Sunday, May 25, 2014

Accidental Activist

Here in British Columbia, our teachers are poised to start rotating strikes on Monday.  Quite honestly, I didn't really think much about it.  I mean, it didn't feel like it affected me personally.  I'm not in school.  I'm not a teacher.  And Q just seemed to be happy to have an extra day off so close to summer break, and hey what's just one day right?

It really seems to be the way, doesn't it?  If it doesn't inconvenience you or take something away from you or make you feel something, you don't really care, do you?  It does sound horrible, but it's true.  This is why there are starving children in the world and billionaires.  Teachers who are asked to take a 10% pay cut (again) and government officials in the same province who are given a 14% raise.

And so I thought about it.  A lot.  Because I really, really wanted to care.  I wanted to pick a side, one way or the other and care about it.  A lot.  

There are two sides to every story.  We are in the tail end of a recession, I thought, maybe there just isn't enough money.  I saw wage comparisons with other provinces.  I read articles from both sides.  I have wonderful friends who are teachers and they don't want to be rich.  They want to do what they love, and make a comfortable living doing it.  I thought about putting all the stats here, but I didn't want to bore you all - so you do the research...

I made my choice.

I chose to support the teachers.

I'm not going to lie, it was an emotional decision.  No, no, not emotional in that I cried when I made it...but I made the decision wholeheartedly with my heart

Teachers do so much more than teach. And so without further ado, here are the reasons why I support our BC teachers (in no particular order):

  • Teachers volunteer food to hungry bellies.  Here in BC, we have the highest percentage of children living in poverty in all of Canada.
  • Teachers help nurture our children's talents so that when they grow up they will be contributing members of society.  They help teach qualities like responsibility and respect.  In kindergarten, Q had a teacher with a hearing impairment.  It didn't stop her at all, but she did most of her listening by lip reading.  This was a blessing in disguise for the kids, because they learned the importance of making eye contact and and waiting to speak to someone.  Not only helpful in this instance, but respectful too.
  • Teachers, sadly, are sometimes the only people who care for some children.  How many inspirational stories have you heard or read that involve a teacher who cared when no one else did? Coach Carter, Dangerous Minds, just a couple of movies that show the importance of one person caring for those no one else cares about.  In grade 12, I had the best English teacher ever.  She liked me, and I was kind of the teacher's pet (I don't want to brag or anything....).  It felt AMAZING and I had parents who loved and cared about me.  Imagine how that would feel to someone who doesn't know what love is...
  • Teachers teach!  I know this might sound super obvious but consider this...we don't invest in education - where's your next doctor going to come from?  Lawyer? Teacher? Nurse? Writer? Politician? I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "Well that's what private school is for..."  Really?  There are enough, in my opinion, people living on the east side, who have dropped out, cannot read and are basically unemployable.  If only the elite get jobs, are there enough jobs at McDonald's for the rest of us?  There are tonnes of studies and statistics that show an education is the most important way to stop the cycle of poverty.
I could go on and on and on.  Really, I could.  My son's teacher bought 23 potting plants and soil and clay pots so each child could make a Mother's Day gift for their mother.  As a mother who doesn't have a significant other to take the kid out and buy a gift, this was a very welcome surprise.  But I think I've made my point.  

In the end, I don't actually see it so much as supporting our teachers as supporting our children and their future and by extension, OUR future.  I mean, I'm gonna be old one day.  Like real old, and I'm going to need a good doctor.  I'm going to need a good politician to make sure I'm not living on the street.  I'm going to need a lawyer to construct my will.  The point is - we need to invest in these kids now, so that society as we know it doesn't dissolve around us.  I know, I know, it's a slippery slope.  But are you willing to take that chance?  

I'm not.


  1. Wonderful blog post, Catherine! It means a lot to have your support, and I love how you articulated the reasons behind your decision. We're very thankful to you!

  2. I wonder what ever came out of the strike? How did the teachers fare?