Letters: School culture is unravelling

As a Grade 12 student in Maple Ridge, my last few weeks of high school have left me feeling resentful.

Editor, The News:

Re: School strike again on Monday (The News, May 30).

As a Grade 12  student in Maple Ridge, my last few weeks of high school have left me feeling resentful during what should be an exciting time in my life.

The celebration of my peers and my graduation has been largely overshadowed by the maltreatment of our teachers.

Due to the lockout imposed by the government, teachers who were previously available every lunch hour to help students like myself have been banished to eat on the sidewalk.

This lockout was ill-conceived and short-sighted; how can educators with legally diminished hours continue to work to their full extent when they aren’t allowed to mark my homework, offer extra help, or let us make up missed work?

The restricted work hours are not nearly enough to mark seven classes worth of assignments, or complete class preparation.

Furthermore, a 10 per cent cut in their pay, and arbitrarily assigned locked out days has frustrated teachers to the extent that they feel compelled to protest.

Several of my favourite teachers are left with the moral decision whether or not to attend graduation despite having contributed to their students’ coming of age.

This lockout is hurting students in the classroom, but it also impacts their activities. All of the field trips in Maple Ridge have been cancelled, as well as the elementary school track meets.

In addition to being mistreated by the government, teachers with differing views on this strike and the interpretation of the sanctions imposed have begun to clash with each other. My father has taught for 28 years, as well as coached his varsity football team to the provincial finals four times. I witness first-hand how much effort and dedication volunteers like him donate to schools, and find the leadership and teamwork he teaches kids admirable.

Regardless of such voluntary actions being allowed, he has faced conflict at work due to the disapproval of his coworkers. Not only does the toxic relationship between the BCTF and government influence my life negatively now, so do they influence my future. I have wanted to be a French Immersion teacher since I began loving school in kindergarten. After preparing myself to pursue this goal in post-secondary, this tension makes me question my decision.

Many graduating students have strived for excellence and sought out their favourite subject areas in order to become good teachers. The education system risks losing new and hardworking teachers due to the stresses of such an unstable and counterproductive climate.

Peter Fassbender says it’s a shame when students are put in the middle. I can vouch for the fact that the dynamics in a school affect everyone in the building. Students can deal with a one-day strike, but this partial lockout is unraveling the threads of our school culture.

Caitlin McDonnell

Maple Ridge