For those who believe that the BC government is bargaining in good faith with the striking teachers, this letter is for you.
All summer long I, like many others, waited for news that the teachers had reached a mediated settlement with the government. It shocked me to learn that for two months, nothing happened. And then, less than a week before schools are set to open, Education Minister Peter Fassbender finally agrees to a meeting! Why did it take so long? My hypothesis is that Minister Fassbender needed to undermine the swell of public opinion favouring the teachers’ stand on education. By asking teachers to return to work during a two-week cooling-off period, Minister Fassbender has placed them in a potential lose-lose situation. On the one hand, if teachers vote against a temporary return to work, then the Liberal government can throw up its hands in feigned frustration and say, “See! Those teachers aren’t serious about mediation.” And, as typically happens, some of the softer supporters will be swayed by these dramatics, giving the media a new reason to vilify teachers. On the other hand, the teachers could agree to open the schools during mediation. This, in my opinion, would be foolish. At first, parents would rejoice, believing that alternative arrangements for childcare could be cancelled. But what if there is no settlement in two weeks? Would teachers dare to walk out again, forcing parents to re-make the arrangements they had cancelled a short time before? Public opinion favouring the teachers would tank.
So teachers, what is it going to be? If asked to accept a two-week cooling-off period in exchange for what might well be a bogus agreement to mediate, please vote “NO.” Stick to principles. Remember: “KIDS MATTER! TEACHERS CARE.”