Archive for January, 2014

January 30, 2014

Fallout from BCTF ruling is staggering

By Les Leyne | Published January 29, 2014 by The Times Colonist

The political aspect to this week’s Supreme Court decision on the B.C. Teachers Federation case is pretty clear.

It’s one of the most severe findings a court has issued about government conduct in years. The B.C. Liberals have been thrown for a big loss on the education front.

Justice Susan Griffin declared the government deliberately tried to secretly provoke a strike by the BCTF in 2012 to create a political advantage.

Low-grade BCTF job action that year was frustrating everyone. The government wanted to bring it to an end, by forcing the union’s hand. When the full school shutdown that the B.C. Liberals wanted didn’t happen, they increased the pressure on the union “so as to provoke a strike.” Why?

The judge said it was because it was so important to the government strategy, which was to win support for imposing legislation on teachers who were withdrawing some services on a kind of work-to-rule campaign.

There are no rhetorical denunciations in the judgment. The findings speak for themselves.

She ordered the government to pay the union $2 million for bad faith. Trust me, it got off easy.

It’s the practical effect of the decision that’s not yet clear. It appears to send the education system back to 2002, when class-size limits and strict formulas for teacher-librarians, specialists and requirements about class composition were all in the contract.

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January 28, 2014

Teach for Canada: A word to the wise from someone who has been there

By Grant Frost | Published January 15, 2014 by frostededucation


Does Teach for Canada seriously expect that sending untrained University Graduates into First Nations classrooms is going to result in anything other than a complete trainwreck?

The schools of Canada’s Aboriginal communities are often staffed with young, energetic, recent graduates who are actually trained teachers. Although each may tell stories of small individual differences made in the lives of individual children, the collective gains of the non-First Nations system in improving the overall well being of First Nations students in this country remains a National shame. But suggesting that placing less qualified and more poorly trained people in classrooms will help the issue could be considered a laughable suggestion.

Except that no one should be laughing.

What arrogance on the part of TFC assumes, for some reason, that yet another well meaning group of Southerners is going to be the saviour of Canada’s Aboriginal people? What possible rationale can they be using to justify their notion that they can prepare people in one summer to understand the complexities of First Nations life? On what planet does living in a community for two years (TFC’s suggested contract length for it’s recruits) make them become “part of the community”, one of the “different ways” the TFC’s graduates will improve education? Finally, what possible insight into First Nations education could be offered by two business consultants, a speech writer, and a lawyer, the current vocations of TFC’s board of directors?

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January 23, 2014

Decay, contamination force elementary school students to relocate

Published Jan 20, 2014 by CBC News

A decision to relocate 260 elementary school-aged students to a school 15 kilometres away while their aging school is decontaminated has Montreal’s French-language school board facing some angry parents.

Parents of students in grade three and up at the CSDM’s É​cole des Nations in Côte-des-Neiges say they only found out in December about their children’s impending transfer to École Champlain, located just northeast of the Jacques-Cartier bridge.

“The parents were never consulted about the decision,” Munzoor Qadar told CBC News. “We were just told, dictated that we were all going to go to Champlain on the other side of Montreal.”

École des Nations is one of 27 schools in the CSDM system deemed in an “excessive” state of decay, according to school board documents obtained through Access to Information by CBC/Radio-Canada. That means it would cost as much if not more to renovate them than it would to rebuild them.

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January 22, 2014

Une Charte anti-syndicale

Par Sébastien Robert | Jan 20, 2014 La Presse

Le projet de loi 60 qui est actuellement à l’étude à l’Assemblée nationale soulève les passions à travers le Québec. Le débat a plusieurs facettes, mais l’aspect juridique de celui-ci tourne autour de la constitutionnalité de l’interdiction du port de signes religieux ostentatoires. Je ne suis pas avocat, je fais donc confiance au Barreau du Québec quand il dit que cette interdiction serait contraire aux chartes des droits et libertés.

Par contre, comme syndicaliste, je vois surtout les problèmes concrets d’application du projet de loi 60 et le débat juridique que les syndicats n’auront pas le choix de mener à cause de leur devoir, prévu au Code du travail, de défendre les droits de chacun de leurs membres.

Aussi, je semble être le seul à voir, dans ce projet de loi 60, une loi spéciale qui remet en question la liberté des travailleurs du secteur public de s’associer pour négocier des conditions de travail. Les syndicats du secteur public ont négocié des conventions collectives en 2011. Ces contrats de travail, signés par les syndicats et le gouvernement, sont valides jusqu’au 31 mars 2015.

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January 20, 2014

Stop soaring school costs in Ontario

By Arthur Cockfield | Published Jan 19 2014 by The Toronto Star

While recent media attention has focused on Ontario students’ dismal math performance and the government’s “discovery” curriculum approach to learning math, another government education scandal has escaped broad public scrutiny. The provincial government spends billions on budget-busting new school construction that thwarts the interests of students throughout the province.

After the Liberals came to power in 2003 they changed how new school constructions would be funded. Under the old rules, local school boards had to pay for new builds out of their own budgets. The new rules changed this so that new school constructions would now be paid out of provincial coffers. The new regime creates what economists call a “moral hazard,” where school boards neglect renovation costs at existing schools, then request new school funds from the province because they know their own budgets will be unaffected, even though Ontario taxpayers bear the cost nonetheless.

These construction projects are contributing to soaring education costs: a year ago the Ontario government, as part of what has become an annual ritual, trumpeted an additional $711 million for new construction, retrofits or additions for schools. Astonishingly, the total cost for new construction exceeds $12 billion since the Liberals came into power back in 2003. Despite opposition from parents and students in cities like Hamilton and Peterborough, hundreds of schools have been closed to pave way for new schools. And all these costs were incurred while the Liberals were blaming our teachers for their fiscal woes.

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January 16, 2014

Noam Chomsky (2013) “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”

January 10, 2014

Values charter endorses bullying, EMSB says

School board says it won’t accept any attempt to legislate staff dress code

By Monique Muise | Published January 9, 2014 by The Montreal Gazette

MONTREAL — The English Montreal School Board says Quebec’s proposed Charter of Values “gives a government endorsement to bullying” in its schools, and as such, it will neither support nor adhere to the controversial legislation.

In a brief to be presented at the National Assembly during hearings into what is now known as Bill 60, the EMSB outlines the reasons for its opposition to the charter, which would forbid public servants — including teachers and principals — from wearing conspicuous religious symbols on the job.

“We cannot be party to a proposed legislation which, if passed, runs contrary to what we teach our students insofar as tolerance and respect of individual rights and religious freedoms are concerned,” reads the brief, released on Thursday morning. The board then states clearly that it will “not accept” any attempt to legislate the wearing of clothing, headgear, jewelry or other adornments among its staff.

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January 9, 2014

Parents mous, enfants fous, profs à bout

Josée Blanchette | Sept 6, 2013 Le Devoir

On dit souvent qu’il n’y a pas de job plus difficile au monde que celui de parent. Je…

On dit souvent qu’il n’y a pas de job plus difficile au monde que celui de parent. Je suis d’accord. Mais il y a un boulot encore moins valorisant que celui-là : se tenir debout devant une classe de 24 enfants qui ne sont pas les vôtres. Je me prosterne devant ce mur d’enseignantes (notez le féminin) qui s’aligne dans la cour d’école à chaque rentrée. Je suis béate d’admiration devant leurs 25 tentacules indépendants (notez le masculin).

Devant ces hommes aussi, mais on n’en rencontre que 12 % au primaire. Jamais vu un mec enseigner à mon B. Et c’est grand dommage, mais c’est un autre sujet.

Le sujet, c’est le décrochage de tous ces enseignants, hommes ou femmes, 25 % au primaire dans les cinq années qui suivent leur arrivée devant un tableau noir ou blanc, selon les derniers chiffres disponibles au ministère de l’Éducation (2011). Un sur quatre ! Un phénomène en progression. Si les parents décrochaient au même rythme que les profs, il faudrait un ministère des Orphelins du Québec pour pourvoir aux besoins des enfants.

Pourquoi décrochent-ils ? Non, ce ne sont pas les moisissures dans les murs ; quoique le symbole est frappant. Tous les professeurs avec qui je me suis entretenue en viennent à des constats similaires. L’Association québécoise des enseignantes et des enseignants du primaire publiera sous peu un mémoire pour appuyer leurs dires, mettant en cause la précarité, la lourdeur de la tâche, la formation inadéquate, le manque de ressources et… la discipline.

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January 8, 2014

The Myth of the Hero Teacher

Casting educators as saviors undermines the teaching profession—and our students.

By Allison Ricket | Published Dec 23, 2013 by Teaching Tolerance

Political sound bytes about classroom incompetence and the crisis in education frighten me far less than the rhetoric of those looking to defend teachers by calling us “heroes.” The myth of the teacher as hero is a damaging one—and one we need to examine closely in these turbulent political and economic times. Deconstructing this myth reveals negative implications for students and for colleagues at a time when teachers need support—not labels that undermine our profession. 

As an educator for social justice, I want my students in the hero role, not myself.

First of all, to call teachers “heroes” implies that they must be “saving” someone. It follows that, in this metaphor, students play the role of the anonymous civilians in peril. To conceptualize students—even nominally—as people in need of saving strips them of their agency and goes against the very meaning of the word education. The Latin root of this word—educere—means “to lead forth.” In light of this etymology, the heroes live inside our students, who need orchestrated stimuli, love and attention to lead them toward their potential. 

Second, the myth of the teacher as hero places inherent judgment on any cultural, socioeconomic or familial status that might alter a student’s learning or educational needs. According to the hero narrative, students need to be saved from something. So what is it we’re saving students from, and who decides? No one would dispute that learning disabilities or family poverty can pose significant obstacles to learning and that students who grow and learn despite these difficulties have developed great coping mechanisms. But I think it’s egotistical to pin this “triumph” on a single teacher rather than on students’ own efforts and inherent capabilities. It also demeans students’ identities to cast the realities of their lives as circumstances from which they must be saved.

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