Sunday, January 2, 2011

The dreariness of a New Year's Day Moncton Times

The banner heading for Jan.1 Moncton Times? A piece of boosterism, of course. The News makers of the year were the volunteers of Moncton who helped with the international junior championships of something. I would certainly give them all credit for their contribution. But newsmakers of the year? What news did they make? I didn't see all that much about them even in the Moncton Times. We've had far more stories and editorials about  how contemptible our teachers are, how everybody is talking about nothing but the events/hockey centre and getting a CFL team. Again the centre and buying a CFL team figured big in the editorial yet again on this day.

Without even trying hard, I can think of lots of events that made more news in The Times than a junior championship. An aged rock group at Magnetic Hill was worth over a week of headlines, plus at least one supplement. (I think this is what today's editorial referred to as "cultural" life.

Then you have the really important events that The Moncton Times gushed all over, but never gave much news on - and certainly never asked any questions.

1. The visit of a neo-conservative politician from the US to give a speech to NB businessmen on education. Jeb Bush is a man who knows nothing about education. But he demands big money for giving a speech. Who paid him? Why were businessmen at an education speech? Why didn't The Moncton Times report that  the chief education organizer for his brother, George Bush, gave an interview to The Economist (perhaps the world's leading conservative journal) that the system he was talking about has proved to be a damaging failure in the US, driving American education to the lowest levels of the developing world? This is the "accountability", standardized test, school ranking horror that we are still pushing on our schools, and that Jeb Bush was here to praise. In fact, the tests do not test either schools or teachers, and they do enormous harm to schools. That word comes from Diane Ravitch, a very conservative scholar of education with a high reputation in the field. But I guess she wasn't impressive enough to make The Moncton Times.
In fairness, I see no sign anybody in New Brunswick gives a damn what is being done to their children. The provincial PTA and the Home and School are as clueless and useless a lot as I have ever encountered.

A big story of the year was that we are destroying our schools and our children. Notice you haven't heard any big speeches by education professors praising standardized testing? Well, at least they keep their mouths shut, I suppose. But I could wish they had the courage and integrity to open them.

2. The Economic Summit was a major offensive by big business to openly take over the provincial government. We don't even know who was invited, or why. Nor have we heard anything about it from any invited group except for business leaders. What? The university presidents were too shy to make a statement? The union reps had nothing to say? (In this province, probably not.)

3.And there was a much, much bigger story. The Moncton Times carred a commentary to make an announcement. But the paper lacked either the guts or the brains to follow up with questions.
Mr. Irving of you know who announced he and his friends from the summit had formed a coaltition with the provincial government.

This is the first time a coalition of a government with private business has ever occured in Canada. Indeed, I can think of no such example in any democracy in the world. A coalition means that people we did not elect are now full members of the government. Even the pretence that this is a democracy has been tossed aside.

This is an act that is unconstitutional. It's also hopelessly unworkable in a democracy. The premier has not said a word. Nor has The Times.

When some of the lowest paid people in the province (teachers' aides and school aides) decided to work to rule (that is to do their required jobs) as a means of asking for a smalll raise, The Times attacked them in a venomous editorial. Boy, The Times can be really tough with the small guys.

But it didn't say a word about Mr. Irving's annnouncement that he and his unelected friends are now in charge. There were no questions of Irving or of Alward. There was not even a statement from editor Norbert Cunningham on what the word coalition means. Lots or lip and insults for small and defenceless people. But just a greasy kiss for the boss. And, to  his eternal shame, not a word from Mr. Alward.

1 comment:

  1. Your point 2, above, that the unions had nothing to say about the Economic Summit is not correct. In fact, they sponsored their own People's Economic Summit. My notes on the presentations can be accessed at the link below:

    -Philip Lillies
    Labour Activist