Friday, October 14, 2005

The London Fog "Authoritarian of the Week" Award goes to…
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty

The London Free Press reports that the Ontario Liberal government's throne speech went ahead as scheduled Wednesday:

"I won't allow anything — no recent cabinet shuffle, no hurdle, no misstep on the part of our government — to interfere with our determination to get the job done for the people of Ontario," Premier Dalton McGuinty said.

McGuinty admitted the scandal surrounding [Greg] Sorbara [who resigned as Finance Minister Tuesday amid a criminal probe into accusations of fraud] was interesting, but said it wasn't nearly as important as the government's plans outlined in the throne speech.
Our loss — McGuinty's determination to get the job done precludes our ability to get it done for ourselves.
Little new was promised in the speech, but there were some eye-catchers, such as the vow […] to ban teens from dropping out of school or job training [until the age of 18] to try to stem the province's 30-per-cent high school dropout rate.

[…] The speech repeated several initiatives already planned by the government, including a new high school "alternative" diploma that will focus on trades and skills training.

The new diploma, and promised legislation to ban dropping out, are meant to stem the second-highest provincial dropout rate in the country. Ontario students can now drop out of school at 16.
Banning students from dropping out until 18 — whatever it is meant to accomplish — does reinforce the subjugation of the individual's will to the government's arbitrary disposition. This must be the job of which McGuinty harangues. Although the current ban on dropping out until the age of 16 already fulfills this purpose, the Liberal proposal shackling young adults standing on the brink of independence seems especially ruthless. These are people who have decided for themselves, and may have decided some time ago, that the benefits of public education have been exhausted. A 30% dropout rate is eloquent testimony, not of a degenerate and shiftless adolescent population, but of a poor educational product, the same one that must now be mandated rather than recommended for its excellence — à la bureaucratic socialist economics — for at least two more years of a person's life.

As such, the real justification of the proposal is apparent — the political shame of a 30% dropout rate. Although the government is trying a bit to justify the proposal economically — via the canards about modern information or creative economies — it cannot successfully in a province where university graduates are delivering pizzas. True to their authoritarian instincts, the Liberals can only dimly grasp incentives for inducing people to continue education — compulsion is the easier way to go to achieve quotas. It is a shame that the forced depreciation of the dropout rate by legislation will not inform Ontarians that the number is meaningless — such is the state of education in the province. It will instead be regarded as a political success.

My disdain for Dalton McGuinty's plan — accruing him the honours of the London Fog's Authoritarian of the Week Award — is such that I can only repeat what I have said before:
"At the beginning of the 21st century, in a knowledge economy, it is not sensible to say to our young people, 'You're 16, you want to drop out, that's fine by us,' " McGuinty said. "What our government is saying is that is no longer fine by us."

What Dalton McGuinty implies by "ensuring that young people continue to learn" is that the definition of learning is his and his government's and that learning does not continue outside officially designated institutional control, which places at an outrageous discount learning to outgrow adolescence and to provide for oneself. What Dalton McGuinty means is that young people must continue to surrender more control of their time and actions to approval of authority. The appeal to a knowledge economy emphasizes the servitude to which young people must place their services for the province's requirements.

Compelling people to remain in a formal education system for which they have no further interest or desire can only further diminish the sense that they have any control over their lives. Will this produce a corresponding increase in productivity? I cannot see how this could be so. There are three people I know who dropped out of high school and never received a high school diploma. All three are employed in respectable occupations and provide very well for themselves without taxpayer assistance — two have university degrees and the other makes $100,000 a year. All pay taxes to support an education system from which they understood they no longer derived any benefit. I would like to know how Dalton McGuinty could suggest that their interests would have been served by such legislation — better yet, I would like Mr. McGuinty to address the question to their faces.


4 comments:

Mitch said...

C'mon.. of course the youth of Ontario must be mandiatory members of the OSSTF youth. Better to prepare them as serfs of the state.

Next, I expect McGuinty to claim that he will double grain production as part of his next five year plan.

Pietr said...

What the youth-of-Ontario needs to say to the government,and in particular McGinty, is "Fuck off you arrogant, overbearing fascist!We don't give a SHIT what is ok by you.We are going to rip off your heads and piss down your miserable necks!"

Anonymous said...

But it's fine with Dalton to give 16 year olds welfare, and to tax businesses and individuals to the point where they can't afford to hire anyone, and to set a minimum wage that makes it too expensive to hire kids who are energetic and honest, but not very skilled.

This law smells more like it's more concerned with the welfare of high school teachers. Fewer dropouts = more jobs.

Wait'll the police start dragging punks to school - the occasional teacher will get punched or cursed at, and then can go on multi-year stress leave at about 90% of their usual pay. Sweeeeet.

teacher said...

Of course, the OSSTF members who most actively supported this shit are the ones who don't set foot in the classroom anymore because they work full-time at the union office. An increase in students means an increase in teachers which increases the union's power base. The increase in classroom confrontations should also increase the number of OSSTF officials necessary to sort out the fall out from these situations.

Most teachers were, or claimed to be, ignorant of this aspect of Liberal policy before the election (even though it was well publicized at the time) while the union was dictating to its members who to vote for.