Lizanne Foster | April 25, 2016 | rabble.ca
When there’s news every day of yet another school district budget shortfall and yet another school being closed, it’s difficult to see what has really been happening to public education in British Columbia for almost two decades now. But within the seeming chaos there is a clear pattern that emerges. It’s a pattern that can be clearly seen in many countries around the world as corporations turn their profit-hungry eyes toward the $5.5 trillion that is being spent on education worldwide.
Over a century ago public education was a radical idea in Britain. It was considered an utter waste of taxpayer’s money and was strongly resisted by many politicians. Nevertheless, arguments about public education being a public good won the day.
The big idea was that public education would provide an equal playing field for all society’s children. Children from poor homes could work their way up the social ladder through a free education and this in turn would ensure that the state would benefit from having a well-educated workforce and citizenry. Sounds all very democratic, doesn’t it?
Fast forward to the 1970s and a new idea began to spread from a group of economists at the Chicago School of Economics. One of them, Milton Friedman, wrote a seminal paper suggesting that public education be privatized. For most people in North America this was an outrageous idea akin to suggesting that we should sell motherhood. Because of the resistance to privatization of public education, it had to be sold to the public in a way that is subtle, is slick, is soft.
How to privatize a public education system
You will need the help of politicians. This is easy to obtain since they are always looking for donations for their election campaigns. Spending a few million will reap rewards ten times over. Once you have politicians on board, direct them thus:
Erode the collaborative and co-operative foundations of public education by introducing competition between schools. As an example, in B.C. the Fraser Institute began to rank schools in 1998 in a way that completely ignored multiple variables that made each school unique but that made sense to a public used to hockey team rankings.