My comments can be heard at minute 19:30 of the podcast.
May 16, 2015
The Liberal government’s proposed austerity measures have some very serious consequences for students and teachers in Quebec’s public schools. In addition to the insulting salary offer to teachers and the proposal to raid our pensions there are a number of measures that will directly affect students:
removal of limits on class size
- removal of the weighting system for special needs students
- cutting the funding for resource teachers that help special needs students
- cutting funding for after school homework programs
- cuts to support staff including child care workers and special ed technicians
Robert Green discusses the impacts of these proposed policies with CJAD’s Tommy Shnurmacher. Click here for the podcast
Quebec’s growing popular movement against government austerity is about much more than opposition to a particular government policy. It is quickly becoming a battle over the legitimacy of Premier Philippe Couillard’s Liberal government.
The concept of legitimacy is central to the study of political science, and it’s what politicians are getting at when, for example, they refer to a pipeline project failing to achieve social licence. Definitions of the concept by numerous philosophers all share the idea that legitimacy is tied to the notion of popular acceptance of the exercise of authority — what John Locke referred to as “consent of the governed.”
Whereas dictatorships and theocracies have relied on religion, tradition, ideology and the charisma of leaders as sources of legitimacy, secular democratic governments, which are supposed to be the heirs of Enlightenment values, have relied on elections and notions of the common good. In theory then, a legitimate democratic government is one that is elected on the basis of a transparent political program aimed at advancing the public interest.
This raises the question of whether the government of Quebec, given its actions since coming into office, should be viewed as legitimate.
A government with political legitimacy?
Supporters of the Couillard government are quick to point out that his Liberal party won a significant majority in the last election and therefore has the right to govern as it sees fit.
Teachers Catharine Hogan and Robert Green discuss pressure tactics and the untold hours teachers work without pay with Tommy Shnurmacher.
Teachers Catharine Hogan and Robert Green discuss homework bans, success rate pressures & the importance of class size with Tommy Shnurmacher.
By Robert Green | Published February 26, 2014 by Ricochet.media
Quebec Minister of Education Yves Bolduc resigned today, after a short tenure marked by one frighteningly obtuse statement after another.
First he claimed that “no child will die” from funding cuts to school libraries. Next he proposed to remove limits on class size in contract negotiations with the province’s teachers, claiming there is “no evidence” that such limits help improve student achievement. Then, in response to the release of an extensive study commissioned by his own ministry demonstrating the failure of the pedagogical reform first implemented back in 2000, he flat out denied the study’s results, claiming that it was “too early” to judge.
The most recent outrage came from Bolduc’s statement that it was okay for schools to strip-search students, provided it was done “respectfully.”
To characterize Bolduc as an incompetent clown in a comedy of errors is a mistake. He is no fool and knows exactly what he is doing.
If it seems he doesn’t care about the consequences of his policy proposals for public education, it’s because he doesn’t.
An education minister with no vision
In Margaret Thatcher’s England, Bolduc would have been referred to as a “dry.” The “wets” were those in Thatcher’s government ridiculed by the more hard-line conservatives for wetting their pants at the thought of implementing the various Thatcherite policies that would be so harmful to Britain’s working class. The “dries” were those unfazed at the thought of harming society’s most vulnerable.
The gloves come off as the CJAD teachers panel discusses the PLQ’s ongoing assault on public education
Teachers Catharine Hogan and Robert Green pull no punches in discussing the PLQ’s ongoing assault on public education with James Mennie (sitting in for Tommy Shnurmacher). Originally aired February 17, 2015.
Published February 16, 2015 by Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE)
By Robert Green | Published February 16, 2015 by The Montreal Gazette
Earlier this month, an extensive study commissioned by Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport confirmed what Quebec’s teachers have known for over a decade: The famous “pedagogical reform” that was supposed to revolutionize the way students are taught in Quebec is a failure.
The study, which followed nearly 4,000 students, compared two cohorts of post-reform students with one that entered high school in 2004 just before the reform was implemented.
The results paint a portrait of an ongoing policy disaster.
Despite having added 50 hours of instruction in Mathematics and 150 hours of first-language instruction, results in both core subjects are significantly down.
Despite the fact that the reform was intended to raise the dismally low graduation rates of boys and at-risk students, these rates have instead seen significant declines for both groups.
Perhaps most worrisome for Quebec’s anglophone community is the fact that students in Quebec’s English school system were also identified by the study as one of the groups that saw a significant decline in graduation rates.
In other words, the millions of dollars spent developing and implementing this reform have been an utter waste of public funds. Continue reading
By Robert Green | Published Feb 3, 2015 by Ricochet.media
The government’s initial offer to Quebec’s teachers makes it perfectly clear that current negotiations will be unlike any in recent memory. There is almost no aspect of the status quo that remains unaffected in the proposal.
In a context where Quebec’s teachers are already the lowest paid in all of Canada, the government is proposing a salary that will likely erode their real earnings by at least seven per cent over the next five years.
In a context where the vast majority of Quebec’s teachers work untold numbers of unpaid hours on evenings and weekends because the current contract doesn’t provide them enough paid hours to execute their responsibilities, the government is proposing an increase to teacher workloads that would require them to be present in school for longer hours. It wants to be able to “assigns tasks” to teachers during these extra hours, which means even less time for planning, marking, communicating with parents and the myriad other tasks that teachers are responsible for.
In a context where limits on class size have been easily skirted in Quebec, the government wants to remove these restrictions altogether. School boards have been able to exceed provincial limits on class size by paying teachers a small amount of over-sized class compensation, but at the very least this represented a small financial deterrent.
In a context where support for the ever-growing number of students with special needs is already woefully inadequate, the government is proposing to remove the weighting system that reduces the size of classes with higher numbers of students with special needs. Continue reading