Posts tagged ‘Alberta’

September 6, 2014

Hey, premiers, leave them teachers alone!

By Robert Green | Published Sept 1 2014 by Ricochet

The beginning of the school year should be a time of great optimism and excitement for teachers. We’re energized by seeing our colleagues again and excited to meet the students we’ll be teaching for the year. Our thoughts should be focused on making our classrooms more welcoming, our lessons more engaging and our contributions to our school community more meaningful.

Unfortunately, for too many teachers across Canada the positive feelings that normally accompany the beginning of the school year will be overshadowed by more negative sentiments: uncertainty, frustration, anger and above all the feeling of being profoundly disrespected.

British Columbia

Nowhere is this more true than in BC. The province’s teachers have been on the picket line since the spring as part of the latest chapter in an exasperating decades-long struggle with the province’s Liberal government. The bad faith demonstrated by the government over the course of this struggle boggles the mind. While the media wants to malign BC teachers as greedy, the heart of this dispute has always been about protecting quality of education for students by reducing class size. After teachers gave up salary concessions in the nineties in order to win class-size reductions (greedy bastards!) the BC Liberals went on to unilaterally remove these provisions from their contract in 2002.

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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: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/canada/overwhelmed-canadian-teachers-quitting-in-droves-350533.html

December 7, 2013

Introducing The Canada Badass Teachers Association: As Corporate Education Reform Goes International, So Does the Movement of Badass Teachers Opposing It

An abridged version of this article focusing exclusively on Teach for Canada was published in The Two Row Times

By Robert Green

Following the founding of the Bad-Ass Teachers (BATs) association last spring I wrote an article explaining why America’s teachers are going badass and why Canada’s need to consider doing the same. The point of this article was to alert Canadian teachers and the public-at-large to the fact that the same corporate education reform agenda that has been so disastrous for the US education system can increasingly be seen to be at work in education policies across Canada.

7065_672210712817216_489712935_nSo it was a pleasure last weekend to receive an invitation to the Canada Bad-Ass Teachers association (CanBATs) Facebook Group.

Interestingly this group was founded by the same teachers that founded the American BATs group.

So why would a group of American teachers want to create a Badass Teachers Association for Canadian teachers? BATs founder Dr. Mark Naisson explained the initiative as follows:

Corporate education reform is a global movement and the resistance to it must be global. The toxic array of policies we have been deluged with in the United States- increased testing in all subjects and all grades; attacks on teachers unions; rating of teachers based on student test scores; preference to non unionized charter schools over regular public schools; substitution of poorly trained teacher temps from elite colleges for veteran teachers- is spreading to every portion of the English speaking world, along with the corporate profiteering that always accompanies these policies. Every form of resistance to these policies; every hard won victory for teaching and learning; encourages more resistance. Our movement must be worldwide to be effective. Hence the Badass Teachers Association, which has organizations in all 50 states in the US, is proud to form a Canadian wing.

The first few articles posted in the CanBATs group speak to the increasingly international reach of the corporate education reform described by Naisson.

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June 29, 2013

Why America’s Teachers Are Going Badass and Why Canada’s Need to Consider Doing the Same

By Robert Green

This article appears in the Fall 2013 edition of ‘Our Schools / Our Selves’ published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Following in the tradition of the Arab Spring and ‘Idle No More’, the latest political movement to come to life through the internet’s social networks features a growing number of America’s teachers. Calling itself the Badass Teachers Association (or BAT for Bad Ass Teachers) this Facebook group has shot up to over 17,000 members in a little over a week. It also organized its first mass action: a phone-in campaign calling for the removal of Arne Duncan as federal secretary of education.

Created by Priscilla Sanstead, a parent activist in Oklahoma, Dr. Mark Naisson, an African American Studies professor at Fordham University in New York and Marla 1002816_4381114426306_418079495_nKilfoye, a teacher and parent activist from Long Island, BAT’s mission is:

To give voice to every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality. BAT members refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for real teaching and learning

On his blog, Dr Mark Naisson begins his description of what it means to be a badass teacher as follows:

Badass Teachers teach, love and nurture children everyone has given up on, in good times and bad, children with disabilities, children who have been kicked out of their families, children who can’t sit still, children who have seen unimaginable horrors, children who are homeless, children who are under constant stress, along with children who have happy lives, and happy families. They teach and love them all, and protect and defend them from physical threats and the threat of tests and assessments which humiliate them and destroy their love of learning.

While some may be surprised to see so many teachers speaking out in such a direct fashion, for those that have been following the horror show of corporate education reform that has transformed the US education system over the last decade, such action seems long overdue. This corporate education reform agenda was first introduced on a national scale by George Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ and has since been accelerated by Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’ legislation. It has been promoted vigorously by various foundations financed by millionaires and billionaires like Bill Gates and through slick high budget documentaries like ‘Waiting for Superman’. Though its particular manifestations vary from state to state it tends to feature the following three elements:

  1. attacks on the collective bargaining rights of teachers
  2. use of standardized test results (‘performance indicators’) to determine school funding and/or teacher pay (‘merit pay’)
  3. promotion of semi-private charter schools with non-unionized teachers, usually via a discourse focused on the notion of ‘school choice’

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June 2, 2013

The debate over standardized testing in schools is as divisive as ever

By Rachel Giese and Caroline Alphonso | Published May 31 2013 by The Globe & Mail

Excerpt:

Others remain unconvinced. Large-scale tests “are asked to assess too many things,” argues Daniel Laitsch, an associate professor of education at Simon Fraser University. He feels that, no matter what the stated purpose, they are meant to measure, along with student achievement, that of teachers, schools, curriculum and entire jurisdictions as well, which stretches their validity in appraising any of them.

In fact, Prof. Laitsch calls testing students “an atrocious way to evaluate teacher effectiveness, without any research to support the theory.”

Toronto resident Maxeen Paabo agrees and has decided that her son will not participate in this year’s Grade 3 tests. She researched the issue, and reached her conclusion even before the school year began.

“I think the way it is now and the way it’s being used politically is wrong, and it’s a misuse of resources,” she says.

“What the ministry [of education] said is that it is used on a student level, on a class level and on a school level to make improvements. But my understanding on the ground is that that isn’t really happening, that teachers’ regular classroom assessments are doing all that work.”

….

And does it really keep the system on track? In fact, the correlation between standardized testing and achievement appears to be fuzzy. With myriad factors affecting the education system – among them demographic and economic changes, fluctuation in education budgets, shifts in curriculum – it’s impossible to say unequivocally that where scores have gone up, it’s in any way because of standardized tests.

Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/the-debate-over-standardized-testing-in-schools-is-as-divisive-as-ever/article12299369/?page=all

February 8, 2013

Redford government floats risky scheme to impose contract on teachers

By David J. Climenhaga | Published February 6, 2013 by Rabble.ca
Trapped in a no-deficit, no-tax-increase cage of its own devising, with few ideas and a budget looming on March 7, the government of Premier Alison Redford has floated the idea of using legislation to impose a salary cap on Alberta’s teachers.Education Minister Jeff Johnson has been shopping this brainstorm around to the province’s school boards to see who salutes and who heaves rotten tomatoes.

Needless to say, the Alberta Teachers Association was not impressed. ATA President Carol Henderson expressed shock and dismay at what Johnson’s been saying, warning that even running the idea up the flagpole puts the government’s relationship with the province’s teachers at risk.

The same kind of thing has been tried in both British Columbia and Ontario, she noted, and the results have hardly been auspicious.

In this, Henderson got it right. A certain amount of disdain for the collective bargaining process is normal nowadays among unionized professionals like teachers. But getting between them and a raise they both expect and believe they deserve is an entirely different matter.

Read more: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/djclimenhaga/2013/02/redford-government-floats-risky-scheme-impose-contract-teachers