Thursday, January 6, 2011

How to Read a Newspaper

Reading a newspaper takes a little bit of thinking -- but it can pay off.  In The Moncton Times and Transcript of Jan. 6, for example, there is a cheerful story about a New Brunswick public school principal being named the best in Canada. (I don't question she may be a very fine principal, indeed. That is not the point here.) The point is that the newspaper ran the story.

But isn't running the story what a newspaper should do? Yes. But the New Brunswick papers are very careful about which stories they care to run; and they have usually either ignored good news about the New Brunswick public schools, and have even presented it as a disgusting sign of the failure of the schools.

Just in the past few months, for example, New Brunswick public schools were named as the tops in Canada for the high school completion rate of their students. That, incidentally, might well make them tops in the world. But the Moncton Times editorialist treated it with a vitriolic fury that said this was proof of the failure of our schools. It berated the teachers and administrators for what was surely an outstanding achievement. Then, in a bizarre statement that seemed to have no connection at all with the news  story - or any other reality - it thundered, "Teachers should teach all the students."

About the same time, the superintendent of public schools in District Two was named one of the hundred most important women in Canada. That was not bad, one should think, for a small city that so far had achieved its only fame as a location for call centres. However, the editorial that accompanied that story was the most contemptible rant I have ever seen in a newspaper. It accused her, with no evidence whatever, of gallivanting to parties all over Canada, neglecting her work; and simply gadding about to get personal fame.

That has been typical of The Moncton Times in its reporting on education for some years. Why has it done that? Well, hint no. 1 - it might have something to do with a North American campaign to denigrate public schools in order to turn over much of the control of them to private business - for private profit. It's a campaign which has been a very successful one for private business in the US. It has racked up huge profits. Unfortunately, American education has, in the same time, dropped into the toilet of the industrial world.

Hint no. 2 - The major device used by private business to get into the schools has been the "think tank", a front for their propaganda.

Hint no. 3 - The "think tank" in this region is the Atlantic Institute of Marketing Studies.

Hint no. 4 - The AIMS Board of Directors is made up of this region's corporation leaders. The name "Irving has not been an unfamiliar one on that board.

Hint no. 5 - Guess who owns the New Brunswick newspapers.

So why did The Moncton Times even print the story of a high school principal - the sort of person the newspaper has long spat on - getting a prestigious award?   Just one hint....

Look at who gave the award. It's a non-proft organization called The Learning Partnership. (Non-profit does not necessarily indicate it's either poor or for charity. Actually, it seems to be extremely well funded. I wonder by whom.) 

The "partnership", to judge from the list of directors, is composed exclusively and equally of people from education and from very big business. Well, the schools are training people for business. So, isn't it good to have business involved?  Actually, there are a lot of problems with that idea.

One is that schools are not training their students exclusively for big business. In fact, they are training more for small business, for civil service at all levels, for social service, for general life. So where are the reps from small business, from civil service, from the military,  from social service, from the churches and all the other areas of life?

I won't pretend to have the whole story on this. Not yet. But The Learning Partnership looks very much like yet another big business scheme to horn in on education to get more profits for big business. It's much more sophisticated than AIMS, and has a much more reasonable-sounding approach. But when I look at the board of directors, I see the same sort of gang I see at AIMS.

And that may explain why The Moncton Times ran that story.

1 comment:

  1. This "newspaper" continues to amaze me. It has , on a regular basis, printed stories involving some kind of "branding" conference that features Gene Simmons (yuck.) It has been obvious from the number and tone of the "stories" that tickets for this great event have not been selling well..(perhaps they would go faster if organizers included a free shower for anyone getting close to Simmons.) In any event..the "story" today ( Friday)should be indicated to be advertising copy...right there at the top of page one. One of the speakers is telling businness people they just have to attend. The headline says "Simmons event can't be missed: branding expert".,.. WOW just when one thinks this publication can't get fools you...............what an absolute abomination of a newspaper...but apparently the owners don't care. One would think they would be embarrassed........