Beware the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Hi Frank,

Thanks for the heads-up. I will read the original.

Your voice is an important one; keep using it!

All the best to you both.

Cheers,

Peter

Peter Cowley | Director

Centre for School Performance Studies

THE FRASER INSTITUTE

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Phone 604-714-4556 |Cell: 604-789-0475

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From: Gue Frank [mailto:frank.gue@cogeco.ca]
Sent: Wednesday, July 08, 2015 5:57 PM
To: Whom it may concern
Subject: Fwd: “Beware the Canadian Taxpayers Federation”, today’s Spec

From: Gue Frank <frank.gue@cogeco.ca>

Subject: “Beware the Canadian Taxpayers Federation”, today’s Spec  

Date: July 8, 2015 at 6:44:08 PM EDT

To: letters@thespec.com

Date:          8 July 15

By:             Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA,  P.Eng.,

2252 Joyce St.,

Burlington, ON L7R 2B5

905 634 9538   frank.gue@cogeco.ca

For:           Letters to the editor, The Spec.

Re:            “Beware the Canadian Taxpayers Federation”, today’s Spec

Dear Lee:

According to author Dineen, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) “promotes the type of neo-liberal economic policies that have been eroding Canadian values.”

Setting aside the fact that there isn’t a reliable definition of “neo-liberal” to be found anywhere (which means that the term can mean anything you want it to mean), let us look at a few of the policies that have been “eroding some long-held Canadian social justice values.”

In the CTF’s statement of purpose, they say they are “dedicated to lower taxes, less waste and accountable government.”  My, how dastardly and counter-Canadian that is!

The writer further points out that four of the CTF’s directors have Reform Party roots.  Indeed, at a time when Canadian taxes were in some cases rising at double-digit rates, one of the Reform Party’s founding mantras was, “If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.”  What a non-Canadian, subversive suggestion!

The writer will have you know that the CTF “has links to the Fraser Institute”.  Now that really is dangerous!  The Fraser Institute’s corporate motto is, “If it matters, measure it”.  So they go about measuring results in education, which educators warn against and will not do, refusing even to use the word “results”.  Since educators obviously know best, we must avoid any inputs from the Fraser Institute, such as ” … measuring which government policies improve the lives of Canadians and educating Canadians [non-politically] about those policies” (from their Summer 2015 Quarterly Review).  Presumably the Canadian security agency is keeping an eye on such a subversive element operating right here in Canada.

The ultimate damning of the CTF arises from the fact that some of its members have worked for or with Stephen Harper.  From this one must, of course, conclude that the columnist and his associates are lily-white non-partisan, doubtless never having worked for, nor been members of, any political party.

It is surprising that the columnist missed a chance to blame the CTF for one or two important socio-economic indicators, such as the fact that Canada’s international ranking in education results is mediocre at best despite its huge education budgets; that 53% of Canadians are not up to “pass” grade in literacy per Statistics Canada; or that a newborn Canadian enters life with a $30,000 (or more,  depending on whose numbers you use) government debt hanging around her neck.

And so beware, Canadian citizens, of organizations which, like the CTF, are “dedicated to lower taxes, less waste, and accountable government”.

F.

The big mismatch in education

Date:           5 July 15
By:               Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng.,
                    2252 Joyce St., Burlington, ON L7R 2B5, 905 634 9538
For:             The Producers, The 180
Re:              Education – Prof. Kelly Foley – noon today – Radio 1
Good day.
Prof Foley has missed, as all commentators do, the main point when discussing the (apparently small) effect of education upon income and inequality.
That main point is the use of an undifferentiated entity called “a University education”.  This leads directly to the problem of mismatch among science/engineering “university educations”,
arts “university educations”, and the needs of the society and economy.  The blindingly obvious mistake of assigning an arts “university graduate” instead of an engineering “university graduate” to design a bridge is too often overlooked.
Compound this with the facts that:
* there is no natural mechanism guaranteeing that the economy will need exactly the number of arts or engineering/science students that graduate;
* insufficient attention is paid by the education establishment to the natural aptitudes of its students;
* some school systems teach science in proportion to science teachers available rather than to some analyzed need;
– and you have an indeterminate melange guaranteeing endless apples-and-oranges comparisons leading us nowhere, which is where most such commentators arrive.
Some higher education establishments, mostly community colleges like Mohawk in Hamilton, conscientiously attack this problem by surveying employers for their needs and counselling students accordingly; too few do, particularly at the high-school level.
Some parents (like mine) are far sighted enough to send their kids to some human engineering laboratory to learn their aptitudes and their non-aptitudes; but again, too few do.
Hopefully some brilliant young student one day will earn a PhD by tackling this mismatch problem.  More useful questions might include the likes of:  What does a civil engineering “university graduate” doing civil engineering work earn vs. what a dramatic arts “university graduate” doing dramatic arts earn?
Cheers,
F.

Discovery Learning – the deadly mistake

Date:       3 July 15
By:          Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng.,
               2252 Joyce St.,
               Burlington, ON L7R 2B5
               905 634 9538
For:        Letters, The Spec, Hamilton
Re:         Old school or new?  Today’s Spec
GA, Lee.
This article describes glowingly the long-discredited “Discovery” teaching method, which is being rammed down the throats of Ontario employers, parents, University presidents, teachers, and students despite its long-known ineffectiveness.  Proof of that statement, for purposes of this letter, is both global and local.
Globally, probably the best representative among many of the critical view is in the professional paper available on the Net and entitled:
Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not
Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist,
Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and
Inquiry-Based Teaching
Paul A. Kirschner
Educational Technology Expertise Center
Open University of the Netherlands
Research Centre Learning in Interaction
Utrecht University, The Netherlands
John Sweller
School of Education
University of New South Wales
Richard E. Clark
Rossier School of Education
University of Southern California
 
Another authority long ago, writing in Scientific American, made the flat statement that Every human accomplishment springs from a platform of rote learning.
Locally, the critical view is my own.  I hold two math-heavy degrees in Engineering and Business.  I have taught these subjects and published a book that replaces the black art of factory production planning and control with math that has been used successfully right down on the factory floor.  Line by line study of the Ontario public school curricula enables me to say, with authority and in exasperation, that no-one educated solely or mainly in the “Discovery” model could handle my kind of work; or indeed any kind of number work – witness retail store clerks who will not even attempt merely to count 76 cents lying on the counter, much less make change with it.  Witness also the fact reported by Statistics Canada that 53% of adult Canadians cannot reach a “pass” grade in math.
One might well ask: why are Ontario’s results in other subjects not similarly low and falling?  Mainly, it is because math questions demand an objectively correct answer, whereas performance in other subjects is tested by very subjective criteria inevitably influenced by the personal backgrounds of test markers and the instructions given them.
So look out, employers, parents, University presidents, teachers, and students: sadly, Ontario’s international standing in public school education will continue to fall.
F.