After weeks of job action by teachers, and increasing intransigence by the provincial government, Langley Board of Education finally ventured forth with an opinion about the destructive labour standoff in schools.
On Monday, the board of education said that the two sides need to concentrate more on bargaining, and reach a settlement soon. Even at that, the board could not agree to send a letter expressing those sentiments, unless the final version is circulated to all trustees to see if it meets with their approval.
While no one can argue that the two sides need to settle down to meaningful bargaining, much more should be expected from an elected board of education.
Its members are called “trustees” for a reason. They are to hold the education of this community’s young people in trust, because it is important and vital to our society.
However, Langley trustees have, until Monday, been silent about the fact that students have already missed two full days of school due to this dispute. They have also missed out on field trips, sports days, track meets and other activities, because of a partial lockout imposed by the employers’ association, which has been shown to be nothing more than an arm of provincial government policy.
Students stand to miss a great deal more. Grade 12 students may not be able to graduate. Some may be kept from post-secondary education in the fall because of the partial strike by teachers, and a full lockout which is set to begin at the end of June.
Younger students may miss some end-of-term exams and getting their final marks. Special needs students, who already have learning challenges, may miss out on even more.
Trustees had an opportunity on Monday to advocate and be a strong voice for students — the only ones who really count in this dispute. They didn’t do so. Perhaps they are afraid to offend the province, the B.C. Teachers Federattion, or both.