Fall/automne 2003
Articles

From Educational Government to the Government of Education: The Decline and Fall of the British Columbia Ministry of Education, 1972-1996

Thomas Fleming
Professor of educational history, University of Victoria
Bio
Published October 1, 2003
How to Cite
Fleming, Thomas. 2003. “From Educational Government to the Government of Education: The Decline and Fall of the British Columbia Ministry of Education, 1972-1996”. Historical Studies in Education / Revue d’histoire De l’éducation 15 (2), 210-36. https://historicalstudiesineducation.ca/hse/index.php/edu_hse-rhe/article/view/454.

Abstract

The quarter of a century between 1972 and 1996 witnessed the end of the Imperial Age of school administration in British Columbia. The historical pattern of strong central control which had directed the course of provincial schooling for a century was beginning to unravel even before the 1960s were over, prompted in part by a malaise inside educational government and by new forces in and outside schools. Although provincial authorities entered the 1970s still confident in their capacity to control and direct public education, the Ministry of Education found itself before the decade ended, like Napoleon’s army retreating from Moscow, bewildered by an unfamiliar landscape and harried on all sides by adversaries who seemed to materialize from nowhere, each with its own special brief for provincial schools. By the 1980s, the province’s education bureaucracy, once the dominant and solitary voice in school affairs, was obliged to compete on the public policy stage with a chorus of others eager to contest the province’s right to speak on behalf of children. By the mid-1990s, the rising power of the teachers’ Federation, increasing parental and public demands for participation in educational decisions, and the Ministry of Education’s ambiguity about its own purpose had all served, in various ways, to reduce the province’s leadership in public education.