6 reasons why the BC Liberals shouldn't use grade schoolers as $40-a-day pawns

As cynical political gimmicks go, this one has got to rank as one of the worst: offering parents $40 a day for each child under the age of 13 if a teachers' strike continues into September.

But after negotiating in bad faith to goad teachers to go on strike, Christy Clark's BC Liberal government played this card last week. Since then, the offering has been widely panned as the two sides head back to the negotiating table on Friday.

Here are six British Columbians explaining why it's such a bad idea.

1. "Band-Aid solution" 

Instead of putting money into the education system, they're taking the wages that we've forfeited as a desperate measure to show the government that our schools are in crisis and they're putting them into private hands.

 

And I totally get that child care is an issue when we're on strike. I'm sympathetic to that, really. But this $40 is a Band-Aid solution. Handing out a stipend for a temporary disruption does nothing to solve the reasons that we're on strike in the first place. (B.C. teacher Ashley D. MacKenzie)

 

 

2. Bad "performance-art stunt"

"Reportedly the offer could offset the costs of child care, or tutoring, or finding online courses. Or maybe beer and popcorn for the parents as a consolation for spending unpaid quality time with their kids.

 

Whatever the impromptu baby bonus might be for, it's scant compensation for missed days or weeks of school. It also offers an insight into the way the BC Liberals think about government in general and education in particular.

 

On the face of it, [the] announcement seemed like one of those performance-art stunts that right-wing governments are so fond of, like ending the long-form census. They're not responding to a popular demand, just expressing amused contempt for their adversaries.

 

It's certainly not a serious proposal. Good luck finding child care on short notice when everyone else is too, and what parent can judge a tutor's qualifications? For that matter, what parent would allow a stranger to be alone at home with their kids while Mom and Dad are working?....

 

One reason, I suspect, is partly to give the teachers a poke in the eye for old times' sake, an opportunity the BC Liberals have never missed since Premier Christy Clark was appointed the party's first education minister in 2001.

 

But another reason may be to resurrect a zombie idea that should have died in the 1980s and '90s: the school voucher." (Crawford Kilian, contributing editor of The Tyee).

 

3. "Paying not to use" concept

The value of public education is something the current government clearly has doubts about, so let’s consider some other possibilities for this 'paying not to use' concept.

 

Some wags have already suggested that the B.C. Liberals might really be on to something if they are prepared to think about other applications suggested by this brilliant 'keep your child out of school' funding model.

 

Everybody knows health care is the other major drag on the government budget. Health care sucks away money that could be spent on better things, so it might not be long until a new plan emerges — pay people not to go to doctors.

 

It is a constant source of irritation to some within government that every time somebody gets a little pain or a rash or finds a lump somewhere, they go rushing off to a doctor — if they can find one. Of course, some communities do not have a resident family physician, so there is a saving already." (Geoff Johnson, a former superintendent of schools)

Geoff Johnson is a retired superintendent of schools. - See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/columnists/geoff-johnson-let-s-pay-...

 

4. "Crazy" plan alert!

The value of public education is something the current government clearly has doubts about, so let’s consider some other possibilities for this “paying not to use” concept.

Some wags have already suggested that the B.C. Liberals might really be on to something if they are prepared to think about other applications suggested by this brilliant “keep your child out of school” funding model.

Everybody knows health care is the other major drag on the government budget. Health care sucks away money that could be spent on better things, so it might not be long until a new plan emerges — pay people not to go to doctors.

It is a constant source of irritation to some within government that every time somebody gets a little pain or a rash or finds a lump somewhere, they go rushing off to a doctor — if they can find one. Of course, some communities do not have a resident family physician, so there is a saving already.

- See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/columnists/geoff-johnson-let-s-pay-...

The value of public education is something the current government clearly has doubts about, so let’s consider some other possibilities for this “paying not to use” concept.

Some wags have already suggested that the B.C. Liberals might really be on to something if they are prepared to think about other applications suggested by this brilliant “keep your child out of school” funding model.

Everybody knows health care is the other major drag on the government budget. Health care sucks away money that could be spent on better things, so it might not be long until a new plan emerges — pay people not to go to doctors.

It is a constant source of irritation to some within government that every time somebody gets a little pain or a rash or finds a lump somewhere, they go rushing off to a doctor — if they can find one. Of course, some communities do not have a resident family physician, so there is a saving already.

- See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/columnists/geoff-johnson-let-s-pay-...

"For Premier Christy Clark, the BC Teachers’ Federation has become Moby-Dick — the object of hatred to be pursued to the end. And Clark has become Captain Ahab, driven mad in her desire to destroy the union version of the white whale.

 

That became apparent last week when the BC Liberal government announced what truly is a crazy plan – to pay parents of students $40 a day if the BCTF strike continues into September.

 

Crazy because it makes no sense.

 

Clark's scheme would instantly dispose of the estimated $12 million in daily savings from the strike without putting a penny into improving public education.

 

What's worse, while the government claimed the money is for 'child care' for students under 13 years old, there is no requirement parents spend it on child care – nor is there child care necessarily available to be had, and certainly not for $40 a day.

 

The move infuriated the BCTF – which it was highly calculated to do – but shows the premier's unhealthy obsession with harpooning teachers instead of solving the serious underfunding problems in our schools." (Columnist Bill Tieleman, former BC NDP strategist)


5. "Cynical ploy"

"If it's a cynical ploy to sway public sentiment in the government's favour, it's not likely to work. Yes, it will be a hardship for many parents if school doesn't start as scheduled in September, but it's education they want, not child-care services.

 

But let's face it — [the Finance Minister's] message is not to parents, but to the teachers' union. He's saying the government has no interest in negotiating. He's saying the government holds all the cards and isn't about to fold....

 

It's a clever strategy on the part of the government, but don't mistake cleverness for intelligence. This is a bad idea for many reasons.

 

It sets an undesirable precedent. Since when does a government compensate people discomfited by a strike?

 

It does nothing to advance education in B.C. Paying parents to do educational things with their children is no substitute for the services of professional teachers. (Victoria Times-Columnist editorial)

 

6. Distorted view of public education

The BC Liberals have already made our education system a corporate affair. By giving back $40 per day to PARENTS for their losses they are continuing their reframing of the purpose of public schooling. 

 

Parents are not our "customers". We do not teach children so that their parents are free to work, knowing their children are safely off the street. 

 

Education is a public service provided to all of society. This is why it is paid for by everyone, irrespective of the number of children born to them. Even limiting my argument to merely economic goals (the only kind recognized by our government), the nurturing of each child's creativity and potential is an investment in a vibrant and diverse economy. 

With this $40/day offer, the BC Liberals have made a clear statement about how little they value our most precious and valuable resource! (B.C. teacher Maureen Curran)

Photo: CaelieUsed under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.

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