I’m not a teacher, and I’m not a politician. But I am a parent, and therefore am affected by the ongoing labour dispute that is happening in BC. Unlike many of the media outlets who are calling this a “BC Teachers’ Strike”, I think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that there are two sides to this dispute, that this is a feud between the teachers union and the government of BC. I think it is also important to acknowledge that it affects more than just the two sides involved, it also affects the students, parents, and taxpayers of our province.
Until now I’ve been quiet about the dispute. I’ve watched as my Facebook feed has been flooded with backlash against teachers, against the government, and against our Premier. I’ve refrained from commenting on posts about who should receive the $40-a-day ‘childcare support’ that will be provided to families during the labour disruption, and I’ve bitten my tongue as people have raged about the government’s attempt to drag out the dispute in order to make the teachers look like the bad guys.
Tomorrow is supposed to be my daughter’s first day of Grade 2. And as I sit back and read the comments, articles, discussions, and rants from teachers, government officials, union representatives, school board administration staff, parents, friends and strangers, I’m left with some thoughts.
Accepting the $40-a-day childcare allowance from the government for my school-aged child does not make me an idiot, nor should I be excluded from receiving it based on my employment status.
I’ve seen some comments on social media about who should receive the $40-a-day childcare allowance during the school closures, who think that work-from-home and stay-at-home moms and dads should not receive this benefit because they will not require childcare services during the delays. These people are missing the point (and ignorant if they don’t realize that everyone with children, regardless of employment status will need additional support).
I am a taxpaying home owner. And like everyone else in BC who pays property taxes, I am paying school taxes that are used to pay for public education in BC. With schools not in session, doesn’t it make sense for everyone who has paid their hard-earned dollars towards provincial school taxes to receive a refund when that money is not being spent on what it was intended for? While the money is being presented as child care subsidy for parents who are left with children at home as a result of the dispute, what it should be presented as is a refund on taxes that have already been paid.
The money does not dissolve my feelings of frustration towards the dispute and how it will hinder the educational needs of the children in my province. The money does not sway my support for BC teachers, and does not blind me from the challenges that they face every day in over-packed classrooms with limited resources for children with special needs and lower-than-average wage increases.
What the money does do is provide support for parents like myself who will attempt to educate their children during their extended time outside of the classroom, through educational outings, tutors and related resources. This has nothing to do with parents who are working, who work from home, or who take care of their children full time. It is about the children who are missing out on classroom time and the valuable education they deserve.
I feel for the children who are experiencing delays in their final year of high school, and for the children who are entering school for the first time in Kindergarten. I feel for all of my fellow parents who fear for their children and their educational future. But I also understand the issues and am willing to wait patiently for them to be resolved properly. I know a resolution won’t happen overnight, and would rather support our teachers as they fight for what’s best for our children’s futures than to settle for a short-term solution that is not in the best interest of our children.