By guest blogger George Thompson

The Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) has provided precisely the kind of alignment desired by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a globalization think-tank which is responsible for the “raise the bar” and “close the gap” propaganda used to pressure governments into the public-private “partnership” model in most of its member nations. That is why, “Last year…the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper lauding the council’s work.” http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2010/01/08/12399491-qmi..html

The CCL has promoted Canada-wide measurement systems used to establish “standards” and further the OECD’s emphasis on high-stakes testing. To this end, OECD administers the PISA test, which presents the illusion of a global standard in order to promote global competition between nations and heighten pressures for “school improvement” as defined by high-stakes testing scores. Thus, CCL used its research to push the agenda of reform, usually under the pretext of helping “close the gap” for the low achievers. For example, one of its studies argues for “large-scale reform” in Canada, using the bandwagon appeal:
“A school reform program was introduced in Japan to diversify some aspects of the education system, introduce parental choice, foster greater autonomy for schools, and encourage the use of individualized teaching methods.
In England, widespread concern regarding low academic standards and achievement scores prompted a reform program that included the introduction of a national curriculum and new national-assessment systems.
In the United States, the Comprehensive School Reform Program (part of No Child Left Behind) was designed to improve student achievement by helping schools to implement evidence-based reforms.” http://www.ccl-cca.ca/CCL/Reports/LessonsInLearning/LinL20090114EducationReform.htm

Even in this 2009 report, the CCL does not see anything wrong with using Bush’s No Child Left Behind as an example and pressure for changes in Canada.

That Harper pulled the $85 million funding from this publicly subsidized invisible hand of the OECD is simply a sign that they aren’t helping to privatize fast enough. Hence Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley is clearly pushing for the education-as-preparation-for-global-job-competition that education privatizers want to see. Like Obama’s right-hand privatizer, Arne Duncan, perhaps Finley feels we can “educate our way to a better economy”. Plus public education is a useful scapegoat for the recession and the ever-widening gap between rich and poor. The federal government will now throw its support to the Council of Ministers of Education, which is made up of provincial and territorial education ministers, and other stakeholders. Finley’s spokesperson says “this will help us maximize training investments, help Canadians make more informed decisions when it comes to their education and their careers, and ensure employers have the workers with the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow.” Do not be surprised if a system of federal incentives, similar to Obama’s Race to the Top, is used to help accelerate charter-like initiatives in the near future.

As for the CCL it’s going to seek non-governmental support, which, in a way seems only fitting. It certainly shouldn’t have any trouble getting it.