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July 21, 2021

Documents found on an education advocacy group website indicate that McKinsey & Company, the Doug Ford-appointed firm advising the Ontario school to reopen in 2020, is using COVID-19 as an opportunity for public schools to “collaborate.” “And” partnership “with the private sector.

McKinsey – one of the world’s best-known management consultancies and associated with controversial wage and downsizing, ICE detention centers, opioid manufacturers, and the Saudi monarchy – was commissioned with $ 1.6 million to turn Ontario’s pandemic health table into a filled “command table” by business leaders after a cold call to the Ford office last March.

From March to April 2020 McKinsey designed Ontario’s COVID-19 “Central Coordination Table” to advise the cabinet on pandemic-related measures and to communicate with “private sector supply chains”.

According to government documents, industry officials continued to be included in the “command table” alongside former Deputy Secretary of Office “Downsizing” Giles Gherson and Canadian Tire Chief Operating Officer Allan Macdonald as membership grew up to 500.

The Ontario Auditor General said in November that the cost of using McKinsey was “higher than the industry standard.” #onpolihttps: //

– iPolitics (@ipoliticsca) February 9, 2021

Shortly thereafter, McKinsey was also awarded a contract to manage the provincial school reopening in 2020 for $ 3.2 million.

McKinsey has played a similar role in other education systems in other parts of the world, including jurisdictions where the private sector has a larger role in the provision of educational services.

A McKinsey report, titled “School System Priorities in the Coronavirus Age,” encourages school officials to consider outsourcing with private education providers to address the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Crises can be an incentive for creative problem solving,” says the report. “Under the pressure of the COVID-19 crisis, school systems can take the opportunity to rethink some of their traditional ways of doing things.”

The report suggests that “schools can start in-house” to “provide more direct student support” but “may require partnerships with outside providers and nonprofits”.

As examples of what this might look like, McKinsey cites “Teacher Collaboration Platforms,” ​​including a pair of private US companies called Teachers Pay Teachers and BetterLesson, which sell distance learning resources and services.

The report, which was posted on the Ontario Public Supervisory Officers’ Association website – an association representing “educational leaders” at various school boards in the province – further suggests schools respond to the crisis by “working together” with investigate the private sector:

“There are a few things schools can do now – looking for savings in areas like utilities and transportation, and asking sellers for discounts, for example. However, there is a limit to what schools and school districts can do alone. Many will have to apply for additional funding to help their students recover, whether from governments, bilateral donors, or philanthropists. Creating post-coronavirus budgets must be a collaborative process between schools that understand local needs and county, state, and federal governments that may be able to provide access to resources. Collaboration in the public, private and non-profit sectors could be easier to achieve. “

McKinsey’s Education website touts his past experience “helping both for-profit and philanthropic investors use their capital to produce results for students while generating financial returns for those who need it” .

“This is a chilling reminder of Doug Ford’s true agenda for Ontario,” Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, told PressProgress.

“It is no surprise that his government is willing to overpay a transnational management consultancy for advice on implementation,” said Walton. “Under a Ford government, our public services will always be potential targets for privatization, right down to the services that educational workers provide in schools and for students.”

Professional educators also question what McKinsey has to do with participation in the Ontario public education system.

“I can’t remember a previous government using a big excuse for a consulting firm to justify privatization,” Professor Charles Pascal of the Ontario Institute for Studies In Education told PressProgress.

“Too many governments are taking shortcuts using consulting firms to make decisions rather than making sure they are spending money on in-house research and evaluation that should be embedded in projects and guidelines at the beginning rather than at the end when they stand up decide a change or keep something in place, ”added Pascal.

“The problem with most companies is that they make a living using boiler plate frameworks to write their reports.”

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According to information that the Department of Health’s executive director Allison Blair had disclosed from the start, the command table was intended to establish “ministerial cooperation” and guide the COVID-19 response in schools.

McKinsey’s advice was severely criticized months later by the Ontario Auditor General. The office found that the McKinsey-endorsed table repeatedly made decisions that contradicted the advice of health professionals. “Those with public health expertise did not play a leading role,” said the working group about the table.

The McKinsey recommended reopening has been repeatedly criticized by education workers and health professionals for being underfunded in hiring cleaning and teaching staff and ensuring adequate social distancing. By April 2021, as Ford himself noted, Ontario’s schools were “the sources of more outbreaks than jobs or other locations.”

Last week, the Toronto Star noted that Ford had been repeatedly criticized for consistently dictating its response to the pandemic by business over public health – especially where lobbyists were involved in its vicinity.

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