Archive for February, 2014

February 26, 2014

Stalled negotiations driving teacher strike vote in BC

By Katie Hyslop | Published February 25, 2014 by The Hook

The province’s 40,000 plus public teachers will take a strike vote on March 4 to 6 after over a year of negotiations with government that have gone nowhere.

In a press conference held at the BC Teachers’ Federation Vancouver headquarters this morning, President Jim Iker said negotiations with the BC Public School Employers Association (BCPSEA) went downhill last summer when government removed BCPSEA’s board and replaced it with Peter Cameron as director and negotiator.

“Up until this point, the 10-year deal was only a media sound bite,” Iker said, recalling Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender’s vocal support for a 10-year negotiated contract with teachers.

That summer the union held a membership vote on the prospect of a 10-year deal, and 96 per cent of teachers voted against it. But that fall the government tabled a 10-year deal anyway.

“Since the fall, Christy Clark’s government, through their appointed leaders at BCPSEA, is again trying to strip teachers working conditions and freeze wages,” said Iker.

“They propose nothing that teachers can agree to: not a single incentive for any deal, never mind a longer term deal. Every meeting we’ve had since December has seen the parties drive further and further apart as the government goes after unreasonable concessions.”

Read more:

February 25, 2014

The Myth Behind Public School Failure

by Dean Paton | Published February 21, 2014 by Yes! Magazine

Until about 1980, America’s public schoolteachers were iconic everyday heroes painted with a kind of Norman Rockwell patina—generally respected because they helped most kids learn to read, write and successfully join society. Such teachers made possible at least the idea of a vibrant democracy.

Since then, what a turnaround: We’re now told, relentlessly, that bad-apple schoolteachers have wrecked K-12 education; that their unions keep legions of incompetent educators in classrooms; that part of the solution is more private charter schools; and that teachers as well as entire schools lack accountability, which can best be remedied by more and more standardized “bubble” tests.

What led to such an ignoble fall for teachers and schools? Did public education really become so irreversibly terrible in three decades? Is there so little that’s redeemable in today’s schoolhouses?

Read more:

February 23, 2014

Citizen activism is the best way to defeat Bill 60

By Robert Green | Published Saturday Feb 22, 2014 by The Montreal Gazette

There is a conversation about the Parti Québécois government’s proposed charter of Quebec values that I keep having. I’ve had this conversation with both anglophones and francophones, sovereignists and federalists, and politicos and people who hardly follow politics at all.

The conversation is about how this is a political issue unlike any other in recent memory.

People are deeply disturbed by Bill 60.

There is something particularly vile about a government that would so forcefully act to further exclude and alienate groups that are already marginalized in Quebec society. The English Montreal School Board’s parliamentary brief that describes Bill 60 as giving “a government endorsement to bullying” captures well the sentiments of many who oppose the charter.

1381478_605737996132239_2074558526_nWhile most opponents of the charter are extremely clear about the various reasons why they oppose this legislation, they are far less so about how we as citizens should react. There are a range of reactions being proposed, some of which do not seem to me to be very well thought out.

At the extreme end is the threat to leave Quebec.

I can certainly understand why someone might have this impulse. Rejecting things we don’t agree with is a natural instinct. But the reality is that the more opponents of xenophobic politics leave Quebec, the easier it will be for xenophobes to have their way; marginalized groups will become even more vulnerable.

Another common reaction is to trust that the charter will be defeated through the courts.

While it does seem that the vast majority of constitutional experts believe the charter will not withstand a court challenge, nothing is ever sure. We also have to acknowledge that the legal route presents certain risks. If the charter is not struck down in its entirety, such a ruling could provide it another level of political legitimacy. The spectre of a confrontation with the federal Supreme Court, with all of the political implications that entails, also looms. There is therefore a real possibility that even if the PQ loses in the courts it will gain politically, thus entrenching its turn toward the politics of xenophobia.

The option which is not being discussed enough is the citizens of Quebec themselves taking action.

read more »

February 20, 2014

First Nations group taking Tories’ aboriginal education plan to court

Published  Feb. 19 2014 by The Canadian Press

The Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is requesting a judicial review of the Conservative government’s reworked plan for aboriginal education.

The group is asking the Federal Court to prevent the legislation from going ahead without its endorsement.

The assembly’s chief, Ghislain Picard, and Kitigan Zibi Chief Gilbert Whiteduck are scheduled to hold a news conference tomorrow in Montreal.

Read more:

February 19, 2014

Overwhelmed Canadian Teachers Quitting in Droves

Improve working conditions to keep new teachers from leaving the profession, says expert

By Justina Reichel | Published February 19, 2013 by The Epoch Times

Canada’s education system is in crisis, says an education expert, and as a result teachers are quitting the profession at an alarming rate.

Bullying from parents, false accusations from students, a lack of merit-based pay, few support resources, stifling curriculum requirements, and overwhelming workloads are just some of the reasons new teachers are leaving, says Jon Bradley, an associate professor and program director at McGill University’s Faculty of Education.

An estimated 30-50 percent of Canadian teachers are leaving the profession within their first five years on the job, says Bradley, with similar stats reported in countries such as the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

In Alberta, 40 percent of teachers are leaving within the first five years, according to researchers at the University of Alberta.

“Why are so many leaving? That whole area needs to be addressed,” Bradley says, adding that given the myriad issues involved, the education system is in crisis.

“I believe it is in a crisis. I believe it’s being held together, you know, by a string and a prayer. But it’s in crisis, and we ignore the crisis at our peril.”

Bradley notes that the high turnover of new teachers is not only costly, it takes away from the learning experience of students who benefit most from teachers who “hit their stride” after 7-10 years on the job.

Read more:

February 18, 2014

Blue dots becoming symbol for First Nations Education Act resistance

Meme meant to represent those not included or considered in current FNEA legislation

By Angela Sterritt | Published Feb 12, 2014 by CBC News

A “blue dot” movement has taken the Twittersphere and Facebook by storm. Photographs of Indigenous people with a blue dot on their chest are being posted on social media.

It follows what happened at a joint announcement on the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act (FNEA).

The proposed legislation was announced in the Kainai First Nation on the Blood Tribe Reserve in Alberta. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt held a ceremony in the community to “seal the deal.”    

Twila Singer and her two children attended the event.

“We were separated at the door and given either a blue dot or a yellow dot. The blue dots were uninvited guests and were ushered to the gymnasium, and the invited guests were the yellow dots and they were brought to the auditorium where the dignitaries were.” 

Along with about 40 others in the gym, Singer and her seven and 17-year-old daughters viewed what was happening in the auditorium on LCD monitors. At the end, the invited guests were directed to go to the gym for a feast.

That’s when Twila was kicked out — for tweeting.

Read more:

February 14, 2014

CJAD Gang of Four discusses the EMSB’s presentation at the Bill 60 hearings

Robert Green, Anne Lagacé-Dowson, Trudie Mason and Tommy Shnurmacher discuss the EMSB’s presentation at the Bill 60 hearings. Click here to stream or download the podcast.

February 13, 2014

English Montreal School Board squares off against Drainville

By Philip Authier | Published February 12, 2014 by The Montreal Gazette
Sparks flew on Wednesday as the province’s largest English language school board refused to back down on threats to use “all possible recourses” to fight the charter of secular values.Despite a harsh scolding from Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville, who accused the English Montreal School Board of being “completely irresponsible” in the language it uses opposing the bill, the board was unyielding.

“Do you exclude or not civil disobedience?” Drainville snapped repeatedly at the three female board representatives appearing before the committee studying Bill 60.

“I think you went too far in suggesting you won’t respect the law. I want to give you the occasion to tell us once the law is adopted you will respect it as all good citizens respect laws of a society.”

Although the board’s brief makes no direct use of the words, it does say it will use “all possible resources at our disposal so that this legislation can never apply.”

Drainville started the day telling reporters that appears to mean the English Montreal School Board would resort to civil disobedience.

Read more:

February 7, 2014

Teachers in Oregon Vote to Strike for ‘Better Learning Conditions’

By Jacob Chamberlain | Published February 6, 2014 by Common Dreams

Teachers, parents, and students rally in Portland to support teachers union, improving classrooms

In an ongoing battle for student and teachers’ rights in Portland, Oregon’s public school system, nearly 3,000 teachers voted Wednesday night with an overwhelming majority to authorize a strike starting February 20th if school officials don’t meet their demands to improve education.

Among those demands, the teachers are calling for Portland Public Schools to hire more teachers in order to allow smaller class sizes. The teachers are also calling for a curriculum that “does not force teachers to teach to the test” and an increase in teacher pay that “provides fair compensation after years of sacrifice,” according to the Portland Association of Teachers.

“No teacher ever wants to go on strike, we want to be in classrooms with our students,” explained PAT president Gwen Sullivan. “But Portland teachers are united and resolved to stand up for our students’ learning conditions. It’s time to move this to a conclusion so that we can have a contract that is fair for teachers and good for students.”

Emphasizing the fact that the strike is over more than just teacher pay, Mark Wilson, a teacher at Rosa Parks Elementary in North Portland stated, “I wouldn’t strike if this were over a percentage point over salary. €œIt’€™s about class sizes.”

Ahead of Wednesday’s vote, parents, community members and students rallied outside the venue in support of the teachers.

Read more:

February 6, 2014

Nouvel avis juridique anti-charte

Le projet de loi 60 crée une discrimination à l’emploi, concluent les avocats mandatés de la Fédération autonome de l’enseignement

Lisa-Marie Gervais | Published Feb 5, 2014 by Le Devoir

Non seulement la charte de la laïcité porte-t-elle atteinte à plusieurs droits fondamentaux, mais elle brime également le droit à l’égalité en créant une discrimination importante à l’emploi, conclut un nouvel avis juridique commandé par la Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE). Et cette discrimination touche directement les femmes, car ce sont elles qu’on exclut du marché du travail.

« Force est de constater que le [projet de loi 60] ne démontre aucune intention réelle de l’État de poursuivre un objectif de promotion du droit des femmes en emploi ou dans la société », lit-on dans l’avis rendu public mardi et préparé par les avocats Josée Lavallée et Pierre Brun, de la firme Melançon, Marceau, Grenier et Sciortino. Comme il s’agit d’interdire, par exemple, le port du voile dans les institutions de l’État et qu’il continuera d’être permis dans la rue et dans les espaces privés, il est donc « clair que le but et l’objectif du gouvernement sont d’assurer la neutralité, la laïcité de l’état et non l’égalité des femmes ».

Les commissions scolaires sont des organismes parapublics qui ont l’obligation de mettre en place des programmes d’accès à l’égalité en emploi, question de ne pas défavoriser les minorités comme les handicapés, les femmes, les minorités visibles. En interdisant le port de signes religieux comme le propose l’article 5 du projet de loi, l’État engendre une discrimination fondée sur la religion et entre en contradiction avec ses propres programmes censés viser l’égalité, soutient le président de la FAE, Sylvain Mallette. « Le gouvernement dit qu’il veut l’égalité entre les hommes et les femmes, mais ce n’est pas ça. Car il vient dire à ces personnes qui appartiennent à une minorité, dont les femmes qui portent un voile, qu’elles ne peuvent pas maintenir un lien d’emploi ou accéder à un emploi, explique-t-il. Le droit au travail est donc remis en question, car le gouvernement va à l’encontre du droit à l’égalité. Et les femmes sont victimes doublement. Elles sont déjà une minorité et, en plus, on les discriminerait pour le port d’un voile. »

Read more:

February 5, 2014

Kahnawake youth say no to FNEA

By | Published January 29, 2014 by The Two Row Times

KAHNAWAKE – Over 500 people joined Kahnawake’s youth and their supporters for a rally on Kahnawake Territory on Tuesday, to show their opposition to the federal government’s proposed First Nations Education Act. Protestors gave out informational flyers to passing motorists, many of whom honked in support.

The youth statement explained, “We, the executive committee of the Kahnawà:ke Youth Forum, are writing to express our concern for the proposed First Nation’s Education Act and to call on Canada to cease all actions related to the development, passage and implementation of this Act.

As the youth of Kahnawà:ke , it is our responsibility to ensure that we are prepared to become the next generation of leaders and thinkers in our community and as a result to defend and guide the future of the subsequent generations of young Kanien’kehá:ka (People of the Mohawk Nation).

Read more:

February 2, 2014

Qu’est-ce que l’austérité? / What is austerity?

Click ‘cc’ to activate English subtitles:

February 1, 2014

Charte: la parole aux enfants