A bitter teachers’ strike in this blogger’s corner of the world, British Columbia, Canada illustrates how public education has become monopoly education and has taken from parents responsibility for schooling their children.
The founders of this country believed that all children should have an equal opportunity for schooling and established publicly funded schools. Through the years this has developed into a huge infrastructure and bureaucracy. We now have a legal requirement that parents must send their children to school. There are a few private schools and some home-schooling but the public school system is an effective monopoly.
We also have the British Columbia Teachers Federation which has used its strength to appropriate the monopoly profits for its members. Education is such an emotionally important thing that in the past the threat of a strike has been enough for the government to give in. This strike, now resolved after two weeks before the summer break and three weeks in the new school year,. has shown the lack of alternatives. Public education has become monopoly education with all the problems associated with monopolies including high prices and mediocre services.
The current strike appears to be a conflict between the union and the government over who is going to control the education system and especially spending decisions. It appears the government is taking a stand and refusing to put lots more money into the system.
I believe education is first of all a parental responsibility, something which has been forgotten as the BCTF and the government fight for control. Most parents have the skills and knowledge to teach their children but chose to hire others to do that for them. Parents should have the right to determine curriculum, the philosophy of education and which teachers educate their children.
One way to accomplish this would be a voucher system which would allow parents to decide which school their children would attend according to their values. This would be true to the wishes of our founding fathers and most of us that all children should have an equal opportunity for an education. It would also transfer decision making and power from the bureaucracy to parents. Expect the people currently employed in the system to scream.
Other occupations thrive on competition. If teachers had to compete for students they would be innovative and find the stimulation invigorating. Most of them would be more satisfied and pleased to see what it does for students.
This blogger’s recent experience of schools has been limited to an annual Christmas concert at the local elementary school, but during the strike I was hearing complaints from teachers of up to five or six special needs students in each class. I am horrified.
This may be an old issue already won by parents who want their children to be treated as normal and included in the normal school system. This should be revisited. We want all children to be educated to their full potential but not everyone has an equal potential. Trying to teach children of vastly different potentials in one classroom must be asking for problems. How well do students learn from a teacher who is about to have a nervous breakdown?
While this post was waiting for its final editing the strike was settled and monopoly power reigns supreme. Poor students,
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