Odd Thoughts: Teachers dispute shifting thousands of miles

That’s the way it works in this business: you go away on vacation for just a couple of weeks, and when you get back, the whole world has completely changed.

Take the teachers strike, for instance. There are thousands of miles of difference.

When I left, parents and kids were hopeful that a settlement was imminent.

Teachers were willing to go into mediation – if only the government would be reasonable about just what might be mediated – and there were hints of binding arbitration floating about.

Government negotiators were willing to go into mediation – if only the teachers’ union would be reasonable about just what might be mediated – and there were hints floating about that the teachers could take their binding arbitration and shove it.

Meanwhile, champion mediator Vince Ready announced that he was standing by to step in at a moment’s notice and start mediating – as soon as there was something to mediate.

Most folks without kids of school age cynically suggested that school wouldn’t get back in session until at least October.

When I left my desk two weeks ago, Jim Iker of the B.C. Teachers Federation and Education Minister Peter Fassbender were both shouting long and loud to anyone with ears to hear (and at each other) about not bargaining publicly through the media, and getting down to business with each other behind closed doors, to get those kids back into the security of their classrooms as quickly and smoothly as possible where they can get started on the next phase of learning benefiting from B.C.’s education system which has been proven to be among the best in the world.

Indeed, there were “intensive” bargaining sessions being undertaken between the BCTF and the government’s BCPSEA lackeys… er… negotiators, and things were looking good for a quick settlement.

Premier Christy Clark – who actually started this whole mess back in 2002 – was nowhere to be seen, leaving the dirty work to her specially picked henchman Fassbender.

And, did I say? Kids and parents were hopeful that teachers would be back in the classrooms and school would get underway really soon.

See what I mean?

Everything is completely different now from what it was two weeks ago when I left for vacation.

Vince Ready is ready to mediate, everyone is bickering over binding arbitration, Iker and Fassbender publicly proclaim the need to take their fight out of the media and into the backroom, where indeed, frantic negotiations are taking place, with hints that the public should be optimistic that something might actually happen between now and… well… between now and sometime soon when we can all be hopeful that kids will get back into the security of their classrooms as quickly and smoothly as possible where they can get started on the next phase of learning benefiting from B.C.’s education system which has been proven to be among the best in the world.

And Premier Clark, ever mindful of the critical nature of the dispute and its importance to British Columbia’s future, is heading to India.

You see? The whole situation is changing completely: two weeks ago, Premier Clark (what is it about Premier Clarks in this province, anyway?) was keeping her mouth shut about B.C.’s education turmoil right here in B.C., and soon she will be keeping her mouth shut about B.C.’s education turmoil thousands upon thousands of miles away, in India.

Not the same thing at all.

Completely different.

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