Part One: AIMS Releases Report Card On Atlantic High Schools

The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies has just released the broadest set of public information ever presented on Atlantic Canadian secondary schools. The much-anticipated Report Card paints a rich, complex picture of the unique nature and performance of each high school in the region. Schools in Atlantic Canada are lagging behind the rest of the country in academic achievement. The objective of this study is to begin the examination of why this is happening and what can be done to fix it. This report ranks schools relative to what can be reasonably expected of them given their unique challenges and opportunities.

On each measure, a school is given a “B” or better for exceeding expectations and a “C+” or worse for falling below expectations. These individual scores are then averaged to arrive at the final overall grade and rank for each school in each province.


The only exception is Prince Edward Island, where no information is publicly available about high school performance, and the government declined an invitation to work with AIMS to identify suitable measures.


Part Two: AIMS’ school report card: What people are saying

The educational establishment has been fast and furious in its reaction to AIMS’ newest entry into improved government accountability. More to the point however, with over 100,000 hits in the four days since our report card was released online it is clear that those people who have been denied access to critical information about schools and school success for so long -students, parents, individual teachers and concerned citizens – are reading our report. The result? Praise for AIMS’ efforts to foster a public debate about what constitutes school success and support for AIMS’ call for improved reporting on efforts to reach that mark.

From a parent calling only an hour after our report card was released publicly:

“Thank you. I have been asking for this information for years and now I have it.”

From another parent whose son attends one of the lowest ranked schools in Nova Scotia:

“It is my opinion that there is so much controversy because people just do not like to hear the truth.”

From a Vice Principal at yet another school falling in the bottom third of the Nova Scotia rankings:

“Firstly, I want to thank you for the work you have done in examining the schools in Nova Scotia. We welcome any opportunity to engage in a dialogue regarding the current practices, successes and failures within our working environment”

From a concerned citizen interested in public policy issues:

“[School X] is a school with a dedicated staff, proud student body and a commitment to excellence, I am so glad to see someone recognize their accomplishments.”

This enthusiasm for an open and honest debate about how to define and report on school success is also being reflected in editorials across the region:

Consider the recent editorial in the St. John’s Telegram that states:

…the study, like or lump it, is an extensive and expensive effort, and the think-tank should be congratulated for its initiative. There is great value in talking about what makes schools good or bad, and looking at ways that various schools can learn about their comparative strengths and weaknesses, and, as part of that, how they can improve.

Or the editorial in the Moncton Times & Transcript subtitled:

We say: N.B. should adopt and encourage the approach to evaluating the education system that the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies has initiated

Even the Halifax Daily News, while apparently not a big fan of the report card, clearly got the message:

“Hopefully, future discussion of the AIMS rankings will shed a little less heat, and a little more light, on the education system.”


Part Three: Newfoundland’s Failed Welfare Reform

In his latest column on Newfoundland public policy, AIMS Fellow Peter Fenwick tells the story of how social welfare advocates in the province obstructed attempts to return welfare recipients to the workforce. This in spite of convincing international evidence that such welfare reform is a essential in the reintegration of otherwise marginalized members of our society. Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair often argues that leaving people at home on welfare isolates them and bars them from participating in society. His reforms and those tried in the US are eliminating much of that segregation and are giving people a strong incentive to get back on their feet. But vocal lobbying by powerful interest groups is preventing policy reform from helping thousands of Newfoundlanders make a successful transition from welfare to work.


Part Four: Atlantic Canada and the Canada – US Border of the Future

AIMS was the Atlantic Canadian organizer of a national consultation on Canada’s place in North America, particularly the next steps in the evolution of our relationship with the United States. This project, called “Borderlines” is a national, non-partisan effort put together by organizations and individuals across the country sharing the belief that this issue may be the most important of our time.


Part Five: Immigrants and Atlantic Canada, AIMS before Commons Committee

In this submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley points out that Atlantic Canadians in general, and Nova Scotians in particular, used to thinking of their region as a source of immigrants for other societies, are giving far too little thought to the value of attracting others to come here. This is a short-sighted approach considering the benefits that immigrants confer on the societies they choose. In this century we have attracted far too few immigrants and our social, economic and cultural development has been held back as a result.

The key is to create a climate of opportunity that is attractive to immigrants. Many policies that would be good for the region in any case, including a reduced tax burden, a culture of education, a lightening of the regulatory burden, including on newcomers’ access to many regulated professions, would all be powerful recruitment tools. Attracting highly skilled professionals and entrepreneurs from elsewhere will also both help to fill skills gaps while generating economic activity that can help employ less-skilled workers currently unemployed or underemployed in the less-developed provinces of Canada.


Part Six: AIMS’ Swedish health care project garners national attention

Two articles in recent days have sung the praises of AIMS’ work in communicating to Canadian audiences Sweden’s success in bringing consumer choice and accountability to publicly-funded health care.

William Watson, editorializing in the Financial Post, congratulated AIMS, writing:

“The Swedes have grasped the crucial point that still escapes so many Canadian health-care decision-makers, namely, that the state can purchase health care for all without providing health care for anyone.”

And in Alberta, Edmonton Journal columnist and National Post Editorial Board member Lorne Gunter also congratulates AIMS and other policy institutes that have worked to bring the Swedish story to Canada. According to Gunter,

“The point is, there are not merely two models of health care — a state monopoly or laissez-faire. There are dozens of models around the world that successfully combine public and private elements, while increasing patient choice and service, and keeping costs in check. It is well past time our politicians considered them.”

The Swedish Health Care in Transition project is written by Swedish health care reformer Johan Hjertqvist, and is published jointly by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy ( ) in Winnipeg.


Part Seven: Regulation no answer to rising gas prices

As AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley writes in his bi-monthly newspaper column, everyone hates paying high prices for gasoline and heating oil. They hit the poor harder than anybody else; they wreak havoc with family and business budgets. Perhaps worst of all, they seem to happen without rhyme or reason, like bolts of lightning out of a clear winter sky. Quite understandably, then, these price rises provoke fear, anger and suspicion of the oil and gas companies that are their authors. But before we rush off to embrace the responses that many people propose to solve this problem, we had better be sure exactly what the problem is and what all the consequences would be of, say, letting governments fix the price of gas.


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