Behind the Numbers

Entries Tagged as 'Education'

Problem? Ask a CEO (That’s Chief Expert Officer to You, Buddy!)

March 3rd, 2014 · · Capitalism, corporations, Education, Satire

Parents, take note! Your search for clarity in the education debates is finally over.  The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) commissioned a report a few weeks ago that set out a fairly bleak picture of general dissatisfaction with public schools and then concluded with a series of recommendations about how to “fix” the problem.

You know, by measuring teacher quality through student outcomes, in addition to having students and other “impartial” parties judge a teacher’s performance through more frequent (possibly surprise) evaluations…and then assigning bonuses to those educators deemed worthy. Because: incentives!

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My advice to young workers? Get angry.

February 20th, 2014 · · Alternative Federal Budget, Employment and Labour, Youth

In the wake of the Federal Budget, the CCPA’s Alternative Federal Budget, and months of disappointing job numbers, it seems that the national conversation about youth and work is undergoing a bit of a revival. Following on the heels of Jim Flaherty’s announcement of interest-free loans for skilled trades students, CBC’s The National called together a panel of experts to talk about the fit between post-secondary programs and the kinds of jobs available in our evolving economy. Between on-the-street interviews with anxious students, panelists were asked to make sense of the confusing labour market for young workers, to cut through conflicting statistics and rhetoric around labour shortages and the value of a university education. They were pressed, as so many experts are, to offer advice to recent graduates.

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Jeopardy, Jackpot, or Wheel of (Mis)Fortune?

September 13th, 2013 · · Democracy, Economy & Economic Indicators, Education, Income Inequality, Maritime Provinces, Poverty and Income Inequality, Youth

It seems all that fuss being kicked up about tuition fees rising faster than inflation, significant levels of student debt, dismal employment prospects for young people, and parents having to postpone retirement to help shoulder some of the burden under which their kids are struggling has not gone unnoticed.

As we discuss in Degrees of Uncertainty, the average cost of tuition and compulsory fees for Canadian undergrads will rise by 13% over the course of their degree, from $6,610 this fall to an estimated $7,437 in 2016-17. Since 1990, average tuition and compulsory fees, even adjusting for inflation, have tripled since 1990.

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Sociology: I Can’t Quit You

May 3rd, 2013 · · Democracy, Education, Satire

True confession time, people.

I commit sociology.

And not just as a one-off.

You might say—all right, I will say it—that I’m a repeat offender. In fact, I’m practically addicted. Scarcely a minute can go by without my synapses looking for their next fix.

That might not be a politically correct admission. After all, this is tough-on-crime Canada, where such wanton disregard for Father-Knows-Best-ology and doing the “right” thing (and not in that perilously-close-to-committing-sociology Spike Lee kind of way) seems almost, well, unpatriotic.

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There’s Nothing Inevitable About Eduflation

September 13th, 2012 · · Economy & Economic Indicators, Education, Media, Uncategorized, Youth

It might have been my imagination (or perhaps wishful thinking), but in the midst of this year’s back-to-school media coverage, the issue of student debt seemed a little more prominent than usual.

At least two surveys identified high levels of debt ($28k on average), and the stress—more than that of finding a job or getting good grades–this is causing students. The federal government estimates the cost of a university degree (including accommodation, tuition, food and other expenses) to be $60k for a four-year degree, while a separate survey put that figure at closer to $80k.

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Canada’s Mean Test: Myths behind neo-con madness

June 29th, 2012 · · Democracy, Economy & Economic Indicators, Education, Employment and Labour, Taxes and Tax Cuts, Uncategorized

It’s difficult to overstate the significance of the Quebec student strike (the longest in North American history) and resultant public backlash against the provincial government’s Orwellian response.

Not that you’d know it. According to mainstream (predominantly) English media, Montreal is being held hostage by a handful of scruffy, possibly naked, hooky-playing slack-tivists who got distracted on the way to a door-crasher sale at the Apple store and decided to stop traffic while demanding their constitutional right to free lattes. Or something.

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Canada’s Self-Imposed Crisis in Post-Secondary Education

June 18th, 2012 · · Education

On June 7, I gave a keynote address to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Education Sector Conference. My PowerPoint presentation (with full references) can be found at this link.

Points I raised in the address include the following:

-Canada’s economy has been growing quite steadily over the past three decades, even when one adjusts for inflation, and even when one accounts for population growth. The exceptions, of course, occur during recessions.

-Yet, since the early 1980s, the federal government has been spending less, relative to GDP. Since that time, it has spent less on both “program expenses” and debt-servicing (again, notwithstanding what’s happened during recessions, which represent relatively small blips when compared to the long-term trend).

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How To Fix Income Inequality

June 6th, 2012 · · Aboriginal Issues, Child Care, Education, Employment and Labour, Housing, Poverty and Income Inequality, Taxes and Tax Cuts

Trish Hennessy is Director of Strategic Issues with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Several polls released this spring reveal the extent of concern among Canadians about worsening income inequality.

Most Canadians say that deep income inequality undermines Canadian values. The majority of Canadians tell pollsters they would support political leadership to reverse the trend.

But what, some ask, can be done about income inequality?

I turned to leading thinkers on this issue – starting with our own stable of experts from the CCPA, but broadening out to experts in housing, employment, taxes, child care, and poverty reduction – and asked them to submit an idea they think would contribute to reducing inequality.

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Using Red Squares as Red Herrings: Scapegoating youth in the attack on progress

June 5th, 2012 · · Democracy, Economy & Economic Indicators, Education, Employment and Labour, Poverty and Income Inequality, Quebec, Youth

Why is it still, for some, a newsflash that reality for today’s youth is a solar system away from the world of just 25 or 30 years ago?

The thumbnail sketch is bleak: since 1987, incomes have stagnated for most Canadian homes—with two exceptions. The lowest income earners have actually lost ground while the wealthiest among us have disproportionately benefited. Meanwhile, people are working harder and longer than ever before, with less to show for it except maybe where sheer exhaustion is concerned. And then there’s household debt which has risen from 93% in 1990 to 150% today.

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How the Anglo punditocracy demonizes Quebec’s student protests

May 29th, 2012 · · Education, Quebec, Satire, Youth

Anglo Canada is sticking its fingers in its ears and humming a happy song. Many in the English-speaking punditocracy and media (or perhaps mediocracy?) are doing their best to persuade us that student protests in Quebec are nothing of any consequence.

This is getting a little harder to do, now that so many other folks are joining the students. But it is not too late to jump on the bandwagon to ridicule or demonize the protesters. Just follow these simple steps. (Steps can be rearranged and amplified for dramatic effect.)

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