Nelson parents are organizing a solidarity parade for what would have been the first day of school, September 2, and will march down Baker Street to city hall.
“This is a parent initiative,” said Lucas Myers, who has two school age children. “There’s a sense that teachers are hamstrung.”
The march, which is called the Parents Etc. for Public Education March, will begin at the old Extra Foods parking lot across from the Civic Theatre at noon and will be accompanied by Nelson’s Moving Mosaic samba band.
“Some of their members will be there and they’re going to make some noise,” said Myers.
“It’s not going to be aggressive. It’s just to show the government there’s a mass of people who have this opinion,” he said.
“They’ve been trying to make the union look bad, and that’s what the whole game is. We can show them we’re not siding with the government, we’re supporting public education as it stands now.”
Children will join the parents in solidarity. Myers said their very presence in the parade makes a powerful statement.
“They shouldn’t be here. They should be in school right now,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Kootenay Lake district parent advisory council has come out in support of the march.
“We invite our partners in education to continue protecting the interest of students,” council chair Kendra Mann wrote in a press release. Their expressed aim is to ensure schools will continue to be “places for students to learn in a safe, caring and nurturing environment.”
Mann recently attended an emergency meeting called by BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC). Representatives from 28 districts attended the August 16 meeting, representing 81 per cent of the BC parent population.
“Parents have varying opinions and their support ranges from supporting BCTF to supporting BCPSEA and everything in between. One thing we can agree on is that we want our children in school September 2.”
Myers said the parade is a last-ditch attempt to communicate with the government.
“They’ve been trying to see how much they can get away with, how much they can push us before we can push back. We’re showing them we’re not cool with what’s going on,” he said.
Myers and many other parents believe the government’s recent announcement of a reimbursement program for kids missing school, which includes a website (bcparentinfo.ca) to help parents navigate the process, is a slap in the face to both parents and teachers.
“I think it’s gross. It’s the height of arrogance and it seems like there’s no respect,” said Myers.
Teachers have been on full-scale strike since June 17, as the BCTF and BCPSEA have failed to negotiate a contract. Teachers have been without a contract since June 2013.
For further information on the march, contact Kendra Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Parents Etc March on Facebook.