Posts tagged ‘Saskatchewan’

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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March 16, 2014

Alfie Kohn at Regina Teachers Convention 2014

Alfie Kohn speaks about the many dangers of data-driven education reform focused on standardized test results at the 2014 Regina Teachers Convention.

December 19, 2013

Teacher stress is killing my profession

By Robert Smol | Published Sep 4, 2009 by CBC News

The reality of every teacher trying to make even a modest go at this profession is a life of almost constant stress, overwork and, at times, emotional exhaustion.

Anyone who enters the teaching profession thinking otherwise is in for a rude awakening.

So why am I griping? I chose this profession and I enjoy what I do.

Well, it is because a storm of new and increasingly unrealistic demands, coupled with a noticeable decline in support from many principals and parents, is contributing to a growing incidence of illness among teachers, including mental illness due to work-related stress.

I should note that teaching has not broken me. But it has broken the sanity and soul of some very motivated teachers I know.

“I think that the whole idea of teaching has changed in the last 15 to 20 years,” says Emily Noble, past-president of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.

“People are dealing with more high-need students, with more multicultural issues and with no-fail policies.

“Teachers want to make a difference, but the supports are just not there.”

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/canada/story/1.789436

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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February 19, 2013

Standardized Testing – An Idea Whose Time Has Come … and Gone?

By | Published February 18 2013 by Northern Plains Drifter
The Saskatchewan government recently announced that “by the end of 2016, every Saskatchewan student between grades 4 and 12 will take part in yearly provincial standardized assessments.”
Anybody concerned with our children’s schooling would be wise to ask, “Why?”
As the thoughtful editorial in Friday’s StarPhoenix suggested, the provincial government has to make a better case for why they want every student in grades 4 to 12 to undergo this type of anxiety-creating assessment every year.
For one thing, it seems like the standardized testing craze that arrived so late in Saskatchewan might soon be sent packing elsewhere. B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix, widely expected to soon become premier, has stated that he will change B.C.’s FSA tests for all students in grades 4, 7 and 10 to a random sample test. Even Alberta’s Premier Allison Redford has considered a similar random sampling approach.
Educational leaders across the United States are also expressing doubts about the usefulness of these tests. Over 600 schools in Texas passed resolutions in 2012 demanding a reduction in high-stakes testing because they were ineffective. Indeed, the Republican-dominated House of the Texas Legislature put forth a budget for 2014-15 that entirely eliminated all funding for standardized testing. Resistance among educational stakeholders is gaining traction in Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio, Virginia and California.

Dr. Pasi Sahlberg is a leading educator in Finland and author of the popular book Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? When Sahlberg was recently asked by Tom Shields of the University of Richmond (Virginia) what was the most important educational reform the U.S. could do to improve its school system, he quickly answered, “Eliminate high-stakes standardized testing.”

Read more: http://northernplainsdrifter.blogspot.ca/2013/02/standardized-testing-idea-whose-time.html