Langley schools are back in session, and the next few months will be critical ones for students, teachers and parents.
The B.C. Teachers Federation has been on strike since September. Teachers are still reporting for work and teaching students in the classrtoom. But they are not meeting with parents, or doing anything other than informal reports on student progress.
Bargaining continues, but it seems that neither side is willing to budge.
The provincial government has come up with a “net zero” policy which precludes wage increases. It expects public school employers to abide by this.
On the other side, the BCTF has asked for big pay increases and changes to contract language that would give them more time off during the school year for personal reasons.
The BCTF also wants more control over class sizes and composition. While these are very important issues which affect the education of children, this should not be something that comes under union control.
Individual teachers, for the most part, do a great job in teaching students. B.C.’s public school system is a good one. Many students graduate and go on to do great things in their lives, and the underpinning they received in school is a key factor.
But there are many students who don’t do well, and there needs to be a renewed emphasis by both the government and the union on improving the graduation rate, boosting literacy and numeracy and ensuring that each Grade 12 student has the opportunity to go on to post-secondary training that will enable them to live a meaningful and productive life.
For far too long, the talk about education in this province has revolved around the boards of education, management, principals and teachers. Yes, these are the people entrusted with providing a good education to students and, as stated above, for the most part that’s exactly what they are doing.
However, there needs to be far more focus on students.
They are the centre of the education system. They are the reason that teachers and principals have jobs. They are the reason that boards of education exist.
They are the underpinning of the future, because B.C. will go nowhere without a highly-educated population. This is more true than ever in an increasingly interconnected world.
Is it too much to ask that the education system be far more student-focused for the remainder of the school year, and in the future?
We certainly hope not.