Posts tagged ‘Quebec’

May 6, 2017

CBC Daybreak on the call for a new inclusive History curriculum in Quebec

Members of ComECH-Quebec at May 2nd press conference.

Kativik School Board’s Robert Watt and ComECH-Quebec Chairperson Robert Green discuss the problem’s with Quebec’s recent History curriculum reform and the online petition calling for a new inclusive curriculum with CBC Daybreak’s Mike Finnerty:

 

Liberal MNA David Birnbaum attempts to defend the curriculum reform:

News release from Kativik School Board: The new History of Quebec and Canada curriculum is unacceptable

News release from ComECH-Quebec: Reforming the Reform: A Call for a New Inclusive History Curriculum

January 27, 2017

Comparing Sick Days and Special Leave Days in Teacher Contracts Across Canada

With Provincial negotiations finished, the local Teachers Unions are now consulting their members about negotiations over local contracts with school boards. Below is a table put together by Royal West teacher Katharine Cukier comparing sick day (provincially negotiated in Quebec) and special leave day (locally negotiated with school boards) provisions in collective agreements across Canada with those of teachers in the English Montreal School Board.

WonkaDolbecTo put the information in this table in context, a few words about salary. In recent years there have been two rigorous comparisons of teachers salaries across Canada. The BC Teachers Federation’s document compared the top and bottom of the payscale of teachers across Canada in two categories in 2013/2014. In three of the four comparisons Quebec’s teachers were dead last in terms of salary. A similar comparison covering the same year by Statistics Canada echoed these results finding Quebec’s teachers at the bottom of almost every category of comparison.

However, looking at the top and bottom of the payscale does not tell the whole story. There is also the issue of the number of steps in the payscale. While most provinces have between 10 and 12 steps on teacher payscales, Quebec has 17. To understand just how much this impacts teachers in Quebec, one can compare the earnings over 25 years based on the payscales in current collective agreements. Doing so reveals the following:

In comparing Quebec’s situation with respect to sick days and special leave days there are a few points to consider:

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January 21, 2017

Podcast: Financial Literacy at the Expense of Political Literacy?

CJAD’s Leslie Roberts speaks with teacher Robert Green about the Quebec government’s proposal to introduce a financial literacy course at the expense of the Contemporary World course. Click here to download the podcast.

September 18, 2016

Quebec’s rotten history curriculum is fault of both PQ and Liberals

By Robert Green | Published August 30, 2016 by Ricochet.media

Horrified by the Parti Québécois’s proposed Charter of Values and the conservative ethnic nationalism it represented, the election of 2014 saw large numbers of Quebecers turn to a corrupt, austerity-mad Liberal Party, hoping it to be a lesser evil.

https://images.thetrumpet.com/53875b37!h.300,id.10734,m.fill,w.540This fall, high school students throughout Quebec will reap the consequences of this short-sighted political calculation as they are subjected to a dogmatic, exclusionary and politically regressive history program that is as much the product of the PQ’s conservative ethnic nationalism as it is the Liberal Party’s myopic obsession with public sector austerity.

An ideologically driven reform

The genesis of this reform begins with the lobbying efforts of la Coalition pour l’histoire, an organization founded by nationalist historians Éric Bédard and Robert Comeau with the support of organizations such as la Fondation Lionel-Groulx, le Mouvement national des Québécois, and la Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal. Despite the fact that Quebec’s current curriculum contains numerous and frequent references to Quebec nationalism and the Quebec nation, the coalition sees it as its mission to stop what it calls the “denationalization” of Quebec history.

The politics of this coalition were laid bare in 2013 when the organization refused to meet with the members of the initial committee set up to reform the curriculum, because of the “divergent views” that would be present. Evidently the coalition members wanted a committee as monolithic in its composition as the view of Quebec society they sought to impose on Quebec’s students.

The PQ education minister of the day, Marie Malavoy, subsequently decided to meet privately with a small group of coalition supporters. Cancelling a meeting of the larger, more diverse committee was a telling indication of the direction she was intending on taking the program.

In an open letter published by Le Devoir, the leadership of L’Association québécoise pour l’enseignement en univers social (AQEUS) scolded the minister for taking her advice from a committee of nationalist historians that not only excluded any participation from teachers and pedagogical experts, but also prevented one historian from participating because of his activism with Québec Solidaire. They also accused the minister of “instrumentalizing” the teaching of history for “purely partisan and political ends.”

Though the report that would serve as the basis for the PQ’s pilot program did eventually involve a modest process of consultation, the end result clearly reflected the coalition’s desires for the program. Coalition spokesperson Robert Comeau was quoted in Le Devoir as being “very satisfied.”

Minorities omitted from history

So what exactly is so problematic about the proposed reform? To answer that question, one must consider the things that have been omitted.

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June 21, 2016

Petition and Open Letter: Stop testing Grade 6 students in Quebec with a ridiculous exam.

By Jo-Ann Connolly

Plea to parents and educators,

As a grade 6 teacher who has just finished correcting provincial math exams, I am convinced that our government has taken the wrong path in evaluating knowledge that our children in Quebec society have grasped through our educational system.  The exam is divided into 8 parts, with one large situational problem and 6 shorter applications.There is also a traditional multiple choice and quick answer booklet.

os-ed-standardized-testing-front-burner-intro--001There is no sound pedagogy in what the government is requesting from 11 and 12 year olds.  The applications took anywhere from 1 to 1 and a half hours, rather than the 20 to 30 minute time limit the government wanted.  The situational took 2 days rather than the 1 to 2 and a half hours.The children could not do this on their own, despite discussion beforehand to clarify exactly what was being requested of them.  The government is asking them to work in isolation on a budget proposal scenario which frankly is irrelevant for most children, and the steps involved are too complex.  Most twelve year olds do not hold the purse strings in their families.  They are lucky if they have an allowance.  Parents buy the necessities and children in poor neighbourhoods have never handled money. They may be able to find percents and calculate tax on an item when we scaffold the activities, but they have no idea what budgets and proposals are about.The applications are too long and the language is such that the child does not even know what is being asked.

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May 15, 2016

Common Front deal for Quebec public sector workers wasn’t as good as advertised

A closer look at the agreement reveals inflated numbers. Who will be held accountable?

By Robert Green | Published April 18, 2016 by Ricochet English and 26 avril 2016 by Ricochet français

Now that the dust has settled on Quebec’s negotiations with public sector workers, it’s time for public sector workers to look back on the campaign that was.

For the 400,000+ members of the Common Front, a coalition of public sector unions, one issue in particular demands critical reflection: the manipulative and dishonest way that information about the tentative agreement on salary was presented to the media, the public and the Common Front’s own members.

In general, the act of consciously making untrue statements is considered to be something for which politicians should be held accountable. Many a powerful world leader has fallen as a result of dishonest behaviour, including most recently the president of Iceland. The question for Common Front members is whether this same principle should apply to leaders of labour federations.

To illustrate just how dishonest the Common Front was in presenting the salary agreement to the public, let’s compare it to how this same salary agreement was presented by another labour federation, La Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE), which is not part of the Common Front.

Spinning the deal

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April 19, 2016

Motion to Censure QPAT President Richard Goldfinch

In order to hold our syndical leadership accountable for the blatantly dishonest way that information about the negotiated agreement on salary was presented to the public, the teachers of Westmount High School have submitted the following motion to be debated by the Montreal Teachers Association. We encourage other members of the Common Front to pass similar motions in order to send a clear message that consciously misleading the public in order to have an agreement approved is utterly unacceptable.

La version française suivra

Motion to Censure QPAT President Richard Goldfinch

Whereas one-time lump sum payments, investment in resources and money for bonuses are very different from salary increases that benefit teachers for the rest of their careers, and

Whereas at a December 20th Common Front press conference the following occurred:

  • one-time lump sum payments, investment in resources and money for bonuses were presented as if they were salary increases, with the claim that government’s salary offer had moved from 3 percent to 9.15 -10.25 percent
  • the goal of ‘stopping the continued impoverishment of members’ was presented as if it had been achieved.
  • speculation was offered that given the low rate of inflation, public sector workers might even come out ahead in terms of buying power by the end of the contract.

Whereas the misinformation presented by the Common Front leadership gave the public and union members the mistaken impression that the government’s offer was much more generous than it actually was, and

Whereas similar misinformation (presenting the salary increase as 9.15 -10.25 percent) had been widely reported in the media two days previous, and

Whereas Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers President Richard Goldfinch failed not only to send in corrections to the major English media outlets or even to his own members, he also failed to ensure that the Common Front press conference held two days later would not repeat this misinformation, and

Whereas even if the leadership of the Common Front sincerely believed that this was the best deal possible for its members, it is utterly unacceptable to use manipulation and deceit in order to have the agreement approved by members

Be it resolved that the members of the MTA hereby censure QPAT President Richard Goldfinch for failing to ensure that the information presented at the December 20th Common Front press conference was as accurate as possible, and

Be it further resolved that MTA President Peter Sutherland be directed to draft a letter to each of the Presidents of the labour federations participating in the Common Front expressing the dissatisfaction of MTA members over the manipulative and deceitful way that information about the agreement in principle was presented to the public.

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January 12, 2016

Quebec’s proposed deal with public sector workers: a hollow victory for unions?

After months of mobilization and negotiation, union leaders are more interested in claiming victory than in actually achieving it

By Robert Green | Published January 5, 2016 by Richochet.media

Prior to the holidays, teachers, parents and students in Quebec received some hopeful news: the Common Front, consisting of unions representing over 400,000 of the province’s half a million public sector workers, had overcome their final hurdle and arrived at an agreement on salaries. The news was filled with stories of satisfied union leaders trumpeting the fact that they had persuaded the government to move from their initial offer of 3 per cent in salary increases over five years to an increase of between 9.15 per cent and 10.25 per cent per year.

It may therefore come as a surprise to readers to learn that many public sector workers are preparing to vote against the deal. Delegates for the federation representing health care workers, which represents nearly one-quarter of the Common Front’s membership, have already voted to reject the deal. The FAE labour federation, which represents 34,000 teachers in the province’s French school boards (but is not a member of the Common Front), is recommending that its members reject a similar deal.

Why are Quebec workers, who have been without a contract since last April, skeptical of the proposed settlement? Because, on closer inspection, the deal on offer is not at all the victory that the Common Front leaders are claiming.

read more »

January 7, 2016

Discussing the details of the Common Front salary deal for Quebec’s public sector workers

Robert Green discusses the details of the Common Front salary deal with CKUT’s Dan Parker and Stefan Christoff:

Click here to download

November 22, 2015

CKUT’s ‘In the Motherhood’ explores what the Couillard Government’s attacks on public education mean for students, teachers and parents

In the Motherhood host Trixie Dumont discusses the Couillard government’s attacks on public education with teachers Fernand Deschamps, Robert Green and Chantal Kers and parent Stacey Dumont.

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 8, 2015

Robert Green discusses a range of issues facing Quebec’s teachers with CKUT’s Dan Parker and Stefan Christoff

Interview from the October 7th edition of CKUT’s The Wednesday morning after.

Click here to download

September 23, 2015

Montreal teachers’ pressure tactics are taking a toll

Bt Katherine Wilton | Published September 22 by The Montreal Gazette

Excerpt:

Teachers are angry that Quebec wants to increase class sizes in high schools and elementary schools and is proposing to no longer consider whether a child has a learning disability when calculating class sizes. A few months before negotiations began in March on a new collective agreement with the province’s teachers, former Education Minister Yves Bolduc told reporters there was no clear link between smaller class sizes and student performance, citing a 2008 Université Laval study. The government also wants to increase the work week from 32 to 35 hours and is offering a three-per cent wage increase over five years.

To read the entire story and view the two videos of WHS teachers explaining why they are taking work action: http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreal-teachers-pressure-tactics-are-taking-a-toll

 

May 30, 2015

Video: La dette du Québec vous fait peur?

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