Is Public Education A Fraud? — Chapter One — Teacher Activism
A mother writes that she feels lucky when it comes to her children’s education. After considerable struggle and effort “My son was lucky. He got the help he needed . . . “ The implication throughout her long story is that responsiveness to students is a matter of luck and parent’s persistence. Other students are left behind.
Her son is now inspired to learn — but what is he learning? So much of current 21st Century Learning is all about learning to work together — demonstrating competencies of collaboration, communication, cooperation. But mastery of the individual tools (hard skills) of learning — reading, math, and scientific method — are not a priority anymore.
Please note that the hard skills — the legendary 3Rs — are measurable. Emphasis on “competencies”, which are just a teacher’s subjective opinion on a checklist are “nice” but not what kids are sent to school for. The school system’s unilateral “transformation” to competencies without public consent is seen as an avoidance of accountability. Is this not a trick, sleight of hand, a fraud?
Parents want some certainty when they send their children to school and that is why this parent says greater choices are needed so that a good fit can be had. Education should not be a matter of luck or a lottery as in some cases in the United States.
But, there are obstacles to choices. This mother points out that the one-size-fits-all public school model and the requirements of unions are obstacles. Let me draw your attention to another, behind-the-scenes major influence in this matter and it is the teacher training institutions.
The ACDE, an organization of the Deans of Education in Canada, has adopted principles in the training of teachers, not just for pedagogic purposes but also for political activism. An Accord signed in 2005 states as one of its 12 principles:
• An effective initial teacher education program encourages teachers to assume a social and political leadership role.
In the Fall 2006 “Education Canada” journal, Rob Tierney and Alice Collins say: “The twelve principles advance values and ideals about the teacher as professional, life long learner and social activist.” Tierney was Dean of Education, UBC, at that time.
In the ACDE General Accord they mention one of their goals being “to create a public discourse around the shaping of Canadian society and the crucial role of public education.” To do this they relate to governments and other organizations including national and provincial teachers’ associations. In addition, signatories “advocate for increased public funding.” http://www.csse-scee.ca/acde/accords
Also troubling is this statement: “Those signing the General Accord become part of a network with shared commitments and values relative to education and are contributing to national, public discourse on the importance of public education in developing and sustaining a civil society.”
I thought we already had a “civil society” in Canada ! Or is something else in mind?
Kenneth A Strike who wrote a number of books about ethics and education writes in his book “Liberal Justice and the Marxist Critique” that these two philosophies are in constant conflict in our education systems. “Marxists are likely to see schools as sites of class conflict . . . part of the Marxist theoretical hard core . . .” Liberals are “capable of free choice, and their choices command the respect due to the choices of free agents.”
I prefer the Liberal project versus the Marxist agitation. Which other profession (doctors, engineers, accountants, pharmacists, etc.) train professionals to be social and political activists? Just another aspect of the fraud.