It was hardly a surprise earlier this week when I read that a recent poll by Ipsos Reid for Global News indicates that “Two-thirds of Canadians would send their children to private school if money was not a concern.”
Wow! That is six in ten. Meaning, that if parents had “choice” (e.g., Charter Schools and vouchers), the public school system would be decimated unless public policies were changed to make them competitive.
What is especially interesting, per Northumberlandview.ca is the province to province variations in dissatisfact. Ipsos Reid Senior Vice-President John Wright seems to think that the reason people in Ontario and B.C. gave so many “D” and “F” grades are dissatisfaction with strikes or the threat of job actions on the part of the teachers’ unions.
That might be partly true, but I think the problems go much deeper than that. From my perspective as a retired teacher and former teacher educator, I believe it is the politicians that are primarily at fault.
I mean, think about it. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is so convinced that education policy is the road to re-election, he has called himself “the Education Premier” since his first winning campaign in the fall of 2003. Now, what kind of policies and legislation would an “Education Premier” and his Cabinet colleagues put in place for education to be the key to that kind of success?
- Drop out rates need to be reduced? Easy. Simply put a no-fail policy in place, disallow zeros, insist everyone pass and call it a Success Strategy.
- Make promises that graduation rates will be improved? Put a social promotion policy in place to ensure everyone graduates whether they are ready or not.
- Promise to reduce class sizes? Well, one of two things can happen. Have more split grades and suggest that they are actually better than single grades. Or, when that doesn’t work, simply hire more teachers.
- Want to improve early start programs for children of poverty? Well, instead of doing so on a community needs basis, implement an entire province-wide full-day kindergarten program whether it puts other public or private day care centres out of business or not. And, most certainly don’t worry about the cost. (For all these promises and more, check out the Wikipedia entry here.)
Now, ask yourself, (leaving aside the cost of tuition) what are some of the differences between private schools and public schools?
In private schools:
- There is a clear understanding of what the academic standards are and they are usually high and/or clearly understood.
- The parents support the school and its goals and do not make excuses for their children.
- Political correctness is secondary if a concern at all.
- Students are taught to overcome failure by experiencing success, not by lowering standards to the lowest common denominator.
So, is it any wonder then that people in provinces where there is apparently more public input (Manitoba and Saskatchewan) and parent choice (Alberta) that the view of public education is higher?