considering a walk out – you in?

In light of the imposed strife affecting our education system, I’m thinking maybe I should walk out too. You in?

Not for a moment do I begrudge the teachers or the school district. I mean, seriously, who would trade places?

While I might bemoan my own work day, I wouldn’t consider switching it for the challenges and importance of a class of kindergarten kids. If I were their teacher, it would be all we could do to manage to get our shoes off in time for recess to put them back on time before the bell rang to call everyone back inside. Everyone should have a go at that. Don’t get me started on lunch and the opening of yogourt tubes and granola bars. The fact that I would be mandated to teach the alphabet, the days of the week, the months of the year, the numbers and do it all without a nap time of my own? Not happening. No thank you. But thank you to those who do. It’s magic to watch a teacher get through to a child. Absolute magic.

And I hardly think my day would be any better spent at a school district. The ultimate rubic’s cube. Here’s your challenge. We decide how much money you get and we decide what the curriculum is. Now go. Get it done. Forget about the fact that no two families are alike, no two children learn alike and no two teachers teach alike and no two schools operate alike and no two towns are the same. But please, deliver us, on time and on budget, a sufficient number of graduates to earn the income they need to pay us the taxes to generate the budgets we need to be re-elected. Ugh. I’d rather have a root canal.

Clearly, my real issue is with the provincial government. How convenient of them to forget that the education system belongs to their constituents. We, the citizens and taxpayers of British Columbia are both the consumers of and investors in the education system. It’s a bit like being the dealer and the player at a high stakes poker game. You’d think the odds were in our favour, but no. Nothing could be further from the truth. This particular high-staked game is rigged and the deck is stacked against us.

But if every gambler just walked out. Said enough is enough. There wouldn’t be much of a casino to run, now would there?

If I walk out, I don’t work. If I don’t work, I don’t earn. If I don’t earn, I don’t pay taxes. If I don’t pay taxes, the game is over.

The provincial government is gambling with our money. And every time a school day ends early or doesn’t start at all, we pay for that either in lost wages or extra day care expenses.

The average Canadian family (based on two incomes) earns $44/hour. If you cut my day by 15 minutes – we lose (or have to supplement our income by) $110 a month. There are 1.7 million households in BC. Let’s be generous and assume 60% of them have children in school. Let’s call it one million. Hopefully you had good math teachers because that’s 110,000,000 per month in lost productivity. Per month. And that’s just a 15 minute cut in class time (which is all we’ve had to deal with so far).

By this calculation, next week’s walkout will cost us $154,000,000 as a province based on the lost income (or incurred expense) of one earner per household with children.

I’m sorry but if ANY other industry knocked on Ms. Clark’s door and said “uhm excuse me, if this doesn’t get sorted, we’ll lose 154 million dollars in productivity next week”, I’m pretty sure she’d pick a power suit, find a microphone and offer up a solution on the six o’clock news.

Trouble is, she doesn’t see education cut backs as a productivity issue, she sees them as an efficiency of government resources issue. This isn’t about cost, it’s about earnings. And if we don’t earn, they don’t learn. And if they don’t learn, we don’t earn.

And seeing as the likelyhood of getting a report card or a year end school trip or even a decent recess are getting slimmer by the day, I might as well stay home with my kids and play. That, I enjoy.

Sometimes lessons are best taught by doing, or in this case, not doing rather than teaching.

If that’s what it takes to teach this government a lesson their financial statements won’t soon forget, then perhaps, it’s what needs to be done.

So I’m calling for a parent walk out. When the government sees the lost wages of a single day of our life’s work, they might learn a lesson. We can only hope.




47 Responses

  1. Breautiful!! I would love to see this happen!!!

    • Thanks. We’ll see if it gets some traction. I could do worse than spend extra time with my kids. thanks for getting in touch.

  2. Reblogged this on Aim High Salmon Arm and commented:
    Check out Louise’s latest – I’m proud to recognize her commitment to our community and to public education. Thanks for all that you do Louise. I know that’s it’s who you are!

  3. From the heart of a Kindergarten teacher, I thank you for your support and appreciation.

    • You’re very welcome Lisa. Thanks for getting in touch.

  4. Yes! How do we make this happen?!

    • I’m thinking we all make a choice about keeping our kids in school or not. I feel like the province is using my kids and my money in this ridiculous game. Thanks for getting in touch.

  5. Beautifully written piece. Thank you!

    • Thanks for getting in touch. Very kind of you to say.

  6. Thank you, Louise! As a teacher, I have been wondering why parents aren’t outraged by the government and fighting for public education. We need more parents like you! I also happen to like your name (I was also a Louise Wallace).

    • Cool! I think we are addicted to busy. We’re missing some pretty really important cues about what our government thinks about public education and kids. It’s time we paid attention.

  7. Brilliant. This would work.

    I shudder to think of the long-term economic ramifications of an underfunded system such as ours long-term. Investments yield returns: supporting the education system, its educators and its pupils now will make BC more prosperous in 5, 10, 20 years.

    Christy Clark had to bargain with angry Port Workers when they striked because the Port grinding to a halt had economic ramifications. A poor education system will have similar ramifications – just less immediate – so it’s time to point out this government’s hypocrisy and let her feel the economic heat for this too. How the heck can they get away with running on a ‘families first’ platform and then not living up to their promises?

    Hopefully parents and the greater community see this and write letters about the points you’ve made, make appointments to meet MLA’s, show up to rally with us, and walk the picket lines to chat and learn.

    • I hope so too. Public education belongs to us. We use it. We pay for it. Christy Clark doesn’t get to decide. We do. It’s time we remembered that.

    • “- just less immediate -” is one of the keys. The damage this government continues to do the public education system won’t actually present itself for a generation or so (well, arguably, the damage done earlier is already showing up) and even then will be hard to pin down in specific economic terms. This means they can cut, squeeze, and mismanage all they want and the harm won’t really be so evident until after they are all retired – on those ABSOLUTELY ABSURD GOLD/PLATINUM-PLATED AND DIAMOND-ENCRUSTED PENSIONS that you and I pay for.

      • key point indeed. thanks for getting in touch.

  8. Thank you very much from a primary teacher who is grateful for your eloquent understanding and support. Most of the time it feels like we are in this battle alone.

    • You’re welcome. And you’re not alone. Thanks for getting in touch.

  9. Reblogged this on Shawn L. Bird.

  10. So you have a job. You like it a lot, because of the awesome clients. You like it enough, that sometimes you volunteer to give your free time to do stuff with your clients. Then your boss’s boss is being a jerk and threatening you and your co-workers. The courts say he has been doing illegal stuff. He ignores the court ruling and says he doesn’t have to talk to his employees. As a protest, you decide to stop volunteering. You still do your job, you just don’t volunteer your free time any more.

    Your boss’s boss gets in a snit, and instead of talking to you, decides to fine you 5% of your salary because you stopped volunteering in your off hours.

    Some people with your job aren’t going to work because of how the boss’s boss is being a jerk, so the boss’s boss announces that if ANYONE with your job anywhere in the province isn’t working, YOU are going to lose 10% of your pay, when you work.

    How do you feel about that?

    Welcome to being a teacher and trying to negotiate with the BC Gov’t.

    Sucks, eh?

    I hope parents walk out. I hope everyone in the province walks out. Back in the early 80s (1983?) we had something called the Solidarity movement. It’s time for everyone to stand up against injustice and unfair practice.

    • Good analogy, Shawn. To add to it:
      Also, your boss’s boss’ boss has been cutting corners for the last 12 years, forcing your boss to lay off employees which is making your job harder. You do your best anyway, because you care so much about your clients.

      If you try to cut back on some of the extra work you do for free, because you are trying to get the boss’ boss to actually appreciate the work that you do, you get labeled “selfish”. You also get labeled “greedy” for wanting to at least keep up with inflation with your wages. (After taking 0% for several years, asking a bit more than inflation is really just trying to catch up.) You mention that you get paid way less than equivalent workers in other companies, but your boss’ boss says that isn’t relevant.

      The frustration teachers feel at this stage is palpable. We don’t want to do job action, but feel like we are forced into it because the government won’t cooperate by funding the system. Other provinces spend lots more per-student (national average – $1000 more than BC does!)…so why can’t BC do it? If they can, then so should we. We are not a “have-not” province.

      A note on that: for a 400 student elementary school, that would translate to $400 000 for that school alone. Imagine the teaching staff, educational assistants, books and technology that would purchase! And that is just if BC funds TO THE NATIONAL AVERAGE.

      • Hi Jen,
        Clearly bullying tactics. Complex legal ones, but still – bullying tactics – under which is a deep disrespect for the public education system. Thanks for getting in touch.

    • Yup. Sucks. but we really really must take public education back. it belongs to us. thanks for reblogging. made a big impact.

  11. I think you’re right. If parents picked even one day and kept their kids home, the government would pay attention. Thank you for the great idea! I hope the idea gains traction.

    • You’re welcome. Thanks for getting in touch.

  12. Loved this blog and I, as a mom of a teacher and the sister of one, (and the mom of a gr 9 student) I am always siding with the teachers…but I am confused. What are we parents to walk out on? Our jobs? That won’t hurt the gov, it will get me fired. Maybe I am misunderstanding?

    • Hi Dee
      I’m suggesting we pull the kids from school and make the sacrifices we need to either pay extra day care or miss work. That has an impact on the economy when we have less “income” to feed their “tax base”. Thanks for getting in touch.

  13. Learn to spell maybe….

  14. Reblogged this on thejumbledmind.

  15. So happy to see this. I haven’t seen a lot of support for the teachers throughout this process, just a lot of negative coming from the government. I feel that the government are being bullies, in particular Christy Clark who sends her child to private school. If I still had a child in school I would be happy to support the initiative of pulling my kids out for a day in protest. I totally appreciate the time and effort teachers give to make our children the best that they can be and support teachers in their efforts at fair bargaining for fair wages and job conditions.

    • Thanks Kathy. I too feel there is bullying happening here. If nothing else, at least we’ve started a conversation that needs to happen more widely. Thanks for getting in touch.

  16. Fantastic piece!! You are so right too. Thank you for the support. It means more than you know!

    • You’re very welcome! Thanks for getting in touch.

  17. From a kindergarten teacher…..thank you! I Would also like to suggest people make signs and walk with the teachers to show that we do have public support. Thanks again for writing!

  18. HUGE thanks for your very articulate and creative piece — reads a little like a Monty Python sketch, which I hope you will understand as a compliment 🙂

    I’m a Special Education teacher in BC; after 11 years of upgrading and a post BEd Diploma at UBC that has cost me over $25,000 I’m breaking even on the wages end. Some of the increasingly shocking situations I encounter in classrooms where students with designations can not get some of the most basic supports would be a sheer embarrassment to the Liberal gov’t if it ever made it into the media.

    The Liberal gov’t’s bullying behaviour is becoming more disturbing by the day, and… your well-written, engaging post is one of the few I’ve read that actively challenges them, with the potential FOR action. Good for you ! What is with the usually intelligent members of the public that they can not (or will not) see the writing on the wall here?

    To quote JS Woodsworth, “what we desire for ourselves, we wish for all”. Many teachers I know really just want to help ensure our students learn well, and our province is a better place to be because of it.

    Keep up your excellent work, and thanks again for showing your support. It means so much !

    • Thanks for getting in touch. I appreciate it. And the monty Python comment was great, I “know whatchya mean, say no more”.

  19. Excellent! Thank you for this.
    From a BC kindergarten teacher.

  20. Thank you for writing this. As a retiree and former teacher, I agree totally with everything you have written!

    • You’re welcome. I appreciate you getting in touch.

  21. Reblogged this on baringmyheart.

  22. Thanks for the support! From all the comments it’s clear how much it means to us when parents and or members of the public speak up and out. If you’re looking for a place to ‘walk out,’ I invite you to join me, other teachers & parents at 10:30 on June 7th outside of minister Fassbender’s office.

  23. Let’s see, Anti-Government, Unionist, must be NDP teacher point of view.
    Why does the union (BCTF) distort all of your folks point of view?
    Wow, what a bunch of rhetoric. All the teachers need to honestly look at what
    other people in other jobs have to do, don’t forget the tax payers are the ones paying every dollar on your pay cheque.

    • Thanks for getting in touch. Not a teacher, not a unionist, not a member of a political party. Small business owner and tax payer, in fact. It’s not about paying taxes, it’s about what we do with the taxes once we’ve paid them. This government isn’t doing a good enough job. Not nearly good enough. My view. And I did it without making a single assumption about who you are and what you do. It’s time we all thought about the quality of our public conversations.

  24. Know any parents in Northern B.C. who are taking action?

    -Audrey McKinnon
    CBC Radio

    • I wish I did. Sorry to say that I don’t know many people up north. thanks for getting in touch.

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