Students become collateral damage

Teachers threatening to take their bat and ball and go home

I remember as a youngster that somebody always had a better or bat than the rest of us. Teams would be chosen for a game and the game would begin. Sometimes things didn’t go the way that the owner of the ball wanted them to and there was a threat that if the rest of us didn’t want to play the way that the individual did, they would take their ball and go home. Does this bring back any memories to anyone? Been there, done that. In looking back, it didn’t happen that often, but it did happen.

Here we are many years later, yes, older and hopefully wiser, and we face a similar situation with teachers at the present time. The BCTF has painted the government as a draconian bully that is acting in such a way as to threaten the learning process by not acquiescing to their whims: multi-day bereavement; working and learning conditions; and the almighty 15 per cent salary expectation. I remember well, many of these same sorts of issues in my 38 years as a teacher.

As we all know, over the past 40 years or so, we have seen a similar scenario through several governments, most of which have passed similar legislation to keep teachers in the reality lane.

For the record, I don’t for one minute believe that the government action is the fairest way to resolve things. I do believe that most problems have solutions. In this scenario, maybe the government may be labeled as somewhat draconian. However, the BCTF leaders have their heels dug in with the attitude of “We’re right and they’re wrong and we ain’t quittin’.” There can be no winner with these prevailing attitudes on both parties. This is just common sense 101.

The BCTF has advocated to its members that withdrawal of volunteer services is an answer to Bill 22, and that this action will be a show of force to the bill. The only force that this will show is that students are being short-changed. They have supported the extra-curricular programs over the year and now are being used as ammunition to put pressure on the government. If this action is the only argument for change put forth by Ms. Lambert and the BCTF, the upper echelon leader-group needs a check-up from the neck up to get rid of stinkin’ thinkin’.

Kids don’t deserve this treatment from people who are supposed to support them in their efforts to meet their educational aims and objectives. Why should they be the pawns in the BCTF’s dissatisfaction with the government actions? What have they done to deserve this? The answer, quite frankly, is nothing. They are made to appear as collateral damage in the BCTF war with the government.

It appears that the BCTF is taking a knife to a gunfight, so to speak. This action will not change the government’s stand. It might be likened to breaking a window using a small bee-bee like pebble instead of a suitable-sized rock. Meanwhile, the prevailing attitudes of both parties will not have changed.

The ultimate question might be: “Can you hear me now?” However, the students, the real losers here, are biding their time as the arena of inactivity continues. They are caught between rocks and hard places through no actions of their own. Both sides seem to have reverted to the premise that I made about playing as youngsters in team games. It’s got to the point of saying, “If you don’t play the game my way, I’ll take my bat and ball and go home.”

Ron Barillaro

 

Penticton