It may be time to put away that old Alice Cooper 8-track. It appears that, just maybe, school is NOT out forever.
A light at the end of the tunnel illuminated the darkness of a 4 a.m. negotiating session Tuesday, as mediator Vince Ready emerged to announce a tentative agreement had been reached to end a teachers’ strike that began in earnest in mid-June.
Details of the agreement were not available as the Gazette went to press later on Tuesday, but both the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the boards of trustees in each of the province’s school districts were scheduled to hold ratification votes on the plan today and tomorrow, with an official announcement no later than Saturday.
We say the end couldn’t come soon enough.
While the strike may have lasted only five weeks, in terms of school days lost last spring and at the start of the current school year, the uncertainty, exasperation and worry for B.C.’s students and their families probably seems interminable at this time.
And, frankly, calling it a five-week strike glosses over the fact that labour unrest among teachers has persisted to one degree or another since 2002, when the government unilaterally stripped language permitting teachers to negotiate class size and composition.
That issue is still being addressed in the courts (see more in the column to the right), and it’s unlikely the current tentative agreement contains a magic pill that will cure the long-term ill will between the parties.
Ultimately, it will be up to society’s taxpayers to decide the degree to which they pay for our kids’ education. The current government was recently elected on a promise to balance budgets and not add new taxes, so they have little incentive to play nice.
That doesn’t mean, however, the light at the end of the tunnel needs to portend a long train of abuses.