Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wonderful, Informed Commentary on My province Column on Education

Dear Sir:
Thank you for encouraging people to make education an issue during elections. I wish more people in the media would scrutinize this vitally important part of our society and suggest ways in which politicians could and should improve education, which is, as you rightly point out, the key to our future and our prosperity as a society, besides being probably our second biggest public investment after health care. This second factor alone demands more public scrutiny of whether we are investing all our education funds in ways which benefit as much as possible our students, our schools, our society.
My view may not be worth a bean, but it is based on thirty-two and a half years of experience as a secondary school teacher and teacher-librarian in B.C. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of teaching kids and working with them in the school library, but I feel that educators and the education system are being suffocated by the ever-increasing bureaucracy and politics of local school boards and their ballooning school board offices, added to the politics and bureaucracy of unions and the ministry.
Much criticism is being made (quite rightly) of the recent enormous salary raises granted provincial government bureaucrats, but the media breathes not a word of the steady increases in the number of school board office bureaucrats and of their salaries over the years, absorbing education dollars that are dearly needed in schools, in classrooms.
I am convinced that the only way to achieve renewal and improvement in our education system is to carry out a long-overdue reform similar to that adopted recently in Sweden. There local boards were abolished, and responsibility and funds were redirected to the schools, just as in the private school system. This reform was resisted by unions and bureaucrats, but it has proved to be a success for education in Sweden, and almost everyone now supports it. This is precisely the type of reform advocated by Quebec's new party, l'Action Democratique, which nearly won the last provincial election in Quebec.
Sadly, I feel that both the major parties in BC are too wedded to Big Bureaucracy to ever introduce such a healthy reform in education, and they are happy that the media almost never digs into exactly how our education dollars are being spent and what alternatives there are to this wasteful, bureaucratic and outmoded status quo. Until a sensible new political party is born in BC, as occurred in Quebec during the 1990's, I am convinced that the only real alternate viewpoint and "official opposition" that we can hope for in the issue of education (and justice and other major issues, alas) will come from the media and public comment. For this reason, again I thank you for your interest in this matter and the informed viewpoint on education that you expressed in your recent article.
Yours truly,
Richard Sharpe

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are school boards necessary? No, not in today's world. School boards were once a necessity, when communication from the Ministry took days (mail). today, with computers, email, etc., the need for the boards is about as archaic as a dial phone (remember those) or 45 RPM records.

Today, School boards are the repository for wannabe provincial and federal politicians, nothing more. Victoria should now control the entire process and school boards, as we once know them, are retired as they are no longer relevant.