The Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference

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Frank McKenna
The Honourable Frank McKenna P.C.
Deputy Chair
TD Financial Group
Frank McKenna

Excerpts from speech delivered to the Conference:

I believe our national priority, and your personal priority, needs to be education and knowledge. Because no matter how hard we try, we cannot keep out the forces of globalization - itís like Niagara Falls, itís an unstoppable force. We have no choice but to confront that force with the best that we have to offer. We have to play at the very top of our game.

We need to invest in education at every single level and in every way that we can. We need to start with the youngest of our children. We need to invest in early intervention. We need to invest in daycare. We need to invest in our public school system. We need to invest in our teachers... The countries that have the best educational results value their teachers more than we value our teachers. They pay their teachers more than we pay our teachers. Thirty years ago, a starting teacher would make as much money or more as a starting lawyer. Now, a starting lawyer will end up making much more than a starting teacher. And yet the work of the teacher is more important than the work of the lawyer. And I speak as a lawyer.

There is a quid pro quo to this. We need to pay our teachers more. But in return we need more accountability. We need to take our teachers from the top third of classes, not the bottom third of classes. The best countries in the world take the teachers from the top of the class because they pay them more. In exchange for more money and more recognition, more validation, we also need more accountability. Good teachers lift people up. Poor teachers crush self-esteem and lower expectations and can be ruinous to a childís life. We need to find ways to sort out excellent teachers from those that are not so excellent. That means accountability. In exchange for recognition and compensation there has to be accountability.

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