Archive for ‘Original Content’

December 30, 2015

Sign the petition demanding equal treatment for teachers in Quebec’s English School Boards

Petition text:

QPAT (Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT) has let its members down especially the 70% of us who are women. We, the 8000 teachers in the English school boards in Quebec are the only teachers and public sector workers in Quebec without an important equity feature in our contract. The ANNEX XXXV  on family-work reconciliation (or similar letter of understanding) is found in the contracts of the 100,000 francophone school board teachers (FSE and FAE)  and in the contracts of all CEGEP Teachers, nurses, and health care workers – 330,000 Quebec public employees with whom we made up the Common Front. This important recognition asserts that. The bargaining parties encourage the local parties to facilitate the conciliation of parental and family responsibilities with work-related responsibilities, when determining and implementing working conditions.

The members of QPAT, the majority of whom are women balancing work and family responsibilities deserve to have this very 21st Century recognition of their rights and their lives in their contract. It would encourage  management to be more responsive and sensitive to accomodating family needs of teachers with our work conditions.Please sign if you support QPAT teachers (all teachers in the English Public School System in Quebec ) sharing in the rights of the francophon majority and if you support the advancement of women`s rights in the workplace.

To sign the petition click here

To read Katharine Cukier’s open letter to Richard Goldfinch click here

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December 19, 2015

An Open Letter to QPAT President Richard Goldfinch about a Glaring Omission in the Contracts of Teachers in Quebec’s English School Boards

By Katharine Cukier

Dear Mr. Goldfinch,I am writing as a member of QPAT to express my concerns about our new contract. Many of the women and the young parents at my school share my concerns about the omission of the letter of understanding found in the 2010-2015 contracts of 100,000 teachers of the FSE and FAE that is absent from the QPAT contract.  ANNEX XXXV in the 2010-15 collective agreement of FSE and FAE  asserts  the ”interdependence between work and family’, and makes the recommendation that management endeavours to ”organise work conditions” to allow for a better family-work balance”.

For many of us with family responsibilities, in my case a highly dependent disabled child and my aging father, this understanding would allow for a more humane management culture and an enlightened context for  discussions and arrangements around family-work balance.

I have brought this omission to the attention of Peter Sutherland, and I am hopeful  that the omission of 2010-2015 will be corrected.

It would be helpful to know why we were denied this Annex to begin with. Forgive my feminism, but could it be because the QPAT executive is all male? Perhaps QPAT needs parity. If the the federal cabinet of Canada can do it, surely a small teachers’ union could.

Attached to the contracts (2010-15) of our negotiating partner, FSE (CSQ)  and also to the contracts of the FAE contract,  the annexe XXXV  is as follows:

ANNEXE XXXV LETTRE D’ENTENTE RELATIVE AUX RESPONSABILITÉS FAMILIALES La CSQ (or FAE) d’une part, et le gouvernement du Québec représenté par le Conseil du trésor d’autre part, reconnaissent par la présente, la relation d’interdépendance entre la famille et le travail. En ce sens, les parties favorisent la prise en compte de la dimension de la conciliation famille-travail dans l’organisation du travail. À cet effet, les parties à la présente encouragent les parties sectorielles, régionales ou locales, selon le cas, à une meilleure conciliation des responsabilités parentales et familiales avec celles du travail, dans la détermination des conditions de travail et leur application.

It is not clear to me nor to my colleagues why the 8000 QPAT teachers have been denied this important step towards creating better working conditions for our union members, the majority of whom are women. I hope you will look into this personally and make sure that QPAT teachers have this recognition that 100,000 of our francophone colleagues have.

I will be doing my best to inform the membership of my union about this problem.

Sincerely,

Katharine Cukier

Update: to sign a petition demanding equal treatment for teachers click here

October 27, 2015

Measuring up to the Rest of Canada Part 1: Quebec vs New Brunswick

October 25, 2015

Those present at the meeting for the Montreal Teachers Association’s strike vote heard a number of remarkable things from our union leadership. QPAT’s chief negotiator, Olivier Dolbec, for example described the various times teachers had been legislated back to work as victories in which teachers came out ahead. Dolbec’s central piece of evidence for this claim was that the back-to-work legislation of 2005 won us our current limits on class size.

This might be an interesting point if it were true. In fact the current limits on class size were the central element in the 2010 negotiations that convinced teachers to vote in favour of a negotiated settlement. The 2005 strike resulted in teachers being legislated back to work with the exact provisions government had put on the table prior to the strike. In other words, this strike did absolutely nothing to move government from what it was intending to do all along. One would think that QPAT’s chief negotiator would have his facts straight on such matters.

As if this was not enough to cast serious doubt on the judgement and integrity of our chief negotiator, Mr Dolbec then stunned the room with this remarkable statement:

“This is – and I challenge anyone in the room to say the opposite – this is the best collective agreement for teachers AROUND THE WORLD”

WHS teacher Robert Lavoie has taken up Mr Dolbec’s challenge. In this the first of a multi-part series Mr Lavoie presents a thorough comparison of the collective agreement of Quebec’s teachers with that of New Brunswick’s.

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October 25, 2015

When it comes to funding education, Quebec’s Liberals govern like sociopaths

By Robert Green | Published Oct 14, 2015 by Ricochet.media

Government appears indifferent to the harm their policies cause to students

As public outrage over the Quebec Liberal government’s attacks on public education has grown, so too has the movement to surround schools in human chains on the first day of each month. Oct. 1 saw this movement not only grow to over 300 schools throughout Quebec, but also include a significant number of schools in the province’s English school boards which were participating for the first time.

The aim of this action was to send a clear message to Premier Philippe Couillard and his cadre: parents, teachers and support staff are united against the government’s attempt to balance its books on the backs of students. Of particular concern are proposals to remove limits on class size and cut a whole range of supports for students with special needs.

While the potent symbolism of community after community uniting to form a human chain in defence of their schools was not enough to persuade the government to change course, it did at least force the minister of education to publicly defend his actions.

His comments were disturbing to say the least. When asked why he would not restore funding for support for students with special needs, Education Minister François Blais stated that given Quebec’s current budget situation, such an investment would be “maladroit.” The minister was essentially saying that to leave in place existing supports for students with special needs would be “awkward” or “clumsy.”

A government of sociopaths?

Blais’ choice of words has left me with a serious question: Is Quebec’s Liberal government a government of sociopaths?

read more »

October 1, 2015

Westmount High’s October 1st Human Chain

Today parents, teachers, support staff, alumni and students formed a human chain outside of Westmount High School to send a message to the Couillard government that the public is united against its irresponsible cuts to education and its proposals to remove limits on class size as well as various forms of support for students with special needs.

Much thanks to the teachers of Westmount Park Elementary for helping to make this event a success! Also thanks to The Montreal Gazette for producing this great video!

September 21, 2015

Is striking an effective tactic for Quebec’s teachers?

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
–  Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity

By Robert Green

There is no question that the teachers of Quebec are angry. Already the lowest paid teachers in Canada, the government’s current salary offer would see Quebec teachers falling even further behind with their inflation-adjusted salaries decreasing by about 7% over 5 years. Of even greater concern is the fact that government is proposing to rid our contract of nearly every clause that protects our working conditions and the learning conditions of our students, from limits on class size to a range of supports for students with special needs.

It is an understatement to suggest that the teachers of Quebec want actions that will pressure government to back away from its most regressive proposals. Most teachers are ready to make personal sacrifices in pursuit of that goal. The question for Quebec’s teachers is: what sort of action will actually be effective in achieving this goal?

A grassroots push to work-to-rule

Last spring the members of the Montreal Teachers Association passed a motion in their annual general meeting stating that the action the members wanted to pursue was a work-to-rule campaign. The sentiment expressed by many MTA members was that the large number of unpaid hours worked by Quebec’s teachers was an enormous source of power. Given that teachers are not paid for enough hours to adequately do their job, withdrawing the volunteer labour done by teachers was seen by many as an effective way to create pressure within the system while avoiding the spectre of back-to-work legislation. Working to rule may not be as effective for other public sector unions but there was a strong sentiment that teachers were in a unique position to create real pressure with this tactic. There was also a feeling expressed that it would be far easier to build and maintain public support through a work-to-rule campaign than through a strike action which would create major inconveniences for families.

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September 16, 2015

Sample letters to Couillard

With government proposing to remove current limits on class size and various supports for students with special needs, the teachers of Quebec need the support of parents. Below are links to two editable form letters parents can use to express their discontent to government. The first letter is for all parents. The second letter is written specially for parents of students with special needs. Simply download the .doc file by clicking on the link, open the file, add your name and the date, edit the “he/she”‘s and any other edits you’d like, sign the bottom and its ready to send. For the contact info of all Quebec MNA’s click here.

  1. form letter for parents
  2. form letter for parents_special needs
September 13, 2015

Podcast: WHS teachers Robert Green and Scott Macleod explain why teachers need the support of parents in their current conflict with the Couillard government

WHS teachers Robert Green and Scott Macleod explain why teachers need the support of parents in their current conflict with the Couillard government on CKUT’s The Tuesday Morning After.

Click here to download mp3

 

September 10, 2015

Quebec teachers are defending children’s learning conditions

By Robert Green ! Published  Sept 10 By the Montreal Gazette

Imagine your child sitting in a classroom with 35 to 40 other students. What kind of education do you think they will receive in such a context? How much help are they likely to get if they find themselves struggling with the material? How much time do you suppose the teacher will be having to spend on the unpleasant task of discipline versus the joyous tasks of fostering learning, creativity, compassion and a sense of wonder in students?

Now imagine your child is one of many with special needs in this enormous class. What will be your child’s chances of succeeding if the limited supports currently in place for students with special needs are removed: no weighting system that ensures smaller classes when there is a higher proportion of students with special needs; no childcare workers in the class to assist the teacher; no resource room to turn to for extra help?

Now imagine all of this is happening in a context where deep budget cuts mean reduced access to psychologists, behavioural specialists and counsellors.

Parents throughout Quebec need to understand that this is what’s at stake in the current negotiations between the province and its teachers. It is no exaggeration to state that the Couillard government is proposing to rid our contract of nearly every clause that protects the learning conditions of students, from class-size limits to the various measures aimed at providing support for students with special needs.

As professionals whose primary concern is the welfare of children, we cannot stand for this, which is why the teachers of Quebec have been left no choice but to engage in pressure tactics.

read more »

June 15, 2015

CJAD Teachers Panel discusses pressure tactics, class size limits and cuts to librarians and school maintenance

Teachers Catharine Hogan and Robert Green discuss pressure tactics, class size limits and cuts to librarians and school maintenance with Tommy Shnurmacher.

Click here to download mp3

May 16, 2015

Podcast: The impacts of austerity for students and teachers in Quebec’s public schools

May 16, 2015

The Liberal government’s proposed austerity measures have some very serious consequences for students and teachers in Quebec’s public schools. In addition to the insulting salary offer to teachers and the proposal to raid our pensions there are a number of measures that will directly affect students:

  • 20150507_133640

    Teachers and parents protest austerity in front of Westmount High

    removal of limits on class size

  • removal of the weighting system for special needs students
  • cutting the funding for resource teachers that help special needs students
  • cutting funding for after school homework programs
  • cuts to support staff including child care workers and special ed technicians

Robert Green discusses the impacts of these proposed policies with CJAD’s Tommy Shnurmacher:

Click here to download mp3

May 8, 2015

Does Quebec’s government have a mandate for austerity?

By Robert Green | Published April 29, 2015 by Ricochet.media
The Liberals won a majority promising stability, not a quiet counter-revolution of cuts

Quebec’s growing popular movement against government austerity is about much more than opposition to a particular government policy. It is quickly becoming a battle over the legitimacy of Premier Philippe Couillard’s Liberal government.

The concept of legitimacy is central to the study of political science, and it’s what politicians are getting at when, for example, they refer to a pipeline project failing to achieve social licence. Definitions of the concept by numerous philosophers all share the idea that legitimacy is tied to the notion of popular acceptance of the exercise of authority — what John Locke referred to as “consent of the governed.”

Whereas dictatorships and theocracies have relied on religion, tradition, ideology and the charisma of leaders as sources of legitimacy, secular democratic governments, which are supposed to be the heirs of Enlightenment values, have relied on elections and notions of the common good. In theory then, a legitimate democratic government is one that is elected on the basis of a transparent political program aimed at advancing the public interest.

This raises the question of whether the government of Quebec, given its actions since coming into office, should be viewed as legitimate.

A government with political legitimacy?

Supporters of the Couillard government are quick to point out that his Liberal party won a significant majority in the last election and therefore has the right to govern as it sees fit.

read more »

April 21, 2015

CJAD Teachers panel discusses pressure tactics and the untold hours teachers work without pay

Teachers Catharine Hogan and Robert Green discuss pressure tactics and the untold hours teachers work without pay with Tommy Shnurmacher.

Click here to download mp3

March 21, 2015

CJAD Teachers Panel discusses homework bans, success rate pressures & the importance of class size

Teachers Catharine Hogan and Robert Green discuss homework bans, success rate pressures & the importance of class size with Tommy Shnurmacher:

Click here to download mp3

March 10, 2015

Quebec Education Minister resigns in disgrace

By Robert Green | Published February 26, 2014 by Ricochet.media

Comedy of errors as government seeks to enforce austerity on education

Quebec Minister of Education Yves Bolduc resigned today, after a short tenure marked by one frighteningly obtuse statement after another.

First he claimed that “no child will die” from funding cuts to school libraries. Next he proposed to remove limits on class size in contract negotiations with the province’s teachers, claiming there is “no evidence” that such limits help improve student achievement. Then, in response to the release of an extensive study commissioned by his own ministry demonstrating the failure of the pedagogical reform first implemented back in 2000, he flat out denied the study’s results, claiming that it was “too early” to judge.

The most recent outrage came from Bolduc’s statement that it was okay for schools to strip-search students, provided it was done “respectfully.”

To characterize Bolduc as an incompetent clown in a comedy of errors is a mistake. He is no fool and knows exactly what he is doing.

If it seems he doesn’t care about the consequences of his policy proposals for public education, it’s because he doesn’t.

An education minister with no vision

In Margaret Thatcher’s England, Bolduc would have been referred to as a “dry.” The “wets” were those in Thatcher’s government ridiculed by the more hard-line conservatives for wetting their pants at the thought of implementing the various Thatcherite policies that would be so harmful to Britain’s working class. The “dries” were those unfazed at the thought of harming society’s most vulnerable.

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