Regular visitors will know I’m no fan of private schools. I don’t recall the British Tories telling voters at the last General Election that if they won, only people who went to the same high school as the Prime Minister could get to be in the Cabinet. And I can’t help feeling if the people who run Britain, and still make an excellent living from it, would ensure that the state schools were properly funded and run if their own little darlings went to them. But I’ve got something good to say about private schools for once. A high school teacher here in Edmonton, my Canadian hometown, has just been fired for insisting on giving kids who failed to hand in their homework a big fat zero. This was against school policy. Some might say the policy is “controversial”, many believe it is crackpot. I’ve heard the teacher involved interviewed on the radio and he came across as thoughtful and caring. As far as I know, the headmaster of the school has never given an interview on the radio. But someone recorded a speech he gave at staff-only meeting and passed it onto the media. I think the fact that a member of staff did that speaks volumes for the atmosphere at the school. Two teachers who retired from the school spoke about a climate of fear there. Certainly, I did not find the headmaster’s speech very impressive; I can see why there might have been a clash of personalities when it came to the teacher and the headmaster. The teacher was fired by the Edmonton Public School Board, which decided to back the headmaster. The teacher was given a couple of days between his disciplinary hearing and being fired in which to resign, and thus protect his pension, but he foolishly believed that commonsense would somehow triumph. That’s not how the public education system here works, and I have the word of a retired headmaster for that. He told me he’s glad he’s well out of it all now. Anyway, an Edmonton private school has now stepped in and hired the teacher in question. So, I have to admit that private schools are not all bad. But then Himmler never forgot a secretary’s birthday.