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Limbo is normal for bc education

March 1, 2014 by Tunya

Limbo — the state of being disregarded or forgotten, neglected, abandoned, forsaken, deserted, disregarded.

The latest court cases, appeals, and collective bargaining muddles in BC have caused a news article to conclude that we could be in “limbo for months to come.” That’s nothing new.  Seems we’re always in limbo.

The “limbo” status in British Columbia specifically applies to parents and students in the public education system.  For over 40 years the education system has been a contest between two strong foes vying for supremacy — the teacher’s union (BCTF) and the government of the day. It doesn’t matter the political stripe of the government — socialist, conservative or liberal — the union presents as Alpha Males.

It’s not just collective bargaining times that are fraught with turmoil.  There are regular disputes, protests, and grievances to contend with.  The media treats all this as a blood sport, because it’s all so “quotable” and makes headlines.

This 4-decade battle has been well-chronicled in education historian Thomas Fleming’s book, “Worlds Apart: BC Schools, Politics and Labour Relations Before and After 1972”.

BUT, regardless of how flagrant the School Wars figure in our landscape, these two foes, like spatting spouses, do NOT take much notice of any third party. Of course, lip service is paid — “We want the best for the children”, but that rings hollow.

What is acutely evident from having lived here all this time is that this is a well orchestrated collusion.  Neither party wants to upset “the monopoly system” which provides so much security and a steady captive audience from which they enjoy mutual benefit.  Whether it’s “labour peace” or “quiet during the Winter Olympics 2010” they usually arrange some sweetheart deal because of blatant “MUTUAL NEED”. 

Alternative schools, choices, charters, education savings accounts where the education dollar follows the child — all these proven and innovative options are dismissed and discouraged.  At a time when so much is known about how different approaches are working, especially for special needs students, and with the challenges ahead because of technology and a demanding world, it is truly a pity that we have to be stuck perpetually in this catfight, this limbo.


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