Editorial — Students the losers in destructive teacher contract fight

Langley students will be out of school on Tuesday, thanks to a rotating strike by teachers, as the contract dispute with the provincial government continues.

This is unacceptable for everyone involved — students, teachers, parents, school districts and the provincial government. The two sides need to compromise far more than they have thus far. Teachers have some very legitimate concerns about the makeup of their classes and the extra demands being placed on them by continuing shifts in education policy. The government does have significant budgeting challenges, and teachers need to modify their wage demands significantly.

Most importantly, both sides need to really focus on students, and not just pay lip service to the concept. Strikes, even of one day’s duration, impact education. The B.C. Teachers Federation has said there will be other rotating strikes, and this is simply unacceptable.

Yet the province claims that depriving students of an education is not acceptable, but is prepared, through the employers’ association, to lock out teachers at the end of the school year. The association has issued a directive that limits student-teacher contact. This is no better.

Education is more essential than it has ever been. The global nature of the economy means that B.C. students will be competing with students from all parts of the world as they leave the school system. They will be competing for spaces in post-secondary institutions, and for jobs.

Holding up their progress, for months or even years, due to a labour dispute will do immeasurable damage to their future prospects.

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