Students exercise democracy with their walkout

Beattie students pay a visit to City Hall.

Beattie students pay a visit to City Hall.

THURSDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — There were all sorts of contradictions in Wednesday’s student protest. The few Kamloops students who walked out of school were demonstrating against the inability of the teachers and government to reach a contract agreement, and the resulting disruption to their education.

Yet they themselves disrupted their own education by walking out. Still, what were they to do? Stay silent?

While most students remained in their classrooms, teachers were out picketing at lunch hour against the “soft” lockout imposed by the B.C. Public School Employers Association.

It was clear from talking to students from several schools Wednesday that by far the majority are on the side of their teachers. In theory, the walkout was an impartial statement of concern about the impact the dispute is having on their education.

But the kids rely on their teachers for their schooling, not on a group of bureaucrats trying to get the kind of deal the government can live with nor, for that matter, the government itself.
It was also interesting to see and hear the number of loud supportive honks from adults driving by the protesters.

While the students unanimously failed in their stated determination to stay on the picket lines for the full school day, that shouldn’t be a surprise. They aren’t experienced at the tactics of protest. They made up some placards but they foresaw none of the required infrastructure for protesting — no chairs, no shade, not even any water. One group had to rely on the kindness of downtown coffee shops for some water to quench their thirst as they marched.

For those who insist the students who walked out were wrong, consider what they learned. For a couple of hours or so, they became an active part of our democracy, and had a voice.
It might amount to nothing in the grand scheme of things, but we’ll bet nobody will look back on this a very short time from now and say it did any harm.

About Mel Rothenburger (7453 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on Students exercise democracy with their walkout

  1. Sean McGuinness // June 5, 2014 at 9:58 AM // Reply

    Good for them. This didn’t “disrupt their own education”, it enhanced it. Too bad these kids can’t vote.

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