Friday, April 18, 2014

Oh Canada

Yesterday, I learned about something happening in Canada that's very troubling to me and should be very troubling to young people, parents, and teachers here in America.

There is a new law being proposed known as C-23. It is a massive election reform law. Among the things it does is require ID instead of allowing Canadians to use their Voter Information Card as they've been used to, raises donation and campaign spending limits, and eliminates programs that educate young citizens about voting in their schools.

One such program is called Student Vote. Serving over 3,000,000 students across Canada, this is a program that provides learning materials to coincide with elementary, middle, and high schools having their own version of elections. Not only do the students learn about the candidates, voting process, and political parties, they can actually participate as poll workers and officials.

Canada has a similar problem as the United States in low turnout among it's young people. This program has encouraged more young people to vote. Not only that, 60% of parents reported an increased interest and knowledge of politics themselves when their children were involved in the program.

Check it out for yourself. There are many more good things about this program:

So now, let's ask the question. Is it a coincidence that voter suppression laws are becoming the new trend for fall not just here in the United States but now in other countries? I don't think so.

It's time for people to wake up. They are attacking our democratic process to the point where a recent study from Princeton University has classified the United States as an Oligarchy. In case, like me, you were only vaguely familiar with this term, it means we have a government that is run by a few people or by a powerful class or group. They aren't just stopping at eating away at our rights here in America. The people who want to continue to hold power by taking it away from others appear to be going global.

It's more important now than ever that we inform people of what's going on. So many people are unaware and many are not prepared to vote because they are confused about the process or feel they don't have enough information about the candidates. We take for granted that people will automatically stand up and fight to preserve our rights, but we can't do that. The fact is a lot of people don't even know these things are happening. Even if they do know what's happening, they may not know the candidates feelings about it.

As far back as I can remember, I've participated in Scholastic's student election. I've always colored in the map as the election results came in. I've always watched the news and read. These were habits I started very early, not because anyone forced me, but because I saw it as part of what people just DID and I always had ways I could be a part of it. Elected representatives in Canada are looking to take these kinds of opportunities away from their young people. North Carolina has already taken opportunities away from our young people.

Stand up. Ask your elected representatives and candidates how they feel about promoting democracy among our young citizens. If they are for taking opportunities away, like they are trying to do to over 3,000,000 kids in Canada and as they have done with the removal of pre-registration here in NC, we have to make them answer for this. I wouldn't have known about what was going on in Canada if someone had not shared that information. What information do you have to share today?


  1. Thank you Madison. I thought I was pretty well versed in things happening in other countries about voter suppression. Makes me wonder if there is a Canadian wing of ALEC? Keep writing young lady and keep speaking out. Your letter to 'Ms. Schafly, BTW, was wonderful. :-)

  2. Dear Madison,

    Your voice has been heard here in British Columbia. I will see that it gets echoed in all the right places starting with my son’s middle school PTA group, where I am serving as treasurer. The parents and administrators will be appreciative for your heads up, they really care about such issues like that up here. But that is not the only place your echo will be heard. I have met some well connected educators to share it with as well. I will let you know who later.

    As for myself, I used to teach environmental science to 9th graders in Boone, North Carolina, until I retired in 2012 and moved to Victoria, British Columbia with my family. Migrating into a reasoned-based democracy turned out to be an enlightening experience. Sometimes it is easier to notice things once you are separated from them and can see things from a distance. There are so many truths hidden from you in the United States that are easy to see once you emerge from the propaganda, especially the propaganda in the south.

    I have been keeping up with North Carolina’s decline, hoping to find a way to share the democratic truths I have discovered here with my home state there. One of the themes that I have noticed is that America seems to have become more of a greed-based democracy, than a reasoned-based one. Whether it is health care that is twice as expensive or alternative energy that is one third the cost of fossil fuels in the long run, America seems to prefer short-term profits over long-term reason.

    Unfortunately, NC’s new lawmakers are trying to make education more profitable too. The corporate world now sees the $500 billion/year spent on educating America’s youth as profits that could be going into their pocket. All of the new laws are pushing the state towards privatization by adding ever more destructive “accountability” tests onto the public schools while added even more incentives for private schools to take their place.

    Please see next comment.

  3. Fortunately, there is another blogger, Diane Ravitch, that is defending our traditional public school system and is promoting sensible reform measures that work. She was the US Assistant Secretary of Education who helped shape educational policy for decades. At 70 something, she is now leading the resistance to the corporate takeover of America’s public school tradition.

    Ravitch is like the Gandhi of Education. She is calling on parents to opt their children out of the corporately made standardized tests that have been used to intentionally destroy our public school systems. If enough students opt out of the tests, they become ineffective, and then their expensive cost could no longer be justified. The idea is to simply deny the corporations the data they seek. It’s kind of like Gandhi ending the British monopoly on salt by telling the Indian people to ignore the unjust mandate forbidding them to make salt from the sea, and to make the salt anyway.

    Ravitch has asked me to write something for her blog about how the Canadian’s view the decline of America’s education heritage. Her blog now serves as the central news source for teachers across the nation and has been viewed more than 8 million times in less than a year. I hope that you don’t mind if I share your blog with her. You two would make a great team. Here is her blog (

    I have been trying to inform people in North Carolina about the corporate takeover that is hidden from them in all of the propaganda, and encourage parents to opt their children out of the tests, but it is difficult to do from 3,000 miles away. As a 12 year old, you are in a particularly good position to bring attention to this issue. Can you help Diane Ravitch and me to start an opt-out-of-the-tests movement in North Carolina? There are others trying, but they don’t a voice as loud as yours. It would be like trying to reveal the truth to the people who don’t know what the truth really is yet. Something like the Dr. Seuss book, Horton Hears a Who, where we are shouting “the truth is over here”, “the truth is over here”,“the truth is over here”, until we are finally heard and change things.

    I think that the corporate effort to destroy America’s public school tradition is the lawmakers’ achilles heel. The vast majority of Americans like our public school system and want it to be there for their children and grandchildren. If the people were to discover that they have been misled, they will not like it, and start to discover the other ways in which they have been fooled. It could led to the unraveling of all of their lies. The biggest difference is that they are not just messing with people’s minds this time, they are messing with their children. To me, the key is to tap into the parents’ natural instinct to protect their young, that is where they are vulnerable.

    If you would like to learn more about Diane Ravitch and the corporate effort to privatize America’s public schools, watch this recent interview with her and Bill Moyers ( I will monitor your ‘Oh Canada” post, so please feel free to ask me any questions you like.

    Congratulations on your new international voice. A whole new world has just opened up for you, as well as the opportunity to make a world of difference. You have a lot to consider, including a possible trip to Switzerland offered to you on your latest post. Take your time to think things over and discuss them with your family as these are big steps for anybody at any age. And as you take on this confused adult world, remember to always keep that child-like vigor alive, because that’s what keeps our human spirit and the spirit of democracy alive itself.

    David R Phillips
    Victoria, BC, Canada

    PS. Stay tuned for more comments here from me in the future. I will keep you updated on your echo up here in Canada. Keep up the good work. You are making a difference.

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  5. Dear Madison #2,

    I must have built up some good karma teaching in North Carolina (NC) for 20 years, because it sure has paid off for me in British Columbia (BC). The people I have met up here are amazing, especially the ones in education. BC is reforming its educational system too, but according to the latest research on how children naturally learn, which is by doing stuff, instead of memorizing stuff.

    Somehow, I have made acquaintances with some of the top educational minds in the world in BC. Please read my list of new acquaintances below to see who else just got a link of your “Oh Canada blog and will hear your echo.

    1. John Abbott, [] [] founder of the 21st Century Learning Initiative [] where the latest brain research in how people naturally learn is archieved for public use. He recently ended his world tour in Victoria using BC as one of the better educational models in the world. Here is the presentation he showed our PTA while he was here.

    2. Diane Ravitch, [] [] served as US Assistant Secretary of Education and implemented “No Child Left Behind” for President Bush in the 2000s. Now she is the educator leading the resistance to the corporate takeover of our public schools. She is the one that asked me to write something for her blog about how the Canadian’s see the corporate takeover of US schools as unfortunate. []

    3. Jeff Hopkins, [] who volunteered to help me by writing a Canadian response for Dr Ravitch. He just got back from the US where he learned about the horrors of Common Core and has some concerns to share. He and John Abbott founded a small high school here in Victoria that teaches students through their very own, self-designed apprenticeship. [] My 13 year old son wants to go there next year. I am hoping to talk Jeff into showing his students your blog too. (Cross your fingers.)

    4. Valerie Irvine [] is my professor at UVIC, she introduced me to Jeff and knows Dr Abbott too. She reminds me a lot of you. When she was your age she refused to dissect an animal and walked out of the lab with her teacher yelling at her that “she didn’t have the prerogative.” So she went home, looked up prerogative, and discovered that it was a class term, like the lower class does not get the same prerogatives that the higher class gets. She also found this great quote by Einstein.
    “...the worst thing seems to be for a school principally to work with methods of fear, force and artificial authority. Such treatment destroys the healthy feelings, the integrity and self confidence of the pupil. All that it produces is a servile helot.”
    A servile helot is an ancient serf that served under whomever owned the land they lived on. It would make for a great protest statement, wouldn’t it? “Americans need to be thinkers, not Servile Helots!”

    5. Rod Allen, [] Superintendent of Learning for BC Minister of Education. I meet him at a workshop where I learned that he is the one primarily responsible for reshaping BC’s educational system according to the 21st Century Learning Initiative.

    6. Amelita Kucher, [] a super involved high school teacher that is involved in student government as well.

    7. John Bird, [] a super involved parent that wants to make sure that every kid in BC gets an equal opportunity for a good education. He will echo your message at the grassroots level and let the parents know, where it counts the most.

    Please see next comment.

  6. You should know about your Canadian counterpart, Rachel Parent. Watch this video of her taking on conservative Kevin O’Leary. [] Does she remind you of anyone you know of in NC? Look at how the kids protest up here in Canada. It’s fun, like Halloween. ( You two together could shape the future of both countries. I have never met her, so you’ll have to make contact with her on your own.

    So, thanks for sharing what you learned with us Canadians. As you can see, I have been blessed with many good contacts to pass your message along to. Let’s wish your echo well. I hope that you found my first comment on your “Oh Canada” blog equally as useful.

    What do you think about helping me to echo an opt-out-of-the-test campaign in NC?

    Time is short. There is only one month left before school lets out for the summer.

    You asked if anyone has any information to share? Yes, I do, ten years of confirmed migration-related research. From healthcare to gun violence, I have the numbers to show Governor McCrory that you are not just a “liberal prop pushing a far left wing agenda.” I can send you tons of information that show progressive governments like British Columbia’s work.

    So ask any question you wish. You get to choose the order in which it is shared.

    You may ask at if you prefer.

    David R Phillips
    Victoria, BC, Canada