Parents protest strike


Video by Deborah Pfeiffer.

Penticton parents and their children voiced concerns about the ongoing teachers' strike at a rally in the city Tuesday morning.

On the morning, when students would typically be returning to school, the group of around 100 people gathered on a grassy patch across the street from Penticton Secondary School.

The rally was organized by parent Shaunna Murray who is feeling frustrated about kids being caught in the middle.

"We are not here to choose sides, but just wanting to make sure we focus on these kids because I think it gets lost in the big picture," said Murray, who created the Facebook event, Back to School BC Parents Protest, last week.

Public schools in BC remain closed following a breakdown in talks that dashed any hopes parents and students had of classes starting as scheduled, today.

The teachers' union and government bargaining teams barely spoke to each other all summer and despite a flurry of action over the weekend, negotiations fell apart.

Parent Barry Pattman said he was at Tuesday's rally because he has one child, 17, entering Grade 12 at Princess Margaret Secondary School.

"The biggest concern for our household and for many others with Grade 12 students is university admission," he said. "No school affects the provincial exams, early admission and qualifying for bursaries and scholarships. Now with this the way it is, private school, out of province applicants and international students are at an advantage when applying to BC universities.

Historically when there have been disruptions of this nature in other jurisdictions, over 25 percent of the students impacted never go to university."

Melissa Arneil, the parent of two children, 8 and 2, said she is really worried if the children don't go back to school soon, that when they do go back they will forget what they learned, or have a negative attitude toward teachers.

"My daughter is very upset with the teachers right now," she said.

Arneil, a stay at home mom, is trying to do as much home schooling as she can right now.

Murray said she is lucky to have family around who are helping out, but that she absolutely feels for other parents.

"I've been there where you don't have family around, and it's hard," she said.

Wages and teaching conditions such as class size and composition have been at the heart of the labour dispute that began in June, when teachers walked off the job in a rotating and then full scale strike two weeks before summer vacation.

More than half of the people who took a Castanet poll on the topic say they want to see a deal negotiated, not legislated.

Here is the poll:

The Canadian Press contributed to story


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