Archive for the 'Vouchers' Category

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Vouchers I–Bob Hunter Column: Strictly Personal

[In 1986 Bob Hunter produced two articles on the topic of vouchers. In my site you should find both articles, Nov. 30/86 (below) and an earlier posting of the Dec. 03/86 article. I will be updating information on the topic and await any comments on recent advances you can contribute.]
North Shore News, Nov. 30, 1986

Continue reading ‘Vouchers I–Bob Hunter Column: Strictly Personal’

Vouchers II–Bob Hunter column: Strictly Personal

[In connection with my post on home education, I am now including an article from 1986 on vouchers.

Bob Hunter column: Strictly Personal (North Shore News, Dec 03, 1986)
THERE MAY be more than 4,000 children now being educated at home in B.C., according to West Vancouver parents’ advocate Tunya Audain. Certainly there are least 2,000.
Of course, many parents who keep their kids at home prefer to adopt a low profile rather than attract the attention of the education cops.
These would be people who are thoroughly disgruntled with the public school system. Tunya believes that, by far, ‘the largest number of such parents in Canada are in B.C.
That would be in keeping with our rugged far-West individualism, wouldn’t it?
The over-all effectiveness of home education, of course, remains to be tested and it has its share of critics, not all of whom are merely defending a vested interest in the public school system.
There is the serious question of whether or not parents are qualified to teach, especially to teach their own children. Also, there is the legitimate fear that home schoolers might grow up to be lone wolves, unable to cope with social activity.
It is this second fear, I know, that has held me back several times when I was on the verge of yanking my kids from school out of frustration with the system or some particular teacher.
Yet a lot of the behaviors which kids pick up in school are so negative that we really might be wiser to bypass the ordeal entirely.
I recall one poignant moment when my younger son broke down crying after a screaming match with his mother over homework. “I used to be perfect,” he wept. “Then I went to school.”
Of course he wasn’t “perfect”. Nobody is. But the fact is, he was , a sweetheart of a kid, easy to get along with, eternally cheerful and optimistic.
School hit him like a barn door slamming in his face. After three years of endlessly struggling to keep hime in line, make him move at the pace of the rest of the class, and generally learn to snap to atttention when ordered, he is, I’m sad to say, a much less happily-adjusted child.
He is given to fits of depression and outbursts of anger which never used to happen. He has picked up the attitudes of the other little boys in school, who think girls stink, who always want to fight, who throw stones and swear outrageously.
Terrific! In exchange, what have we got out of it? Sure, he reads. But we had him started in that direction anyway. His grasp of arithmetic seemed negligible until my wife started sitting down with him, and with a couple of nights worth of effort, showed him basic stuff that he just hadn’t been learning at school.
The point was the personalized attention.
There is another, more subtle factor. My kid is used to being talked to at home as though he was an intelligent human being with something like equal rights, providing he accepts his share of responsibilities.
You can imagine his horror and confusion when he got to school and started being told to line up for this, sit down for that, go here, don’t go there, etc.
The great anti-establishment educational thinker Ivan Illich says that schools simply program people to be the perpetual clients or lawyers, doctors, teachers and so forth.
That’s a sweeping indictment, more cruel than complete.
Tunya Audain’s analysis is more specific. The growth of school boards into the large middle management operations of today “has become counter-productive to education,” she says.
“Unless the school board system is quickly modernized, there will be more calls by parents and public alike to abolish or radically reform this system. The rush for education can no longer abide an inefficient, arrogant and outdated system which serves more as an obstacle than a facilitator of education.”
She adds unrelentingly:
“We can speculate why the system has become so bogged down and defensive. Is it bureaucratic connivance designed to protect an industry which is self-perpetuating, and self-rewarding? Is it blind faith in the belief that lay trustees, elected from the community, can still operate a complex, highly unionized, and centralized system?”
Whatever the reasons, the current situation leaves us with “the inefficiencies of a monopoly with a captive audience,” Tunya concludes.
A voucher system, or some method of rebates, would provide a degree of parental control that is lacking right now. And to that end, I think it is a great notion.
Indeed, I think our public educational system, for all its self-conscious mystique of professionalism, is, in fact, quite primitive, quite brutish, quite unwilling to seriously consider changing the status quo.