Let’s do a quick definition first:
Plutocracy: a society or a system ruled and dominated by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens.
It occurred to me today that we have (at least in BC and, I feel quite sure, in the rest of North America too, a rapidly burgeoning plutocracy.
On the small scale, let’s look at BC. If I wanted to create a plutocracy, the simplest way I would do that is by funding private education, making it ever so much easier for the wealthy to send their children to elite schools – and undermining the public education system. What happens is quite simple. The rich children get the best teachers, the best resources and the best education. The rest of us get what’s left over (including teacher strikes). The wealthy children then go on to the best universities where they make invaluable contacts and then simply move on to their high station in life (business and, absolutely politics.) In politics they quite naturally do everything they can to help their friends – other rich people.
It starts at the primary school level. Witness Christy Clark sending her child to an elite private school, while she locks teachers out of the public system. Families first? Sure, if you put “rich” in front of the word “families.”
Oh, but the pundits argue, the private school system actually helps the public system. Public funding is only half (per child) what it would be if they all went to public schools. Then public schools would be overcrowded – and the taxpayer would spend more.
Such a specious argument. Why is it that journalists get this as a red herring when the argument is applied to health care but not when it’s trotted out on the subject of education. We know that a private health care system would drain and undermine universal health care. Well, it does the same in the field of education.
One of those educational red herrings is the funding “per student.” Who was the idiot who came up with this formula that every one seems to buy into. Let’s call it $1,000 per student (for the sake of argument.) Well, if it costs 1,000 to have a student in a classroom with a teacher and supplies, why does it jump to $2,000 if you add one more student? Answer: it doesn’t. Whether you have 10 or 15 kids in a classroom, the amount it costs to teach those children doesn’t leap about at the cost of $1,000 per child. And the amount it costs to educate a child varies depending on where the school is located. Downton Vancouver: likely more. Prince George: likely less. The far North – logistics dictate it would cost more. So the argument of a per child funding is just ridiculous.
I don’t think we can remove private schools from the equation – parents believe they have the right to send their children wherever they want to. But there is no way on earth the taxpayer should fund a private school. And as for the argument that all those kids would suddenly flood the public school system – no they would not. Do you actually, for one minute think Christy Clark would send her precious child to the ghastly schools where you have to send your kids? She’d cough up the extra money – as well she can afford to and as well she ought to. She is making her choices.
But, with the extra money now going back to public education, maybe the rest of us would be giving our kids a slightly better chance to compete with those kids who are destined by wealth to be the next ruling generation.