Talk is cheap: BC and education sector improvements at the Minister’s forum

When it comes to Education in BC, talk is cheap. Yes, the language swirling around at the BC Education Minister’s forum last week, Focus on Learning: Rising to the Global Challenge, serves a great purpose: it keeps us all busy deciphering the “common-nonsense” around this government’s approach to education.

Take this example:

“‘This will be disciplined innovation. With greater latitude and freedom comes greater scrutiny and responsibility to communicate how things are going,’ Fassbender said.”

With these bold words the Minister will improve education, and without any price tag attached. This same week, the Premier announced $10 million in funding to mining to improve that sector. The BC government spends money on mining to make improvements, but it does not spend money on education to make improvements.

I am reminded of two important works:

Devolution, Choice, and Accountability in the Provision of Public Education in British Columbia: A Critical Analysis of the School Amendment Act of 2002 ( Bill 34) by Dr. Gerald Fallon, University of Saskatchewan and Dr. Jerald Paquette, University of Western Ontario

In this report the authors demonstrate how the BC government has been very successful at swaying public opinion around choice, efficiency and accountability, while devolving itself of responsibility (e.g., not having funding supports in place, funding cuts, shifts and tuition fees).

Also, Resisting the Common-nonsense of Neoliberalism: A Report from British Columbia by E. Wayne Ross (UBC) shows how government skillfully promotes education as a commodity that, unlike sectors such as mining or LNG, doesn’t require financial investment.


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