Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Gotta get one in...

It's been a while, so just a quick note to get someone to do something about that little oil problem. I think we can all agree that oil spills are wrong. What else should I write about? Any requests? I'm working on a few other things, but I'm finding them too rambling, even for me, at the moment...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Public Funding for Private Schools?

Skip to the last 2 sentences if you want to know my point without doing any reading. I was going to wait a while before writing about education again, but the other day in the staffroom, at one of my favourite places to teach, I heard an argument that made me consider writing another education post. And I'll pre-apologize again for this one. Maybe I'll get bolder soon and start to leave that bit out, but I do have friends and family who use and teach in the private system. I have no doubt that they are excellent teachers and that the kids are getting a most-of-the-way to marvelous education, so I don't mean this to be an attack on the people; it's just my sophomoric indictment of the whole imbalanced system.

The idea goes something like this: Private schools are good for the system because they cost taxpayers less. Public schools (in BC) are publicly funded at a little over 8 grand per kid, per year, while private schools are publicly (yes!) funded at around half of that. The theory is that if there were no private schools, all of those kids would be in the public system at 8 grand each and our taxes would be even more out of control. Aside from private schools being a luxury and an unjust legacy of an old system that maintains a sort of British-colonial attitude of sticking to the social rung on which we belong, the first obvious argument here, for me, is that private schools should get no public money at all.

Issues like the government wanting to maintain some bit of control over the curriculum and state testing (which is deemed so important by those who want to make education entirely a competition in the glorious free free market, like the good old Fraser Institute stink tank, oops I mean think tank. Too bad the backspace key is broken. Sorry guys!) as well as the government being legally obligated to educate under 19s are brought up by supporters of the private schools.

And while these are all worth discussing, kids who currently go private will not suffer if the funding is removed. Their parents are at least relatively wealthy and for the sake of another 4 grand most would stay in the private system. Society and taxation would adapt. This “4 grand more” idea is not a fair reason to keep a two-tiered system of education, just as it’s not a good reason to start any other two-tiered thing. And also, who cares what private curricula contain? It's a private matter and should be between the schools and the parents paying the bills. We already pay for the religion-affiliated schools with godlike curricula that, by using public money, massively strain even our pretend separation of church and state.

To the parents who would complain about paying their taxes and the private tuition in some sort of woe-is-me tandem, I say, too bad for you! You opted out of the public system and should receive no help from taxpayers for your choice. And just as I cannot remove my taxes from the military pool, for example, you cannot remove yours from the education one.

The mostly unspoken, but largest reasons for private schools are to keep darlings away from riffraff and kickoff the nepotistic bonding. Private schools help maintain a social order that doesn't need any more help. The privileged kids at my public school were and still are privileged. The smart kids, many of whom were not privileged at all, did amazingly well for themselves. They didn't need private school to succeed. No one does and surely we need to publicize that every taxpayer is contributing to the wood-paneling, smaller classes and better field trips of the uniformed passkey to further privilege. And just watch as funding percentages keep increasing for private as long as we keep electing Harper and Campbell governments who are so influenced by the stink tanks and other moneyed friends. And, yes, I have resorted to name calling!

The main problem for me, beyond the horrid attitudes behind the push for private success, being an admitted leftie loonie, is that people work so damn hard to hide their money, to pay as few taxes as possible, that the pool for public funding is too small to fund things adequately. Just imagine how amazing our schools could be (and here I should say that public schools in Western Canada are not at all bad, but they are going through massive funding problems and could be much better) if wealthy families and corporations who all thrive on draining communities of culture and cash didn't hide behind tax loopholes and actually paid a fair share of tax. And then instead of paying 25 grand, or whatever, for your kid to go to school, you could just pay your fair taxes and know that the schools were as great as they could and should be. Basically, private schools should receive no more public money. Ever.