This year, the phrase ‘Back to School’ is leaving a bad taste in my mouth.
This year, there will be no explicit joy in purchasing crisp, clean notebooks, unsharpened pencils, and fresh-smelling lunch boxes.
No, this year I get to tell my daughter, with a certain uncertainty, that we have no idea when she’ll be going back to school. And no amount of whining or protests of missing her teachers and classmates will change that.
With the BC Government still in negotiations with the teachers, the first day of school is being prolonged – but to when?
Every trip to our local playground lately is filled with parents sharing rumours of when the first day of school will be – some claim October, some quietly declare it will likely be December before we get to go back to school.
And the Government’s bribe of $40 per day subsidy for childcare has further soured our perception of how these discussions will go.
If the BC Government can afford to give $40 per day to each child while school is not in session, why not do the same but give it to the teachers and schools instead?
There are approximately 22 children in my daughter’s third grade class, if each child would receive $40 per day for the allotted child care, that’s $880 per day for just that one class. That’s $4,400 for one week for only one classroom.
If the BC Government can afford that, they can certainly afford to raise teachers’ wages to an acceptable number, one that’s not laughed at by teachers’ from other provinces.
To put it in simple perspective, our province has the highest cost of living, yet teachers have the lowest salaries in the country.
I know the discussions are not just about money, it’s also about the quality of our schools and our classrooms, as well as resources for teachers.
But in the midst of all these arguments, it seems the children have become an afterthought.
As parents wait in trepidation, anxiously trying to secure childcare and day camps for their children during the BC Teachers’ Strike, the kids are lost in the fray.
The excitement of starting a new school year has been stolen from our kids. The dream of hearing the bell ring for the first time in ages, new sneakers running into the line-ups with friends, old and new, and sitting down at their desks pulling out labelled pencil cases and rulers – it’s all lost.
Disappointment, anxiety and sad faces – that’s what Back to School has become for the parents in BC.