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.
CKUT’s ‘In the Motherhood’ explores what the Couillard Government’s attacks on public education mean for students, teachers and parents
Robert Green speaks with CBC’s Sue Smith about recent developments in negotiations with Quebec’s teachers
(the last 30 seconds of the interview unfortunately get cut off)
October 25, 2015
Those present at the meeting for the Montreal Teachers Association’s strike vote heard a number of remarkable things from our union leadership. QPAT’s chief negotiator, Olivier Dolbec, for example described the various times teachers had been legislated back to work as victories in which teachers came out ahead. Dolbec’s central piece of evidence for this claim was that the back-to-work legislation of 2005 won us our current limits on class size.
This might be an interesting point if it were true. In fact the current limits on class size were the central element in the 2010 negotiations that convinced teachers to vote in favour of a negotiated settlement. The 2005 strike resulted in teachers being legislated back to work with the exact provisions government had put on the table prior to the strike. In other words, this strike did absolutely nothing to move government from what it was intending to do all along. One would think that QPAT’s chief negotiator would have his facts straight on such matters.
As if this was not enough to cast serious doubt on the judgement and integrity of our chief negotiator, Mr Dolbec then stunned the room with this remarkable statement:
“This is – and I challenge anyone in the room to say the opposite – this is the best collective agreement for teachers AROUND THE WORLD”
WHS teacher Robert Lavoie has taken up Mr Dolbec’s challenge. In this the first of a multi-part series Mr Lavoie presents a thorough comparison of the collective agreement of Quebec’s teachers with that of New Brunswick’s.
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?
By Robert Green ! Published Sept 10 By the Montreal Gazette
Imagine your child sitting in a classroom with 35 to 40 other students. What kind of education do you think they will receive in such a context? How much help are they likely to get if they find themselves struggling with the material? How much time do you suppose the teacher will be having to spend on the unpleasant task of discipline versus the joyous tasks of fostering learning, creativity, compassion and a sense of wonder in students?
Now imagine your child is one of many with special needs in this enormous class. What will be your child’s chances of succeeding if the limited supports currently in place for students with special needs are removed: no weighting system that ensures smaller classes when there is a higher proportion of students with special needs; no childcare workers in the class to assist the teacher; no resource room to turn to for extra help?
Now imagine all of this is happening in a context where deep budget cuts mean reduced access to psychologists, behavioural specialists and counsellors.
Parents throughout Quebec need to understand that this is what’s at stake in the current negotiations between the province and its teachers. It is no exaggeration to state that the Couillard government is proposing to rid our contract of nearly every clause that protects the learning conditions of students, from class-size limits to the various measures aimed at providing support for students with special needs.
CJAD Teachers Panel discusses pressure tactics, class size limits and cuts to librarians and school maintenance
Teachers Catharine Hogan and Robert Green discuss pressure tactics, class size limits and cuts to librarians and school maintenance with Tommy Shnurmacher.
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:
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:
The gloves come off as the CJAD teachers panel discusses the PLQ’s ongoing assault on public education
Teachers Catharine Hogan and Robert Green pull no punches in discussing the PLQ’s ongoing assault on public education with James Mennie (sitting in for Tommy Shnurmacher). Originally aired February 17, 2015.
By Robert Green | Published February 16, 2015 by The Montreal Gazette
Earlier this month, an extensive study commissioned by Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport confirmed what Quebec’s teachers have known for over a decade: The famous “pedagogical reform” that was supposed to revolutionize the way students are taught in Quebec is a failure.
The study, which followed nearly 4,000 students, compared two cohorts of post-reform students with one that entered high school in 2004 just before the reform was implemented.
The results paint a portrait of an ongoing policy disaster.
Despite having added 50 hours of instruction in Mathematics and 150 hours of first-language instruction, results in both core subjects are significantly down.
Despite the fact that the reform was intended to raise the dismally low graduation rates of boys and at-risk students, these rates have instead seen significant declines for both groups.
Perhaps most worrisome for Quebec’s anglophone community is the fact that students in Quebec’s English school system were also identified by the study as one of the groups that saw a significant decline in graduation rates.
CHRY is the York University campus/community radio station. To listen to the ‘News Now’ feature interview with Robert Green on the problem’s with Quebec’s 4 tiered education system click here. (To download as mp3 right-click and select ‘save link as’)
Abolishment of school boards got all the attention in recent election campaign, but special-needs students’ poor access to education is far more pressing
By Robert Green | A slightly edited version of this op-ed appeared in the Montreal Gazette September 26th 2012
To understand this issue, it is important to recognize as a starting point that Quebec has a four-tiered education system: fully private schools that receive no government subsidies and are not bound to follow provincial curriculum; semi-private schools that do receive government subsidies and are bound to follow the Quebec curriculum; “special status” public schools that have entrance exams; and public schools open to all, regardless of income or ability.
Entrance exams in all but a few of the schools in the first three tiers ensure that it is only this final tier that is accessible to the majority of students with special needs, regardless of their ability to pay for private schooling.
The result is an over-representation of students with special needs within a portion of the education system — i.e., the fully public portion — where resources are already stretched thin.
This situation would not be such a problem were it not for the public subsidies to private schools that effectively allow so many families to opt-out of the public system. Compared with other provinces, Quebec has by far the highest percentage of students enrolled in private schools — and the numbers are on the rise. From 2004 to 2010, the number of secondary students enrolled in private schools rose from 17 to 19 per cent. On the island of Montreal, it has been estimated to be as high as 30 per cent. This compares with a Canadian average of 5.6 per cent.
The reason this multi-tiered education system should elicit concern has to do with what the world is learning about successful education systems.
Finland is renowned for consistently producing the highest achieving students in the world. In his recently published book Finnish Lessons, former Finnish education minister Pasi Sahlberg credits Finland’s success largely to its emphasis on ensuring “equal educational opportunities” for all of its students. This means in particular that all schools have the resources to meet the needs of students with various learning difficulties.