Public education in Canada VS United States

Urban Education Policy in Canada and the United States

Jane GaskellI have been struck recently by how different the current approach to urban education is in the United States compared to Canada, even while both countries emphasize the importance of raising the achievement of students from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. The fact that the American government has a democratic president, while Canada has a Conservative prime minister, makes the difference even more remarkable; this is not just about left/right ideology.

In the U.S., a bipartisan consensus supports merit pay for teachers, charter schools, high stakes standardized testing, mayoral control of education and closing poorly performing schools and firing their teachers, despite the outrage of teachers’ unions. The dominant rhetoric is about scaling up innovative programs and finding alternatives to a hide-bound traditional system. In Canada, teacher unions remain powerful and opposed to merit pay; there are virtually no charter schools; standardized testing is primarily focused on grading the system, rather than grading students or teachers; and underperforming schools get help, not further disruption. Canadian rhetoric is about supporting the public system in its efforts to raise student achievement, and increasing parents’ confidence in the school system.

I am highlighting the overall differences, when there are important nuances by province and state and school board. But the differences are pervasive, despite the fact that both countries have what Manzer (2003) describes as educational regimes based in the political traditions of Anglo-American democracy. I much prefer the Canadian approach (and students in Canada perform better on international achievement tests), but I wonder why the two countries have moved in such different directions. It is an interesting case study in the sociology of educational systems.


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Canadians study more than just our own history !!!

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Who campaigned to improve public education in the united states?

Canadians study more than just our own history !!!

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