It's a sign of the times. Shifting blame onto others for ones own shortcomings has become commonplace– like taking a shower– it has become a routine character-cleansing process. Public educators and their supporters consistently practice this obfuscation of responsibility most opportunistically.

Here in Ontario, a fight has been brewing between teachers' unions and the government over teachers' responsibility to oversee extra-curricular activities. Because teachers are now required to teach a few extra minutes each day, unions decided to withdraw all extra-curricular services within one school board:– a sort of power-play pilot project. The Government has responded by introducing Bill 74, which formalizes extra-curricular duties as part of a teacher's job. Although extra-curricular supervision has been traditionally part of every teacher's job description in the past, Bill 74 spells out the terms and prevents the unions from exercising strong-arm tactics by withholding such services from individual schools or local boards by falsely equating "extra-curricular" services to volunteer work.

Needless to say, Bill 74 has caused quite a stir in education circles. School boards don't like the Bill because they will have to oversee and enforce something to which their pals, the unions, object. Teachers don't like the document because they will now have to do a little extra work if the principal demands it. And principals don't like it because they will lose popularity if parents pressure them to get teachers to do extra work. And above all, the unions DETEST the legislation because they will lose an increment of bullying power over schools, the government, and the taxpaying public. And many taxpaying parents are ambivalent, because teachers' unions threaten strike action if the Bill is enforced. So, in large measure, one could say that Bill 74 has been poorly received by the "education establishment" and parents who worry about the outfall.

The unions' rhetoric in the fight against Bill 74, echoed by many supporters in the school boards and most teachers (according to union compiled statistics), exemplifies the educators' twisted logic of self-righteousness. To make their case, teachers' unions have held various public forums on Bill 74. Their propaganda is always aimed at denigrating the Harris Government and swaying public opinion. Most of the unions' claims are absurd, blatantly false, and transparent, yet their tactics tend to alienate the public from the government, because they want "peace in our time."

Stock-in-trade diatribe disseminated by the unions and their adherents is to accuse the Harris Government of unethical tactics the unions themselves have engaged in over the past and wish to continue in the future. The overall intent of their message is to scare the public into supporting the unions instead of the government.

The unions claim that the Harris Government is adopting a "Soviet-style policy through Bill 74; that the document takes away the trustees' local control over education, and that it "attacks the very heart of local democracy and accountability by creating a system of informers and absolute powers for the Minister of Education." And according to the unions, Bill 74 turns over all control of education in this province to one person, the Minister of Education (control the unions have and want to keep for themselves). And, of course, unions blame all the education woes on funding cuts, and they blame the poor morale of teachers on the shabby treatment they receive at the hands of the government. In fact, one high-school math teacher at a forum demanded that the government invest some money to make the teachers feel good about themselves. (What next?)

Most rubbish promulgated by the unions should not be dignified by a response. However, some of what they have promoted serves as a prime example of their cheap, deceptive tactics used to rattle the taxpaying parents and sway public opinion. Take, for example, the unions' statements that the Harris Government is adopting a "Soviet-style policy through Bill 74– closer to the truth is that our education system is held to ransom by unions using Soviet-style tactics. And for the unions to claim that Bill 74 takes away local control of trustees over education matters is preposterous. Over the last 20 years, local trustees have never been in control of local education– the unions have. Equally ridiculous is the implication that there ever was any local democratic control over our education system, presumably implemented by locally elected trustees. If that were the case, why do we have the same education system, producing identical problems right across North American? Why are concerned Europeans complaining about the fraudulent results produced by the same Outcome Based Education system that plagues the USA and Canada– a flawed East-Bloc system adopted by the USA in the early 1980's?

If local decision-making power has been in the hands of local trustees and school boards in the past, then, why has North America, as a whole, adopted and continues to implement child-centered learning and whole language reading programs that are proven failures? Does all that sound like the same bad decisions have been individually made at local levels? Does that sound like democracy and the decision-making powers in our schools have been in the hands of elected trustees? Or does it indicate some international plot at work to intentionally dumb-down our students? In light of the common education problems experienced in many Western countries, is it not more likely that an international cabal of "Soviet-style," socialistic educators has been calling the shots on important teaching and learning issues– socialist educators such as can be found at the head of teachers' unions, within the academic elitists in our universities, and in UN organizations such as UNESCO?

Teachers' unions are the ones that have usurped "the very heart of local democracy and accountability" and have created "a system of informers and absolute powers in our schools"– agents that report and condemn teachers who refuse to tow the line for the unions. Through lack of vigilance, our society has relinquished control of public education. We have handed control over education to nefarious factions with self-serving interests– the unions and the United Nations. It is high time for local governments to step in and retake what rightfully must be controlled by the people. Using funding cuts as an excuse for poor education is preposterous. Our public education system is one of the most expensive in the Western world, and our student performance has been below average long before the recent funding cuts. Our children are as healthy and smart as any. The performance discrepancy stems from the method in which our education is delivered. Surely, that fact is irrefutable.

Jann Flury