All good school teachers keep the two worlds in which they must live quite separate. For six or more hours of their every working day, they live among little people– little, that is, if not always in physical size, then little in their experience of the world. When school’s out, the teacher must switch and join the realm of adults. Most teachers manage this duality with remarkable ease. But some fail. One such person is Alberta’s minister of education, a teacher for twenty years who persistently addresses the province’s legislators as though they were a bunch of children.
Even so, the legislators should listen more carefully to what this pedagogical gent is saying. So should the media. Example: In closing his address in reply to the Throne Speech last year, he twice referred to “my 61 school boards.” Notice the inescapable implication. He is asserting a kind of proprietorship. The school trustees may have thought they were responsible to the people who elected them. No, once in office, they report to him as minister. He will tell them what he wants done. What, one wonders, would the response be if, say, the minister of municipal affairs suddenly began referring to “my city council in Calgary?” He’d have to be either seriously deluded or possibly drunk.
But there’s a lesson here for Americans. Astoundingly, Canada’s most conservative province has elected its only sitting socialist government. That’s what can happen when an ostensibly conservative government moves so far left that its rightwing forms a new party. The split ushered in a leftwing victory.
So now Albertans must watch their education minister repeatedly declare that “the biggest curriculum reform in the history of Alberta” is under way. “Who’s running it and how?” the public naturally wants to know. That must not be disclosed, says the minister. It’s confidential. The mind reels. He can’t be serious. It’s as though he appointed a royal commission to explore some pivotal governmental policy, but kept secret the names of the commissioners. Here we have a plan to fundamentally reconstruct what and how our children are taught, but who’s doing this is being declared a state secret.
This exhibition of incomprehensible arrogance finally ignited the seemingly dormant opposition. Why this secrecy, they asked, ever so politely. The minister gave three answers in a row: First, there are “three hundred individuals” involved in this revision. He could hardly name them all, and anyway some of them might not want to be publicly identified with it. Second, about a minute later: Actually “thousands” of people were involved in it. Third, a minute after that. “Thirty-two thousand” people were involved in the revision, says the minister.
This article continues at [Ted Byfield Blog] Self-seen czar of the school system is out to mould a new Alberta