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Power to the Public Schools

June 26th, 2007

This is simply an all-around good idea - probably one of the better ones I’ve come across. And it came from a grade 12 student, too. A year from now, 10 high schools across Toronto will be outfitted with solar panels and windmills to generate electricity, with the surplus being sold back to the province.

When the government drops the ball with education (as it has a history of doing in Ontario), public schools generally fall to the bottom rung of the upward-mobility ladder. This encourages the affluent middle-class peons to pull their children out and stick them in private schools where wealth and entitlement run as rampant as social anxiety disorder. While these childrens’ grades are being inflated, their parents’ money is no longer being siphoned through fundraising drives into the holes that property-tax revenue can’t fill.

Public schools can just accept that they’re on the losing end in this vicious cycle, or actively take steps to provide for their students. And I don’t necessarily mean by putting MBA graduates in the principals’ offices, or by requiring each school board to hire a ‘Business Supervisory Officer’ to oversee insidious and exploitative private-sector partnerships.
Let the schools compete. Let school boards accrue capital. Show students the profits. Help them think like the winning class of this historical moment. Maybe they’ll feel pride. Maybe they won’t feel the need to send their kids to a junior rotary club.

Oh, and helping the environment doesn’t hurt either.

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In memory and admiration

April 8th, 2007
Mcpl. Chris Stannix

Mcpl. Chris Stannix

 

 

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North America: Where the Exploited Exploit the Exploited-er.

March 10th, 2007

This is one of the more bizarre socialist ethical issues I’ve come across in the media lately.

We have a development firm hiring non-union labour to increase its profits by reducing labour costs. So far, normal. In response, we have a carpenters’ union organizing information pickets outside the firm’s offices. Again, normal. What isn’t normal is the fact that the picketers aren’t union members. In fact, they aren’t even gainfully employed. The union hired people on welfare to picket the developers so they wouldn’t have to do it themselves.

Who are the good guys here? Who should the socialist cheer for? The developers are the typical fat-cats, pretending that the rate of profit doesn’t inherently fall under advanced capitalism. The union workers are so institutionalized – so much a part of the system – that they’re actually willing to pay the unemployed to act out their class struggle. And the welfare-recipients? You just can’t cheer for the lumpenproletariat – they have no class consciousness, nor will they have learned anything from this exercise. Sure they’re recieving wages, but there’s none of that good, old-fashioned alienation of labour going on, because the union isn’t renting out its capital. It has no capital. And if it does, it shouldn’t!

I could take this opportunity to go off on institutionalized unions, for fragmenting the labour force within the same industry by selectively representing labourers. I could point out the fact that we’re living in such an affluent society that even the so-called working class can afford to hire someone else to do its bidding. Heck, I could even point out the similarities between what’s going on here and the active recruiting of American soldiers from urban ghettos to fight on behalf of the upwardly-mobile American middle class. But I’m sure you get the point.

You know, just out of disgust, I think I’ll tip my hat to the developers here. If these carpenters are too lazy to man their own pickets, would you want to hire them to build your low quality, cookie-cutter subdivision? I sure wouldn’t. Lazy carpenters.

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Reflections from a forum on post-secondary education

September 28th, 2005

I went to a forum on post-secondary education this evening, hosted by the King’s Day Students’ Society on my campus. The guests were Darrell Dexter, Francis Mackenzie and Jamie Muir. The structure was as such: each official gave a five-minute opening remark, followed by two minutes rebuttal, followed by 90 minutes of questions from the floor (mainly King’s students). I was somewhat disappointed that Dexter didn’t manage to engage the crowd, though it was ironically amusing that the Liberal premier – forbidden from speaking about his party’s platform – came across as the best speaker. 

Anyway, what I found particularly interesting about the evening was the question period that followed the half-hour of embarrassing squabbling between the Tory Minister of Education and the NDP’s premier. The themes ranged from hypothetical and historical tuition freezes to the feasibility of their outright abolition; from federal and provincial government funding models for universities, to known issues of deficiency in social welfare and student loan models; even to such trivial issues as taxation on textbooks and sources of funding for infrastructure maintenance. Though I learned quite a bit from the questions and answers themselves, what I found most startling was what wasn’t asked. 

It seemed that both the students and the officials had an unspoken understanding of the postsecondary institution funding model as a strictly-government enterprise: universities get funding from the province, the provinces get equalization grants from Ottawa, etc. However, the federal government and provinces also run the student loan programs, and they do so with public money only. If I had the time to stand in line by a microphone, I wish I had the chance to ask this in front of a room full of students that really didn’t seem to realize that nothing should be taken for granted: 

“When I graduate this year, I will have spent in excess of $35,000 on tuition and books alone. Though I’m lucky that not all of it was borrowed funding, I will have amassed a considerable debt. Now, from my perspective, it’s obvious that this debt will be paid off by the money I make from my employer. What doesn’t make sense to me is, if we’re such a socialist democracy, and if we openly admit that our educational policies are made based on the notion of education as training for work, why don’t government officials make the link between private enterprise and student funding? If private enterprise is the institution that benefits the most from our education, why don’t we see more investment in students on their part? It seems to me that the most logical, practical step to take would be to have the funding for student loans come from a pot to which private enterprise is forced to contribute as a gesture of faith in its investment. I invite the three officials at the podium to tell me how this proposal is flawed, and defend the sanctity of big business in the face of the painfully-clear relationships between enterprise and education that I’ve just underscored.” 

Of course, it wouldn’t have come out so articulate. Shame.

One Response to “Reflections from a forum on post-secondary education”

  1. Araz says:

    Completely agree. There’s no reason why private investors should not be funding education as ultimately the rewards are reaped. They should be, it would just complete the circle.

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