Posts tagged ‘Class size’

February 12, 2013

Pearson Teachers Union Files Grievance on Class Size. Why Has the MTA Not Followed Suit?

By Robert Green | Published February 10, 2013

In an interview on CJAD this week Pearson Teachers Union (PTU) President John Donnelly announced that his union had filed a grievance contesting the oversized classes in his board. In explaining his reason for filing this grievance Donnelly explained that “over and above that [compensation paid to teachers] the collective agreement says you still can’t have oversized classes unless you have one of four reasons and none of these reasons apply to the Lester B. Pearson Board”. Donnelly goes on to mention that he expects a final decision on the grievance by March.

Donnelly is referring here to clause 8-4.01-c which states:

The board may exceed the maximums indicated only for one of the following specific reasons: the lack of premises in the school, the limited number of groups in the school, a shortage of qualified available personnel or the geographic location of the school.

The PTU is right to challenge the existence of oversized classes in its schools as the conditions allowing oversized classes clearly do not apply to large urban schools. The PTU is also right to be filing this grievance now. Protecting class size maximums is a particularly pressing matter for two reasons. The first is that the new collective agreement commits to significant reductions to the size of most classes in Quebec. By the end of its implementation in 2013/14 the planned reductions 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. The second reason this is a particularly urgent issue is that at a time when the English public system is losing students to the French system and the private sector, class-size reductions are one of the best ways to protect and improve the quality of education in Quebec’s English public schools. If we do not protect the quality of education in our schools, we will continue to lose students.

Given the importance of this issue for the working conditions of teachers, the learning conditions of students and the overall health of the English public system, members of the Montreal Teachers Association (MTA) should be wondering why their union has not followed suit and launched a similar grievance. Particularly since doing so would strengthen the case of our fellow teachers in the Pearson board. As a member of the QPAT executive committee, one wonders how MTA President Ruth Rosenfield would not have been informed of the details of this grievance, filed by another QPAT member-local way back in June. Being aware of the details, she would then presumably know that if the collective agreement prohibited oversized classes in the Pearson board, then for the very same reasons, it should do so for schools in the EMSB.

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January 21, 2013

Video: Brian Jones discusses Real vs. Phony Education Reform

August 21, 2012

Education and the 2012 Quebec Election: Part Five – How are the Parties Proposing to Lower Quebec’s Dropout Rate?

By Robert Green

Thus far this series has looked at where Quebec’s political parties stand on education funding, curriculum reform, school autonomy and the abolition of school boards. This article will examine how each of the parties proposes to lower Quebec’s high school dropout rate.

The alarmingly high dropout rate has been Quebec’s perennial education issue for at least the last twenty years. It seems every year or so a new set of statistics emerges documenting, yet again, that no significant progress has been made to reduce the chronically high number of dropouts. This begins the public hand wringing by Quebec’s political class and is usually followed a few months later by some poorly funded government half-measure, announced to great fanfare. A year or so later another set of statistics emerges and so the cycle begins again. There are many political issues in Quebec that have a tendency to provoke cynicism. This is certainly one of them.

Clearly this is a problem that cannot be solved by half measures. Although not all the factors affecting dropout rates are within government control, governments are far from powerless in affecting significant reductions. Numerous measures that are within government control have been identified as contributing to reducing dropout rates. Such factors include: class size; the availability of extra-curricular activities; the existence of programs to counter homophobia, racism, bullying and intimidation; the severity of school discipline codes; the availability of psychologists, drug counsellors, social workers, and other professional support staff. The avenues for government to explore to solve this problem are many; the problem is not a lack of options, it is a lack of political will.

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August 12, 2012

10 Ways School Reformers Get It Wrong

When it comes to education reform, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel anymore; instead, we’re building square ones.

By Colin Greer, published Aug 5 2012 by Alternet

It’s widely agreed that American education is in trouble.  What is missed in both the response to the crisis and the cacophony of reform efforts is a true understanding of the nature of the problem.

In the early days of public schooling, Horace Mann called the schools the balance wheel of society. It was thought that schools served as a corrective for all kinds of problems ranging from skill gaps that needed to be remedied for the economy to flourish to culture gaps that were created by immigrants that needed to be Americanized. The school never worked in quite that way, but it was part of a web of social institutions that helped build a framework that allowed America to grow both in prosperity and in diversity. We face a lot of social and economic problems; we expect the schools to solve them. When they don’t, we think it’s a school failure. Instead, the schools are in fact a signal of a breakdown. Nowadays, the balance wheel is not working so well; it would be more accurate to think of public schools as the canary in the mine.

Read more:http://www.alternet.org/education/10-ways-school-reformers-get-it-wrong

July 14, 2012

Larger Class Sizes, Education Cuts Harm Children’s Chance To Learn

By . Published July 14, 2012 by The Huffington Post
“Unlike a shrunken police or fire department, the impact of school cuts isn’t always obvious. There are no bodies in the streets, no charred evidence of harm done. That has made school systems attractive targets for austerity-minded politicians across the country.
Thirty-four states have slashed their K-12 education budgets since 2008, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Making sure class sizes don’t explode nationwide would cost $10 billion annually, according to a March reportfrom the Southern Regional Educational Board.

But impact of these cuts is visible when you look at kids like Shania, and the ripple effects can last a lifetime. Earlier grades are especially important, because that’s when students learn the fundamentals — how to read, write, add and subtract — that undergird the rest of their education. Studies have shown that students who don’t learn to read proficiently by third grade are much more likely to drop out. Third grade is also the year students start taking standardized tests, which can alter their educational futures.”

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/14/larger-class-size-a-thousand-cuts_n_1659591.html