Welcome back to school and to Eduction week (see proclamation here). As school doors open we learn that the Liberal government’s plan for school boards to become venture capitalists has run into some difficulties in New Westminster.
Vancouver Sun education reporter, Ms. Janet Steffenhagen, reveals that: Education Minister Shirley Bond has ordered a review of a business company operated by the New Westminster school board after some parents complained that the company has devoured almost $1 million that could have been spent on schools and students.>(Vancovuer Sun online source; Download file.
Vancovuer parent Dawn Steele comments that this is exactly the sort of problems that parents have been worried about since the current government enacted legislation to permit venture capitalist activies by school boards.
These are EXACTLY the concerns we raised when Vancouver announced its plans to do the EXACT same thing. Thankfully, the former school board scuttled the whole thing very quickly, but we can be sure that these suggestions will rise again, and they raise enormous issues:
- As this story points out, the School Act provides no clear regulatory structure to ensure accountability.
- Incompetent/untrustworthy Boards hide their activities and their mistakes behind a veil of secrecy, pleading the need for corporate privac.y
- Most such activities seem to be directed at overseas ventures — where risk is most extreme, which only demonstrates the naivete and gross inexperience of our “entrepreneurial” trustees.
- Entrepreneurship is by its very definition high risk — the stats show that most ventures fail, even when you’re launching something far more mundane on your own home turf.
- Such ventures bleed badly-needed funds away from schools for start-up capital and they bleed our schools even more when they fail.
The moment we accept this idea of depending on entrepreneurial activities to finance education, we are choosing to stake our children’s future on a gamble. Districts that strike it rich can educate kids well, while those that fail will deprive thousands of children of quality education, through no fault of their own. Where is the level playing field?
Parents, PACs and other education partners who care about our children and the principles that underlie our public education system must say NO to entrepreneurial financing of public education in the strongest possible terms. Let our politicians finance their own salaries and pension schemes from offshore China ventures instead if they feel the need for adventure.News articles related to this issue
Businesses run by B.C. school boards lose money