Our View: Environment for learning being tested

Back to school is usually a positive time, with young minds shaking out the summer cobwebs and the learning beginning anew.

Back to school is usually a positive time, with young minds shaking out the summer cobwebs and the learning beginning anew.

On the one hand, the institution of full-day kindergarten marks the full integration of a program started last year in the Capital Region, for which the results were largely positive.

On the other, September is painting a less glowing picture on a couple of other fronts.

Students taking certain Grade 11 and 12 equivalency courses through Camosun College, with an eye on post-secondary enrolment, are paying hundreds of dollars for tuition rather than receiving the courses free as they would have last year.

And of course, there is the public school teachers’ dispute with the province. Strike notice has been served, which means teachers are working to rule to start the year — no report cards or other administrative duties will be done — a scenario that threatens the strength of new teacher-student-parent relationships from the start.

Like any unionized group, teachers have won the right to collectively bargain. They have also won the right to work-to-rule.

But if adhering strictly to contract language means not doing things that allow parents to know how their child is doing at school, then such tasks need to be written into the next agreement contract as being untouchable during labour disputes.

That would require serious negotiation as well, but keeping teachers’ service at a minimum level is critical to ensuring valuable learning time is not lost.

For the sake of the students, both sides need to dispense with the political posturing, learn to compromise, hammer out an appropriate deal and get on with creating a meaningful environment in which young minds can learn.