Duncan – I am writing from the perspective of a grandparent raising grandchildren.
Our first time around, we sent our children to private schools. We did this even though money was tight and it required many sacrifices, because we wanted “the best” for our children.
With 20/20 hindsight we can see that in many ways, we did our children a disservice.
The second time around, we have chosen the public school system, and have been amazed, and humbled by the difference. Over the past eight years we have observed teachers going “beyond the call of duty” on a daily basis to help our grandchildren overcome their learning difficulties and fulfill their full potential. Their teachers have helped them not only academically but also in fostering a high standard of behaviour. They have done this with loving kindness and genuine concern. Public school teachers truly care, and do everything in their power to help all children to become decent people.
On reflection, from my experience, I believe that private schools can easily “give up” on a child, if the child doesn’t fit the mould of the school’s “image.” Private schools can be more punitive. They can blame the child, rather than their own lack of understanding, caring, or willingness to bring in outside expertise. Not only that, but the children grow up in an artificial, and more snobbish atmosphere. They do, indeed, absorb the mantra of the worship of the almighty dollar.
I find it absolutely appalling that the government is so blatantly, relentlessly and heartlessly determined to dismantle the public school system in B.C. The latest Maclean’s magazine is chock-full of advertisements for private schools: an overt attempt – along with the sickening promise of $40 a day – to siphon off even more children from the public system, causing ever greater underfunding. And all of this fits with the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor (with the middle class rapidly dwindling) that we see more and more in North America.
What do we want, as a society?
Raising our grandchildren has given my husband and me a chance to try to do things better. I am thankful we have been able to learn that public school, having our children live among their neighbours, is the better choice. It deserves our support, and – if democracy still means anything at all – we must stand together to demand it.