After spending two delightful evenings watching “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Fort Frances High School, I began to ponder what our premier, Mike Harris, would have been thinking had he been present.
I don’t think his reaction would have been similar to mine.
First, I can hear him saying to all the teachers who were involved: “Only classroom instruction is valuable. If you are spending all this time producing a musical, you are obviously not working a full day in the classroom and therefore should be given more classes to teach.”
To the custodians who set up the chairs and cleaned the gym he would say: “These tasks cannot be linked to classroom instruction. By eliminating them, and laying off workers, valuable dollars could be saved.”
To the students involved he would say: “This frittering away of your time on the arts is pointless. It will not help you get a job and thus will not contribute to the economy of Ontario. You should take courses in math and technology, learn some entrepreneurial skills, and get out of high school as soon as you can.”
To the members of the community he would say: “Boards of education in the past have been wasting money by financing such extra-curricular activities. This proves that they have been irresponsible and incompetent.”
However, Mike from North Bay would not be upset for very long. After all, his backroom boys and spin doctors have cleverly sold the public a bill of goods. While he focuses on catch phrases such as “equal opportunities for all students” and “money for the classroom,” he is still cutting billions from the system.
By taking total control of the purse strings, he has turned the trustees into puppets who will take the blame for cuts and layoffs.
Through the funding formula, he will be able to get rid of thousands of teachers and support staff, close hundreds of schools, and privatize services.
While he undermines the arts and glosses over the fact that there soon will be no funding for any extra-curricular activities, he will make business happy, manipulate the public, and guarantee his re-election.
Thus Mike will be able to sleep peacefully. He will be victorious in the end. Let the 100 teachers, students, and community members who were actively involved in the production, and the 1,000 proud and joy-filled people in the audience, enjoy their moment of triumph. He, after all, has the backing of the money boys.
Do they not always win?