Grateful for Diversity of BC Education System

Thanksgiving has come and gone. But in its wake I’ve given myself some time to reflect on an important, fundamental aspect of BC’s K-12 education system for which I feel grateful though you aren’t likely to hear the pundits speak to this.  

At the same time I am a committed advocate for innovation and improvement of BC’s education system, I believe it is one of the most diverse, and thus healthy education systems on the planet right now. 

There is a robust public system (among the very best-rewarded on earth), there is support for diverse interests and needs in BC’s independent school system and also for families choosing home-learning for a season or two, or longer term. Likewise, there is additional support provided for special needs learners to receive extra help in institutions and/or in their homes.  

After 20+ years as an educator and independent school administrator in BC I perceive that the clients of our educational system – young people and their families – are much better served in a diverse system such as ours than in a monolithic system (a principle that nature reflects very clearly). I base this perception on numerous observations and experiences and volumes of correspondence from learners and parents attesting to their satisfaction with a system supporting choice and diversity. 

Unfortunately I never hear this perspective expressed by interest groups that routinely spin and twist agendas to their own cant. The most recent example of this was a speech by BCTF president Susan Lambert to the rank and file, apprently spoken in August but only made public recently via The Tyee (a BC-based, left-leaning online magazine). In her speech, Ms Lambert piled distortions about the “public” system (whose teachers must be union members and supporters) higher than the yams stacked up on Uncle Norm’s Thanksgiving plate, and I was needing an extra helping of Pepto Bismol by the third paragraph. I’m sorry, “public” education (which, in BC, and many other locales amounts to a euphemism for union-controlled education) does not face the concentration of threats that Ms Lambert would have us believe. Private education interests do NOT amount to a threat from the devil. However, without picking on the BCTF, suffice to say I feel the same about strategic sorties against the education system from other meddling groups like the Fraser Institute. 

This side-swiping by self-serving poseurs undermines the integrity of our education system, which is serviced by many thousands of hard-working public and independent school educators, administrators and bureaucrats, and it ultimately damages the learning and future prospects for BC’s children and youth. 

This is the biggest threat to the health of our education system, in my opinion. And, as we look ahead to next spring’s election, I put it out there that a healthy, diverse education system – such as we have – is worth recognizing and advocating on behalf of.   

For information on my book: Learn Your Way! SelfDesigning the Life You Really Want, Starting Now (2011) and to order a copy, go here.  

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