Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tales From the Port Ed School bookshelf

“Look at me! Look at me! 
Look at me NOW! 
It is fun to have fun 
But you have to know how.”
From the Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss

Through the decades of political campaigns in British Columbia, one imagines that the combination of kids, politicians and schools, most likely means that  eventually you're going to have a photo at some time.

So keeping in the fine tradition of  the political campaign trail, that was again the case on Friday in Port Edward

However, for some on the North Coast, the seemingly obligatory photo opportunity of Premier Clark reading a book to children at Port Edward school is making for a bit of a controversy.

Once the photos and videos of the Premier's reading time at the Port Edward School spread to the community, via the local news sources, both CFTK and the Northern View, the Prince Rupert District Teacher's Association President  ( and one time aspiring NDP candidate) Joanna Larson was quick to her twitter feed to offer up her thoughts on the photo and the nature of political messaging.

Beyond the world of twitter, the story time session did not escape the notice of participants on one of Prince Rupert's local chat forums, where the discussion carried over into Saturday. A portion of the theme of that particular conversation being as to whether the Premier should have been allowed to read for the students in the first place.

It provided for a topic which once again offered the regular forum participants the opportunity to take the local School District to task, a theme that occasionally pops up there from time to time.

On this occasion, it seems that  it was the fact that the Premier was reading from a Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat,  that provided for much of the theme of the conversation on the Port Edward visit. Offering up the chance for some of the forum participants to find much of intrigue and potential supposition on the nature of the book selection in relation to recent events at the School District.

Part of the whole book reading controversy, such as it is, stems from recent events between School District 52 and the local teacher's union. Which has made for a most controversial period over the last year,  featuring such highly publicized incidents as the visual review of the teaching's of the Dr. Seuss classic Yertle the Turtle (by way of clothing or a sign in a teacher's car), to questions of fashion and political messaging through the wearing of Charter of Rights T shirts at local schools.

The topic of education and/or labour relations at the School District, is always a hot button issue on the North Coast, the disagreements between School District and the BCTF local almost the thing of legend. So, it's perhaps not surprising that the simple reading of a story to a children's class by the Premier of the Province would veer into the domain of political theatre.

The brouhaha over the Premier's reading session will no doubt mean that other leaders best brush up on their Seuss.  Should Adrian Dix of the NDP, or Jane Sterk of the Green party make the trek up to the North Coast, we imagine that there will now be a mandatory reading session required for both.

Ms. Larson is helpful on that theme as well, providing the required reading list for all political stripes, including the BC Conservatives, who at the moment don't have a candidate on the North Coast.

Fine suggestions all, though we are thankful to a fashion that we don't have a full slate of candidates from all the parties here. As we wonder what book club selection that the leaders of the Marijuana party, or Christian Heritage party might wish to use for reading time.

One hopes that the school libraries of the city are fully stocked with the work's of the good Doctor Seuss, who clearly is going to shoot up the most popular lists before the election campaign comes to an end.

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