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JONESIE: What this strike is about, what it isn't, and what it should be

June 02, 2014 - 7:13 AM

What about the strike? What do you think about the strike? Do you support the strike? Or do you not support the strike?

Oh man, here we go again, everyone losing their minds. I have a simple answer to the whole thing: I feel the same about this strike as I did the one before it and the one before that. I don’t care about it one bit. My advice is to just chill out and watch them go. Of course, I got lucky this time. I don't need to cough up an extra couple hundred for child care, not this year.

It’s just another couple of days home for my kids and I’m assured they don’t mind. It's like any other professional development day, whatever those are.

I’m of the opinion that my outrage over this situation is best kept to myself. The teachers’ union and the government are waging war and they need the space between our ears as their battleground. And I refuse to make it easy for them.

I prefer mostly silent observation and deconstruction. Here’s what I know:

- Job action is most effective when it can create chaos and take a tight hold of the ears of innocent people as leverage. I presume this is why we have more labour disruption in the public service—because they can.

- In delicious irony, public relations teams dumb down their arguments from rational or reasonable discussion to present to people impacted by these disagreements in emotional absolutes—things the school-educated public can understand. Don’t bother with details: You’re for us or against us. The B.C. Liberals have mastered this in elections. Strangely, so too have the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

- The B.C. Teachers’ Federation chose to enter provincial elections with lengthy ad campaigns against the B.C. Liberals. The Liberals won over a labour party and they’re arguably doing what they were elected to do—wage war with public sector unions and keep costs in line.

- Any employer’s true interest must be its own budget. A union’s priority must be to get maximum return for its members.

- Any other stated interest from either party is hollow and therefore may be dismissed as PR Trickery.

- This is a labour negotiation. This is not about the merits of the education system nor is it about the merits of teachers collectively or individually. Attempts by either side to discuss these items is hollow and should be dismissed as self-serving.

- Any dire needs in education should be discussed when labour negotiations have ended. If teachers want a role in this discussion, it should be through some organization other than a labour union because of the obvious conflict of interest. Teachers are not the only interested party in this discussion. They’re not even the most important party.

- Any discussion of simple class sizes should be ignored. It’s a ridiculously simplistic measurement for a complex problem that cannot be put in an artificial box. Class composition is an issue worth discussing. Class size is about dividing students between ever more teachers, again a labour union's aim.

- We should have public discourse about the state of our education system. I’ve been running in the herd of adults for 20 years or so and many, if not most, are running for the cliff; they do not flatter our practice of education. For proof, look at the average Facebook news feed, and I’m not even talking about what passes for the English language. A day doesn’t go by that someone tries to pass off junk science as fact (Microwaved water kills plants!) or can’t think through the silliest conspiracy theories (Weather warfare update: Fake snow that won’t melt is really Nanobots 2014) or can’t figure out why Miley Cyrus is so important. (Hint: she’s not.) We need a lot of work in this area.

- A better education holds the hope the educated can deconstruct complex issues and in the future, elections may one day be argued over substantive issues instead of hard hats, advertising budgets and stupid miscues. Mmmm, it's like an irony parfait.

So teachers, I wish you well in your labour negotiations. Come find the rest of us when this discussion is about education. Perhaps we can work together to sort something out.

— Marshall Jones is the editor of Infotel News.

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