Tom Fletcher writes the B.C. government has rolled out an overhaul of the public education system “much to the horror of its left-wing establishment.” Educators have good reason to be leery of anything this government would do to public education. The BC Liberals and predecessor Social Credit Party, both right leaning, have used public education as a political football for decades.
Whether it be “Core Curriculum,” “Back to Basics” Pat McGeer, Bill Vanderzalm, Christy Clark or any of the other revolving door education ministers, educators have weathered many “flavor-of-the-month” half-baked, poorly thought out, underfunded “overhauls.”
So skills trades are to get more money taken from under-performing programs… read arts and athletics programs that “don’t lead to jobs.” This new program will dovetail with Stephen Harper’s federal programs. One has to wonder if these federal programs are actually funded beyond massive ad campaigns. Once again conservative governments seem bent on creating the illusion of action with little or no funding.
One of the key architects of this overhaul is the same deputy minister who under Gordon Campbell gutted the Industrial Training Apprenticeship Commission and replaced it with the Industrial Training Authority. With less staff and money, apprenticeships have been so weakened that we have a skilled trades shortage which helped open the door to the Temporary Foreign Workers program that has been embraced and abused by both Harper and Clark.
There is no question public education needs to be dynamic and reactive to the changing economy and meet the demands of the labour market but without collaboration and cooperation of stakeholders, these overhauls are doomed to the dustbin. Given the constant acrimony between BC Liberals and educators, these “overhauls” are just window dressing. Same old same old by a government that doesn’t know how to govern.