When North Island schoolteachers initiated a limited strike to begin the current school year, the community response was a collective “meh.”
After all, teachers still report to their jobs five days a week. They still provide a curriculum to our children and oversee their instruction from first bell to dismissal. What more do we need from them? It turns out we’ve grown accustomed to rather more from our teachers, in most cases without even knowing it.
In the past week parents opened their kids’ first report cards of the year only to find blank spaces where the grades are traditionally listed, along with an attached letter explaining teachers are not contractually obligated to fill out report cards.
Indeed, there’s a great deal not included in the teachers’ contract. Anybody a fan of the annual Christmas concert or pageant at your local school? Turns out that’s one of those “extras” the teachers put together.
The two largest elementary schools on the North Island — Eagle View in Port Hardy and Sunset in Port McNeill — have already announced the traditional concerts will not be held this year. Oh, there will be some kind of school assembly with some kind of music presented. But don’t look for a repeat of last year’s Eagle View epic, which packed the Civic Centre.
Administrators, Parent Advisory Councils and other parent volunteers have stepped in to keep some activities alive — the recent cross country meet in Sointula is a prime example of that.
Are teachers worth what they’re asking? Are they making unreasonable demands in a time of fiscal challenge for B.C.? We’ll leave that to the negotiators to work out.
But while the teachers continue working from first bell to dismissal five days a week, we know this much: teaching has never been a five-day, 40-hour-a-week job.