Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nov. 17: The TandT's role in an attack on your children.....

The Atlantic Institute of Marketing Studies (which has no expertise in education, and which is simply a propaganda front set up by the Irvings and McCain's and Ganongs of our world) has released its annual report card on Atlantic Canadian high schools.

This is even worse than the fraud of the MacLean's university rankings. The difference is it will do even more damage than MacLean's does - and MacLean's has done serious damage to the universities.

School grades are affected far more by family income and social status, by cultural values, by expectations than they are by anything a school or a teacher does.

A good friend of mine was a lawyer, an engineer and, for at time, President of the Quebec Liberal party. He has also been an oustanding hockey player. But he knew he could never play for the NHL, or get an athletic scholarship to a Canadian university.

He was Black.

Blacks in the Montreal of his day couldn't be police or clerks. The men couldn't be anything but, railway porters, or jazz musicians. The women couldn't be anything but domestic servants or baby sitters. They grew up accepting that. Their teachers accepted that. Finishing high school wasn't even on their radar. (Nor, if they somehow still got good grades, did they stand much chance of being accepted in a Canadian university.  So how did my friend break through?

"It was the side of the street I lived on," he told me. "The other side went to the ghetto school where it was expected by parents and teachers they would do poorly - and so they did. But kids on my side of the street went to a rich, white kids school, where both parents and teachers expected the children to go on to university. So I did."

He got the hockey scholarship that no Canadian university would give him at a prestigious American university, and railway porters smuggled him over the botder for the train travel he couldn't afford..

I had a similar experience going to school in a dirt poor, white neighbourhood. None of us from my grade one class finished high school. In grade ten, I did meet kids whose families, for cultural reasons, (Japanese, Jewish) or social reasons (rich) expected them to do well - and so they did. But it was too late for me. I flunked out.

From school to school there was no difference in the curruicula or in the training of the teachers. The differences were in the communities. There is  no such thing as a best school. Any school is a reflection of the community it serves.

So why are the Irvings and the McCains and the Ganongs so keen on ranking schools?

They're following a movement that began in the US some 40 years ago to privatize education as much as possible.  The rankings are intended to lead to Public/Private Partnerships. Yeah. That's what we'll call them - partnerships, like a leech is a partner to whatever it is sucking blood out of.

Privatization in the US has gone a long way, with the result that basic education has gone out of reach for the poor, and is a major effort for what's left of the middle class. According to UNESCO ratings, US "public" education has gone, as a result, from a mediocre 18th in the world to an appalling 136th. ( Canada is in the top ten.)

The Irving papers  have been used quite deliberately as part of the campaign to destroy confidence in our schools. The purprose of the campaign was to let corporations get their greedy fingers into our education taxes - and to hell with the damage it causes the children.

Corporations exist to make money. That's all they exist for.  Hyenas exist to eat flesh. I would no sooner turn by children over to a corporation than I would to a pack of hyenas.

Contrary to statements my our finance minister, government is not a business. It does not exist simply to feed itself (or it's masters).

I have never read any serious scholar in the field of education who thinks that school rankings have any merit. And I note the dead silence of Atlantic deans of education on this subject.

In short, those bastards want to destroy your school systems and your children so they can make a buck out of it. And you can depend on the Irving media to be on the side of the bastards.

Nice to see that NewsToday has noticed the Occupy Wall Street movement - though it is still stuck with Reuters news agency. But there is another - and huge - story that is missing.

Yesterday, Ottawa announced that it has agreed to a defence pact with Israel, and will release details soon. Well...

That's kind of a serious decision. That whole region is about to explode into what could be World War Three (if we aren't already in it.) The current tension is over fears that Iran might get a nuclear warhead. (The US has over 5,000. Tiny Israel has some 250, about the same number as China).

A defence pact sounds like a commitment to join a war. But barely a week ago, we paid honour to those Canadians who died to defend freedom and democracy. Those words don't just sound nice. They have meanings. One of the meanings is that we cannot be committed to war without full debate and without the vote of our elected representatives. How soon we forget what we said we remembered on Nov. 11.

Under intenational law, the law we used to hang Nazi leaders, we cannot go to war unless we are attacked. (If we enforced the laws we enforced against Hitler's gang, there'd be a lot of Canadian politicians at the end of ropes.)

This news of a defence pact has enormous implications. How come the new editor of the TandT never heard of it? (It appeared in yesterday's Toronto Sun, among others.)

Norbert has his usual, confused column. He dismisses people who complain about our well staffed and appointed schools. Gee, Norbert, just a year ago you were the edtorial page editor who regularly ran editorials and opinion pieces that said the schools were incompetent and a scandal.

Alec Bruce's column is a warning of hard times to come. My only departure from that would be to add that New Brunswick is in financial trouble largely because we, our children, and our communities have served ourselves up for too long on the banquet table of the corporate elite. We can afford our poor. It's our rich who are breaking us.

Sensible column by Jody Dallaire on tips. Juvenile column by Rod Allen. (That's not quite fair. The Saturday columns by students are better than those of Allen.)


  1. is it possible to give a link to this famous unesco report? i can't seem to find it. where can i read more about the privatization of education?

  2. I should have said UNICEF, since its reports are more widely used. However, just google UNICEF education rankings.

    That will lead you to many sources using various methodologies. But all come to similar conclusions. American education is a shambles - and it has become worse since the intrusion of privatization in the public schools.

    there is also a book by an American scholar which has a chapter on the relationship between school and home in shaping a child's development. Since I'm in the midst of moving, I can't find the thing right now. The title is something like How We learned to forget class and love culture - something like that. In the sites that come up, you'll also see a recent CBS news item that refers to the impact of home environment on learning. In general, poor kids do badly in school. Rich ones do well. The problem is a class one, not an individual one. On the privatization of education, I'll get back to you. I've been following for so long, I'll have to think about some good sources.

  3. On bibliography, take a google at Privatization of edcuation in Canada. That also covers our universities which, as recently reported by the Canadian Council on Education, have become quite dreadful institutions - partly their own fault, but also through the intrusions of private business.
    You will notice that almost all writers who are scholars of education are critical of privatization. The suporters tend to be "think tanks" and conservative economists.
    The US has gone a long way with vouchers and charter schools. The result has been to destroy any opportunity at all for working class kids.
    In any system I have ever seen (notably that of Quebec) a focus on privatization for those who can afford it is enormously destructive for public education. Nor does it necessarily benefit those who get the private education.

    If you google Pedra Noquera, Uof California at Berkely, You will find an essay by him that is gentle - but quite clear. And it was written Before the American school system was well into its decline.

  4. I just found the book I had referred to in my first comment. It's by Walter Benn Michaels, The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality. The table of scores related to wealth is in the chapter "Richer, not Better".

  5. ¸Merci bien monsieur graeme.

  6. mon plaisir.
    would you like some Scots dialect, too?
    The bodyguard of Joan of Arc was made up of Scotsmen.

  7. D'accord? Voici la seule phrase que je connais:
    Auld Lang Syne.

    I looked up Pedro Seguara, will read more this afternoon.

    Here is a link for others who may be interested.

  8. ach, dinna' fash y'rsel'.

  9. oh, dont trouble yourself?

  10. This is the second time a response of mine has not been published. Damn.
    right. the Scots' fash is from the French facher. The Scots and French were commonly allied against the English. If one reads Burns, he's not fond of the English.