#bringbackcopian - They did!

Copian is back!

It came back in a somewhat reduced state, but it is back.

And thank goodness for that. I finally heard back about my query to Jason Kenney's office on Friday but the letter was a quite disheartening I did not share it with you.
Dear Ms. Mollins:

On behalf of the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, I am responding to your email of July 27, 2014, concerning funding for Copian and access to a doctoral thesis.

Until recently, a portion of the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills’ (OLES) annual budget was allocated for core funding that supported several literacy organizations. In order to enhance transparency, maximize the impact of available funding and level the playing field for stakeholders, OLES has shifted from core funding to project-based funding.

Please be assured that Employment and Social Development Canada remains committed to helping Canadians develop the literacy and essential skills they need to succeed at work and to contribute to a strong and competitive Canadian economy and prosperous society. OLES continues to accept proposals that support this objective. In 2014-2015, Employment and Social Development Canada has allocated approximately $27 million to support projects that lead to Canadians improving their literacy and essential skills to get and keep a job and be successful in the workplace.

In addition, please note that the paper you are seeking, Illiteracy and Poverty in Canada: Towards a Critical Perspective, is available from the University of Toronto Library.

Thank you for writing.

I'll just leave this here for now. I think all the readers of this blog will understand immediately how it demonstrates that the Minister is not interested in working with the not for profit sector on adult literacy education or creating a pan-Canadian literacy strategy that provides "all Canadians with the support and empowerment that so many of us take for granted" without me parsing every line. 

Jobs, jobs, jobs!

And readers of Brigid Hayes' blog will know that the Harper government has allowed allocated literacy funds to lapse year after year.
But for all of us who do not have access to the University of Toronto library, Illiteracy and Poverty in Canada: Towards a Critical Perspective is again available here.

Joy, joy, joy!

Copian still needs our help. Instead of buying a University of Toronto reader card, I donated a bit of dosh to Copian. The literacy community is not a good place to find extra funds these days - or ever :) - but if you have any rich friends, send them over here.

And just to cheer us up, I'll also leave this here. It starts on chapter 4, page 2 of Illiteracy and Poverty in Canada: Towards a Critical Perspective:

A Critical Perspective
As we have seen, both the liberal and conservative perspectives see deficiencies and shortcomings of the poor as a primary cause of poverty and unemployment. According to this "deficiency model", labour markets and the economy in Canada distribute success and failure more or less 'fairly' based on effort, abilities and qualifications. Therefore, the difficulties experienced by individuals in achieving adequate employment and income can in large measure be attributed to their personal shortcomings, which in the view of liberals mainly consist of lack of basic education, life skills and job skills ("human capital"), and in the view of orthodox conservatives consist of more fundamental deficiencies which cannot be easily or efficiently corrected, if at all.

In contrast, the critical perspective rejects the personal deficiency model. Its adherents share the view that the Canadian economy and its labour market are far from fair, and that in fact they constitute the primary source of poverty and unemployment. In effect, a new explanatory variable--i.e. the capitalist economic structure--is introduced into the discussion of illiteracy and poverty. For example, Canadian adult literacy specialist Anthony R. Berezowecki argues:
Much attention is given to the characteristics and deficiencies of the disadvantaged themselves .... Little or no consideration, on the other hand, seems to be given to what effect the operation of the existing Canadian socio-economic system has on the disadvantaged.... far greater attention must be paid to the hypothesis that the existence of such a large number of economically disadvantaged people in a rich country like Canada is the direct or indirect result of the present socio-economic system
Paul Belanger of the Institute Canadien d'Education des Adultes in Montreal suggests that the Canadian economy is based on what he terms a "structure of inequality". On one hand, there are adults with opportunities to pursue their academic and occupational goals. On the other hand there are those adults who inhabit a "socio-economic desert". For example, Berezowecki cites statistics which show that the national income share of the latter group actually shrank between 1965 and 1971. The top 20% of income earners increased their share of the total income 'pie' in Canada from 45.% to 48.5%, while the bottom 20% of income earners lost part of their already meagre share, dropping from 3.7% to 2.9%.

Belanger recognizes that there is indeed a high correlation between illiteracy and poverty, but he questions the interpretation put forward by the liberal perspective, i.e. that it is a causal association:
A high proportion of illiterates was... revealed in many ... reports on poverty and social inequality.... It was felt that, if there was unemployment, it was because the workers lacked the necessary skills. Hard-core poverty was attributed ... to poor social integration and the absence of channels of communication with society as a whole. The answer was clear: massive literacy and occupational programs.... But are education and training the answer?
He argues that illiteracy does not cause inequality; rather, it reflects it, and to some degree helps to reinforce it. He says, "cultural handicaps reflect, rather than produce, structures of inequality," and "...illiteracy is not a causal factor, but rather, a symptom of a more deep-seated problem: that of maintaining the structures of inequality.
 Plus ├ža change...

Language Wars Update: Bias and Neutrality

In the Language Wars post, I wondered why think tanks had not yet been subjected to the Canada Revenue Agency audits that many see as targeted harassment of organizations that do work in contradiction to various Conservative doctrines that usually contain some version of "you're with me or you're with the pedophiles/anti-semites/communists..."

It seemed that I might have been mixing up categories of organizations that are eligible for charitable status and that think tanks are in a category that do not have to help the poor in order to retain their status.

Last week the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives was singled out for a CRA audit because
"A review of the Organization's website, as well as the previous audit findings, suggests that the Organization may be carrying out prohibited partisan political activities, and that much of its research/educational materials may be biased/one-sided."

That led to questions about whether right-wing think tanks are also undergoing audits and having their activities questioned.
Among right-leaning or pro-business think-tanks in Canada, two — the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto and the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa — have confirmed to The Canadian Press they are not currently under audit for political activities. Two others — the Fraser Institute in Vancouver and the Montreal Economic Institute — have declined to comment on the matter.
On Friday, the Fraser Institute president, Niels Veldhuis, claimed that the work of his think tank is not biased but data based.

Hee hee.
Press Progress published an article today that deftly disputes the claim that the Fraser Institute is unbiased.

Neo-liberalism has taken a strong hold over policy debates in Canada and other G20 countries - we cannot talk about anything from education to health care to the environment to transportation to foreign policy with out including discussions of the positive impacts of privatization, free trade, open markets, deregulation, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy. Neo-liberalism has become our political lingua franca. Perhaps the Fraser Institute people do not see the bias in their work because of this.

I wonder what Brazilian adult educator Paulo Friere would say to Niels Veldhuis. Perhaps he would say this:
“The educator has the duty of not being neutral.”
 From We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change (1990)
Or perhaps:
“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and powerless means to side with the powerful, not to remain neutral."
Or he might speak to us instead:
Our advanced technological society is rapidly making objects of us and subtly programming us into conformity to the logic of its system - to the degree that this happens, we are also becoming submerged in a new "Culture of Silence".”

Hang in there CCPA - we need your kind of bias as we foster a Culture of Noise!