“Little Educ Report” ideological & intolerant

Update Thursday, March 18: Doretta Wilson, the Executive Director of SQE has also written an article on their blog in response to Mr. Little’s criticisms.

Original post starts here: If anyone wants to read an example of progressive ideology, an intolerance for differing points of view combined with the inherent belief that progressives have of their own righteousness, read this column by Doug Little in his “Little Education Report.”

The ultimate “fear factor” threats made by progressives against conservatives are: “privatizing zealot,” “right winger” or a capital “C” “Conservative.” Or, worse yet, mention Mike Harris, the former Premier of Ontario and John Snobelen, the former Education Minister. Still the bogeymen of Ontario, fifteen years after they came to power and eight years after they retired.

In fact, Harris was probably the best Premier Ontario has ever had because he lowered taxes, paid down the deficit and brought prosperity back to Ontario after five NDP “progressive” years. And, perhaps key here, and why the teachers’ unions and anyone connected to those unions still don’t like him (e.g., Little has disclosed that he used to work for OSSTF), is that  he could say “no.”

Then there is John Snobelen. He is a self-made man and millionaire, yet when he was Minister, teachers’ unions representatives ridiculed him. In fact, I personally stood at the back of a Niagara-on-the-Lake hotel meeting room during an Ontario Teachers’ Federation annual meeting in the summer of 1996 or 1997 and watched how disrespectfully he was treated.

Why? Because, even though Snobelen was obviously a very capable and smart man, he  also happened to be a high school drop out. Odd isn’t it, that progressives, who say they are for social justice and helping drop outs succeed in this world, would behave like that –just because Snobelen was a conservative?

Our Charter of Rights

Yet, the Canadian Charter of Rights is supposedly a progressive social justice document — guaranteeing our right to free speech, political belief and affiliation. So, while progressives will mouth that conservatives have free speech, implicit in reactions like Little’s to what conservatives say or write, is that only their “progressive” views are correct or worth hearing.

Doug Little doesn’t debate – he “knows” truth 

Little is a smart fellow and can appear as though he is debating. Yet, in the final analysis, his views do not budge an inch because his progressive ideology comes through in his insistence that his is the only right way to view things. See this thread as an example of what I mean, at MendEd, as well as this one at the Society for Quality Education’s “School for Thought” blog.

I mean, really, how can anyone label the retired and current teachers at “MendEd” as conservative when all they are doing is providing a forum where teachers and other interested folks can “expose” both negative and positive things that are going on in Ontario’s school system — and in their Bluewater School Board in particular.

Society for Quality Education 

But, Little’s most unfounded condemnation is directed at the Society for Quality Education and its chair Malkin Dare — whom he calls a privatization zealot. The subtext is clear — beware of anyone or any group who wants to reform the current publicly funded education system. They are not to be trusted.

Yet, according to their website, what SQE wants is that all Ontario children succeed in school — exactly what progressives want as well. However, to do that SQE is stressing:

  1. Teacher accountability and student success through choice and competition — by allowing parents to choose what “publicly funded” school their child or children attend; and
  2. Child-centred teaching approaches, such as discovery, that are integrated with computer assisted learning and direct instruction in phonics and and math — thereby providing a solid base for both literacy and numeracy. 

Readers will note that I said that SQE is interested in “publicly funded” education –  that is hardly trying to privatize the system.

Conservatives are the real progressives

However, at the end of the day, implicit in the intolerance for what Little refers to as the ”conservative blogosphere” — is hubris combined with what appears to be the implicit insecurity that the education system as it is now constituted and the teachers in it, are not good enough to be competitive. And, that is pure nonsense! Of course they could be competitive but it would require a new way of thinking — and the unions don’t like that.

The Little Education Report is, therefore, not progressive at all. Rather, it is simply patronizing and intolerant and an attempt to stop progress and reform. Odd isn’t it, that it is conservatives who are the real progressives today.

Note: I lost this thread and its comments but was able to publish them again because it was cached on google. Here are those comments:

Joanne (BLY) says: March 17, 2010 at 2:59 pm It is very ironic indeed that the conservatives are the progressives. I suspect there are many who want to protect their little fiefdoms.

 Jack says: March 17, 2010 at 3:39 pm Re: Joanne — No surprise at all. For some reason I have not yet figured out Conservatives have become the people who are advancing (progressives — changing “stuff”) and Liberals are the ones who are stuck on stupid (trying to maintain the “status quo”). In effect, our roles have been reversed and that is why Conservatives will maintain their lead in the years ahead. Just thinking.

 Catherine says: March 17, 2010 at 3:49 pm This is what happens when people have nothing to offer. They resort to name-calling and sweeping generalizations to impress. I give Little’s post a failing grade. When the ideas dry up and you’re losing the war and the battle lash out and claim that everyone else is wrong and you’re right. It’s an old story thank goodness but I actually think that he’s confessed to being on the education blogs he mentions is to “provoke” is all I need to know to not waste my time responding to him. Terrific post by the way. I’m actually quite taken by the teacher’s responses over at Mended. I’m not sure you noticed but I started really reading through the archived posts there and some of the teachers there are calling on choice of representation for themselves. I seem to recall that idea was soundly dismissed by Mr. Doug Little when he was here. It’s a bit of a hornet’s nest over there but the attack on the folks over at SQE just make him look foolish and provide SQE with much attention that they wouldn’t normally get had Little not written and linked them in the first place. Now they can see for themselves that they have nothing to fear from SQE and maybe plenty to learn.

Sandy says: March 17, 2010 at 4:58 pm Right on Joanne and Catherine. And, as Jack says: “Progressives are stuck on stupid” because they seem incapable of thinking outside the box. Yet, traditionally, we conservatives were thought to be that way. Bizarre. Politically speaking, that is what is happening. Canada is turning upside down where those who now recommend recalibration (as in go with flow)are not so much progressives as true “reformers.” LOL

 Sandy says: March 17, 2010 at 6:29 pm Heads up — I have been having a conversation on another thread with West Coast Teddi about my theme. He had seen the one I had up on sandracruxblog while I was in transition. It was a binder with cup of coffee and a pen and he really liked it because it reminded him of the old daytimers. Anyway, I was worried the post area was too narrow to read but in fact, since there are no wasted sidebar coloured bans, there is actually quite a bit of space. And, there are two sidebars on the right side. Anyway, since everyone here is a regular too, here is your chance to comment on “Coffee Desk 1.03.”

 Doug Little says: March 17, 2010 at 10:59 pm Thanks for the publicity Sandy. I can use all of it. Seems like we live in alternate universe’s. I just got back from the OSSTF annual meeting of 500 delegates from across Ontario and my back is sore from all the back slapping and high fiveing. Read “What We Believe” at SQE site. A privatization manifesto if I ever saw one. It was not without reason that John Sturt Mills called the Conservatives “the stupid party” because they never pass up an opportunity to kick the public school system. It is not just teachers who loath them, it is public school parents right across the province.

 Sandy says: March 17, 2010 at 11:49 pm Re the publicity, your welcome Doug. Parallel universes indeed! Your unsubstantiated gross assumptions about what all parents think about public education and the PC’s actually proves my point exactly. There is, unfortunately very little you and I can debate because you have all the answers. In fact, your hubris is breathtaking. Of course 500 OSSTF delegates are going to go around patting themselves on the back — the McGuinty government is a pushover. Which is why you have started the fall 2011 Ontario election campaign early.

Anyway, I sure know a lot of parents who have their kids in public schools who are no longer buying what you and the teachers’ unions are selling. So, please don’t use this blog as a campaign headquarters or I’ll have to ban you again.

 Drewey says: March 18, 2010 at 8:25 am That internal polling shows Hudak and McGuinty in a dead-heat must have the unions worried. Rightly so because Dalton’s far exceeded spending us into oblivion and into “have not” status.
Worse than Bob Rae if you can believe that.

 Doug Little says: March 18, 2010 at 11:32 am Drewey, You say spending as if it were a bad thing? Spending on education strenghens the economy, makes us much more productive as an economy, lowers the deficit, creates equity and increases human happiness. I think the public school parents of Ontario are smart enough to make sure that Hudak is one of our longest serving leaders of the opposition. They don’t only scare unions, they scare the life out of parents. The education unions will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each on Liberal and NDP candidates but if the PCs were to win everybody know that it is back to the school wars 2.0, strikes, massive demonstrations at QP, work to rule, declines in funding, cut this cut that all over again. Sure glad I’m retired. The education system might not be able to take another Tory government without complete collapse.

 Sandy says: March 18, 2010 at 1:40 pm Doug — If we end back in the education wars in Ontario, there is one reason and one reason alone — the government has learned to say “no” to the teachers’ unions and their feeling of an absolute right to their entitlements. Frankly, as a retired teacher, your attitude is not only an embarrassment, but it sucks big time!

The teachers’ unions have been screaming and yelling at every single government since I started teaching in 1972. The late former PC Minister, Bob Welch loved to tell me how, when he was giving his leadership speech just behind Bill Davis in the early to mid 1970’s, the doors to the auditorium opened and in screamed a throng of teachers (he was Education Minister at the time) and he knew he had lost the nomination to Davis.

At that point it was the fight for the right to strike. Giving it turned out to be the biggest mistake the Davis gov’t ever did without making it first an essential service.

Your arrogance has no boundaries my friend and I believe you are very wrong. The Ontario public can now see why there are no wars at the moment. It’s clear as a bell. The notion that the education system might not be able to take another Tory government is a very sick statement. I worked in the Minister’s office in the Mowat Block between 1995 and 1999 and the same type of bureaucrat who worked in the Ministry itself are the same type as those working there now. Hardworking no matter what the political party running the Executive Branch. And, you know it. Very little has to do with Minister — it all goes up to the Deputy Minister level.

And, yes, I am saddened but I am sick of listening to your union mentality and propaganda — again. I encourage debate Doug, but you seem incapable of debating. You are progressive and therefore correct — so what is there to discuss? Well Doug, stage left please where you are most comfortable. I will not be approving any more of your comments. But, I hold no hard feelings. Just enjoy your retirement.

Update 9:25pm: I have been approving Doug’s comments because he is moderating his tone somewhat, at least trying to explain why he views things as he does.

 Sandy says: March 18, 2010 at 4:47 pm I am not sure why Doug Little’s last comment didn’t get submitted into my moderation filter but I will be publishing it here because I want people to see the mindset that the Ontario PC Party is fighting with far too many in the education sector. It is truly unbelievable that he thinks anyone with a contrary view is “evil.” However, that said, I may not agree with him about much, but I do thank him for his forthrightness. Nevertheless, as much as I would like to continue to dialogue with him, I simply cannot see how I can do so given that he is so absolutely foreclosed — suggesting even that I am essentially “evil” because I can see the relevance and importance of their being available some kind of publicly funded “choice.” Particularly, when I have personal experience on how important that is to children and youth needing special education.

Doug Little wrote: “Yes I do feel there is a generally correct way to do things (Finland + ECE + small class + higher pay for teachers + adult full credit + abolish EQAO and OCT ……. And a very incorrect way to do things (ape USA,charters vouchers testing underfunding poor teacher pay etc). One is correct and good the other is evil not just incorrect. The people who propose the latter system are evil people who live off the exploitation of children. I consider the American approach a form of child abuse.”

 Sandy says: March 18, 2010 at 5:53 pm I got another comment from Doug but again it did not go through. I put in a new “captcha” plugin two days ago to avoid the comment spyware that caused Crux of the Matter to crash. So, I assume that is the problem. But, I simply can’t not have that extra security.

Doug, try again using a different e-mail address and say what you did about billboards during Bill Davis years, etc. I am letting those comments through to be fair.

 Doug Little says: March 18, 2010 at 6:16 pm In the Bill Davis period, OSSTF placed very large billboards across Ontario with a simple message, “Underfunding Education is Child Abuse”. This is clearly what is believed by the members and the majority of the public. Personally I would say, “privatizing education is child abuse as well” . It is also a form of extremist ideology not supported by the public. I have mentioned before that I was liasion with OSSTF’s pollster and subsequently took a position with the company after retirement. I am very familiar with the numbers. The John Tory proposal was very close to the general level of support for public money going to private schools, that is 15%.

If you don’t believe me, get the Fraser Institute or CD HOWE or some other far right outfit and ask the simple question.“Do you support the use of public tax money to support private schools?” You will get the same answer.

I am well aware that you would love to change the question to, “are you in favour of funding independent schools for equity purposes.” and you can go ahead if you want to delude yourselves but in a real election the question in the public mind will be the former. It will fail as it fails in every American referendum, not because of those pesky unions but simply because people realize that either the money comes out of my PS kid or taxes go up to fund this. It is a losing proposition but go ahead and try it again. It simply give McGuinty a stick with which to beat Hudak senseless. 15% will not carry this question forward.

 Sandy says: March 18, 2010 at 6:32 pm You know Doug, at least this latest comment is more explanatory than “it’s my way or the highway” bulldog approach you usually use. I don’t agree with public funding of private schools. That is just not on I agree. However, some kind of vouchers for kids who need special schools — that just happen to be private as was the one my son attended for LD — is different. Or, as in Alberta and B.C., public funding of the odd charter school should not cause panic amoung the rank and file. It’s an option. Not taking over the whole system. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. But, suggesting that my views or those of SQE are equivalent to child abuse is just silly as well.

What you don’t realize it seems is how fed up most parents are with the “no-fail” McGuinty approach and the poor academic standards and the resistance teachers have to any kind of accountability — yet you think they deserve more pay and benefits. I worked for a Harris era MPP. When the teachers’ strike was on I did not cross the picket lines because I would not go against my former colleagues. But, when it was all over, I checked the daily sheets and the incoming calls were 50/50 — 50 in support of the teachers and 50 not at all. Your statistics are not the way things really are out there and I believe if Hudak does it right, he can tap into that distrust and anger.

As I’ve said before, time will tell. But, you will never hear me say your views are evil. Never. That is where conservatives and liberals/progressives differ. We don’t protest on the lawn of Queen’s Park either. We just wait until the next election day.

 Matt says: March 18, 2010 at 7:59 pm A voucher system for students to attend schools to address specific needs, like a disability, is a good use of tax dollars to support private education. A tax break for parents to send their children to a high end private school is not a good idea.

 Doretta Wilson says: March 18, 2010 at 8:29 pm So funding what were private Catholic schools back in the ’80’s was child abuse? I guess that was “privatizing” education was it?
Seems to me it was making them Public!

 Doug Little says: March 18, 2010 at 9:10 pm The trouble with funding a special ed school is the slippery slope argument. I prefer to indentify any spec ed school that is actually doing a job that the public school board can’t or won’t do and if necessarily nationalize them. Private catholic schools went one way or the other, they were nationalized or they went all out private. Gee Doretta, you are really pressing the case for privatization for an organization that tries to hide its privatization agenda. Which is it?

 John L says: March 18, 2010 at 11:12 pm Claiming that “spending on education…” is a good thing is rather akin to expect applause because one claims to be a “progressive.” What part of “education” should we spend more on? The number of kids in the junior grades is plunging, to the point where McGuinty is creating silly reasons to spend more; witness the “our teachers can’t do a good job with more than 20 kids” craziness. Apparently our teachers have, en masse, suffered a serious decline in competence??!!

How about at the post-secondary level where schools are bursting at the seams? Logic would suggest that’s where the money should flow, however the optics aren’t nearly as compelling.

Beware those who offer up sweeping generalizations as substance as much a you’d be wary of folks who spent their entire careers working in a system with so many warts. He’s a product of it and its a product of people like him.

 Doug Little says: March 19, 2010 at 12:38 am Just keep saying that you will slash education John and the progressives will just keep saying that we need to spend more and more every year. If it helps you to understand the situation a little better, think of Ontario as one big corporation and all of us are doing our part to turn out a quality product, make a profit for the boss and keep our jobs. We would like raises each year as well but we realize that in the end these really must be related to productivity gains. Now consider the entire education establishment from child care to university to be our research and development department. How smart is it to slash it when our competitors are investing more and more in their R&D department every year? If we do, you know how fast our productivity and our standard of living will fall.

 Doug Little says: March 19, 2010 at 10:21 am The extension of funding to the catholic boards was, the opposite of privatization. It was in effect nationalization. If some politician were to say, I really like Montessori education, but I deplore the fact that it is not available to everybody, lets take it over, place it under the control of the school trustees, put the teachers in ETFO, and allow every kid to go that would be great wouldn’t it? Doretta, wouldn’t it.

 Doug Little says: March 19, 2010 at 10:28 am By the way John, the best reserch study available, the STAR research from Tennessee, shows real gains in education from class sizes so long as they are below 20 kids. A recent study by the Canadian Education Association confirms this direction.

It is simply good economics to slash class sizes and institute public ECE in the schools. Even the smart elements of the biz community now recognize this. The only hold outs today against progressive social change are those known as the social-conservatives. These are usually characterized as religious but not very well educated people.

 Matt says: March 19, 2010 at 10:31 am In looking at charter schools in the US, one interesting aspect of them is that there is parental accountability. Most parents have to take responsibility, in writing, to help with their child’s education or face the possibility of having their child removed from the school. It would be interesting to see if our public schools would improve if parents were forced to take more accountability for their child’s education.

I believe that the education of a child is the responsibility of his or her teachers, but also the responsibility of the parents and the child. Do we hold doctors accountable if they prescribe medication, but the patient does not take it?

 Sandy says: March 19, 2010 at 10:33 am Okay Doug. We’ll leave it at that. I have given you all the space I can and be considered fair. But, I won’t have my blog taken over with your attempt to set everyone straight. You would be a very hard person to have a conversation with because you have all the answers. But, you see, I don’t agree with your basic assumptions about education in society. First and foremost, I disagree with your basic view that everything “public sector” (read unionized) is better and that private or anything for a profit is evil. I also disagree that paying public school teachers more will bring better results — while all the while trying to remove the only two branches of accountability (EQAO and OCT). Such arrogance and entitlement is truly breathtaking. And, all while enrollment in the public system is declining!

In fact, I rarely criticize anyone but the way you talk is precisely why I am a conservative — we strive for excellence. We strive to get the most from each dollar. We work our butts off. We don’t expect the taxpayer to pay for everything. And, we don’t put down anyone who thinks differently than we do.

Socialism taken to the extreme, which is what progressivism is all about, has not worked anywhere on earth because it takes away incentive and the motivation to succeed, to be the best you can be. And, when hard times come and socialist entitlements are taken away, it also leaves behind the stench of “I don’t care what is happening to my country, I just want ‘my’ rights and won’t give them up” as we have been seeing and hearing in the streets of Greece.

 Doretta says: March 19, 2010 at 10:35 am By far, the vast majority of Catholic high schools became public schools. I know of only ONE that did not and one other that took the funding then opted out because of so much interference from the school board.

I think Sandy is right, you are just not listening and continue to tell tales out of school. What don’t you understand? According to your narrow definition of privatization, our health care system is already privatized. Read this: SQE does not want to privatize education. We want struggling students to succeed. PERIOD!!

 Sandy says: March 19, 2010 at 10:41 am I am closing comments on this post because I don’t intend to give Doug a soap box while he does not allow comments on his own site. However, to everyone who has commented, my thanks.

However, to Matt, I am disappointed that you are hinting if there is a problem with a child’s education it is because parents have not been accountable. You’ve got that in the reverse order. It is the schools and teachers who have to be accountable for the “education” their students receive. Parents should support and make sure homework is done, etc. of that I agree.

But, remember the Harris gov’t enacted the “Zero Tolerance” policy. Who stopped that process? That is why the charter schools you quote get results. Both the school AND the parents take responsibility. BOTH. And, that is precisely what is missing in Ontario.

 Sandy says: March 19, 2010 at 10:49 am As I said in my last comment, I am closing this thread. I just don’t have the time today to be sitting at my computer approving comments between Doug and everyone else. The last comment Doug made was the last straw — that social conservatives are usually not very well educated people. In other words, if anyone is against abortion they are not very well educated? Well, I have an adopted daughter. I attend church every Sunday. I don’t agree with abortion at all. I won’t judge anyone who does agree with it or condemn them but I am definitely pro-life. Funny that, but I have a Ph.D. That is what I am talking about. Catholics don’t believe in abortion either. And, they are 50% of the population. Yet, none of them are educated? It’s just no use. Any debate with Doug descends into name-calling.

Now, let’s enjoy a lovely day!

1 thought on ““Little Educ Report” ideological & intolerant

  1. Although I lost this article on March 31st, I was able to find it as a cached entry on google with all the comments. So, I have posted those comments at the end of the article.


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