Archive for September, 2013

September 28, 2013

Quebec Charter of Values FAQ

How can I stand up for a Quebec that is free of xenophobia and respectful of people’s fundamental freedoms?

Attend the demontration Sunday September 29 beginning at 1 o’clock at at Place des Festival at the corner of Jeanne-Mance and Sainte-Catherine streets.


tumblr_mt76gj8dHC1sidmaxo1_1280To see the rest of this series visit:

September 25, 2013

Ces images qui dérangent la CSDM

By Jean-Pierre J. Godbout |Published 24 septembre 2013 in Vivre dans Hochelaga

Intervention artistique qui dénonce la fermeture d’écoles du quartier

Photo: Annie Gaudreau

Photo: Annie Gaudreau

Une série d’images-chocs ont été apposées aux fenêtres barricadées des écoles Baril située sur la rue Adam. L’objectif de l’intervention artistique : souligner une situation déplorable qui perdure, à savoir la fermeture de trois écoles majeures dans le quartier et le nouveau transfert de près de 800 élèves lors de la rentrée scolaire.

Mmes Ève Kirlin et Mariève Lafortune, respectivement présidentes du conseil d’établissement des écoles Saint-Nom-de-Jésus et Hochelaga, ont été approchées par les artistes activistes qui ont réalisé les photos. Au sujet de l’action, Mme Kirlin précise qu’« il ne s’agit nullement d’une contestation des rouages de la Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM); c’est vraiment pour souligner la situation ». Mme Lafortune souligne par ailleurs que les artistes « ne sont pas des parents. Elles n’ont pas d’enfant dans les écoles concernées. Il s’agit de citoyennes du quartier qui se sont senties interpellées par la cause ». Elle ajoute que les élèves ayant participé à la création des photos l’ont fait volontairement et qu’ils se sont limités à servir de modèles.

Read more:

September 21, 2013

What about victims of the cult of impossible femininity?

By Katharine Cukier | Published September 20 by The Montreal Gazette

The Charter of Values plans to eliminate the personal display of religious symbols from the Quebec  public service. Apparently, this is necessary to confirm the secular neutrality of our state. Further, as the current government posters in the Metro suggest, this is a vital gesture to promote the ‘sacred’ equality of women and men.

We are not naïve.  We all understand that the Muslim woman’s head covering, the hijab, is the particular target of the PQ’s action, and it is this particular piece of cloth that has been generating a panic, both ethnocentric and islamaphobic for a number of years.  For many, the head scarf has become the preeminent sign of female submissiveness. And even if these devout women claim it is their choice to follow the dress code of piety, we are convinced that there is some bullying, bearded father or brother forcing them to do it. And, well, we just don’t like it.

I am for consistency, especially from the neutral, rational state, and if we want to be consistent and indeed rid the public service of symbols of female submission, I would argue that not only should Muslim woman remove their scarves, but all female public servants to whom the following applies should be obliged to remove their breast implants, spike heels, false eyelashes and the botulism they have had injected into their faces. They should be forbidden from dying their hair, wearing makeup and tight clothing to their public service jobs as these adornments suggest individual choices that are powerfully at odds with our progressive, egalitarian society. No more pretty, kindergarden teachers with plunging necklines and girly manicures. No more crown prosecutors in short skirts and lipstick. If we really believe that our secular, non-patriarchal state can be compromised by what women wear,  public servants who have been indoctrinated since birth by a barrage of media sexism to submit to a feminine ideal brought to you by Hugh Hefner or Walt Disney should be brought to heel. Flat heels of course. Ladies, you wear flat, comfortable shoes, or you lose your job.

We know these unfortunate women are victims of the cult of impossible femininity with its sacraments of fashion and narcissism and its flipside: a generalised self-loathing instilled from an early age by the manipulative, misogynist gods of media and consumer culture and their ubiquitous propaganda. These fashion-diet victims live in terror of the carbohydrate and the body hair that creeps into the wrong places. They regularly submit to the self-mortifications of fad diets and ritualised waxing or shaving of their – well you know where.  They all will claim it is their choice, that they are liberated like that freedom fighter Miley Cyrus to express themselves, but I am convinced there is some greedy, leering, male advertising executive in the background forcing them to do it. And well, I don’t like it.

In truth, I don’t really want to impose my dress-code of gender equality on women. I am weary of the conceal from men-reveal to men, imperatives of feminine dress codes whether of eastern cover-it-up (read:  backward)or western take-it-off (read progressive) provenance.  It is still about who(he) is looking at whom(her).

The march to gender equality is still in progress. The advancement of women continues to be one of the most significant and let me say it, glorious, developments in human history. Many, many steps forward, and yes from time to time, a few back.  The most important achievement of gender equality is a commitment to treating women like they are adults, endowed with both reason and dignity. They are capable of making choices, even if those choices are influenced by cultural forces that some of us may disagree with. Persecuting pious Muslim women and excluding them from lucrative, stable employment in the government is a huge, ugly leap backwards. And I really don’t like it


September 19, 2013

Diane Ravitch: School privatization is a hoax, “reformers” aim to destroy public schools

By Dianne Ravitch | Published Sep 15, 2013 by


If the American public understood that reformers want to privatize their public schools and divert their taxes to pay profits to investors, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If parents understood that the reformers want to close down their community schools and require them to go shopping for schools, some far from home, that may or may not accept their children, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If the American public understood that the very concept of education was being disfigured into a mechanism to apply standardized testing and sort their children into data points on a normal curve, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform.

If the American public understood that their children’s teachers will be judged by the same test scores that label their children as worthy or unworthy, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If the American public knew how inaccurate and unreliable these methods are, both for children and for teachers, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. And that is why the reform message must be rebranded to make it palatable to the public.

The leaders of the privatization movement call themselves reformers, but their premises are strikingly different from those of reformers in the past. In earlier eras, reformers wanted such things as a better curriculum, better-prepared teachers, better funding, more equitable funding, smaller classes, and desegregation, which they believed would lead to better public schools. By contrast, today’s reformers insist that public education is a failed enterprise and that all these strategies have been tried and failed.

They assert that the best way to save education is to hand it over to private management and let the market sort out the winners and the losers. They wish to substitute private choices for the public’s responsibility to provide good schools for all children. They lack any understanding of the crucial role of public schools in a democracy.

Read more:

September 17, 2013

Pauline Marois is ignoring lessons she herself wanted taught

By Robert Green | Published September 16 by The Montreal Gazette

Premier Pauline Marois needs to go back to high school. If she did she would be exposed to a curriculum that was introduced in 1997 by the Parti Québécois’s minister of education at the time: an ambitious up-and-comer by the name of Pauline Marois.

Here are a few samples of what Mme. Marois would learn from her own curriculum document, the Quebec Education Program:

student-MaroisThe program identifies several “broad areas of learning” that are to be integrated into the teaching of all subjects. In its description of one such the broad area of learning, Citizenship and Community Life, the education plan refers to schools as places that “bring together students of diverse social and cultural origins, with a variety of traditions, beliefs, values and ideologies.” It presents such diversity as an opportunity for teachers, stating: “This makes the school an ideal place for learning to respect others and accept their differences, to be receptive to pluralism, to maintain egalitarian relationships with others and to reject all forms of exclusion.” The educational aim for this area of learning includes developing “an attitude of openness to the world and respect for diversity.”

The Ethics and Religious Culture program also has some important lessons for Mme. Marois. This program has two objectives. The first is the “recognition of others,” which is “linked to the principle that all people possess equal value and dignity.” Because of “the importance (that) each of us attributes to being recognized, particularly with respect to our world-view,” we need to engage in the sort of dialogue that “contributes to building a common culture that takes diversity into account.” The second objective is the “pursuit of the common good.” This is explicitly linked to the principles and values outlined in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Section 3 of the charter includes freedom of religion and freedom of expression as being among Quebec’s fundamental freedoms. Section 10 guarantees the exercise of these fundamental freedoms without “distinction, exclusion or preference” based on, among other things, religion.

read more »

September 15, 2013

Video: Westmount High School Protests Against Quebec Charter of Values

September 15, 2013

When High School Students Are Treated Like Prisoners

Advocates call for an end to the criminalization of students in New York and around the country

By  | Published September 12, 2013 by Rolling Stone

As students in New York City return to school for the fall, a coalition of youth and legal advocacy groups, including the New York Civil Liberties Union, has launched a campaign to address disciplinary policies that they argue criminalize students, making them less likely to graduate and more likely to end up ensnared in the criminal justice system. The “New Vision for School Safety” presented by the campaign calls for a citywide reduction of the use of police and NYPD school safety officers in schools and an increase in the power of educators, parents and students to shape the safety policies in their school communities.

Advocates argue that strict disciplinary practices, including police presence, metal detectors and “zero tolerance” policies, disproportionately target students of color, especially black and Latino youth. Although only a third of students in New York City are black, they received over half (53 percent) of the suspensions over the past decade, according to the Dignity in Schools Campaign. Of the students suspended for “profanity,” 51 percent were black, and 57 percent of those suspended for “insubordination” were black. Students with disabilities are also four times as likely to be suspended than their non-disabled peers. (A representative for New York’s Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment.) The creeping criminalization of school spaces targeting already marginalized populations is not limited to the city of New York – as The New York Times reported earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of students around the country face criminal charges, as opposed to school-based disciplinary measures, each year. A civil suit filed earlier this year in Texas alleges that misdemeanor ticketing disproportionately targeted African American students.

September 13, 2013

Painting a picture of intolerance

By Michelle Lalonde | Published September 12, 2013 by The Montreal Gazette
Negative reaction to the proposed Charter of Quebec Values ranges from bemusement through bafflement and all the way to fury, as Quebecers try to imagine how the charter would affect their workplaces and lives if it were ever applied.

The handy diagram provided Tuesday when the Parti Québécois finally unveiled its controversial proposal has raised more questions than it answered.

Pictograms indicating which religious symbols would be allowed in public sector workplaces, and which would be deemed too overtly religious to be tolerated in a secular society, have certainly inflamed the debate.

Hijabs, kippahs, turbans and large crucifixes on a necklace are some of the items the charter would ban public service employees from wearing. Smaller crucifixes, earrings or rings that display religious symbols would be permitted, the diagram indicated.

But what of medium-size crucifixes?

How about a big Star of David on a T-shirt? What if a male employee chooses to wear his beard long and moustache trimmed, a look favoured by some devout Muslims? What about a non-believer who simply likes the look of a large dangling crucifix earring? What about tattoos with religious messages and symbols?

Read more:

September 12, 2013

Podcast: Philosopher Charles Taylor, Teacher Robert Green and CPE Director Paula Lamarre Discuss the PQ’s Secular Charter on CBC Daybreak

Click here to download or listen to the podcast

September 11, 2013

What do I tell my hijab-wearing daughter about Quebec’s values?

By Samah Marei, Published September 11 2013 by The Montreal Gazette


I don’t think the fear relating to people in authority wearing hijabs is related to fear that these people will cast some sort of religious hold on those in their care. I think the real fear is that young people — say, children in daycare — will grow up without fear of religious symbols some want them to hate. The memory of a good doctor with a turban or a kindly civil servant wearing a yarmulke or hijab will go a long way, after all, toward eliminating prejudice against religious minorities. For a society that lays claim to secular égalité, I would think that eliminating such prejudice would be a good thing. But instead, Quebec would be raising its children to be provincial and xenophobic; unable to interact with anyone who “looks different.”

Read more:

September 8, 2013

Baisse salariale en vue pour les professeurs de cégep

By Lisa-Marie Gervais | Published 7 septembre 2013 by Le Devoir

Les profs de cégep perdent du galon. Le Conseil du trésor a réévalué leurs tâches et leur offre désormais un salaire moindre que les enseignants au préscolaire, au primaire et au secondaire. La Fédération nationale des enseignants (FNEEQ-CSN) a déjà voté pour des moyens de pression afin de faire reculer le gouvernement.

« Je peux vous dire que les enseignants sont en colère », a déclaré au Devoir, Micheline Thibodeau, responsable du regroupement cégep de la Fédération nationale des enseignants (FNEEQ-CSN), qui représente plus des trois quarts des profs de cégep.
En clair : cette réévaluation, qui les a déclassés d’un rang (de la 22e à la 21e place), baisse de 5 % leur salaire (ce qui correspondrait à trois à quatre semaines de salaire). Elle ne permet plus aux enseignants des collèges de faire reconnaître une maîtrise ou un doctorat. « On ne comprend pas l’attitude du gouvernement. Il a formé un ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur, il a reconnu le collégial, mais le Conseil du trésor vient maintenant nous dire qu’on est en deçà des profs de maternelle », a lancé Mme Thibodeau.

Read more:

Tags: ,
September 5, 2013

Quebec teachers’ federation rejects PQ’s vision for Charter of Values

Government should stop funding private religious schools and take the crucifix out of the National Assembly but leave individuals be: FAE

By Catherine Solyom | Published September 4, 2013 by the Montreal Gazette

If the Parti Québécois government really wants to secularize education in the province, it should stop funding private religious schools — not prohibit teachers from wearing overt religious symbols.

That was the message sent Wednesday by the Fédération autonome d’enseignement — which represents about 32,000 teachers, or one-third of the teachers in Quebec — to the government as the PQ prepares to table its controversial Charter of Quebec Values, rumoured to be set for Monday.

Warning against a polarizing debate that could easily get out of control or be taken hostage by extremists, the FAE urged Pauline Marois and her government to concentrate their efforts on making the state and its institutions secular, not necessarily inpiduals.

Take the crucifix out of the National Assembly’s Blue Room, where any new charter will be debated and turned into law, the FAE said, but respect teachers’ right to freedom of expression and religion (or atheism, as the case may be).

Read more: