Private/public schools issues keep recurring. These debates are healthy but they can be divisive and unhelpful at times.
It should be very instructive to explore these issues more thoroughly in the 21st Century as we consider different viewpoints through various lenses — history, economics, politics/ideologies, etc.
I will be adding pieces here that, hopefully, will be informative and useful This FIRST is an essay I did in March 2009 when local teacher unions were becoming more active in school board elections, and which I have today revised slightly.
Public Education is the End, Not the Means
An educated public is what is desirable in a civic society. Democracies benefit when citizens can participate in informed ways in the controversies of the day, when the media is articulate about the issues, and citizens vote for the institutions that govern or provide services.
What is talked about now as public education is really government directed and produced schooling for the young. Government schools are taught by public servants called teachers, and the trustees are the middle men for the government. Trustees can be replaced if they are dysfunctional to government interests.
However, the public good called public education is the end that is achieved when many forces can provide this educated public so desired. We now have many forms of education: government schools, private and independent schools, religious schools, home education, online education, self-education, etc.
Public health is a measure of how healthy the population is and results from hundreds of different ways in which this is accomplished.
Public education is the end, the result, the outcome, the payoff, the harvest, the intended consequence, the expected benefit, of the various forms education takes.
That public education has come to mean only that which is delivered through government as an agency is a distortion of the true meaning of public education.
Thus we now see the gross abuse of the democratic system where teacher unions have over the last 50 years obtained such a stranglehold on taxpayer funding for education that they can be called a parallel government, a de facto regime, controlling a system, a monopoly, that controls and “educates” nearly 90% of BC’s children.
Thus we see the teachers unions very active in school board campaigns. The teacher union, the BCTF, is proud of its control and brags about its democratic right to support those in oversight positions on school boards – the people who would normally be seen as in conflict of interest: educators, BCTF operatives and subjugated trustee candidates (subjugated due to signing pledges for teacher causes and obtaining union aid to election for school district trusteeship).
The BCTF (BC Teachers Federation) is opposed to real choices outside the government (public) sphere. It opposes competition. It is for worker control of the workplace. A monopoly with a captive audience serves their self-interest. Serving the public interest is just lip-service and not on their operating agendas.
This is curious and scary indeed. Because, while they trumpet democracy, they actually mean rule by elites. In reality, dig deep, you will find that the leadership of the teacher unions in BC is composed of small, very militant and aggressive cadres sharing similar agendas and ideologies. They shape and frame the issues, the agendas, the strategies. They depend on an acquiescent membership and public.
The sooner we stop this nonsense of insisting that public education can only be obtained through government (public) schools, the better.
We need a lot of choices. Yes, publicly funded choices, through vouchers, tuition tax credits, scholarships, or whatever. Civil society NEEDS public education. However, we do NOT need government, state, “public” schooling run by public servants.
(By Tunya Audain, 090320, comment to blog, Report Card, Vancouver Sun by Janet Steffenhagen, education reporter “Unions hope trustees will help defeat Liberal government”, 090319…updated 091215)