The Fraser Institute has released a study (A Diverse Landscape: Independent Schools in Canada, June 29, 2016)
The study informs us that private—they prefer independent—schools are really just for regular folks who happen to think their kids should not mingle with the riff-raff in the public schools. The study is quick to reassure us that “Contrary to the common caricature that they are enclaves for the urban elite, independent schools parents come in a wide variety of types and serve many educational preferences.”
And, of course it’s OK—even desirable—that the government provides funding for these schools because they provide such a valuable “service.” (See “Independent Schools Getting Money,” The Tyee, May 17, 2016) But, hey, haven’t I paid taxes so I could send my kids to a public school? Then why am I also paying taxes to support private schools? Oh yes, remember how often we are reminded how important it is for people to have “choice”—especially if they can afford it. In a Fraser Institute press release we are told that “It’s time for British Columbians [to] understand and recognize the tremendous value and choice provided by independent schools to the education system and to families across the province.” (emphasis added)
The Fraser Institute research report reiterates (ad nauseam) the message that we are mistaken if we think that private schools—oops, independent schools—are only for some (vaguely defined) elite. We are re-assured that the research “ … seeks to address the persistent myth that independent schools are of one dominant type serving a single sort of family. Contrary to the common caricature that they are enclaves for the urban elite, independent schools [sic] parents come in a wide variety of types and serve many educational preferences.”
In case you missed the point, we’ll tell you again–and again:
“Rigid typecasting of independent schools is more myth than reality. In Canada, the lingering stereotypes are not reflective of the landscape.”
“Furthermore, it is vital that lingering stereotypes and common caricatures of independent schools be questioned for their accuracy. The broader implications address government stances toward educational diversity and choice … “ (my emphasis again)
“[Parents] are choosing schools that differ in many ways from one another, the vast majority of which do not conform to the prevailing caricature that private schools in Canada are exclusive enclaves serving only the wealthy urban elite.”
The Institute’s press releases hammer home the message:
“The widespread misperceptions of independent schools in B.C. impede honest debate about the benefits of these schools in the province.”
“The numbers tell the tale. Old myths about independent schools in Canada simply aren’t supported by the facts. They are not defined by exclusivity. They exist for parents and students who want something other than what they can find in public schools.”
And in case you still have any doubts:
“The evidence examined in this study leads to a clear finding. Rigid typecasting of independent schools is more myth than reality. In Canada, the lingering stereotypes are not reflective of the landscape.”
And while we’re at it let’s get in a little jab at the government-run system:
“Independent schools are also almost always self-managed, relying on leadership and management internal to the school, rather than the echelons of specialists resident in public school board offices.”
But wait a minute! What would it cost for me to send my kids to a private school? Say I have three kids, all of elementary school age. I could send them to the Vancouver Waldorf School, which seems to be the least expensive, at a minimum of $3,720 per child. This would cost me $11,160 per year. Or should I prefer a Montessori School, the price jumps to $5,050 per child or $15,150 per year. If I’m living over in Shaughnessy or Kerrisdale, I can choose to send my daughter to Crofton House for a mere $18,950. Most private school fees range anywhere from $15,000 to over $25,000 per year. At least there’s choice.
Sorry to say, folks, I could never have afforded even the Waldorf School. I’m sure the Fraser Institute people would not consider $11,160 a year a tuition fee for the elite, but it’s far beyond the means of average wage earners trying to provide food and clothes for their kids. Maybe I just don’t understand what “elite” means.
As you might expect, the conclusion is that independent schools merit support from the government (my taxes, that is). After all, the Fraser Institute exists to provide appropriately slanted “research” to support and legitimize right wing government and corporate agendas. Well, look who’s paying for it: According to journalist Murray Dobbin, 31% of the Fraser Institute’s revenue comes from corporations and 57% from “business-oriented charitable foundations” such as the Donner Foundation and the free-market-oriented John Dobson Foundation. In addition, a report stated that the Fraser Institute received $120,000 in funding from oil giant ExxonMobil a.k.a. Koch Brothers.”
As you can see, the Fraser Institute is well funded, and having lots of money gets you attention in the media. Fraser Institute reports are announced as “news” in the papers and on radio and television. If you’re waiting to hear an alternative view, forget it. The views of the left-leaning think tank, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, rarely enter the picture
You might like to know, too, that the Fraser Institute is opposed to Canadian gun control laws. Studies prove …
Maybe if I had been properly trained in an “elite” private school I would understand. Damn!