The continuing battle between the BCTF and the provincial Ministry of Education should be of grave concern to families across British Columbia, and should be incredibly frightening to parents and caregivers in the Boundary and West Kootenay Region.
Most conversations are about laying blame: “It’s the teacher’s fault”; or, “The government is wrong.” But let’s move beyond polarizing perspectives.
It has become apparent to a few that something nefarious is taking place. The entire strike is not only politically motivated, it appears manufactured. Government has helped generate the conditions for the teachers to strike. In fact, the BCTF really had no other option. But to what end? What’s really at stake? And, is a “solution” about to be offered?
Will the provincial government utilize this opportunity to introduce a new-to-B.C. educational voucher system, whereby parents are provided an educational voucher to make personal decisions regarding where they want their children to be educated (look into this system and research it)?
It can have absolutely devastating results, especially in rural areas where educational choices are limited and private educational facilities are, for the most part, non-existent. The voucher-based system tends to quickly accelerate the conditions for a class-based educational system. The “haves” go to the best private schools, the “have-nots” struggle at underfunded chartered schools.
The $40 per day may be the stepping stone to offering a voucher-based system—an expensive political litmus test introduced to gauge and monitor public opinion. This approach then makes sense when trying to understand why the provincial government does not want to arbitrate a solution with BCTF. They obviously have much greater intention.
And no sitting MLA, or premier for that matter, should be offering solutions, or should be engaged in the process, when their child is enrolled in private education anyway.
But even if the voucher system is not introduced as a solution now, how do our local school districts contend with a shortened school year? And what if the strike continues into October? These are not easy questions to answer.
At stake is our children’s education. At stake is future opportunity for kids who strive to find their way and careers in an ever-challenging world. At stake are schools and teaching jobs in rural areas across B.C.
The public educational system in B.C. is at a frightening crossroads. It’s time for parents to step up, to advocate and to ensure that all children in our province have the same opportunity to succeed and to excel.