About 60 C.E. Barry and Hope secondary students participated in a walk out Friday afternoon.
The group rallied in front of the school district office on Kawkawa Lake Road, with the majority of students holding signs in support of their teachers.
“Teachers have a hard enough time helping every student. If classes get any bigger, learning will be twice as hard,” said Grade 11 student and demonstration organizer Erika Larder.
“Most teachers at our school aren’t concerned about the money. It’s more the fact that (special education teachers) are gone. Special needs are getting neglected and that’s not good.”
The student demonstration comes on the heels of Monday’s protest by teachers in response to the government’s plan to impose a settlement. B.C. teachers also voted this week in favour of a three-day strike starting on Monday.
Lynne Marvell, president of the Fraser-Cascade Teachers’ Association, said teachers will participate in a “leaflet line” for an hour around the time schools open and close as part of the escalating job action.
The Labour Relations Board ruling does not allow teachers to set up a picket line and stand in the way of other union employees entering schools. However, they can be in front of schools handing out informational pamphlets.
Marvell said the biggest issues for teachers are underfunding, the lack of support for special needs, and the government’s failure to negotiate.
“We have been pushed into a corner by the draconian legislation that the government has tabled,” she said. “When your rights get taken away, sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in.”
With teachers going on strike next week, many high school students in Grades 10-12 are concerned about the effect missed classes will have on provincial exam preparation.
“We’re all pretty worried about our exams, even more than usual,” said Larder. “It will be hard to make up. We’re going to have to double up on lessons and have twice the amount of work. If we don’t cover everything, we won’t know what’s going to be on our exams.”
Marvell said teachers will do what they can to help students stay on track.
“Teachers always put in a lot of extra time for students that need it,” she added. “I don’t see this situation as any different.”