Chapter Two: The Structure of Canadian Schooling

2.13 National Organizations

Canada has a number of organizations that are involved with education at the national level. The provinces, worried about growing federal involvement in education, created in 1967 the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC). CMEC is made up of all the provincial ministers of education and higher or postsecondary education (a number that can be as high as twenty depending on whether these two areas are the responsibility of one or two ministers in each province). The council usually acts only when all of the ministers agree, and this does not happen often on matters of import. Thus, the organization has, for most of its history, had only limited impact on Canadian education. CMEC has also developed a set of pan-Canadian achievement tests to measure Canadian students’ learning in different curriculum areas as part of the School Achievement Indicators Program. These tests have been administered regularly in different subject areas to a random sample of 13- and 16-year-old students across Canada (Statistics Canada and Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, 1999) and provide an example of pan-Canadian activity by the Council of Ministers of Education.

Another long-standing national educational organization is the Canadian Education Association (CEA), now more than 100 years old, which is made up of both individual members and organizations such as provincial governments, universities, and school districts. CEA attempts to be a nonpartisan information exchange, promoting discussion of educational issues.

Each of the major interest groups in Canada also has a national organization to lobby on its behalf. The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) represents English-speaking Canadian teachers. The Canadian School Boards’ Association includes school districts across Canada. The Canadian Association of School Administrators (CASA) has a membership primarily of school superintendents, while the Canadian Association of Principals (CAP) is the umbrella group for school principals. None of these organizations, however, plays a very important role in shaping provincial or national policy in education.