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Globe & Mail Editorial and Network Response to Remember the Schools

Remember the schools
Tuesday, September 7, 2021 - Page A16

Another year of school begins today, and Canada is still devoting its energies to political skirmishes over medicare. Next week, Prime Minister Paul Martin and the premiers will sit down together in Ottawa for talks that seem to be going nowhere.

This is a shame, because if Canada ever achieved Mr. Martin's "fix for a generation," or even set some reasonable priorities and then looked around, it would find that the schools need a jolt of energy.

Despite the efforts of teachers, parents and administrators, too many children from poor neighbourhoods do not learn to read proficiently. Too many aboriginals drop out. Too little support is available for the education of children with special physical or intellectual needs. Too little is being done to increase literacy and numeracy skills across the board. Too little is being done to foster excellence at all levels. Too few solutions to lagging performances are being shared far and wide. Too little attention is focused on this country's need for more university and community-college graduates, and for more young people learning a trade. Too many boys are not meeting their potential, as if an education system that once gave great thought to raising girls' performances cannot do the same for boys.

Would anyone out there care to fix that for a generation?

The Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network prepared an OpEd letter and sent it to The Globe & Mail editor.

To: Editor, The Globe and Mail Opinion Page
From: Martin Walmsley, Chair of the Board,
Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network

Re: Remember The Schools
(Opinion Pages)
Tuesday, September 7, 2021

To The Globe & Mail Editorial Department:

Thank you for your editorial – Remember the Schools. It brings to light a core issue that is critical to the future of every Canadian – it is a national challenge that, to date, we are not meeting. Without a literate, educated workforce – without a new generation that far exceeds our current capacity in literacy and numeracy, we will lack the means to pay for any health care system, let alone fix the existing structure.

In your editorial, you asked if anyone out there would care to fix ‘that’ for a new generation. The Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network is uniting the efforts of Researchers in the majority of Canadian Universities and Institutions, investigators in the language and literacy field, and partners in education. We see great potential and choose to focus on the opportunities ahead instead of belabouring the current shortfalls.

I would like to draw your attention to the research by Coulombe and Tremblay from the Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, and the subsequent report by Statistics Canada. The research shows that a modest 1% increase in the average literacy rate of Canadians could generate up to $18.4-billion (Canadian) in additional GDP per year. Now go a little further – the revenue generated by that increased GDP could be ploughed back into our health care system.
It is a win/win opportunity. However a long term commitment is needed from all concerned and will be necessary for this increase to be achieved. This modest increase in the literacy rate is achievable and could increase as the economic base expands.

We at the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network are doing our part, we are only 300 or so experts to date, but together with our partners in the education field the potential impact of our work in the long term will be profound.

I invite you to visit us at . Any feedback or comments on our work is welcome. The complete profile of the Statistics Canada research is available on our Web site.

Today's children represent the future of our country. Let us work together to see that children can all reach their potential.


Martin Walmsley,
Chair of the Board, Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network

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