It seems to me that bad news tends to spread more quickly and widely than good news… “things are going fairly well” doesn’t make a great headline. This is a basic reality of our media-saturated society, I guess. So it shouldn’t (and doesn’t) surprise me overmuch that a lot of media coverage on education in Canada seems to be negative. You know, poor test scores, high cost, overpaid teachers, failing today’s students, blah, blah, blah.
One could possibly arrive at the conclusion that education in Canada is hopelessly broken…. which isn’t the case at all. In fact, some people seem to think Canada’s education system is doing a fairly good job. Who? Try the Conference Board of Canada. They just released their education report card, and Canada scored second out of 16 peer countries. Only Finland and Canada ended up with an “A”. Not bad. What did they have to say? Well, lots, but this quotation stuck out:
Canada’s strength is in delivering a high-quality education with comparatively modest spending to people between the ages of 5 and 19.
So… I am not saying that we can rest on our laurels and become complacent. There is lots of room for improvement in our education system. There are some fairly large areas of concern that the Conference Board’s report doesn’t really expose (First Nations education inequalities and Manitoba’s PISA scores come to mind). And locally, I know there are things that I could (and will be trying to) improve in my school and my classes. Continuous improvement is the name of the game… standing still is not a good option, and never has been. But panic and despair about the state of our education system as a whole are clearly unwarranted. Canadian schools aren’t failing students, or society, or the economy on a massive scale. And I’m not the one saying this… the Conference Board of Canada is.