Public Education the End, Not the Means

(This is essay #5 in the series Cockeyed BC Education)

Public Education is the End, Not the Means

(By Tunya Audain, 090320, comment to blog, The Report Card of Vancouver Sun by Janet Steffenhagen, education reporter “Unions hope trustees will help defeat Liberal government”, 090319)

An educated public is what is desirable in a civic society.  Even 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 education 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 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.  The teacher union, the BCTF, is proud of its control and brags about it’s democratic right to run educators and 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 is opposed to real choices outside the government (public) sphere.  It opposes competition. It is for worker control of the workplace.

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.

The sooner we stopped 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.  We do not need government “public”schools run by public servants.


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