Monday, January 11, 2010

Another Important Organization Falls Victim to Right-Wing Ideology

When we learned before Christmas that Harper and his Reformers had cut funding to KAIROS, it was upsetting but not surprising. Now that Charles McVety seems to running our country's finance department, there has been a lot of speculation over who would be his next target. Who else doesn't his Religious Right like?

Well we just found out. The Canadian Council on Learning.

Diane Finley's handler, Ryan Sparrow; is suggesting that it's a refocus (recalibration ... refried beans?) But anyone paying attention knows what this is really about. Public education for a start.

The Reformers have always hated public education and resent giving a dime to any schools that are not private and have the nerve to teach ... are you ready? SCIENCE! Egads the horror!

".. The Reformers gathered in Saskatoon saved perhaps the loudest cheers, whistles, and applause for [William] Gairdner's last shot: 'And my favourite proposal, by the way, is returning choice to education by privatizing every school in the country'!" (Preston Manning and the Reform Party. Author: Murray Dobbin Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing 1992 ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, pg. 166)

When Stockwell Day was running the Bentley Christian Schools in Alberta, he came under fire for the curriculum, which did not meet provincial standards. He made headlines for defending fundamentalist school curricula that a government commission later found to hold "a degree of insensitivity towards blacks, Jews and natives." The ACE material that Day defended included a reading lesson which asked junior high students: "The Jewish leaders were children of their father, the devil - true or false?" "God's law is clear," said an angry Day to the Alberta Report in 1984. "Standards of education are not set by government, but by God, the Bible, the home and the school."

Private schools base their teachings on the Bible and can't let anything like the facts get in the way of what's laid out in ancient scripts. No wonder so many people are turning away from religion.

The Canadian Council on Learning, not only promoted public education, but also improving education for aboriginals and adult literacy. When John Baird was with the Ontario government, heading up Community and Social Services, he tried to cut anyone off welfare who couldn't read or write. (Senators who can't read or write are OK though) And remember one of his first acts when heading up the treasury board in 2006, was to cut the funding for adult literacy. It's this whole social Darwinism nonsense.

But Dr. Paul Cappon, the CEO of the Canadian Learning Coucil, may have hit McVety's radar before, because of something else the Reformers hate ... sex education.

Students are not getting enough sex education,” says Dr. Paul Cappon, executive director of the Council of Education Ministers of Canada, the body that administered the surveys for Health Canada (Sokoloff, 2003, p. A10). Schools devote less time to AIDS and STD awareness than they did in the late 1980s. It is hard not to see this as fallout from the ideological right turn that has emphasized rigorous curriculum and relentless testing at the expense of subject areas like music, art, gym and sexuality education which are necessarily less quantifiable than subjects like English and Math.

Charles McVety's Canada Family Action Coalition has fought against both sex education and early learning, something else that Dr. Cappon advocates for, and said of a national child care plan; The Liberals bent on getting children into daycare and then indoctrinating them with liberal ideology is a scary thought. But it could be real if they spend billions on a program that citizens have not asked for. And yet they have asked for it many times.

I think we are going to see a lot more of these progressive organizations see their budgets removed to feed into Harper's extreme right-wing agenda. McVety is probably giggling now, pouring over lists and squealing with delight.

But who will be next?

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