Posts tagged ‘Francois Legault’

November 27, 2011

Documentary Exposes ‘The Incovenient Truth Behind Waiting For Superman’

By Robert Green

The release of the 2010 documentary ‘Waiting for Superman’ represented a high point for corporate education reformers in the US. With backing from Bill Gates and several other billionaires, the documentary received an enormous amount of media attention including being featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

However, since its release a grassroots movement has been growing to counter the film’s message that teacher’s unions are the problem and that more standardized testing and more semi-private charter schools are the solution. In short this movement of teachers and parents has exposed ‘Waiting for Superman’ for what it is: slick propaganda aimed at destroying public education and enriching the corporate interests behind the charter schools and the multi-billion dollar standardized testing industry.

Teachers, parents and indeed all citizens concerned about public education in Quebec need to familiarize themselves with the grassroots efforts to resist the corporate education reform agenda in the US because elements of that agenda are now being promoted by the two political parties most likely to win the next election. Liberal Education Minister Line Beauchamps has been musing publicly about her intentions to use the performance contracts imposed on schools through Bill 88 to defund underperforming schools. Meanwhile Francois Legault is proposing to enact a merit pay system for teachers while stripping them of their union-protected job security. Thus far, the various unions representing teachers in Quebec have done little to inform either their members or the public-at-large of just how disastrous such policies have been in the US.

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November 15, 2011

To Improve the Education System, Stop Subsidizing Private Schools

By Robert Green

A slightly edited verion of this Op-ed appeared in the November 15 edition of the Montreal Gazette

Although the next provincial election in Quebec may still be well over a year away, education is already emerging as one of its central issues. Francois Legault has been clear about his intentions to bring elements of George Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ to Quebec, including performance-based incentives for teachers and schools.

Meanwhile the Liberals have been flirting with controversial ideas of their own such as making deep cuts to school boards and using performance indicators to determine school funding.

What all parties seem to agree on is that Quebec’s education system is in crisis.

This, however, is nothing new. For at least the last twenty years politicians have been wringing their hands over the Quebec education system’s poor performance and high drop-out rate. Their response has been one ill-fated policy-fix after another. Prior to this latest focus on performance-based incentives, it was curriculum reform that was supposed to serve as our miracle cure.

Despite the ubiquitous concern over education constantly expressed by Quebec’s politicians, there is one issue with enormous implications that never seems to get the attention it deserves. In the ongoing debate over the future of Quebec’s education system this issue is truly the elephant in the room: public subsidies for private schools.

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October 31, 2011

Is ‘No Child Left Behind’ Coming to Quebec?

By Robert Green

An abbreviated version of this op-ed appeared in the Montreal Gazette September 14, 2011 under the title “A reform that will miss its target – No child left behind was a disaster for the U.S. education system. Why should Quebec go down a similar road?”

In the spring of 2008 Jean Charest’s Liberals passed a reform of Quebec’s Education Act entitled Bill 88. Though the bill had far reaching implications for Quebec’s public schools there was relatively little public debate and discussion about its content.

This past spring one of the major implications of this bill became clear as the governing boards of each of Quebec’s public schools were required by the MELS (Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport) to sign what is being called a “Management and Educational Success Agreement”. These agreements identify numerous objectives for the school with specific measurable targets such as “to increase graduation rates from 83% to 86%” or “the success rate for mathematics 404 will increase from 42% to 45%”. Some of these performance indicators are determined by the school board while others are determined by the schools.

So what could possibly be wrong with asking schools to set such measurable targets? The answer to this question lies south of the border where the use of such performance indicators has been at the heart of a revolution in public education that began with George Bush’s 2001 “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) legislation and has been accelerated by Barack Obama. The appeal of this revolution is in the simplicity of its message: use high-stakes standardized testing to hold teachers and schools accountable for the success or failure of their students. Reward success; punish failure. This means offering both the carrot of additional funding or ‘merit-pay’ (often in exchange for union-protected job security) and the stick of threatened school closure or loss of employment.

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October 31, 2011

Article on the Ongoing Efforts to Disempower Teachers in Quebec

Aux premières lignes, mais sans pouvoir: quel est le rôle des enseignants du Québec?

“La principale différence des propositions de Legault d’avec le document du Parti libéral est que Legault y traite d’enseignants « performants », en opposition aux autres dont les élèves n’obtiennent pas de bons résultats, et que l’État devrait être en mesure de mettre à pied, séance tenante. Ça peut maintenir l’illusion que le Parti libéral se tient « au centre », mais en définitive, cela ne change en rien à sa vision antinationale de l’éducation. Pour ces tenants de la politique américaine basée sur la « performance » des enseignants, ceux qui sont valables seront ceux qui feront de l’offensive antisociale leur manifeste pédagogique, et les autres, qui y résistent d’une façon ou d’une autre, forment le groupe qu’il faudra faire taire sans rendre de compte à personne.”


October 31, 2011

Henry Aubin on Merit Pay for Teachers

“Merit pay makes excellent sense in theory. That’s why Legault has plenty of company in seeing it as a eureka solution for ailing schools. The Bush and Obama administrations, the Gates Foundation, the New York Times and the Washington Post editorial boards have all embraced the idea.What, you ask, can possibly be wrong with a system that pays teachers more if tests show their students are improving well?Answer: Actual practice, as disinct from theory.At least 10 U.S. states, taking advantage of a federal funding carrot, have so far adopted merit pay based on student testing. Legault might consider this south-of-theborder initiative as a giant pilot project. Results are coming in.”