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ARMCHAIR ARCHIVES – Should parents ask their kids to take sides?

Photo posted on Facebook page Parents Actively Protest during 2014 teachers’ strike.

A reminder of what things were like during the B.C. teachers’ strike of 2014. The following editorial by Mel Rothenburger was published on ArmchairMayor.ca on Sept. 2, 2014:

WHEN SHOULD PARENTS start involving their children in politics, especially the politics of protest?

At least some Kamloops parents are joining the dispute between teachers and the government today, and they’re asking their kids to protest alongside them.

These aren’t teenagers we’re talking about — parents around the province have taken to Facebook urging each other to bring their children, apparently as young as Kindergarten age, to rallies outside the offices of government politicians. They’re also using their young school-age children as models for photos promoting the rallies.

Make no mistake about it, there’s no neutral ground here. While the rallies are ostensibly a protest against the fact school isn’t starting on time, there’s definitely an anti-government tone to the discussion.

One parent comments that “I whole-heartedly support the teachers in this dispute and would love to be a voice for the children in ending this dispute.”

A proposed sample letter posted on Facebook, with a call for parents to print it and gather signatures, clearly sides with teachers. The lengthy letter talks of class size and composition, the cornerstones of the B.C. Teachers Federation’s demands from government.

“We demand that government lift the stumbling block to mediation which is that teachers sign away what they won (in) the courts,” the letter concludes.

So, when parents take to the streets today, will they be using the presence of their kids — many or most of whom can have little understanding of the issues behind the failure of schools to open on time — for a political purpose? Sure seems like it.

Everybody has a right to take sides in a political issue, and this dispute certainly has become political. And, the frustration of parents over the shutdown of the school system is understandable.

But while kids are deeply affected by the situation, maybe a protest rally isn’t the best place for them, at least not the younger ones.

About Mel Rothenburger (7038 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca 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 ArmchairMayor.ca 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.

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