October 1, 2015

Westmount High’s October 1st Human Chain

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!

September 23, 2015

Montreal teachers’ pressure tactics are taking a toll

Bt Katherine Wilton | Published September 22 by The Montreal Gazette


Teachers are angry that Quebec wants to increase class sizes in high schools and elementary schools and is proposing to no longer consider whether a child has a learning disability when calculating class sizes. A few months before negotiations began in March on a new collective agreement with the province’s teachers, former Education Minister Yves Bolduc told reporters there was no clear link between smaller class sizes and student performance, citing a 2008 Université Laval study. The government also wants to increase the work week from 32 to 35 hours and is offering a three-per cent wage increase over five years.

To read the entire story and view the two videos of WHS teachers explaining why they are taking work action: http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreal-teachers-pressure-tactics-are-taking-a-toll


September 21, 2015

Is striking an effective tactic for Quebec’s teachers?

“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

September 16, 2015

Sample letters to Couillard

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.

  1. form letter for parents
  2. form letter for parents_special needs
September 16, 2015

Westmount High students protest budget cuts during lunch break

CO9cx_6VAAAnXqLMONTREAL – Lunch hour is usually a time when students are free from their teachers – a time when they get to chat with their friends, grab a bite to eat and talk.

But Westmount High School students did something a little different on Tuesday.

A group of about 40 students gathered in front of the school in support of their teachers, saying work-to-rule action is not allowing teachers to properly do their jobs.

Read more and watch the video: http://globalnews.ca/news/2222192/westmount-high-students-protest-budget-cuts-during-lunch-break/

September 13, 2015

Podcast: WHS teachers Robert Green and Scott Macleod explain why teachers need the support of parents in their current conflict with the Couillard government

WHS teachers Robert Green and Scott Macleod explain why teachers need the support of parents in their current conflict with the Couillard government on CKUT’s The Tuesday Morning After.

Click here to download mp3


September 12, 2015

Letter: Private school subsidies create uneven playing field

By Jim Wilson | Published Sept 10, 2015 by The Montreal Gazettewilson

Re: “Public education matters to all of us” (Celine Cooper, Sept. 8)

One would think the headline would produce little argument. Yet, in her column, Celine Cooper unwittingly reveals the inaccuracy of that remark. When referring to the “abysmal high school dropout rates and levels of illiteracy” she notes that “parents who can afford private schools jump ship.”

Dropout rates must be qualified; the private schools’ exceedingly high graduation rates contrast sharply with those of the French public system. In fairness, the public English system does not mirror its French public counterparts.

At this time, the number of students attending French private schools exceeds the number going to the entire English sector. Cooper’s point that “all Quebecers deserve a quality education regardless of how much their parents make,” should be true, but that is not the case.

And why not? French private school tuition is subsidized by up to 70 per cent from the public purse. Parents, by the thousand, with just moderate incomes, see that subsidy as an encouragement to abandon failing public schools, which have been affected by the loss of some of the more academically oriented students and a disproportionate increase in those with special needs. Continue reading

September 10, 2015

Quebec teachers are defending children’s learning conditions

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

July 29, 2015

Key & Peele depict an alternate universe where teachers are valued as much as sports stars

June 21, 2015

Video: Le gouvernement du Québec méprise l’éducation

June 15, 2015

CJAD Teachers Panel discusses pressure tactics, class size limits and cuts to librarians and school maintenance

Teachers Catharine Hogan and Robert Green discuss pressure tactics, class size limits and cuts to librarians and school maintenance with Tommy Shnurmacher.

Click here to download mp3

May 30, 2015

Video: La dette du Québec vous fait peur?

May 24, 2015

Cross Country Checkup Discusses Teachers Strikes

My comments can be heard at minute 19:30 of the podcast.


May 16, 2015

Podcast: The impacts of austerity for students and teachers in Quebec’s public schools

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:

  • 20150507_133640

    Teachers and parents protest austerity in front of Westmount High

    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 to download mp3

May 8, 2015

Does Quebec’s government have a mandate for austerity?

By Robert Green | Published April 29, 2015 by Ricochet.media
The Liberals won a majority promising stability, not a quiet counter-revolution of cuts

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.

Continue reading