In response to the question “how is your family coping with the strike,” posed by the Vancouver Sun and The Province Sue McIntyre (Port Moody), Dawn Steele (Vancouver), and Olwen Walker (Richmond) have this to say:
___________________________________________________________Our kids are sleeping in this Tuesday morning. We have talked to them about the teacher’s strike, so they know that it is much more than an extra-extra long weekend. It’s about classroom conditions and working and bargaining conditions, both of which help determine the quality of their education and their future prospects.
Our son is 15 years old, an honour roll student with profound learning disabilities. At his secondary school he receives daily learning support, along with classroom accommodations, so that his unique learning style does not get in the way his tremendous potential. On these “extra days” off he is studying one hour each day for a math test that has been postponed by the strike. He had his sights set on a B, now with the extra study time he might get an A. None of this would be remotely possible without the professional and caring work done by teachers from the time he started school 11 years ago.
Our daughter is 12 years old, a gifted learner, born leader and talented actor and singer. At middle school she has enjoyed the opportunity to participate in a special film-making program in which gifted kids made a movie about the social challenges of being identified as a gifted student. In her regular classes and in extra-curriculars like choir and the school musical, she has been encouraged to pursue her interests and use her talent and determination to learn and grow and develop her potential. We are grateful for these programs and activities, organized and led by teachers working beyond the normal classroom routines and schedule. They have kept her interested and motivated in school.
Credit for our satisfaction and our children’s success must be shared: by our kids, who are willing to work hard; by us, who advocate for them, cooperate with school staff, and provide the needed support at home; by the administrators and support staff at the schools who ensure that framework for success is there; but most of all by the teachers. The teachers have worked tirelessly, optimistically and cheerfully despite diminishing resources and discouraging working conditions to keep giving our kids what they need. We realise that we are fortunate. Many other families must struggle to have their children’s needs met – not because of unwillingness in the schools, just because it’s not possible to serve every child with resources as they are.
A legislated contract, elimination of bargaining rights, refusal to allow teachers a say in determining optimal learning conditions for kids….All of these things are unacceptable. If anything is threatening our kids’ education it’s a government that would create these impossible conditions.
Our kids are staying home to support the teachers. Any loss of education or inconvenience caused by the job action will be worth it. The teachers who have extended themselves to maintain a great school experience for our children have reached the breaking point. Their strike is a strike to restore public education to a point where every child can be assured of the success and happiness that our kids are lucky to enjoy.
The BC government’s refusal to negotiate with teachers has created a fine mess, imposing hardship for many, or inconvenience for families like ours with flexible jobs.
I’ll stay home with my son and help with the daily homework that his teacher assigned. Ironically, he’ll learn more for every day he gets individual attention at home vs. being in a class of 31, mostly ESL or special needs.
Our plans also include “field trips” to learn about standing up to bullying. We’ll visit picket lines to support our teachers fighting for respect, fair treatment and better learning conditions for our children.
Dawn Steele, Parent
David Livingstone Elementary
How has the teachers strike affected my family and how are we coping? Those are huge questions but I’ll try to answer as succinctly as possible.
First off my children (in Grades 7 and 4) have been aware of teacher concerns since the last set of negotiations when as their mother I attended and spoke at meetings of parents as a representative of PACE (Parents Against Cuts in Education). PACE no longer exists but the desire for a fairly funded education system is still frequently discussed in our household and no, neither my husband nor I are teachers.
Over the years my girls have watched their parents treat teachers with respect. They have observed differences of opinion discussed by education stakeholders in open dialogue. They know that there are many opinions around every circumstance and that there is rarely one “correct” way of seeing things. This strike is one more way to educate them about politics, unions, ethical treatment and respect for diversity of opinions.
No it isn’t easy to “change gears” and have my children at home. I am one of the lucky parents with a flexible enough schedule to work from home and move appointments around to accommodate this change. Our church has offered assistance opening up their facilities to parents and providing loving care for those that need it. Although I fully support the teachers I am thankful that none of my children are in Grade 12 and facing the possibility of not being able to graduate.
My children are learning flexibility. They are learning respect and
mathematics by baking cookies to take to teachers on the picket line. They are taking time to catch up on homework and write stories. Another great lesson they are learning is that an elected government doesn’t always act in a way that represents all of the people who elected them. They are learning that sometimes you need to stand up to bullies even if it costs you.
The current government is well into its’ second term and has yet to address the myriad of problems with our current education system. If it wasn’t so sad it would be laughable to read the announcement of the formation of a “New Learning Roundtable”. With the contempt and inflexibility shown by this government it is unlikely this roundtable will be more than a show for the masses of parents desperate to get their children back to school.
Jessie Wowk School