Posts tagged ‘Class size’

December 14, 2014

Vers une hausse du ratio maître-élèves?

By Denis Lessard | Published Dec 13, 2014 by La Presse

(QUÉBEC) Augmentation du ratio maître-élèves, réduction du nombre de congés de maladie; le gouvernement Couillard s’apprête à déposer une série de propositions normatives qui seront dures à avaler pour les 550 000 salariés du secteur public.

Des demandes musclées qui s’ajoutent à des propositions salariales exigeantes: deux années de gel salarial et des augmentations à doses homéopathiques étalées sur une convention de cinq ans.

Ces propositions seront faites, au cours de la semaine prochaine, aux tables sectorielles qui entreprennent la négociation de la prochaine convention collective – celle en cours se termine le 31 mars. Lundi matin, le président du Conseil du trésor, Martin Coiteux rencontrera la table centrale, réunissant les présidents de la CSN, de la FTQ, le SIPS, le secrétariat intersyndical des services publics, pour leur transmettre les offres salariales.

Plus d’élèves par classe

Selon les informations obtenues par La Presse, en dépit des engagements de Philippe Couillard à ne pas sabrer les services à la population, Québec demandera qu’on augmente le ratio maître-élèves au second cycle du primaire et au secondaire.

Read more: http://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/education/201412/12/01-4827895-vers-une-hausse-du-ratio-maitre-eleves.php

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September 11, 2014

Why Teachers Fear the Worst of Clark Government

Signs mount that union busting, privatized schooling are true agenda.

By Tom Kertes| Published September 10, 2014 by TheTyee.ca

Today, public school teachers in British Columbia will vote to end their job action if the government agrees to leave the issues of class size and class compensation to the courts. Both parties are almost on the same page when it comes to wages and contract length, but regardless the government continues to say the two are miles apart, and continues to refuse to participate in binding arbitration.

Why this government is so adamantly against making any deal with teachers, other than a deal that essentially amounts to the B.C. Teachers’ Federation giving up its court case, giving up on wages and giving up on any issue of importance to its members, is what everyone watching this dispute is asking.

The point of government is to work within a system of balanced power that supports the community as a whole. One way to do this is through public education, which provides schooling on an equal and equitable basis and with public oversight. Public education, in contrast to private education, is universally accessible. Every child in B.C. has a right to education, a right respected by government through the provision of schools supported by shared taxation. In contrast, a privatized system — like the system of private schools already in place for some students — starts with barriers to entry. Parents need to be able to afford it, or the child must be deemed worthy of entry, for example to receive a school scholarship.

A concern for all supporters of public education is that the BC Liberals will introduce either a charter system, where public dollars are diverted from a public system to one composed of publicly-funded, for-profit, special-interest or religious schools. If this government wants to use the strike as a wedge issue to pull support from the public schools or as a weapon to break the teachers’ union, then we may end up with the worst possible scenario, where our public system gets dumped for a private one. The government may do this because it opposes union influence over the school system, because its supporters are either seeking to profit or to proselytize through a new system, or simply because it wants to put its own stamp on the system.

Whatever the reason, B.C. cannot afford to lose the public benefits that only a public school system provides.

Read more: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2014/09/10/Teachers-Clark-Govt-Fear/

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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August 20, 2014

WHY I’M ON THE PICKET LINE

By Tara Ehrcke | Published by Our Times

Excerpt:

Yes, I believe I deserve a raise. But, just like other teachers, that isn’t the main reason I voted yes to strike. A society is measured by how it treats everyone. This includes the poor, the disenfranchised, the “ordinary.” In British Columbia, children of poor and working-class families get overcrowded in underfunded schools. The children who need the most from education — the hungry, the hurt, the struggling ones — get the least. In contrast, the ones whose parents can pay get the most.

The “public” in public school shouldn’t mean just providing a building, with some tired teachers to deliver a curriculum, the success of which is measured by standardized tests. A good public school system should provide high quality opportunities to every single child. While our public schools have many wonderful programs and many dedicated teachers, the sad truth is that there are also overcrowded classrooms, children falling behind, and a workforce exhausted from trying to fill in the gaps.

Read more: http://ourtimes.ca/Between_Times/article_356.php

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June 17, 2014

Support B.C. teachers’ battle against unlawful education cuts

June 9, 2014

BC Teachers’ Strike – Teachers’ working conditions are students learning conditions!

On June 9th and 10th BC Teachers are voting for all out strike as the government continues to negotiate.

Published June 6, 2014 by SocialistAlternative.ca

The Liberal government of British Columbia continues its long attack on public education and teachers. Yet again the government refuses to seriously negotiate with the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), refuses to address the real needs of children and escalates the dispute with the union.

After provoking disputes in schools for over a decade the government said it wanted peace in the class room with the preposterous proposal of a 10 year contract, while at the same time refusing to negotiate on the many real class room problems. Now teachers, whose contracts expired in June 2013, are involved in strike action with teachers on strike one day a week in each school district of the province.

After 14 months of failed negotiations the BCTF conducted a membership ballot in March 2014 for industrial action. The result was overwhelming with 89% of the votes in favour of action – over 75% of all teachers voted yes. Meanwhile, the BC liberals were re-elected in 2013 with only 44% of the vote on a 58% turnout!

As the BC government still did not move, on April 22nd the BCTF started a province wide work-to-rule job action (non-participation in most meetings or communication with school administrators and no extra-curricular volunteering for more than an hour before or after school). This had little or no impact on students, the main impact was on the administration.

On May 15th Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the government would be stepping away from its demand that the BC Federation of Teachers (BCTF) sign a 10-year term contract and offered a $1,200 signing bonus. However, the following day he threatened to roll back teachers’ wages 5%.

The BCTF responded with announcing escalated job action in the form of province-wide rotating strikes. On May 21st government negotiators countered with a partial lock-out and a 10% wage reduction. Since May 26th the lockout has barred teachers from working more than 45 minutes prior to class time, during recess and lunch hour and beyond 45 minutes after school.

Read more: http://socialistalternative.ca/posts/1044

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: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/2014/02/25/Stalled-negotiations-driving-teacher-strike-vote-union/#sthash.qxsELaOV.dpuf

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: https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/02/06-2

October 8, 2013

Diane Ravitch: Charter Schools Are a Colossal Mistake. Here’s Why

The campaign to “reform” schools by giving public money to private corporations is a distraction from our system’s real problems: poverty and racial segregation.

By Dianne Ravitch | Published October 2, 2013 by Alternet

Los Angeles has more charter schools than any other school district in the nation, and it’s a very bad idea.

Billionaires like privately managed schools. Parents are lured with glittering promises of getting their kids a sure ticket to college. Politicians want to appear to be champions of “school reform” with charters.

But charters will not end the poverty at the root of low academic performance or transform our nation’s schools into a high-performing system. The world’s top-performing systems – Finland and Korea, for example – do not have charter schools. They have strong public school programs with well-prepared, experienced teachers and administrators. Charters and that other faux reform, vouchers, transform schooling into a consumer good, in which choice is the highest value.

The original purpose of charters, when they first opened in 1990 (and when I was a charter proponent), was to collaborate with public schools, not to compete with them or undermine them. They were supposed to recruit the weakest students, the dropouts, and identify methods to help public schools do a better job with those who had lost interest in schooling. This should be their goal now as well.

Instead, the charter industry is aggressive and entrepreneurial. Charters want high test scores, so many purposely enroll minimal numbers of English-language learners and students with disabilities. Some push out students who threaten their test averages. Last year, the federal General Accountability Office issued a report chastising charters for avoiding students with disabilities, and the ACLU is suing charters in New Orleans for that reason.

Read more: http://www.alternet.org/education/diane-ravitch-charter-schools-are-colossal-mistake-heres-why?akid=11002.1147163.ZvOSAo&rd=1&src=newsletter904692&t=17&paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

October 5, 2013

The Central Issue at the Heart of America’s Growing Education Gap

It’s time for some new thinking about how to address the persistent inequalities that plague our education system.

By Paul L. Thomas, Ed.D. | Published Oct. 3, 2013 by Alternet

As the evidence mounts discrediting much of the movement for “education reform” (including the proliferation of charter schools), and as more of the public discourse recognizes the power of that evidence, we may at last be poised for a thorough rethinking education reform – and a detailed consideration of what the plausible alternatives to our current efforts might be.

Broadly, new ways of thinking about public education must occur before the U.S. can fulfill its obligation to the promise of universal public schools. We must first understand that:

  1. We have failed public education; public education has not failed us.
  2. Education has never, cannot, and will never be a singular or primary mechanism for driving large social change.
  3. And, thus, public education holds up a mirror to the social dynamics defining the U.S. In other words, achievement gaps in our schools are metrics reflecting the equity and opportunity gaps that exist in society.

One aspect of these new ways of thinking about public education that is rarely discussed is that seeking laudable goals (such as closing the achievement gap in schools and the income and upward mobility gaps in society) requires that we address both privilege and poverty—the top and the bottom. Historically and currently, our gaze remains almost exclusively on the bottom.

Read more: http://www.alternet.org/education/central-issue-heart-americas-growing-education-gap?page=0%2C2&paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

September 19, 2013

Diane Ravitch: School privatization is a hoax, “reformers” aim to destroy public schools

By Dianne Ravitch | Published Sep 15, 2013 by Salon.com

Excerpt:

If the American public understood that reformers want to privatize their public schools and divert their taxes to pay profits to investors, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If parents understood that the reformers want to close down their community schools and require them to go shopping for schools, some far from home, that may or may not accept their children, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If the American public understood that the very concept of education was being disfigured into a mechanism to apply standardized testing and sort their children into data points on a normal curve, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform.

If the American public understood that their children’s teachers will be judged by the same test scores that label their children as worthy or unworthy, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If the American public knew how inaccurate and unreliable these methods are, both for children and for teachers, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. And that is why the reform message must be rebranded to make it palatable to the public.

The leaders of the privatization movement call themselves reformers, but their premises are strikingly different from those of reformers in the past. In earlier eras, reformers wanted such things as a better curriculum, better-prepared teachers, better funding, more equitable funding, smaller classes, and desegregation, which they believed would lead to better public schools. By contrast, today’s reformers insist that public education is a failed enterprise and that all these strategies have been tried and failed.

They assert that the best way to save education is to hand it over to private management and let the market sort out the winners and the losers. They wish to substitute private choices for the public’s responsibility to provide good schools for all children. They lack any understanding of the crucial role of public schools in a democracy.

Read more: http://www.salon.com/2013/09/15/diane_ravitch_school_privatization_is_a_hoax_reformers_aim_to_destroy_public_schools/

May 17, 2013

MTA Elections 2013: Comparing Presidential Candidates Robert Green and Peter Sutherland

By Robert Green

On his electoral campaign website, MTA presidential candidate Peter Sutherland offers a comparison of the differences between his candidacy and my own. While I will leave readers to judge the merits of Mr Sutherland’s comparison for themselves, I personally found that it did not mention many of the substantial matters upon which Mr Sutherland and I disagree.

In order to offer MTA members a more substantive comparison, please find below a brief summary of some of the key issues that Mr Sutherland omitted.

I hope the members of the MTA will find this to be informative.

For more information on my campaign or to read my electoral statement visit my campaign website http://rgreen.freeshell.org

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April 19, 2013

CJAD Teacher Panel Discusses Grade Inflation and Bill 88

Teachers Catharine Hogan and Robert Green discuss the pressures to inflate grades that have resulted from Quebec’s Bill 88 with CJAD’s Tommy Shnurmacher:

Click here to listen

 

March 11, 2013

Letter in Support of Op-ed on Class Size

Reduce class sizes and students will benefit

By Patricia Melnyk | Published March 8 by The Montreal Gazette in response to the March 4th Op-ed, “Where are the reductions in class sizes that we were promised?

In his opinion piece, Robert Green raises many excellent points on reducing class sizes. His question on whether or not funding has been made available to school boards for this purpose – and if so, where that money has gone – is a critical one.

As a former employee of a school board, I have seen the poor allocation of funds and thought that this money could be put to much better use in the public school system rather than wasted on bureaucracy. Accountability is a key issue that must be addressed. Working as a teacher at a French high school in Pointe Claire, I have noticed that schools have very tight budgets and could benefit from class-size reductions – particularly in classes that contain special-needs students and those with behavioural challenges.

Mr. Green also indicates that these class-size reductions are only being extended up to the second year of high school. I believe they should continue right up to the graduating year. This is a crucial time in these students’ lives to develop and reinforce skills that they will desperately need in CEGEP and university.

Another point Mr. Green makes is that “English school boards have been losing students to their French counterparts” and this may have resulted in increased class sizes in French schools. One of my classes this year has 38 students. Count me as one of those many teachers Mr. Green refers to who would gladly give up being compensated for teaching oversized classes. Having fewer students in a classroom would enable me to forge a genuine connection with my students.

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March 5, 2013

Where are the reductions in class sizes that we were promised?

By Robert Green

A slightly edited version of this Op-ed appeared in the March 4 edition of the Montreal Gazette

When the Quebec government makes a commitment to reduce class size, should school boards have the ability to subvert such commitments in order to protect their bottom line? This question is at the heart of a grievance filed recently by the Pearson Teachers Union (PTU) against the Lester B Pearson school board.

In the context of its last round of negotiations with the province’s teachers, the government of Quebec offered to make significant reductions to the maximum size of most classes in Quebec’s public schools.

Although the reductions focused mainly on the elementary level, they did extend up to the second year of high school. Schools in economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods would see even greater reductions than those applied system-wide. By the end of its implementation in 2013/14 the plan would see most class size maximums reduced by 3 or
4. Classes in economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods would be reduced by as many as 9 students.

This offer by government came as a welcome surprise to teachers and their unions. Most teachers have experienced the difference between a class of 26 and one of 30 and know the enormous impact a few additional students can have. Smaller groups allow teachers to make connections with each of their students and keep them all on track. Conversely, in larger groups students feel more anonymous and are hence more likely to act out or withdraw. In other words, larger groups force teachers to focus more on behaviour and discipline, while smaller groups allow us to focus on what we love, teaching.

But reducing class size is not merely about improving the working conditions of teachers; more importantly it is about improving the quality of public education. Indeed the body of evidence documenting the benefits of class-size reductions is enormous, particularly with regard to reductions at the elementary level. Reducing class size has been shown to have lasting positive effects on academic achievement, absenteeism and drop-out rates. It has also been found to be one of the only factors capable of closing achievement gaps based on socio-economic status. In small classes, poor kids do just as well as rich kids. Class-size reductions have even been found to have long-term public health benefits.

With so many potential benefits, it is not only teachers that should be concerned that classes in Quebec’s large English school boards do not seem to be getting any smaller. This is particularly true in a context where English school boards have been losing numbers to their French counterparts and the private sector. Ensuring that class size reductions are properly implemented ensures that the quality of education in English public schools is not merely protected, but improved.

School boards are able to avoid implementing class-size reductions by exploiting a clause in the teachers’ collective agreement which they claim allows them to pay teachers a tiny amount of compensation for oversized classes. It is this interpretation that is being challenged by the PTU, which contends that the collective agreement only permits oversized classes in very specific circumstances, none of which apply to large urban schools.

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