Damage to good will is going to be costly

Cobble Hill – I have been thinking, discussing and reading a great deal about the present situation in B.C. public education.

Although I have commented on many articles and “liked” many I have not written anything, feeling somewhat overwhelmed with where to start.

Yesterday it came to me. I have decided that I won’t get into the numbers game: $1,000 less per child, $40 bribe money, dubious adding of percentages, the conveniently inconsistent scale within the “affordability zone”, declining budgets, and so forth.

Instead I am going to discuss a far more nebulous and hard to define aspect of this situation which I am going to call the “good will” factor.

Unless involved in education, whether as an educator or parent, I think few people are aware of the prime importance of this factor. It is the grease that keeps our schools running.

It is the splashy items, such as graduation ceremonies, fabulous field trips, school musicals and sport tournaments. It is also, however, less visible things such as remedial help at lunch, extra snacks for the child without, extracurricular clubs and intramural sports, phone calls and meetings with parents outside of school hours.

Our school system relies heavily on a spirit of generosity and volunteerism on the part of educators. While this has always been the case, I would argue that in an era of cuts and fiscal restraint, it has become increasingly crucial.

Progressive employers understand that this nebulous “good will” commodity is worth fostering and encouraging. It makes fiscal sense to treat your employees with appreciation. Essentially, you get more out of people who feel respected.

This government’s current strategy of win-at-all-costs undermines everything I know about human behaviour and motivation.

I fail to understand how an approach that seems to deliberately demoralize a work force can lead to a positive outcome, in any workplace situation.

Given the particularities of the school environment and the “good will” required within it, the damage is costly indeed. Lockouts, bribes, outright lies and accusations of greed are not conducive to progress in any discernible sense.

Although there are no exact dollars to describe the damage that has been done, there will indeed be a cost.

Sharon Hall

Cobble Hill