B.C. teachers' strike leaves September school start date in question
Parents and students worried about unresolved dispute
With just two weeks left before school is scheduled to restart in British Columbia, parents and students are dealing with the uncertainty of whether the province's teachers and government will reach a deal in time for the gates to open.
A new website launched by the government Monday afternoon aims to keep parents informed of developments, as well as offering details about the Temporary Education Support fund, which will pay eligible applicants $40 per day for each school day missed because of the strike.
Regardless of any potential deal, the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils is calling on both sides of the dispute to end the job action, continue negotiations, and ensure public schools will open on Sept. 2.
"Students deserve to be in classrooms that are free from this continuing labour dispute. We expect the two parties to continue earnest, respectful negotiations behind closed doors," the association stated in a press release.
The association, which claims to represent 81 per cent of parents of B.C. students, is also asking that a new classroom resources fund be set up to allow schools to manage and allocate learning resources independently "to optimize learning opportunities for each student in every class."
Compromising students' prospects?
Meanwhile, students want to see the dispute resolved quickly, concerned that their future education and career options could be adversely affected by an extended strike.
Cole Poirier, due to enter Grade 12 this September, thinks students are being used as pawns by both sides in the dispute, and says it could affect his future.
"I've already missed several weeks of my education in June, and is it stands now, it looks like I'll be missing more of my education come September," he said.
"As a senior student, this year is very important to me, because essentially it's affecting my future career prospects."
Some parents are looking for alternatives to public school, with a spike expected in private school enrolment — a trend that Peter Froese, executive director of the Federation of Independent School Associations B.C., has seen before during periods of job action.
This year is no exception. "In those schools that have capacity, that appears to be the case," he said.
Still, he noted, details about private school enrolment levels won't be available until after school commences.