Archive for March, 2014

March 26, 2014

‘A Lesson in Values for Madame Marois’: The Video and the Press Coverage

The video:

The Press Coverage:

Global  – Westmount High tries to teach Marois a lesson in values

CTV – Westmount High’s anti-Charter lesson

The Montreal Gazette – Student video takes aim at charter of values

CBC – Westmount High produces video against charter of ‘values’

CBC Daybreak – Westmount High students offer Marois a lesson in values

CJAD – Westmount High make video to teach Marois lessons

MTL Blog – Montreal Women & Minorities Finally Speak Out Against Pauline Marois

Yahoo Quebec – Des élèves donnent une petite leçon sur les droits et libertés à Pauline Marois

Gilles Duceppe’s response in the Journal de Montreal – Une école doit-elle faire de la politique?

Gilles Duceppe’s second response in the Journal de Montreal – Déformer la réalité

My response to Gilles Duceppe

 

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March 17, 2014

The Real Irish American Story Not Taught in Schools

By Bill Bigelow | Published March 16, 2014 by Zinn Education Project

To support the famine relief effort, British tax policy required landlords to pay the local taxes of their poorest tenant farmers, leading many landlords to forcibly evict struggling farmers and destroy their cottages in order to save money. From Hunger on Trial Teaching Activity.

“Wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or get pinched.” That pretty much sums up the Irish-American “curriculum” that I learned when I was in school. Yes, I recall a nod to the so-called Potato Famine, but it was mentioned only in passing.

Sadly, today’s high school textbooks continue to largely ignore the famine, despite the fact that it was responsible for unimaginable suffering and the deaths of more than a million Irish peasants, and that it triggered the greatest wave of Irish immigration in U.S. history. Nor do textbooks make any attempt to help students link famines past and present.

Yet there is no shortage of material that can bring these dramatic events to life in the classroom. In my own high school social studies classes, I begin with Sinead O’Connor’s haunting rendition of “Skibbereen,” which includes the verse:

… Oh it’s well I do remember, that bleak
December day,
The landlord and the sheriff came, to drive
Us all away
They set my roof on fire, with their cursed
English spleen
And that’s another reason why I left old
Skibbereen.

By contrast, Holt McDougal’s U.S. history textbook The Americans, devotes a flat two sentences to “The Great Potato Famine.” Prentice Hall’s America: Pathways to the Present fails to offer a single quote from the time. The text calls the famine a “horrible disaster,” as if it were a natural calamity like an earthquake. And in an awful single paragraph, Houghton Mifflin’s The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People blames the “ravages of famine” simply on “a blight,” and the only contemporaneous quote comes, inappropriately, from a landlord, who describes the surviving tenants as “famished and ghastly skeletons.” Uniformly, social studies textbooks fail to allow the Irish to speak for themselves, to narrate their own horror.

Read more: http://zinnedproject.org/2012/03/the-real-irish-american-story-not-taught-in-schools/

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March 16, 2014

Alfie Kohn at Regina Teachers Convention 2014

Alfie Kohn speaks about the many dangers of data-driven education reform focused on standardized test results at the 2014 Regina Teachers Convention.

March 15, 2014

B.C. teachers’ math lesson: workers + labour rights = stability

By H.G. Watson | Published March 14, 2014 by Rabble.ca

Excerpt:

Unions have been fighting PR wars against governments for most of their existence. But in 2014, after years of people getting used to austerity measures in the name of stability, unions constantly bare the brunt of blame for any work disruption they take as part of trying to negotiate a collective agreement.

But when provincial and federal legislators are hacking away at democratic rights or threatening extended contracts with no ability to arbitrate, what choice is left for labour unions?

BCTF certainly see this as not just a labour issue, but a democratic issue. “The [B.C.] government believe that they can just violate constitution of the country,” said Iker. “And I think the public expects government to uphold the law not break the law.”

The irony, of course, is that if governments did actually come to the table in good faith and did what they were supposed to do, we would avoid uncertainty. Collective bargaining, as demonstrated in many instances over the years, does work if both sides can come to the table ready to talk.

Read more: http://rabble.ca/news/2014/03/bc-teachers-math-lesson-workers-labour-rights-stability

March 13, 2014

Understanding the Propaganda Campaign Against Public Education

By Diane Ravitch | Published Mar 11 by the Huffington Post

A few years ago, when I was blogging at Education Week with Deborah Meier, a reader introduced the term FUD. I had never heard of it. It is a marketing technique used in business and politics to harm your competition. The term and its history can be found on Wikipedia. FUD stands for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. The reader said that those who were trying to create a market-based system to replace public education were using FUD to undermine public confidence in public education. They were selling the false narrative that our public schools are obsolete and failing.

This insight inspired me to write Reign of Error to show that the “reform” narrative is a fraud. Test scores on NAEP are at their highest point in history for white students, black students, Hispanic students, and Asian students. Graduation rates are the highest in history for these groups. The dropout rate is at an historic low point.

Why the FUD campaign against one of our nation’s most treasured democratic institutions? It helps the competition. It makes people so desperate that they will seek out unproven alternatives. It makes the public gullible when they hear phony claims about miracle schools, where everyone graduates and everyone gets high test scores, and everyone goes to a four-year college. No such school exists. The “miracle school” usually has a high suspension rate, a high expulsion rate, a high attrition rate, and such schools usually do not replace the kids they somehow got rid of. Some “miracle schools” have never graduated anyone because they have only elementary schools, but that doesn’t stop the claims and boasting.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-ravitch/public-education_b_4941678.html

March 5, 2014

Problem? Ask a CEO (That’s Chief Expert Officer to You, Buddy!)

By Erika Shaker | Published March 3 by The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Parents, take note! Your search for clarity in the education debates is finally over.  The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) commissioned a report a few weeks ago that set out a fairly bleak picture of general dissatisfaction with public schools and then concluded with a series of recommendations about how to “fix” the problem.

You know, by measuring teacher quality through student outcomes, in addition to having students and other “impartial” parties judge a teacher’s performance through more frequent (possibly surprise) evaluations…and then assigning bonuses to those educators deemed worthy. Because: incentives!

Not the “finally! Enough resources for field trips and extracurricular activities” kind of incentives—I’m talking cold, hard cash, people. After all, what teacher won’t be incentivized to find an hour or two out of their day in which to be extra fabulous—in addition to coaching, tutoring kids after class, and scrounging for change to buy lunch or find bus fare for another student—if it means a little sumpin’-sumpin’ on their paycheque?

Don’t get me wrong. Asking CEOs how to improve pedagogy and student engagement makes total sense. I mean, just look at the stellar, kid-and-community-friendly corporate track record: their commitment to health promotion (evidenced by a range of fluorescent-coloured, high quality after-school snacks); their recognition of the dangers of socioeconomic inequality (surely we’re only moments away from having workers and community members help set CEO bonuses and stock options in the interests of, you know, fairness); their demonstrated transparency, public accountability and adherence to public safety regulations (in rail transport, for example); their clear commitment to gender pay equality and a deliberate and systematic rejection of the “Old Boys’ Club” stereotype; their ongoing desire to give back to the community in tax rates that are indicative of the degree to which they too benefit from and are responsible for public infrastructure.

Read more: http://behindthenumbers.ca/2014/03/03/problem-ask-a-ceo-thats-chief-expert-officer-to-you-buddy/

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