KELOWNA – With the second of four planned rotating job action days taking place in Kelowna Tuesday, some parents and teachers are saying they are standing together for students in danger of being left behind.
Veronique Broger has two kids enrolled in Ecole de L’Anse-Au-Sable on Gordon Dr. She decided to come out and support the teachers because she feels there are too many students in the classrooms for teachers to do their jobs effectively.
“For me it’s about class sizes and support for special needs kids that are mixed in with the other kids,” she says. “It’s an extra burden for the teachers and for the other students.”
Broger hopes the teachers are successful in their bid for higher wages, smaller classrooms and more support staff.
“If it doesn’t go well for the teachers it doesn’t go well for my kids," she says.
Cheryl Hebert also has kids at the public French immersion school of 195 students Her oldest is in Grade 12 and Hebert says class sizes have gotten so large that it’s difficult to even move in the rooms.
“My son is in a combined class of 29 kids with one teacher in a very small classroom," she says. "It’s way too many; I’ve been in that classroom and you can’t move. You can’t breathe.”
Hebert says while kids with special needs suffer the most, the extra time teachers have to spend with them also negatively impacts other students as well.
“Some kids can work independently and that’s great, but there are always a few who can’t and that makes it harder for everyone,” she says. “I’m here supporting the teachers because I believe in education and I support what they’re fighting for.”
Patricia Schmid has been a support worker in Kelowna, Vancouver and Manitoba for 25 years. She says her experience around many different districts leads her to believe B.C. is falling behind.
“I really feel that class composition is extremely important,” she says. “We are having more and more kids with special needs and it takes different kinds of help for them to achieve success. We need to stand strong even if it means a loss of money for us.”
Premier Christy Clark is hoping a Labour Relations Board meeting will be enough to initiate a resolution to the dispute before Thursday, when the teacher’s union meets with the board to discuss lockout provisions that include a 10 per cent pay cut for teachers.
Schmid says they are hearing a lot of support from the public in the form of honking, waving and conversations and that if an agreement cannot be reached, she is in favour of walking out.
“A lot of the public seem to be supporting us,” she says. “I think they see that there’s a need and that it’s time for change. If it means a full-on walk out I am actually more in favour of that than one day here and one day there. Let’s get some action and let’s get it sorted once and for all and let’s get back to teaching.”
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