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Oh, this sad September


September. The summer’s heatwave has broken and it is time to break into the sweater drawer, but that’s not what’s important about this month: it’s a time of renewal, hope, and new beginnings, the unofficial New Year, even for people who haven’t been “back to school” for decades.
While kids might celebrate a random day off caused by bad weather in January, this is the one time of year they are truly itching to get back to class. From kindergarten to grade 12, I am sad for all the kids in the province who are stuck in limbo, the never-ending summer.
I feel for the teachers who are also itching to get back into the swing of things, and of course, who are stuck in mega-limbo without even meager strike pay to keep their families afloat.
The worst part about this labour dispute is the uncertainty. How can a person come up with a plan to cope with a situation when there’s no telling how long it will last?
Now let’s talk about the stress on parents: it seems that the provincial government is hoping parents will get so frustrated with their kids not being in school that public sentiment will turn against the teachers. Parental frustration is palpable at this point, and growing, but can anyone really blame the teachers here? BC teachers, at the best of times, work at a lower pay-scale than much of the country, have larger classes, and less help for students who need it.
As a parent of a child who hasn’t entered into this system yet, my frustration lies in the fact that by living here in BC, he will get less public school education than if we lived elsewhere in the country. That starts with a whole year of school we don’t have in this province – junior kindergarten.
While school is on hold, the government is saving $12 million per day and making plans to re-jig our system of post-secondary education to create a workforce for the LNG industry. Based on the last election, it is clear that a healthy chunk of the  BC population is just fine with this plan, if not excited about the prospect. The rest of us, however, will just be dragged along. And when we get there, then what? Smaller class sizes? I think not.
But the problem with this impasse between the government and teachers is about more than class sizes and salaries, it’s about big picture priorities. For our government (one could even point to our governments, plural), healthy economies seem to be more important than healthy societies. The conditions of our schools will suffer alongside other things we value. Here on Bowen, one could point to ferries as a prime example.
So here we are, September. Some of us will simply cope, others will grit their teeth and fight trying to make things better. Either way, our glorious summer seems to come to a sad end with more than rain clouds hanging over our heads.