The authors of a couple of reports by right-wing think-tanks have been doing their best to discredit teachers in Nova Scotia this past month.
I’d rather not mention the names of the think-tanks or their authors, so they don’t get any more attention than they already have. If you’re familiar with the political landscape in this province though, you probably know who they are. (If not, one of them is the first hit when you Google “Nova Scotia think tank.”)
Rick Howe invited me on his show on News 95.7 in Halifax today to discuss the education review panel that was recently announced for Nova Scotia.
We talked about the broader context in which the review is taking place – the “education reform”/privatization movement – and how we need to be wary of simplistic ways of thinking about education. Lots of ink has been spilled about the so-called math wars, some going so far as to talk about a “math crisis” in Canada. The government has talked about aligning the curriculum with the “needs of the economy,” and business and finance are well represented on the panel itself.
But math scores on standardized tests are not the most important thing in our schools. A narrow focus on basic math and literacy skills means our kids miss out on learning about empathy, political engagement and the arts, among other things.
Educational “success” for all depends on us addressing overarching issues like poverty and inequality.
Have you heard of Teach For Canada? It’s a new project spearheaded by Nova Scotian Kyle Hill, a Rhodes scholar and business consultant; and Vancouver-born Adam Goldenberg, former speechwriter for Michael Ignatieff and fellow at Yale law school.
Hill and Goldenberg want to address “educational inequality” in Canada, i.e. “[f]unding gaps, infrastructure deficiencies, and rapid teacher turnover” in rural and Aboriginal communities. Their solution? A program that would send university graduates (from any degree program) to work as schoolteachers for two years in these communities. Hill and Goldenberg hope to attract “some of Canada’s top graduates – our country’s future leaders” to their program, who would take their places in classrooms following a summer-long training period.