Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Mistake - Jan. 24

there was no blog yesterday, mostly because the editorial was so inane, I really could not think of anything to say about it. The rest of the paper was just boring and irrelevant. My mistake. The paper was boring, of course. But I should have thought that editorial through more carefully.

The story really begins with the last sixty years or so in which North American big business has made a deteremined attempt to cut government services by privatizing them as much as possible. The strategy has been to use the news and phony "think tanks" to discredit public schools, their teachers,and their administrators. It's a movemement that has gone far in the US - with the result that US public education (heavily privatized) - has suffered severe damage, and is now rated  at something like 30th in the developed world. That places it markedly below countries like Slovenia, and way below leaders like Canada, South Korea, Denmark...

You won't see much about that in the media, though, became most of the media are owned by the same people who own the corporations, and who subisize the "think tanks", and who stand to make a great deal of profit out of our children - if we're fools enough to allow them to do it.

The plan is advancing in New Brunswick. Of course. New Brunswick has always been controlled by a few, very wealthy families. And the politicians and the news media have always been their toadies. I should have remembered that as I read the Jan. 24 editorial in The Moncton Times and Transcript.

After months of distasteful and obvious hate-mongering of public schools for at least several years, The Moncton Times burst into a real frenzy when Moncton High School had to be closed for safety reasons. That caused the editorial writer to spew even heavier venom at the elected District Education Council (especially Mr. Doyle, the president)  and the superintendent of district schools  for their  imcompetence and neglect.

When something less than one percent of the parents involved formed a comic-opera protest group, they got full press coverage. Then the DEC and the superintendent did something I had never before seen in Moncton. They wrote to the newspaper telling it go get stuffed. They pointed out they had many times asked for repairs to that school (and others). The money was in the hands of various provincial governments which had other uses for it - like subsidizing paper mills and electricity for factories.

The Times never admitted it. But what had really happened is that the corporate bosses it toadied to were also the ones who heavily influenced government policy and what money should go where. In fact, the DEC and the superintendent had acted courageously in facing down the arrogance and bullying that characterize New Brunswick business leaderhsip, and had acted very sensibly, indeed, in closing a dangerous school. So, like good toadies, the Moncton Times editors backed off to wait for new orders. I think they have arrived.

The January 24 editorial returned to condemning. (Hard to tell exactly who they were condemning; it was one of those foaming ant the mouth, something must be done editorials.) Then they made their suggestion as to how to handle the problem of finding classrooms for all the displaced students.

This was a job for the District Education Council, led by the very capable Mr. Doyle.

Yes, that's right. The are the same people that the same newspaper said  were incompetent asses just a few months ago. (Moncton T&T editors seem to work on the assumption that their readers have stunningly weak memories.) But it's still an asinine editorial.

I have no doubt of the abilities and honesty of Mr. Doyle or the DEC (most of them.). However, there are certain jobs they are not equipped for. Maintaining education in cramped, unfamiliar conditions, and with complex and changing methods to be worked out is a job for people trained to do it. It's also a full time job. DEC members  have no such training - and they are volunteers who serve on a part time basis because most of them have other jobs.

To suggest they should be responsible for such a demanding job is - well - you can see why I couldn't see any meaning in there to talk about. But I was wrong.

The editors of news outlets like The Moncton Times don't write an editorial unless the boss wants them to.  So what is the boss after here?

Note that the editorial had no praise for the superintendent - though she was the one who had the brains and courage to remove our children from danger. (If there was one reason for The Moncton Times to deserve lasting contempt - and there is at least one - it is the refusal to recognize the value and the thanks we all owe for that decision.)  In fact, it is suggesting we take decision making power out of the hands of full time professionals trained in the field, and turning it over to part-time, untrained volunteers who,  in addition, have no control over funding.

This is a suggestion designed not to work. Who will gain from that? Keep an eye on Atlantic Insitute for Marketing Studies. Keep an eye on DEC. Most members are sincere and honest. But, as on most committees, it takes only two or three who listen to the same voices that The Moncton Times does to guarantee this will work out the way the boss wants it to.

There's a game being played here. It's being played with us and with our children.

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