Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Canadian Party of Labour

Pamphlet exposes rotten education in Montreal

First Published: Canadian Worker, Vol. 1, No. 5, August, 1969
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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A pamphlet published by the Canadian Party of Labour in Montreal has stripped the wrappings from the bourgeois system of no-education. Entitled “Their Schools – Our Kids”, the pamphlet shows how the boss class uses its schools against workers and their children. Focusing first on the story of how a group of working-class parents at Montreal’s Bancroft elementary school organized to fight for better conditions and decent education for their kids, it goes on to expose the rotten no-education set-up which ’teaches’ working-class children one thing only: how to best serve the bosses.

The pamphlet, published in English and Greek (most parents at Bancroft are Greek immigrants), has been warmly received by parents, high school students and workers in Montreal. When one Greek parent, a hospital worker, was told that communist ideas were the basis of the pamphlet, he said : “That’s what we need! Those are the only ideas that’ll really help us workers out!” Several teachers, even though they may not understand how the schools are another form of bosses oppressing workers, have admitted that what the pamphlet says is true. By saying this, they have publicly uncovered the Protestant School Board’s schemes against working-class kids, not just at Bancroft school, but all over Montreal and Quebec.

Naturally, the school authorities are plenty worried about having their schools shown as bosses’ tools. Under pressure from the Board of No-education and the sell-out mis-leadership of the Montreal Teachers’ Association (MTA), the bourgeois press has stepped into the fray in an effort to obscure the story of the Bancroft parents’ fight. True to its ’liberal’ facade, the Montreal Star, in a story called “Pamphlet blasts education as inferior”, it pushed the idea that because of its special circumstances (majority of immigrant parents) Bancroft is an exception.

Just the opposite is true, of course. The pamphlet shows what happened at Bancroft, one of the worst schools in the Montreal system. But it doesn’t stop there: it also shows that Bancroft and schools like it differ only in degree. All working-class schools, whether English or French, Protestant, Catholic or ’Ethnic’, are set up to make sure our kids learn to be servants of the bosses, ignorant workers thankful for starvation wages and humilitating ’welfare’ handouts.

The Montreal Star article is another phase of the counter-attack begun last October against the Bancroft parents. Where the school authorities finally used threats of legal action against the parents’ Committee after months of sweet-talk got them nowhere, the Star uses the trick of sham sympathy and fake support for reforms that in no way enganger the bosses essential interests. It tries to show that a reactionary principal was and is to blame for the bad situation at the school. Bancroft principal Hall certainly is as retrograde as they come, but he was supported every step of the way by the authorities – and was acting on their orders. Further, when one teacher tried to work with the parents’ group, he was ordered out of the school – a decision backed by the School Board (of course!) and accepted without a fight by the sell-out MTA.

Alongside its ’benevolent’ reformism, the Montreal Star slyly tries to give the impression Bancroft parents were organized by ’outside’ interests – first the YMCA and then the Canadian Party of Labour.

This is a favorite gambit of the liberal bosses’ media: thinly concealed scorn for workers coupled with subtle red-baiting. While two members of CPL worked closely with the parents in their fight against the Board of No-education, parents’ Committee members knew of the CPLers’ political beliefs, even if they weren’t ready to accept a Marxist explanation of the education question.

The pamphlet also points out the role of the YMCA in the community. But it does not show how thoroughly the ’Y’ is a tool of the ruling class. On the national level, the directors of this #8217;christian’ outfit are some of the big names of the Canadian boss class – and a few, like Kirkpatrick (Cominco), second-stringers of US monopoly capitalism. These are the same men who run racist Sir George Williams University (a former ’Y’ college).

Next to these big-time bandits, the desperate claims of local ’Y’ “community developer” Kerry Johnston that the parents’ Committee broke up when it learned of CPLer Fred Reed’s “political intentions”, looks like small potatoes. What did happen was that the parents broke away from the YMCA when they realized what it was up to in the community. But what this arm-chair activist means to say really is that working people are fools, and that only YMCA (bosses ) money can ’save’ them. $8000-a-year man Johnston himself is front-man for local millionaire garment boss Howick, chief of the Montreal International YMCA Board, who rakes in super-profits from the same immigrant workers he hypocritically says he wants to ’help out’. Another big name in the local ’Y’ Board is Peter Katadotis, Montreal’s number one “community development authority” who thinks working people can’t do a thing without money and ’advice’ from the bosses. Naturally enough, since he takes and dispenses the bosses’ money and advice.

The Canadian Party of Labour feels that not only can we make the interests of working-class parents’ groups fighting for class demands our own, but that we can do this best when we have children in the schools. This means we can know the parents’ struggle first-hand, and so make sure we understand its direction and its limitations. At the same time our Pity gives support, and, where possible, leadership, to working-class parents’ fights for better conditions and better education. It will keep right on exposing and hitting hard at the class nature of education. The schools, from elementary to university, are institutions run by the bosses for the benefit of their class. (For more on the situation in the university, read CPL’s “The Revolutionary Party, Students, and the Worker-Student Alliance”). Only when the bosses dictatorship is smashed and replaced by workers’ rule, will our children have the proud working-class education they need.