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
By Robert Green
Next week members of the MTA will be asked to vote on an amendment to the union’s constitution that will result in the electoral terms of MTA executive members being extended from one year to two years.
Ostensibly this is being proposed by MTA President Peter Sutherland as a cost-saving measure for the union. While this measure, if approved, will certainly lead to the union saving on the cost of annual elections, there are several questions MTA members should be asking themselves before deciding how to vote.
The first question is why now? We are currently in negotiations for a new contract. Is this the time to come forward with a referendum that will potentially divide the membership? At this time when the stakes are so high for teachers and the future of education in Quebec, is this not the time that Mr Sutherland should be focusing on enhancing the collective power of MTA members? In proposing this referendum he seems to be focusing instead on enhancing his own power as MTA president. Even if one believes that this proposal is valid as a cost-saving measure, what would be the harm in waiting until after negotiations are complete in order to have this debate?
While it is undeniable that if approved by the members this proposal will save the union money, it is also undeniable that this proposal will reduce the degree of democratic accountability for our union leadership. Crucially it will mean that Mr Sutherland will not have to face the possibility of an election in the year following these negotiations. Thus far the MTA’s leadership has provided little vision as to how teachers can actually succeed in these negotiations and avoid repeating the debacle of 2005 when we were decreed back-to-work. By proposing this referendum now, instead of after the negotiations our current leadership will enjoy the benefit of not having to face the possibility of being held accountable for what transpires in these negotiations for almost two years.
Related to the issue of regular democratic accountability, is the issue of raising the MTA’s fees. Given our declining membership the MTA is in a financial crunch. Either we will have to make deep cuts to spending or we will have to increase the fees that teachers pay. The small savings that would occur if this referendum passes will not change this fact. Mr Sutherland knows very well that this is the case. He also knows very well that a referendum to increase fees will not be popular with the membership, particularly in the absence of any sacrifices being made by the union president with respect to his $92k+ salary.
To stand for election the same year that one is proposing to raise fees is not an attractive proposition for anyone. Indeed the last time the MTA leadership attempted to raise fees was six years ago, before the president’s post was being regularly contested in election. Since this time no MTA president has dared to raise fees, instead choosing to eat into the union’s accumulated surplus. In other words the possibility for annual elections served as a real disincentive for our union leadership to propose fee increases. MTA members should be asking themselves if eliminating the possibility for annual elections will not be making it easier or more tempting for our union leadership to propose raising fees.
The stakes have never been higher for Quebec’s teachers. Nearly every aspect of our working conditions are currently under attack by government. If MTA members want to send a message that Mr Sutherland should be focusing on enhancing our collective power rather than his own personal power as MTA president, they should vote no in this week’s referendum.