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One week after waxing nostalgic, if somewhat pathologically, for the good old days of Soviet style retribution (the shiver inducing quote: "No matter how often the economy crashes and shatters, they (bankers) have no fear of being tried and executed for 'economic crimes' - a rare feature of Soviet communism that one can actually feel nostalgic for."), Rick Salutin took on a more mundane subject in his column this past Friday - the Ontario education system.

Salutin takes this paper to task: "'Competition makes for better schools,' said a Globe and Mail editorial, without a shred of evidence, since there is none."

Not one to shy away from hypocrisy, Salutin offers his own, um, evidence-based solutions to improve Ontario's education system:

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"Are there alternate ways to improve schools that clearly work? Uh, yes. Increase parent involvement. Build on local situations. Add libraries, music, art and extracurricular programs that get kids to like coming to school. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty backs the competition juju of his adviser, Michael Fullan. But kids say things like, 'If you're not happy and having fun, it's really hard to learn.' Listen up, Premier."

Uh, yes. Salutin's proof? The made-up quote from noted education expert "kids" and, well, that's all.

While I'm sure it will be of little interest to Salutin, over the last five years, the graduation rate in Ontario has gone from 68 per cent to 77 per cent. Results on literacy tests over the same period have gone up by 11 per cent while Ontario's Grade 4 students were among the highest-achieving participants in an international assessment of reading skills.

But never mind my dedication to "competition" and "evidence." Instead Premier McGuinty should ignore the juju of people who actually know what they are talking about and instead take the advice of people like Salutin.

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