At exactly the time class would normally start for Brookswood Secondary students, on Wednesday at 8:18 a.m, six Grade 12 students walked into their school, binders in hand, wanting to learn.
“If the doors are open, we will walk into the classrooms with our binders and pens to show we want to go back to school,” said Magi McFetridge on Tuesday. She is a BSS Grade 12 student who came up with the idea to stage the walk-in.
“Both sides say they are fighting for the kids and yet we are the ones who have a legal right to get an education but aren’t getting it.”
She created a Facebook page called BC Student Walk In and it has 60 members so far.
She and the other students crossed the teachers’ picket line. She spoke to several of her teachers about her plan.
“They are supportive,” she said.
McFetridge said many Grade 12 students need to be in school to start organizing post-secondary education and to complete their high school grades.
She wants to work for Free the Children and had planned to do some fundraisers for the charity through the school as part of her application. That has been set back now, she said.
“We want this to be over and fast, because we deserve an education,” she said.
Teachers were voting Wednesday on whether to try for binding arbitration to settle the bitter dispute, even though the government has repeatedly turned that option down. Teachers have been picketing without pay since going on a full strike in June.
At present, both sides couldn’t be further apart.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender spoke to The Times on Sept. 3.
The former Langley City mayor, who left his seat here to become B.C.’s education minister, had a clear a message to teachers: suspend the strike for a two-week period and do a “full court press on negotiating.”
“Let teachers vote on it. That way they can get back to their classrooms and get paid and we can really get down to negotiating a deal,” said Fassbender, just over an hour after Premier Christy Clark spoke on the same topic.
B.C. Teachers Federation president Jim Iker held a press conference of his own Sept. 3, saying there is no way the union will take a two-week break from the strike.
Langley Teachers Association on Wednesday called for trustees to enter the fight and push for binding arbitration.