The Toronto Globe and Mail is probably Canada's most prestigious newspaper. It certainly thinks it is. But take a look at the top of page 3 for May 21, 2010. "street smart: Ranking learning in Canada's cities." As it says it rates some thirty cities for the quality of education in their public schools.
How big is the difference between top and bottom rank? Is it enough to worry about? Who knows. What was tested? There are only hints in the article. Do the test results reflect the quality of learning? Or of teaching? Or social class? Of income levels? Or of cultural backgound? The Globe didn't even think of asking those questions.
Is the learning that was tested of any continuing value? Probably not. Most standardized testing from standardized tests will reflect rote learning -which means it will soon be forgotten.
Who carried out this extensive study? Well, it was something called The Canadian Council on Learning. And just who is that? Well, that's hard to tell.Their web site lists a couple of top level University heads -which looks more impressive than it is. University heads rarely know poop about education. Most have no training in it, for a start. And they are hired by faculty and board committees who know nothing about teaching, either. In any case, they're hired to handle image and bring in money. Education has nothing to do with it.
In the same vein there are doctors and lawyers and businessmen. What do they know about education? Why are they interested in it?
More to the point, exactly who funds what must be an extremely expensive research operation?The federal government stopped supporting it. But it goes on, anyway. Who's paying the bills? The article mentions the council gets money from private foundations. I think that means rich people and corporations.
Well, let's cut to the chase. This idea of introducing business methods into education through standardization was begun by the Fraser Institute at least a dozen years ago. The Fraser institute is a propaganda front for big business. One of its concerns is to get more private business sucking money out of the education system. The grandly named Canadian Council on Learning works for pretty much the same people, producing the same sort of pseudo-scientfic reports. The news media display those reports prominently as though they really were scientific.
Why do the news media take these "think tanks" so seriously?
Guess who owns most of the news media.