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The Politics of Educational Reform in Alberta

The Politics of Educational Reform in Alberta

Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 400
  • Book Info
    The Politics of Educational Reform in Alberta
    Book Description:

    A case study of educational restructuring in Alberta during the 'Klein revolution' ? the period of dramatic political and economic change introduced by Premier Ralph Klein?s Conservative government of the 1990s.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8208-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    Shortly after the Progressive Conservative government in Alberta was re-elected with a new leader in 1993, Premier Ralph Klein introduced a budget that introduced significant cutbacks and restructuring of the public sector. Journalist Mark Lisac (1995) refers to this period as the ′Klein revolution,′ since changes involved aggressive deficit and debt reduction, downsizing of the role of government in the economy, and a shift in the way government approached the management of remaining functions. The ′Alberta model,′ as it has been called, has gained national and international attention as evidenced by articles in theGlobe and Mail(Feschuk and Cernetig,...

  7. CHAPTER TWO The Crisis in Public Education
    (pp. 15-33)

    While educational reforms introduced in a number of industrialized countries in recent years have followed a similar direction, struggles over policy also have been shaped by local histories and conditions. The popularity of policies of the Klein government in Alberta may therefore owe as much to the rightwing populist tradition of the province as to earlier policies introduced by Margaret Thatcher in Britain and by Ronald Reagan in the United States. Discussion leading up to Alberta Education′s three-year business plan for education also draws on discourses that appear to be partly borrowed, partly new. As noted, three such discourses are...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The Hegemonic Work of the Conference Board
    (pp. 34-51)

    The Conference Board′s influence on educational policy-makers in Alberta is evident from a reading of provincial documents which reference the CB′s employability skills profile, local partnerships that have won CB awards, and ethical guidelines for school-business partnerships. The CB′s ethical guidelines for partnerships and ESP were used in developing theFramework for Enhancing Business Involvement in Education, a document produced as part of the implementation of the 1994 business plan for education (Alberta Education 1996a). The influence of the CB may be explained in part by the fact that between 1992 and 1994 the deputy minister of education and an...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The Hegemonic Work of Governments
    (pp. 52-72)

    A look at consultation processes and reports at federal and provincial levels in the early 1990s indicates that they are ideological and have potentially powerful effects. For example, talk about ′ordinary′ Canadians and Albertans obscures the prominence of business stakeholders and the emphasis on the needs of capitals within reports. The active involvement of governments in achieving hegemonic settlement in the 1990s is therefore noteworthy. But we may ask why governments in so many Western industrialized countries have embraced neoliberal solutions in recent years. In England, the rise of Thatcherism has been linked to the breakdown of the postwar settlement...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Restructuring Education, 1993–1995
    (pp. 73-96)

    In this way, Premier Klein summed up the educational restructuring of the previous three years at a breakfast meeting of the Calgary-Elbow Progressive Conservative Association in 1996. A similar speech could have been given by other political leaders – Prime Minister John Major in Britain, Minister Roger Douglas in New Zealand, or, later, by Premier Mike Harris in Ontario. The sharing of information across jurisdictions and the similarity in the types of individuals and groups involved is part of travelling policy tales (cf. Dehli 1996). But how these tales are taken up in different contexts differs.

    This chapter focuses on...

  11. CHAPTER SIX The Corporate Alliance
    (pp. 97-131)

    Chapters 2 to 5 acknowledge the role played by business in educational reform discussions at national and provincial levels. Evidence suggests that business people were key players in achieving the education settlement reflected in Alberta Education′s three-year business plan. Of course, increased business involvement in education is not restricted to Alberta. A booklet by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (1990) suggests that although business leaders tended to be distant from schools in the mid-1960s to the late 1970s, they later began re-establishing connections in order to bring about educational change. They were particularly motivated by projections of a shortage of...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN Partnerships as Sites of Struggle
    (pp. 132-166)

    Partnerships between businesses and schools have been promoted by the OECD as well as by federal and provincial governments. An OECD (1992) report on partnerships suggests that they have grown out of a movement to widen the range of stakeholder involvement in education, which in turn developed because of the perceived failure of state-run education systems. Employers were expressing concerns over declining standards in education, the relevance of much academic education, and the general skill levels of students. Greater input of business through partnerships responds to these concerns by forging closer relationships between schools and the workplace and ensuring that...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT The Fragmentation of Labour
    (pp. 167-203)

    The Raging Grannies sing the above-mentioned song to the tune of ′Working on the Railroad,′ but despite this satirical treatment, the Alberta Economic Development department publishes a report that tries to sell the ′Alberta Advantage′ to potential investors. Information inFacts on Alberta(2000)¹ includes the following:

    Alberta has a low overall tax regime, no provincial sales tax, and a highly skilled and productive workforce. The cost of doing business is about ten percent lower in Alberta than in the United States according to a 1999 study by KPMG.

    In 1997, forty-nine percent of the labour force reported holding a...

  14. CHAPTER NINE The Diversity of ′Producers′
    (pp. 204-241)

    ′The orientation of policy-making [in England] is now towards the consumers of education – parents and industrialists′ while the ′producer lobbies [teachers and school boards] are almost totally excluded,′ wrote Stephen Ball (1990: 8). Interviews with teachers and school boards suggest that a similar shift occurred in Alberta. In the early 1990s, education groups were vying with dissatisfied parents and employers to have input into the policy process. The government′s restructuring plans in 1994 reflected the shift in power. Trustees, for example, were losers. Between 1993 and 1995 the number of school boards was reduced from 141 to 63 and...

  15. CHAPTER TEN Students, Parents, and Community
    (pp. 242-284)

    In discussing the forces that prompted educational change in Canada, Barlow and Robertson (1994: 137) suggest that ′the ″conservative alliance″ has always comprised strange bedfellows, whose pragmatic interests coincide more often than their world views.′ They point to members of the religious Right and business lobbyists as two groups of unlikely allies that ′have a vested interest in destabilizing public schools.′ We see this to some extent in Alberta, where educational settlement addressed concerns of both unhappy parents and dissatisfied employers. The three-year business plan supported the idea of greater parental involvement in education through greater choice, school councils, and...

  16. CHAPTER ELEVEN Alberta and Beyond
    (pp. 285-312)

    Lisac′s account nicely captures the ′spirit of the times′ in Alberta between the election of Ralph Klein as premier in 1993 and the initial implementation of the government′s three-year business plans. His comments also remind us that reforms to education were part of a broader agenda for change in the province. As an author from the Fraser Institute noted in a 1995 report, the Alberta government′s restructuring embraced ′a new philosophy of market-driven delivery of services – and an emphasis on the private sector to ensure economic growth.′¹ Previous chapters explore the educational settlement represented by the three-year business plan...

  17. APPENDIX A Chronological List of Interviews and Participants
    (pp. 313-314)
  18. APPENDIX B Total Labour Force by Demographic Characteristics
    (pp. 315-320)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 321-336)
  20. References
    (pp. 337-348)
  21. Index
    (pp. 349-356)