By Craig Funston
Last week I started down the path of trying to understand why there is such a relentless attack on private education. And again, by “private” I mean faith-based. There are, of course, more forms of private schools other than religious. We have established that there are various types of religious and non-religious models out there.
Private schools run the gamut, from ballet to baseball to music to foreign language (and I have met with both teachers and administrators from many of them).
In fact, as I write this, I will be heading out the door to meet at the AGM of an organization that serves a very wide variety of private schools here in Alberta, with only a fraction them faith-based.
So why is there this concerted attack of faith-based schools? I do not know.
Whether the schools are Catholic, Jewish Christian, or Muslim, there appears to be a concerted effort on the part of the government to ram policies that run contrary to their individual belief systems down their respective throats. And do you think that Hutterite schools, really private schools under the public banner, would subject themselves to the demands of the Ministry of Education in matters of broad morality and severe curriculum adjustment? I don’t think so.
We know the issues of GSA and transgenderism loom large on the horizon. Can you honestly see a Jewish school allowing these issues on their campuses? Again, I don’t think so.
And shouldn’t parental choice, one of the greatest fundamentals of every form of education in Alberta, factor into this matter? Shouldn’t parents have a say in what is going on in school, any school?
The two-pronged attack on private schools involves economics and academics. We considered the myth of the former last week; today, we’ll focus on the latter.
You may not remember the money matters that we raised last week. It runs something like this: Private schools cost the government money. No, they save the government money. In fact, between Christian schools and home schools, it’s in the hundreds of thousands of dollars…and that’s only for one year
A second myth is that of academic standards. Every bona fide Christian school (note the switch from “private” to “Christian,” as they are really the object of these attacks) must have certified teachers, must be monitored by the government, and must meet certain province-wide standards, like any other public school.
In the different schools I have taught in, they have always come through with flying colours.
Another myth lies in the academic side of the ledger. I suggest that’s a myth because these schools are producing their share of academically-inclined students. I don’t know if the ratio is higher or lower than the public system, but they do produce them I know many who have gone on to post-secondary institutions. This includes homeschoolers, too.
There appears to be a bum rap for private schools because their “products” end up driving a truck, becoming farm hands, and getting married early—as if driving a truck, becoming a farm hand, getting married early is sub-standard. In case you didn’t notice, we need truck drivers, farm hands, and traditional families to make the economic engine run.
Rather, if the whole spectrum of private schools were free to show where their grads are today, we would find doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses (for starters) were among their grads. Then add other professionals and the trades—and I know many of them personally.
It’s funny, but not in a funny way, how often the media completely fails to acknowledge these success stories. I’m not sure if that is an oversight or a strategy.
There was a move recently by a number of unions to force private schools to shut down and join the public system. Their stated rationale was so full of holes, that it would take a series of columns dissecting their porous position (which I am not promising to do, by the way).
Their attack on private schools was unwarranted, unnecessary, and unkind. I could never get away with that in a reverse attack on public schools. As you know I have no desire to (read my columns, including three most recent ones).
That’s what a good education can do for you.