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


The methadone story has found its way from The Courier, where it began last Friday with Mark Hasiuk's excellent piece, to Sunday's Province to this morning's Sun.

Good to see that the story has some legs.

But will anything be done? All of the usual suspects - the politicos and the professional "Colleges" - all claim to having deep investigations in process.


Here in BlogLand, every time I have every mentioned the word methadone in public - and I've been doing that for only 40 years now - as predictable as rain, voices emerge from the shadows to extol the virtues of this poison and its deadly, destructive official uses.

All I can say is thank you for your comments and I hope that one day you will find the strength to move on without this entirely unnecessary drug as your main companion in life.

Roger, the Great

For a year and a half now, I have been frothing at the gills, exhorting Roger Federer to come to net, to serve and volley, to play more aggressively.

Good man, he finally listened to me.

Yesterday, in defeating And Murray handily in 3 straight sets, he became the first tennis player of any of the 12 genders to win five Wimbledons in a row and five US Opens in a row.

He was magnificent and a joy to watch.

Hmmmm....Smells Good!

The Prime Minister of Thailand, Samak Subderavej, may have to step down from office.

He is accused of taking money from a private company to host his TV cooking show.

The show is called "Tasting and Grumbling."

Let us not ask why Canadian PM's have never had cooking shows?

Let us not ask if Ryan Baloney's son can host "Canadian Idol," could Papa Gucci's cooking show not be far behind?

Let us not ask if Kim Campbell lives on take out.

Instead ask who is prepared to back my new TV culinary hit, "Cooking & Kvetching and Noshing from every pot."

Played this before, but it's just so great, I have to run it again...