If you're looking for a clue to what life will be like in the Era of Doug Ford, Rick Salutin writes that you should keep your eye on education. That's because modern conservatives don't favour education. That was certainly true of Ford's conservative predecessor, Mike Harris:
Harris’s own public career began on school boards and he’d been a teacher himself. This disposed him negatively, not positively. For minister, he pointedly named a Grade 11 dropout, John Snobelen, who immediately told his staff to fabricate a “useful crisis” in public education to justify drastic attacks on it.
That included grabbing control of funding from local boards, undermining the public system with tax breaks for parents who put their kids in private schools, and bringing in standardized tests, which threatened to crowd out everything else done in classrooms. Teachers and their unions became Harris’s main opposition and everyone got used to frequent, sometimes illegal strikes.
I lived through two strikes in the Harris years. Mr. Snoblen did, indeed, create a crisis -- the effects of which have been long lasting.
South of the border, Donald Trump has also targeted education:
Trump placed his own ignoramus, Betsy de Vos, in charge there. Her life’s mission has been dumping public schools for private, so-called charter schools. Trump himself said, “I love the poorly educated.” That’s not the same as the uneducated, which could result from neglect. “Poorly” implies deliberate bad teaching. Keep them stupid.
The main pushback has come from U.S. teachers and their unions, often in “red,” Trump-voting states. It’s been breathtaking. Teachers have fought not just for wages, which are often far below average. They’ve demanded that the funding come from taxes on the rich or energy corporations, whose taxes had been reduced. They’ve allied with parents, who generally seem to get it since the aim is to bolster not just schools, but overall social well-being.
And, let's face it, Doug is not known for his stellar education. If it wasn't a priority for him, it should not be surprising if he chooses not to make it a priority for Ontario.
We live in a time where Ignorance is on the march.
Image: Toronto Star