In the Motherhood host Trixie Dumont discusses the Couillard government’s attacks on public education with teachers Fernand Deschamps, Robert Green and Chantal Kers and parent Stacey Dumont.
CKUT’s ‘In the Motherhood’ explores what the Couillard Government’s attacks on public education mean for students, teachers and parents
Robert Green speaks with CBC’s Sue Smith about recent developments in negotiations with Quebec’s teachers
(the last 30 seconds of the interview unfortunately get cut off)
October 25, 2015
Those present at the meeting for the Montreal Teachers Association’s strike vote heard a number of remarkable things from our union leadership. QPAT’s chief negotiator, Olivier Dolbec, for example described the various times teachers had been legislated back to work as victories in which teachers came out ahead. Dolbec’s central piece of evidence for this claim was that the back-to-work legislation of 2005 won us our current limits on class size.
This might be an interesting point if it were true. In fact the current limits on class size were the central element in the 2010 negotiations that convinced teachers to vote in favour of a negotiated settlement. The 2005 strike resulted in teachers being legislated back to work with the exact provisions government had put on the table prior to the strike. In other words, this strike did absolutely nothing to move government from what it was intending to do all along. One would think that QPAT’s chief negotiator would have his facts straight on such matters.
As if this was not enough to cast serious doubt on the judgement and integrity of our chief negotiator, Mr Dolbec then stunned the room with this remarkable statement:
“This is – and I challenge anyone in the room to say the opposite – this is the best collective agreement for teachers AROUND THE WORLD”
WHS teacher Robert Lavoie has taken up Mr Dolbec’s challenge. In this the first of a multi-part series Mr Lavoie presents a thorough comparison of the collective agreement of Quebec’s teachers with that of New Brunswick’s.
By Robert Green | Published Oct 14, 2015 by Ricochet.media
Government appears indifferent to the harm their policies cause to students
As public outrage over the Quebec Liberal government’s attacks on public education has grown, so too has the movement to surround schools in human chains on the first day of each month. Oct. 1 saw this movement not only grow to over 300 schools throughout Quebec, but also include a significant number of schools in the province’s English school boards which were participating for the first time.
The aim of this action was to send a clear message to Premier Philippe Couillard and his cadre: parents, teachers and support staff are united against the government’s attempt to balance its books on the backs of students. Of particular concern are proposals to remove limits on class size and cut a whole range of supports for students with special needs.
While the potent symbolism of community after community uniting to form a human chain in defence of their schools was not enough to persuade the government to change course, it did at least force the minister of education to publicly defend his actions.
His comments were disturbing to say the least. When asked why he would not restore funding for support for students with special needs, Education Minister François Blais stated that given Quebec’s current budget situation, such an investment would be “maladroit.” The minister was essentially saying that to leave in place existing supports for students with special needs would be “awkward” or “clumsy.”
A government of sociopaths?
Blais’ choice of words has left me with a serious question: Is Quebec’s Liberal government a government of sociopaths? Continue reading
Today parents, teachers, support staff, alumni and students formed a human chain outside of Westmount High School to send a message to the Couillard government that the public is united against its irresponsible cuts to education and its proposals to remove limits on class size as well as various forms of support for students with special needs.
Much thanks to the teachers of Westmount Park Elementary for helping to make this event a success! Also thanks to The Montreal Gazette for producing this great video!
“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
– Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity
By Robert Green
There is no question that the teachers of Quebec are angry. Already the lowest paid teachers in Canada, the government’s current salary offer would see Quebec teachers falling even further behind with their inflation-adjusted salaries decreasing by about 7% over 5 years. Of even greater concern is the fact that government is proposing to rid our contract of nearly every clause that protects our working conditions and the learning conditions of our students, from limits on class size to a range of supports for students with special needs.
It is an understatement to suggest that the teachers of Quebec want actions that will pressure government to back away from its most regressive proposals. Most teachers are ready to make personal sacrifices in pursuit of that goal. The question for Quebec’s teachers is: what sort of action will actually be effective in achieving this goal?
A grassroots push to work-to-rule
Last spring the members of the Montreal Teachers Association passed a motion in their annual general meeting stating that the action the members wanted to pursue was a work-to-rule campaign. The sentiment expressed by many MTA members was that the large number of unpaid hours worked by Quebec’s teachers was an enormous source of power. Given that teachers are not paid for enough hours to adequately do their job, withdrawing the volunteer labour done by teachers was seen by many as an effective way to create pressure within the system while avoiding the spectre of back-to-work legislation. Working to rule may not be as effective for other public sector unions but there was a strong sentiment that teachers were in a unique position to create real pressure with this tactic. There was also a feeling expressed that it would be far easier to build and maintain public support through a work-to-rule campaign than through a strike action which would create major inconveniences for families. Continue reading
With government proposing to remove current limits on class size and various supports for students with special needs, the teachers of Quebec need the support of parents. Below are links to two editable form letters parents can use to express their discontent to government. The first letter is for all parents. The second letter is written specially for parents of students with special needs. Simply download the .doc file by clicking on the link, open the file, add your name and the date, edit the “he/she”‘s and any other edits you’d like, sign the bottom and its ready to send. For the contact info of all Quebec MNA’s click here.
By Robert Green ! Published Sept 10 By the Montreal Gazette
Imagine your child sitting in a classroom with 35 to 40 other students. What kind of education do you think they will receive in such a context? How much help are they likely to get if they find themselves struggling with the material? How much time do you suppose the teacher will be having to spend on the unpleasant task of discipline versus the joyous tasks of fostering learning, creativity, compassion and a sense of wonder in students?
Now imagine your child is one of many with special needs in this enormous class. What will be your child’s chances of succeeding if the limited supports currently in place for students with special needs are removed: no weighting system that ensures smaller classes when there is a higher proportion of students with special needs; no childcare workers in the class to assist the teacher; no resource room to turn to for extra help?
Now imagine all of this is happening in a context where deep budget cuts mean reduced access to psychologists, behavioural specialists and counsellors.
Parents throughout Quebec need to understand that this is what’s at stake in the current negotiations between the province and its teachers. It is no exaggeration to state that the Couillard government is proposing to rid our contract of nearly every clause that protects the learning conditions of students, from class-size limits to the various measures aimed at providing support for students with special needs.
As professionals whose primary concern is the welfare of children, we cannot stand for this, which is why the teachers of Quebec have been left no choice but to engage in pressure tactics. Continue reading