Alberta Politics

Stop Sharing Misinformation: from Postmedia to PressProgress

That’s right. Postmedia has been lowering the bar and PressProgress managed to slither under it. I have been so impressed with the latter’s coverage over the last year and I’ve defended their work a number of times. Not today.

Their latest article “Kenney Government Appointed Foreign, Koch-Funded Researcher to Rewrite Alberta’s Education Curriculum” has the glaring inaccuracy right in the headline.

The Curriculum Advisory Panel has been tasked with reviewing the work that has gone into the curriculum so far and “ensure we are moving in the right direction on the development of the future curriculum“. They have until December 20, 2019 to report back to the government. They were given just over five months to review it – not write it. That’s the most obvious claim.

However. We all had a good time with #ReportAnAlbertan. WE mocked the support that “foreign funding” provides not-for-profits as IRRELEVANT to the work they do. WE SAID IT WAS A WITCH-HUNT. And now it’s not? Buck up critical thinkers who come to Tzeporah Berman’s defense, this mirror might show you something ugly.

Ashley Berman researches and advocates for educational pluralism. So does the Panel Chair, former Superintendent of Edmonton Public Schools, Angus McBeath. McBeath helped lead Edmonton Public Schools to one of the top five North American examples of how public schools can and should compete with private schools; not for dollars but for outcomes. Berman is an advocate for pluralism because her research shows that it works. McBeath was not necessarily an advocate or a detractor, but he demonstrated that it can have a positive effect on public education and outcomes for students. That’s mightily progressive but most importantly, it’s good for our children.

Last? Research takes time, effort, and if you want to feed your family, money. In 2016, for the 38th year in a row, Johns Hopkins University led all U.S. university research spending with more than $2.4 billion spent on research projects. Sure some corporations will be chomping at the bit to fund research they care about but others have a set amount of funds and, make no mistake, there are hundreds of people applying for it.

So what if Koch Industries also supports pluralism in education? Maybe the daughter of one of the brothers’ best friends had a learning disability and couldn’t succeed in a public school learning environment. Or maybe their focus is on “changing public policy to address ‘the root causes’ of failing schools, developing new technologies to promote individualized learning and investing in teachers and classrooms.”

Yes, I realize Koch Brothers is to the left what Tzeporah Berman is to the right; and I realize this might be hard to swallow, but don’t hop onto your soapbox and declare every other spade a spade while you’re three suits short of a full deck.

And just to throw some salt on that cut; it’s more than likely that the intense distrust of the NDP (of which Jason Kenney had a starring role) has pushed the Premier’s hand. He sowed immense distrust in the curriculum review process and, to what should be our eternal shame, only he can replace it by saying: “People we trust reviewed (what the NDP did) and these are their recommendations. We can now move forward.”

This post contains fact and opinion to piss off everyone equally; because I’m an equal opportunity kind of person.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean

Deirdre is a political commentator, columnist, reporter, and podcaster in Alberta. She relies on facts, snarky Twitter, and satire to share knowledge and a laugh. 

contact: dmaclean@countersign.ca, hello@politicalrnd.ca

Twitter: @Mitchell_AB for all the commentary; @thisweekinAB for posts; @politicalRnD to guess “who tweeted that”?

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