Education war not over yet

There are still many issues still to be resolved in B.C. schools

The summer holiday is over and school kids are back in the classrooms for another 10 months of education.

This year students and their parents don’t have to worry about scrapped after-school activities or navigating the simmering tensions between teachers and administrators.

In September 2011, students entered classrooms with teachers on a work-to-rule job action. Instruction didn’t stop, but teachers didn’t write report cards and wouldn’t host parent-teacher conferences after school hours.

Administrators — principals, vice-principals, superintendents, managers — scrambled to cover watching elementary kids at recess and after school. A three-day strike in March capped off a terrible year in public education.

This year classrooms are somewhat back to normal, but the labour war between teachers and government remains — especially with the issue of class size and composition. The B.C. Teachers’ Federation is suing the government to regain bargaining rights over these points, and to challenge Bill 22. BCTF has a court date in December.

This kind of posturing could be moot.

Former Education Minister George Abbott expects the next round of bargaining with teachers to begin next March or April 2013, mere months before the next provincial election.

By then, Abbott, and many other high-profile Liberals, might be coasting toward retirement.

This awkward gap between the start of the school year and the possible demise of the Liberal government means it could be a quiet year for labour relations in education.

The BCTF won’t waste time negotiating with a lame-duck administration when it could restart talks with a more labour-friendly NDP government.

Outgoing Liberals will be more than happy to hand this hornet’s nest to their friends across the aisle.

 

— editorial from the Saanich News/Black Press