Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Schooling in the 3Ps?

Yes, that’s what the so called independent schools actually are, private schools that use public funds, which is characteristic of all public private partnerships (or 3 P’s). 3 P’s are designed to suck up public money for private gain. And private schools do just that in BC to the tune of over 200 million dollars a year (Vancouver Sun Feb. 17, 2010). Candace Spilsbury, Board chair of Cowichan Valley trustees is challenging the public funding of private schools (private schools like to be called independent schools because that suggests they are solely privately funded) and wants the over 200 million public dollars diverted to public schools instead. And indeed, why do we, as taxpayers, as citizens, put up with paying for private schools that are in the main, religious schools? Or private schools that are essentially college prep schools for an elite bunch of kids? Religious people who want their children to be schooled in a particular religion, or any religion for that matter, if fine as long as they pay for it. But they have no right to ask that tax dollars be taken away from the public schools that are hurting for just pencils and paper and are increasingly doing without physical education, art, music, and health programs including mental health programs. Why should the working poor and middle classes be forced to pay for Catholic schools? Why should we pay for Protestant schools, or any kind of religious schools? Or why should we pay for private schools that are essentially college prep programs with enriched programs of music, math, the arts or sports for a certain class of kids, to the determent of everybody else’s kids who are getting the shaft from the Gordon Campbell government’s total obsession with privatizing public assets… like our public school systems?

What has happened to the notion of excellent universal education with opportunities for advanced math, music, and art for all kids? Or are these now only for kids from richer families to exclusion of kids from ordinary income families? In other words, why are some kids in this province favored above others? Why are rich kids better than poor kids? Because that is, in essence, what public, private partnership schooling is about: that richer kids are better than poorer kids because their families are richer. I say this has gone on long enough. It’s time to even the playing field for all children and their families and for the provincial government to stop deliberately trying to create an upper class of elite people sucked from the struggles and scarifies of the working poor and middle classes. All kids are special. All kids need physical education, music, art, special attention to math, small classrooms and mental and physical health programs and counselors. Where is the money going to come from? From where it always has, from us. That over 200 million dollars of tax payers money going to private schools for the elite would go a long way to alleviating some of the deliberately created stress on the public school systems. This is something we can change. And I thank the Cowichan Valley trustees for bringing it to public attention.