the Province, and will commence full mediation if signs indicate it could be a productive step. Oh my goodness!

Just like the arrival of the Christlike lion Aslan heralded the long-delayed arrival of spring in the enchanted land of Narnia, the leonine mediator is Ready to step in and conVince both sides to reach a middle ground of mutual satisfaction, bringing sweet, sweet autumn to the enchanted land of B.C. All through these evenings of endless summer, phones are ringing, and people are whispering “Have you heard? Vince Ready is coming! At last!”

Vince Ready is the greatest labour arbitrator this country has ever had. He has been involved in settling thousands of disputes. He understands both the union side and the management side. He is the toughest, the most sympathetic, the smartest, the wisest, the quickest witted. He is both the pen and the sword. Huzzah!

He thinks outside the box. He builds his own box. Negotiators for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association will sit in the box that he builds, like cats. They will purr at his suggestions for settling this most acrimonious of labour disputes. All the bells in B.C. will ring! Every dog will bark!

Vince Ready has seen it all. He has been settling labour disputes as an independent arbitrator and mediator since 1982. He knows all the tricks! Hip Hip Hurrah!

He will convince the BCTF that their contracts must be somewhat in line with other unions. He will convince the government that teaching is a profession unlike any other, and must be treated with respect, with appropriate funding to deal with class composition, etc. How can he do this? He can do this because he’s a jolly good fellow!

The parents are saying, in those hushed endless summer evening phone calls, that if Vince Ready can’t do it, no one can. But no pressure, eh, Mr. Ready?

Now is the summer of our discontent made glorious autumn by Vince Ready. Children will pack up their school supplies, and head gladly off to school come Sept. 2. Teachers will get the help they require and the wages they deserve. The government will get back to governing. The rest of us will get on with our lives with all the myriad stressful details, all the while grateful to our fabulous public education system and its teachers, administrators and staff for helping prepare our children so well for the rest of their lives.

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