Two issues, numerous questions left hanging

Fraser Institute school rankings and NHL Olympics decision both raise many questions.

JUST AN OBSERVATION — Dazed and confused, for me this past week, was more than just the title of a horrible movie.

Two of the topics that left me with the look only parents with teenagers can understand involved the continued, ill-informed, trashing of education in this country by a conservative think-tank along with the poor decision-making and negotiating abilities of two organizations that have far too much money for what they provide.

Let’s start this off by focusing on our children and the role schools play in teaching them what they all need.

For the most part, provincial government education departments in conjunction with school division personnel do a good job in developing, implementing and assessing programming and instruction in schools. Both groups are also rather comprehensive and transparent in what is measured and what the results mean.

Yet, it seems a number in the media and the public give credence to a professional think-tank with nothing better to do than collate data from one provincial test and present it as fact that the education a student is getting at one school is better than another.

To me that seems a lot like someone proclaiming a statement they made as fact and then claiming all of the other groups with actual data and evidence to back it up are spouting nothing but ‘fake news.’

For those that may not be familiar, the Fraser Institute has been taking the results of the Alberta Provincial Achievement Tests (PAT) and using them, through a formula, to rank schools on a scale of 0 to 10. The think-tank, known more for its right-wing conservative slant on a range of issues than for objectivity and accuracy, publishes these completely subjective rankings and attempts to get parents to lobby school divisions for changes to the curriculum or teaching methods because a particular school had low marks.

For its part, Alberta Education and the school divisions have done their job to ensure the public knows student and school evaluation is more than just one test, one parameter. The media has also helped out by investigating and finding out the facts, not simply believing one side of the subject.

What bugs me is this think-tank talking out of both sides of its mouth and people believing it coming out with a school ranking based on 16 kids taking a test, then turn around and state it only compares schools when it has enough data to do so.

Then again, I’m also a parent that knows education can mean different things for individual children, so pigeon-holing a student or school based solely on a lone statistic or opinion is something that needs to come to a halt.

Tripped up

The other topic that had me shaking my head was the decision by the NHL not the players to not participate in the Winter Olympics set for next February in Korea.

Granted, the business case for the NHL to suspend league play for three weeks so its best players can represent their country in the middle of the night for North Americans might not be the greatest profit-wise for the owners. Sure, the league needs to have its assets looked after, but it shouldn’t all be on the shoulders of Olympic organizers. So, at the heart of it all, the entire situation ended up being about money.

However, the NHL has been adamant in the last five years that it wants to grow the game globally, which has included efforts such as playing league games in Europe. It’s also been a part of the Winter Olympics since 1998 in Nagano, Japan after years of negotiations provided the world’s best players with a shot at one of the only prizes not available to professionals previously.

All that said, this decision will hurt the game overall and limit the ability to showcase the league’s talent on a worldwide stage for an audience that may never otherwise witness NHL hockey. There won’t be jersey and merchandise sales or fans clamouring their television provider for coverage as a result of Crosby scoring a tremendous goal, Ovechkin dangling the puck for a highlight reel effort or a player sent flying into the team’s bench after a big hit.

You don’t win over fans in new markets by limiting the sport’s exposure to prime time games in Edmonton when McDavid should be wooing them over at the Olympics.

But that is…just an observation.