Danielle Smith: Maybe we need to defund public schools

Rick Mehta, an associate professor at Acadia University, is facing a growing backlash over incendiary social media comments. File/ Global News

In the last year, the drive to defund private schools has been picking up steam. But, maybe what we should really be talking about is how to dismantle the public education monopoly.

Imagine how surprised I was to hear that recommendation from a self-described liberal university professor named Rick Mehta.

Who is Rick Mehta? He is the latest professor to be targeted by extreme social justice warriors on campus for being a sexist, racist, transphobic, neocolonialist bigot.

LISTEN: Rick Mehta shares his experience with free speech

Is he really? I interviewed him to learn his perspective on why students are walking out of his class and going to university administrators to have him censured.

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What has these sensitive youngsters so worked up? Well, the good professor has been teaching since 2003. But he had an epiphany, back in 2015, where he realized that if we want to solve the social issues we care so much about, we have to consider policy ideas from a broad perspective to find out what works.

So, he conducts lectures that suggest the wage gap is not entirely to do with gender. He dares to suggest the residential school system was not horrifically bad for all 150,000 students who went through it. He quotes statistical data to show that a very small number of individuals identify as transgender and even when they do, the majority choose to stay with the gender they were born with.

He went into some detail to describe his method of providing information to his students, giving links to a broad range of sources so they can do their own independent research and come to their own conclusions. He’s so confident his methods will stand up to scrutiny, he’s posted his lectures and materials in a public Dropbox so the public can judge for themselves.

WATCH BELOW: A lecture at Queen’s turned into a fight over free speech

Click to play video: 'A lecture at Queen’s turned into a fight over free speech'
A lecture at Queen’s turned into a fight over free speech
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After all, if you can’t win in the kangaroo court of the academic review tribunals, perhaps the court of public opinion will be more fair. As we were speaking he received a letter from his university telling him to cease and desist  communicating to the public.

Natasha also got in touch with me to tell me about her experience running the gauntlet through a group of angry, belligerent student protestors at a Jordan Peterson speech at Queen’s University. Talking with her, it became pretty clear that she is an advocate for social causes – one might even say a bleeding heart liberal.

But she thought there was more to Jordan Peterson than she was reading about in the papers and attended his lecture. What particularly resonated with her was when Peterson told the crowd of 1,000 students that they feel obliged to parrot back extremely biased narratives from the perspective of their leftist professors or face getting lower grades.

Natasha got marked down for a paper on HIV prevalence in African regions with high levels of female genital mutilation. Because she called the practice – which Wikipedia describes as “partially or totally removing the external genitalia of girls and young women for nonmedical reasons” that is “illegal in many countries” – mutilation, she was told she was being culturally insensitive. No “A” for you.

LISTEN:  A student at Queen’s University tells Danielle Smith about her experience at a Jordan Peterson lecture

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The only conclusion I can draw from these two stories is the education establishment has gone completely bats. It is one thing to attempt to dismiss conservatives as bigots – that old yarn has been trotted out by progressives for decades.

It is quite another matter to call Indian, first-generation-Canadian, liberal professors and self-described pro-LGBTQ feminists bigots simply because they want to hear a range of viewpoints before making up their own minds on issues.

Mehta said he believes the problems begin in K-12 education, as school curricula across the country is being rewritten through a “social justice” lens. In his tweet on March 3, he called for the education system to be “rebuilt from the ground up.”

Public Interest Alberta is the latest to advocate that Alberta’s independent schools should have their funding reduced and eventually phased out.

How about we go the other way? Maybe every independent school needs to be fully funded and we need to phase out every government-run, union-controlled public school more interested in indoctrinating students than teaching them critical-thinking skills.

We are spending billions of dollars to graduate students that have no capacity to think. When are public schools going to be held accountable for that?

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Danielle Smith can be reached at

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