In Canada : Teachers, Trade, and Taxes: A Primer
Robertson, Heather-jane, Phi Delta Kappan
I SUSPECT that the social events readers enjoyed during the holiday season were marked by certain conversational themes: the millennium, of course; our health, our families, and our work. By and large, teacher talk focuses on the immediate and the practical. Anyone alert to the realities of the classroom knows there is never a shortage of problems to unravel or stories to be told. The intensity of the present can make it difficult to convince teachers that it is worth spending one's time and energy worrying about vague and distant forces that threaten our schools and communities. At least, this is what I tell myself when teachers' eyes glaze over ever so slightly when the conversation turns to international trade agreements and how they could affect public education. I sympathize with this reaction to a topic that is littered with acronyms and footnotes. Ten years ago, when a pivotal federal election was fought over the FTA, most Canadians knew that these letters stood for the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. But soon we were trying to sort out NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment), FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas), and, most recently, GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services), now being negotiated through the WTO (World Trade Organization).
You can see how quickly dishing out this alphabet soup can kill conversation. But even at the risk of social isolation, "tradies" push on, determined to make the public trade-literate. Steven Shrybman, a Canadian who writes extensively on trade, insists that "remaining uninformed about issues that so directly bear on virtually all public policy is a luxury that a democratic society cannot afford."1 Since these deals affect the future of everything from health care to education, from the environment to culture, trade literacy is the price of admission to every debate. Shrybman points to the Canadian policies, laws, and programs that have fallen as a result of …
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Publication information: Article title: In Canada : Teachers, Trade, and Taxes: A Primer. Contributors: Robertson, Heather-jane - Author. Journal title: Phi Delta Kappan. Volume: 81. Issue: 5 Publication date: January 2000. Page number: 412. © 1999 Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group.
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