Guess who’s coming to school?

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September 5, 2014 by realrenewal

Military recruiters and industry boosters were among those who headed back to Saskatchewan schools this week.

Industry councils have set up shop in Regina and Saskatoon schools, offering class credits to students who join ‘boot camps’ at companies like Cervus Equipment, a multinational producer of agricultural and industrial equipment. Starting this year, Regina students will also be able to earn credits by signing up for the army reserves.

The Regina District Industry Education Council says it is allied with the Wall government’s Plan for Growth Vision 2020. RDIEC and its Saskatoon counterpart, the Saskatoon Industry Education Council (SIEC), are steered by organizations such as the Saskatchewan Construction Association and Junior Achievement.

Stimulating students to “value free enterprise”

Regina public school board chair Katherine Gagne is vice-president of program development for Junior Achievement Saskatchewan, which, according to its website, works to “stimulate and inspire elementary, middle and high school students to value free enterprise.”

Once a small after-school program, in recent years Junior Achievement underwent a significant expansion into school curriculum globally, with the stated goal of promoting “commitment to the principles of market-based economics” among all students, not just the business-inclined.

In the U.S., the program has been a boon to companies like military giant Lockheed Martin, which states its work with JA gives Lockheed “the opportunity to brand the Lockheed Martin name in the community” and secure a “K-through-12 pipelines of talent.”

Among education administrators, industry-tied courses are touted as a way to help at-risk students succeed. Some wonder, however, if industrial education and boot camps are the ‘new buffalo’ that people had in mind.

Vancouver public school chair Patti Bacchus has publicly raised concerns about “whether or not this is a kind of return to the old streaming of what we used to see: where some students in certain socio-economic classes, for example, might have been encouraged to move toward the trades, where other from more affluent backgrounds might be driven more to the university track.”

Program to “revitalize” army reserves

Meanwhile, Canada’s military reserves will get a boost through a deal that will provide a core Canadian Studies credit, and an elective credit, to Regina students undertaking military training at the Regina Armoury. Col. Ross Ermal told the press he hoped the program with “revitalize the reserves” in Regina. For their part, school trustees say they hope the army’s financial incentive of $2,000 per student will motivate students to stay in school.

The incursion of the military into school curriculum is a global phenomenon of recent years, led in the U.S. by the expansion of Junior ROTC in public schools. The U.S. National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth has been working to provide some balance with ‘counter-recruitment’ messages in the schools, while War Resisters International has launched a global campaign against the trend called ‘Countering the Militarization of Youth.’

The National Network argues that programs in music, drama and art have been drastically cut, but are just as capable of providing students with a sense of personal accomplishment and discipline, the main selling points of the army-based courses.

Regina Public also offers police training for credit, including training in “defensive tactics and arrest procedures,” according to a course brochure.

“Accelerating…commercial deployment” through classroom learning

Other industry incursions in Saskatchewan schools have included curriculum dedicated to extolling the virtues of ‘clean coal,’ an industry priority of the current government. The Australia-based international Global Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Institute created a teaching program after being approached by “an industry that used to work in Saskatchewan,” namely the scandal-ridden IPAC CO2 project.

Curriculum was developed for Grades 3, 7 and 10 in Regina’s Catholic schools. CCS curriculum supporters say the learning program counters ‘negative’ messages about global warming with the ‘positive’ and ‘inspiring’ message of carbon capture technology.

The Global CCS Institute does not publish a list of members, but states members are governments and organizations committed to “accelerating the commercial deployment of CCS.” The Institute describes itself as a “global champion” for CSS, engaged in increasing public acceptance of CSS through “influential advice and advocacy,” with the ultimate goal of putting coal power on par with other alternative energy sources in government green-power initiatives.

Carbon capture is considered controversial due to conflicting studies regarding whether or not the captured gases leak back into the environment.

Learn more:

Mother Jones Magazine: Fast Times at Recruitment High

Journal of Education Policy: Putting School Commercialization in Context: A Global History of Junior Achievement

Junior Achievement Saskatchewan: Mission, staff and board of directors

War Resisters International: Countering the Militarization of Youth

National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth

Leader-Post: Army reserves partner with Regina schools

Leader-Post: Local teaching tool goes global (Carbon capture and storage)

Global CSS Institute: Regina reveals its resources (Catholic schools program)

Regina District Industry Education Council

Saskatoon Industry Education Council

Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute

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