This is no joke: when it comes to education policy in Ontario, it seems the Greens, the Communists, and the Libertarians get the golden stars.
Know, though, that these stellar performances – a balance of academic, extracurricular, and social awareness – does not mean they will win. Hardly. They have good report cards, but beyond that, are, and will be, losers.
They’re like the nerds in a 70s high school movie. They have good, relevant ideas, but their pens are capped in their pockets and their glasses are taped together from being pulverized election after election by the popular kids – the smoke-behind the school Liberals, the rich-parents Progressive Conservatives, and the is-brought-to-parties-to-feel-better-about-oneself New Democrats.
Look: unlike the other parties who are afraid to voice their concerns for fear of losing constituents, and thus say nothing at all, the Libertarian and Communist Parties don’t hold back. In their case, there is nothing to hold onto to in the first place.
The Communists forget the political paddy whack that defines Queen’s Park. “Fuck it,” you can almost hear in a thick, stereotypical Russian accent as you read their platform.
Simply stated: everything is wrong because everything is a product of capitalism. Except them, of course. They are united, as Marx might say.
While hypocrisy may elude some aspects (they form a party in capitalism and thus participate in it while rejecting it), their education platform is like running into a bullring with your eyes closed. This does not mean it’s bad. Quite the opposite – it’s a rejection of the current state for a hopeful future.
Led by Elizabeth Rowley, they wish to deliver a needs-based funding formula for public education, develop a single secular public school system, support gay-straight alliances in schools, eliminate tuition fees and increase funding to post-secondary education.
While the lack of detail in implementation may seem childish – almost like a stick figure in a life-drawing class – the Communist’s do not suffer under this foil. They are limited, and better yet, they embrace it. Such reductionism and generalities are the only defence against an inflated, meretricious political (and economical) beast.
It bears mentioning, though, that in this refusal of everything, they are valorous. Why? Because they are attempting to solve problems that do not exist in any other system, problems they themselves will possibly make.
The Libertarians are similar to the Communists, even though they are on the completely opposite end. Aptly named, they want to liberate us (perhaps even from themselves).
Their chain-freeing, person-enabling educational stance takes on new forms: they want to have the invisible hand lecturing one throughout their life. To do this, they – led by Allen Small (who thinks quite big) – suggest eliminating government mandated monopolies in education, thereby instilling more affordable education in a choice-based system, outsourcing behind-the-scenes educational services (to improve salaries for teachers), treat all religious equally, and eliminating the school boards.
While the arguments of personal autonomy in a socially-defined and hierarchal system certainly can apply (though I’m sure a libertarian would say that’s none of my damn business), such broadstroke renewal may be exactly what Ontario needs. We might not even recognize the shackles any longer.
But then again, I’m pretty happy with the government. Gives me something to write about.
The Green Party, on the other hand, wishes to turn over a new leaf in education (I’m sorry). Spurred (sorry) by Mike Schreiner, they are budding (sorry) to review the processes that cut up (sorry) schools into empty, foreclosed husks (sorry), graft (sorry) the roots (sorry) of the English and French Public and Catholic school boards, double the Ontario Child Benefit for families wilting (sorry) near the poverty-line, grow (sorry) support for community-based schools, and implement a Social Innovation Foundation that will provide grants, loans, and mentorship for young saplings blossoming (double sorry) in school.
While lofty in their intent, their platform is not a simple cookie-cutter spread or a blind scattershot. It is reserved, timid even. Cut a little here. Waste a little less there. Invest in the future with the remnants. It’s a conscientious approach, one that weighs both ends and means, and equates them almost rationally (at least compared to the circus of other grand promises by the other parties) to produce a fruitful (again, sorry) seed.
Or, perhaps not. If they win (read: they won’t), their educational platform may become a weed in the lawn of Queen’s Park garden. The soil isn’t too fertile for much of anything else.