I secretly don’t care about the Fraser Institute.

Even though they are a popular (and safe) scapegoat, what the Fraser Institute does isn’t near the top of my list of priorities. I don’t care that much about what they do over there, and neither would the public if we just stopped talking about it.

Seriously, please stop.

As people responsible for public education, we have more important things to focus on—like children.

Let me go even further and declare that any problems we have in public education are not caused by the Fraser Institute, and what they do should have zero influence on what we do, or don’t do, in our public school system.

It’s time for those of us involved in the public education system to start taking responsibility for all aspects of the system. A collective look in the mirror, please.

The groups entrusted with our educational system seem to have adopted blaming and moaning as the main strategies towards improving our children’s education. Such role models!

This prevalent culture of complaining is both destructive and shameful and needs to change. Quickly. If there’s a list of reasons why people are losing faith in our public system, you can go ahead and put that on it. Near the top. Certainly higher than the existence of private schools.

Speaking of private schools, let’s stop complaining about them as well, and focus on the things we can control. If we’re not able to “compete” with private schools, then let’s focus on why that is and do something about it. Where’s that mirror again? The attitude of throwing out the measuring stick because some kids don’t do as well as others is negative and defeatist. I want to hear visionaries, with positive plans to propel those kids to the top! I’m tired of all the Debbie Downers. Where are all the Positive Pauls and Inspiring Ians?

I know there are unique challenges in public schools and I’m not focusing on teachers here. These challenges aren’t insurmountable, though. And, anyway, when did challenges become a reason to embrace second-best?

We need to stop complaining and start focusing on positive goals. Don’t tell me we need more money for that. Don’t tell me someone else needs to do something before you will. Tell me (or yourself) what you can do to improve public education: today, tomorrow, and into the future.

From here on in I vow to do my best to rise above the rhetoric and focus on positive change. How about you? Will you be part of the solution?

Because it’s not going to be found in finger pointing and complaining.

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8 Comments

Filed under BC politics, Education, Sunshine Coast Board of Education

8 responses to “I secretly don’t care about the Fraser Institute.

  1. Arnie

    The message is clear: the FSA is an excellent measure, whether it be Bountiful or an elitist private school, of cult mentality.

  2. laura

    You’re right, Jason. We seem to get caught in the same FSA argument every year, and it’s not helping our schools or children. The frame is all wrong!

  3. kyle

    Ending the “prevalent culture of complaining” – does that mean (in part) getting rid of the teacher’s unions?

    • Jason Scott

      Hi Kyle,
      No, I think teacher’s unions are a good thing overall. It’s not really “done” but I don’t have any problem saying that I don’t agree with every stance the BCTF takes, though.
      I think all groups are guilty here: BCTF, Trustees/school boards, NDP, Liberals, Principals, etc–we’re all wasting time and energy on this issue that just isn’t that big of a deal-relative to other issues.
      I think the BCTF has initiated a lot of extreme, black and white statements on this issue (FSA tests) that frankly I don’t think most teachers would repeat seriously. Maybe I’m wrong.
      But that’s politics these days. Can’t really blame the BCTF for playing the game well.
      I don’t hate the playahs-I hate the gizz-ame.

  4. Dave Stoddart

    Jason, while I am sure you speak for a large swath of the public who have grown tired of what is often characterized as “blaming and moaning” (to use your words), it is important to remember that the teachers are the only organized group in the province who regularly defend the educational needs of our children. Indeed, given the dearth of other advocates on the political landscape (the school boards were all castrated some time ago when they lost the power to increase local property taxes; the BCPAC has an overall budget of less that a million and never says anything anyway; the BCPVPA only recently made a half-assed effort to weigh in on the FSA issue), the teachers’ obligation is that much more essential.

    My teaching colleagues and I have seen a decade of constant erosion in our schools: class size and composition language that teachers bought with salary concessions were arbitrarily ripped from the contract, resulting in classes as large as 37 kids. Ridiculous numbers of students with documented learning disabilities are jammed into classes with no SETA support. Teachers who coach have to spend their own dough just to keep the extra-curricular sports programs alive. Heck, I dropped a few hundred of my own dollars just keeping the Chatelech Golf Team afloat the last few years. Some of my colleagues quietly spend over $1000 each year in this regard. It would take pages to list all the ways that our teachers and students have absorbed the impact of provincial government policies that have slashed education spending 14% (relative to GDP) since 2001. And while all this was happening, the only critical voice in the wilderness was our voice.

    I am truly sorry our continued advocacy for public education makes us sound like a bunch of “Debbie Downers”, but if there is going to be a reversal of the trend, Debbie needs to keep shouting, and the sad truth is that Debbie could use a few friends in this regard.

    As for the “Positive Pauls” and the “Inspiring Ians”, I must say this: they are omnipresent in our schools, doing their best to deal with overcrowded classes, under-supported students, and underfunded programs.

    Jason, I sincerely appreciate your efforts to facilitate the discussion of education issues with this (rather humorously titled!) blog. The mainstream media ignores education for the most part (Janet Steffenhagen’s blog is a notable exception.), and the local paper, The Reporter, makes little effort to follow news stories. Sigh.

    Once again, you have my thanks. In what has become an increasingly apathetic world, it is nice to see that there are a still a few voices in the wilderness that remind us that a few people truly care enough to get involved.

  5. Jason Scott

    Thanks for weighing in, Dave.

    I suppose it sounds like I’m focusing on the BCTF here, but I feel the negativity is coming from all groups involved with public education. Lots of individuals are positive and full of energy, but the collective message we’re sending out is pretty bleak.

    I spend a fair amount of time in schools and I know that our Sunshine Coast schools are brimming with excitment and wonderful, vibrant people. That’s why I get upset at the bickering and attacking higher up. To listen to the statements made in the media, you wouldn’t believe that our schools are the happy centres of excellence that they are.

    I am positive, though, even excited! And this, right here, is why. You and I can have a public and frank discussion on issues–perhaps even disagree respectfully–on an open forum like this, regardless of what “official” statements are being made in more formal processes.

    People are communicating more, lines are blurring, respectful debate is happening in public forums.

    We’re like Cherry Valance and Ponyboy (not sure who’s who) transcending their Greaser and Soc labels to come together and try to bring reason to a no-win situation.

    Maybe we have reason to be Debbie Downers, but we have to realize that ultimately DD is never very effective, if for no other reason then that no one wants to hang out with her!

    OK, the analogies are starting to get out of hand…

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