Ray Bartsch

Schools out for…Autumn?

Students remained on summer vacation and teachers remained
on the picket lines as the first day of school came and went.

Jesse Cole

Omineca Express

 

 

 

The day that every parent, teacher, politician and student had been waiting for (or dreading in some cases) came and went last Sept. 2 and classes remained devoid of students and of teachers.

While classrooms were quiet, the sidewalks outside were anything but; teachers from Vanderhoof’s Nechako Valley Secondary School (NVSS), McLeod Elementary and representatives from EBUS Academy were all on the picket lines bright and early on the morning of Sept. 2.

“Each and every one of us would rather be inside of that school,” lamented Ray Bartsch, motioning to the vacant building behind him.

Bartsch is a staff representative at NVSS and has been an educator for 31 years. During his tenure as a teacher Bartsch says he has taken to the picket lines “probably five times.” He says that this time, the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF) is in it for the long haul.

“We have to be,” he says. “We either take a stand or we don’t, you know?”

Bartsch said he would like to see the B.C. Federation of Labour support the BCTF in their strike saying

“…Come to the picket lines and shut down the province…”

“I’m hoping we’re back before thanksgiving,” Bartsch added. “But we might not be.”

While B.C. teachers remain committed to their strike, student’s effectively remain on a prolonged summer vacation (something I’m sure they’re oh so upset about).

The continuing strike has left many parents flustered as to what to do with their children for the remainder of the strike.

The government of British Columbia has addressed the problem in their own way by promising to pay $40 a day to parents of students aged 12 and younger, which totals a staggering $12 million a day in payments. Money many parents feel would be better spent on the teachers.

If the government can pay parents they can afford to pay teachers,” said Margaret Jex, a parent of an out-of-school student. “Teachers have a right to be paid a fair wage… Our children have rights and one of those rights is a good education. The teachers are doing their part but I think they could use more public support,” she added.

Still not everyone is so supportive of the ongoing strike. Parent Christa Alyssa Beaverstock said, “my son is four right now and with the way the strikes keep happening I think I’ll just end up home schooling him. The teachers have been striking on and off since I was in school. There still hasn’t been a way in which they’ve been able to really get what they want without it effecting the timeline of the school year. I feel it’s a system that needs fixing.”

Despite mixed feelings from both sides, Bartsch says that he does believe the government cares about their plight.

“I think the government cares but I think they have a philosophical and political agenda that they’re following.” He added that there are two sides to every story saying “There is always two sides to every story, maybe more; three. There’s our side, their side and somewhere in the middle there is probably the truth.”

 

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