NEWS/ SCHOOLS — Whether Kamloops students will join a proposed nonpartisan province-wide walkout Wednesday to protest the teacher-government contract standoff is uncertain, but students are clearly divided on the idea.
Victoria Barker and Mackenzie Timbo’s B.C. Walkout 2014 campaign has garnered thousands of responses. While it’s hard to know where most of the traffic on their B.C. Student Walkout For Students page on Facebook comes from, at least two NorKam students have joined the debate.
“Anyone in Norkam doing this? This event is actually really screwing up the last weeks of my courses,” wrote one.
Another NorKam student wrote,” I have talked to many teachers from 2 different schools and they all said it’d be better if we stayed in school Wednesday and go to protest on the days that we get off to show the government that we’ll take the time out of our day to fight for our education, just saying!!”
The walkout is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday. That’s the only day this week when teachers won’t be on strike anywhere in the province, and the protest organizers are urging students to show up at school, then walk out and picket for the rest of the day.
About half the students responding to the Facebook page oppose the idea, with many saying it’s a contradiction to say they’re concerned about interruptions to their education and then purposely create another lost day.
But Barker, 18, from the Lower Mainland, says the walkout proposal is about speaking out against the failure of the two sides to reach agreement, at the expense of the students.
“The students in British Columbia have been put in the middle of the labour dispute between the BCTF and the government for our entire schooling. For some of us, that means our entire 13 years of education,” she wrote in Facebook.
“The two sides are like parents who are divorcing and have stuck their children in the middle for the last 13 years. Each side claims to be ‘fighting for the students’ yet each side fails to show how they are doing so.”
She said many students are losing time for provincial exam preparation and for completing courses needed for university.
“In my opinion, both sides need to get their act together and reach an agreement.”
But many students posting to the Facebook page worry about the tactic. “Walking out doesn’t help the teachers, it doesn’t help the government, and it certainly doesn’t help us students. So what’s the motive here?” asked one student.
Many students are also worried about being punished for walking out, or afraid they’ll be the only ones who do it at their school.
“I cannot believe how scared people are of missing a day of class,” wrote another student. “Are we, the students so scared of defying an authority figure that the thought of taking a stand for our education is trumped by worries of an exam preparation block?”
Barker is urging all students in the province to take part. “I would love for this to be province wide, so please invite your friends! Parents are more than welcome to bring their young children if they want.”
Almost 12,000 people — included students from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Fraser Valley, the Interior, Kootenays and northern B.C. — have responded to the proposed walkout.