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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Christina Blizzard: Education Hypocrite

Christina Blizzard thinks Full Day Kindergarten is bad.  To her, FDK is a luxury that carries a whopping $1.5 billion price tag and comes at at time when it's not business as usual any more for Ontario's economy.  She has referred to FDK as full-day babysitting.  What's more, she has made it clear she believes becoming a parent shouldn't be a lifestyle choice.  Children, after all, aren't fashion accessories.
Tell me if I'm wrong, but what I get from this is that parents need to be responsible for their kids and shouldn't expect the public dollar to support the out-of-school care for their children.  If you're going to be a parent, you should be accountable for the well-being of your own child.  Right?  
Unless, of course, Blizzard is talking about extra-scholastic activities, traditionally referred to as "extra-curricular" because they aren't part of the mandated curriculum (and are therefore voluntary).  These are things like basketball practice that give kids motivation to get out of bed in the morning. 
While it's wrong for parents to expect the public sector to provide full-day babysitting to their kids on the public's dime, when it comes to after-school time, it's the teachers who are using students as pawns in their battle with government over the Putting Students First by suspending extra-scholastic activities.  Teachers, according to Blizzard, are focused on the financials, not the kids. 
So, when it comes to FDK, the government should focus on the financials and not be paying for daycare; that's the parents' job.  When it comes to post-school activities, though, the teachers are wrong to focus on financials and should be doing the parent's job of providing extra-scholastic activity for their kids.
These two positions are not in agreement.
But there's more:
Were her kids the ones yearning for after school basketball as a reason to get out of bed in the morning?  If that's what it took to get her children out of bed, why should public sector teachers be responsible for motivating them?  Many Jewish parents are happy to pay to have their children educated according to their beliefs.  If it's commendable for some parents to pay out-of-pocket to ensure their children are educated according to their beliefs, shouldn't parents who want their kids to play sports after school be willing to pay for them, too?  This includes teachers who are parents; I know many a teacher that still pays for daycare while they're providing extra-curriculars to other people's kids. 
In fact, when you pay for private after-school activities, you help create jobs and support the economy.  When you expect the public sector to pick up your slack, you deny private-sector opportunities and add to the burden on the public purse.  Finance Minister Dwight Duncan suggested this very thing when, asked who was responsible for Ontario's massive deficit, he said “It’s everybody’s fault. We’ve all done this.”
But Blizzard disagrees.  "Well, count me out, Dwight. I have no comfy government pension. I don’t make it to the Sunshine list of $100,000 earners. Speak for yourself."  It was the fault of teachers, unions and government that her kids didn't have a fulfilling school experience; she's not on the sunshine list so perhaps can't afford cushy after-school activities.  But it's the fault of people not her that we have a deficit; people like single mothers looking for government to give them welfare to care for their kids.  Care for their kids during the day, that is - not after school.  That's clearly different.
You can't have it both ways, Ms. Blizzard.  You can't object to parents having the choices they want to make for their children disregarded if they expect someone else to take responsibility for enacting those choices.  Either parents are individually responsible for the well-being of their kids or society is a collective effort that we all have to take responsibility for. 
Which is it?

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