Archive for December, 2011

December 31, 2011

More Evidence of the Failure of Corporate Education Reforms Gives Hope for the New Year

An International Diane Ravitch Moment?

“But there is hope. Hope is another core business of educators. There is hope because one of the global think tanks that came up with this mess of cobbled and hobbled “accountability” is re-thinking.

They are looking at the metrics they themselves chose to determine pass/fail and they find that people who actually take their advice on corporate school reform are sinking and those who have systematically ignored their advice, have rising stock.

They are thinking that maybe they made a mistake. Thinking. Finally. This is a good thing.”

Read More:

December 15, 2011

Is QPAT Hiding the Implications of Bill 88 From Its Members?

By Robert Green

Back in 2008, before the Quebec Liberals passed Bill 88, QPAT submitted a brief to the National Assembly outlining its position on the Bill. It warned that the Bill would bring Quebec down the same path of “results-based testing” that held an “iron grip” on the US education system. It cited the failure of such policies to improve results and outlined the many reasons why holding schools exclusively responsible for the success of their students is unjust. The Brief also questioned the lack of government funding being offered to attain the proposed improvements. In short, the brief presented Bill 88 as having serious negative implications for both teachers and students.

Indeed, the QPAT Brief raised many of the points discussed in the article posted more recently on this blog, “Is No Child Left Behind Coming to Quebec?

However, since this Bill was passed in 2008 QPAT’s serious concern about its implications seems to have all but disappeared. QPAT has done next to nothing to inform either its members or the public at large of the Bill’s dire implications. The first mention of Bill 88 to the members came in the June 2008 issue of QPAT’s Liaison newsletter. Gone were the dire warnings about the “iron-grip of results-based testing”. Instead the members were soothed with the following: “Some concerns about this bill exist, but it may provide for greater consistency among school boards in implementing certain MELS policies”. Exactly what those concerns were was never mentioned.

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December 13, 2011

New Study Comparing Private and Public Sector Wages

Battle of the Wages study dispels myths about public sector wages

Posted Dec 13th on The Progressive Economics Forum

“There’s significant correlation between public and private sector pay over time: we know that from wage bargaining.  It’s interesting to see that some in government have actually admitted it.  Both reports from the European Commission and Canada’s Associate Deputy Minister of Finance have stated that a major policy reason for constraining public sector pay is “to reduce undue upward pressure on private sector wages.”  (see footnote 12 in the report for more studies on this issue).

That’s right: governments are constraining public sector pay not so much to reduce deficits–they could reverse the corporate tax cuts to achieve that–but also to help suppress private sector wages.   And that’s why the CFIB has been pushing this with their own flawed  reports, so wages for their workers will be kept low and profits will rise.”

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December 12, 2011

Dianne Ravitch on Whose Children Have Been ‘Left Behind’ by US Education Reforms

A Nation’s Education Left Behind

“We now know that none of the current carrot-and-stick policies will shrink the [achievement] gap. We know it because they have been tried for 10 years and they haven’t worked. Structural changes like charters and vouchers overall will not make a difference. Merit pay makes no difference. Judging teachers by test scores demoralizes teachers and will lead to narrowing of the curriculum—so that the districts where children have the lowest scores will have more time for test preparation and less time for the arts, less time for history or civics, less time for science, less time for physical education. The children who need a great education the most will get the least.

And many more children will be left behind.”

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December 8, 2011

Salary Provisions of the New Contract Demystified – Part Two

By Robert Green

Part one of this article discussed the core guaranteed salary increases in the current collective agreement. Now comes the fun part: explaining the rather convoluted formula for potential additional increases and what this all means in the big picture.

In addition to the guaranteed 6 percent over five years the agreement also contains several additional increases triggered by growth in Quebec’s nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

What the heck is ‘nominal’ GDP?

The GDP is the basic measure of economic growth. There are two ways economists look at the GDP. ‘Real’ GDP presents a picture of economic growth adjusted for the effects of inflation. As inflation changes from year to year this allows economists to compare one year’s economic growth with another. This is the most commonly referred to measure of economic growth. ‘Nominal’ GDP on the other hand is a measure of economic growth that includes the effects of inflation (on all goods not simply those used to determine the Consumer Price Index). Therefore nominal GDP can be understood as a composite of real GDP plus inflation.

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December 6, 2011

If Not With Standardized Tests, How Should Teachers Be Evaluated?

Taking Teacher Quality Seriously: A Collaborative Approach to Teacher Evaluation

December 5, 2011 by rethinkingschoolsblog

“So what’s the alternative? If narrow, test-based evaluation of teachers is unfair, unreliable, and has negative effects on kids, classrooms, and curricula, what’s a better approach?

By demonizing teachers and unions, and sharply polarizing the education debate, the corporate reform movement has actually undermined serious efforts to improve teacher quality and evaluation.”

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December 5, 2011

New Campaign to ‘Tackle Tax Havens’

Each time public sector unions in Canada go to the bargaining table to seek improvements in the working conditions of their members and the quality of public services for all Canadians, they are inevitably met by governments claiming not to have the money to meet union demands. To mobilize the public against union demands governments are usually quick to evoke the spectre of middle class tax hikes. However, a new campaign by the Tax Justice Network called “Tackle Tax Havens” aims to expose the extent to which governments allow millions in lost tax revenue to flee to various international tax havens. Canadians for Tax Fairness estimates that $81 billion is lost to tax evasion each year in Canada.

Here is the Tackle Tax Havens video:

December 3, 2011

Obama Defends Sweeping Education Reforms in Face of Criticism from Minority and Teachers’ Groups

For a transcript or to view the entire interview click the link below:

Part one:

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December 1, 2011

Salary Provisions of the New Contract Demystified – Part One

By Robert Green

Last fall members of the majority of Quebec’s public sector unions voted to approve an agreement on salary that had been negotiated by the leaders of the Common Front.

Prior to the vote, the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT) which represents teachers in Quebec’s English school boards had done very little to ensure that its members clearly understood the proposed deal. The usual mail-out was forgone in favour of a link on QPAT’s website and very little time was made available for members to study the details of the deal before being asked to vote on it. Although a more detailed explanation was provided at the Montreal Teachers Association (MTA) general meeting, very few attended this meeting. As a result Quebec’s teachers, for the most part, are left with a salary agreement whose true implications few understand.

In two parts, this article will attempt to remedy this situation by demystifying and contextualizing this agreement that we will all have to live with until 2015. Part one will discuss the context of the agreement and its core guaranteed elements. Part two will explore the possibility of additional salary increases being triggered and look at the effects of inflation.

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