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 for the podcast

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.

-Robert

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 for the podcast

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

April 21, 2015

CJAD Teachers panel discusses pressure tactics and the untold hours teachers work without pay

Teachers Catharine Hogan and Robert Green discuss pressure tactics and the untold hours teachers work without pay with Tommy Shnurmacher.

Click here for the podcast

March 21, 2015

CJAD Teachers Panel discusses homework bans, success rate pressures & the importance of class size

Teachers Catharine Hogan and Robert Green discuss homework bans, success rate pressures & the importance of class size with Tommy Shnurmacher.

Click here for the podcast

March 18, 2015

If Teachers Can’t Make Their Unions More Democratic and Social Justice-Minded, Public Ed Is Doomed

By Bob Peterson | Published Feb. 12, 2015 by In These Times

Excerpt:

Social justice unionism is an organizing model that calls for a radical boost in internal union democracy and increased member participation. This contrasts to a business model that is so dependent on staff providing services that it disempowers members and concentrates power in the hands of a small group of elected leaders and/or paid staff. An organizing model, while still providing services to members, focuses on building union power at the school level in alliance with parents, community groups, and other social movements.

Three components of social justice unionism are like the legs of a stool. Unions need all three to be balanced and strong:

  • We organize around bread and butter issues.
  • We organize around teaching and learning issues to reclaim our profession and our classrooms.
  • We organize for social justice in our community and in our curriculum.

Unfortunately, few public sector unions in Wisconsin adopted this model of unionism. As long as we had an agency shop and could protect our members’ compensation and benefits, most members were happy.

We are now paying the price for defining our unions as contract bargainers and enforcers. Today, when we try to sign up members, many are aware that our collective bargaining rights have been severely limited. Often they respond, “Why should I join?” Others think we don’t even exist, as our identity has been so tightly woven to the contract.

Read more: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17632/democratic_teachers_unions

March 10, 2015

Quebec Education Minister resigns in disgrace

By Robert Green | Published February 26, 2014 by Ricochet.media

Comedy of errors as government seeks to enforce austerity on education

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.

Continue reading

February 28, 2015

The gloves come off as the CJAD teachers panel discusses the PLQ’s ongoing assault on public education

boxing_gloves3Teachers 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.

Click here for the podcast.

February 22, 2015

Les enseignantes et enseignants méritent plus!

Published February 16, 2015 by Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE)

February 17, 2015

Quebec’s ongoing education-policy disaster

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.

Pascal / Montreal GazetteFeb. 7, 2015

Pascal / Montreal Gazette Feb. 7, 2015

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

February 15, 2015

A Revitalized Teacher Union Movement

By Bob Peterson | Published in Volume 29 No.2 – Winter 2014/2015 of rethinking schools

If we don’t transform teacher unions now, our schools, our profession, and our democracy—what’s left of it—will likely be destroyed. I know. I am from Wisconsin, the home of Scott Walker and Paul Ryan.

In 2011, in the wake of the largest workers uprising in recent U.S. history, I was elected president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA). Unfortunately, that spring uprising, although massive and inspirational, was not strong enough to stop Gov. Walker from enacting the most draconian anti-public sector labor law in the nation.

That law, known as Act 10, received support from the Koch brothers and a cabal of national right-wing funders and organizations. It was imposed on all public sector workers except the police and firefighter unions that endorsed Walker and whose members are predominantly white and male.

Act 10 took away virtually all collective bargaining rights, including the right to arbitration. It left intact only the right to bargain base-wage increases up to the cost of living. The new law prohibited “agency shops,” in which all employees of a bargaining unit pay union dues. It also prohibited payroll deduction of dues. It imposed an unprecedented annual recertification requirement on public sector unions, requiring a 51 percent (not 50 percent plus one) vote of all eligible employees, counting anyone who does not vote as a “no.” Using those criteria, Walker would never have been elected.

Immediately following Act 10, Walker and the Republican-dominated state legislature made the largest cuts to public education of any state in the nation and gerrymandered state legislative districts to privilege conservative, white-populated areas of the state.

Having decimated labor law and defunded public education, Walker proceeded to expand statewide the private school voucher program that has wreaked havoc on Milwaukee, and enacted one of the nation’s most generous income tax deductions for private school tuition.

Under these conditions, public sector union membership has plummeted, staff has been reduced, and resources to lobby, organize, and influence elections have shrunk.

People familiar with Wisconsin’s progressive history—in 1959, for example, we were the first state to legalize collective bargaining for public sector workers—find these events startling. And they should. If it happened in Wisconsin, it could happen anywhere.

And it has. In New Orleans, following Katrina, unionized teachers were fired and the entire system charterized. Following Wisconsin’s lead, Tennessee abolished the right for teachers to bargain collectively. In Philadelphia, the School Reform Commission unilaterally canceled its expired contract with the teacher union. In city after city, privately run charter schools are dominating the education landscape.

Fortunately, teacher union activists across the country are revitalizing their unions and standing up to these relentless attacks. And this growing transformation of the teachers’ union movement may well be the most important force in our nation to defend and improve public schools and, in so doing, defend and improve our communities and what’s left of our democratic institutions.

The revitalization builds on the strengths of traditional “bread and butter” unionism. But it recognizes that our future depends on redefining unionism from a narrow trade union model, focused almost exclusively on protecting union members, to a broader vision that sees the future of unionized workers tied directly to the interests of the entire working class and the communities, particularly communities of color, in which we live and work.

This is a sea change for teacher unions (and other unions, too). But it’s not an easy one to make. It requires confronting racist attitudes and past practices that have marginalized people of color both inside and outside unions. It also means overcoming old habits and stagnant organizational structures that weigh down efforts to expand internal democracy and member engagement.

Read more: http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/29_02/29-2_peterson.shtml