Posts tagged ‘Teacher burn-out’

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

December 30, 2015

Sign the petition demanding equal treatment for teachers in Quebec’s English School Boards

Petition text:

QPAT (Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers (QPAT) has let its members down especially the 70% of us who are women. We, the 8000 teachers in the English school boards in Quebec are the only teachers and public sector workers in Quebec without an important equity feature in our contract. The ANNEX XXXV  on family-work reconciliation (or similar letter of understanding) is found in the contracts of the 100,000 francophone school board teachers (FSE and FAE)  and in the contracts of all CEGEP Teachers, nurses, and health care workers – 330,000 Quebec public employees with whom we made up the Common Front. This important recognition asserts that. The bargaining parties encourage the local parties to facilitate the conciliation of parental and family responsibilities with work-related responsibilities, when determining and implementing working conditions.

The members of QPAT, the majority of whom are women balancing work and family responsibilities deserve to have this very 21st Century recognition of their rights and their lives in their contract. It would encourage  management to be more responsive and sensitive to accomodating family needs of teachers with our work conditions.Please sign if you support QPAT teachers (all teachers in the English Public School System in Quebec ) sharing in the rights of the francophon majority and if you support the advancement of women`s rights in the workplace.

To sign the petition click here

To read Katharine Cukier’s open letter to Richard Goldfinch click here

September 23, 2015

Montreal teachers’ pressure tactics are taking a toll

Bt Katherine Wilton | Published September 22 by The Montreal Gazette


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:


February 28, 2015

The gloves come off as the CJAD teachers panel discusses the PLQ’s ongoing assault on public education

boxing_gloves3Teachers 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.

Click here for the podcast.

June 15, 2014

A response to Jim Wilson’s letter “Education won’t be able to escape budget belt-tightening”

By Robert Green

On June 13th the Gazette published a letter entitled “Education won’t be able to escape budget belt-tightening” by Jim Wilson. The letter was an attack on my recent op-ed about the injustice of the Liberal government’s austerity measures for education. As Mr Wilson is a well known commentator on Quebec’s English school system whose writing has been often published on this blog, I feel it is important to publicly respond.

The whole reason I submit articles to the Gazette is to stir up public debate. Though I strongly disagree with the positions Mr Wilson takes in his letter, I am more than happy to debate these issues with him. I hope this exchange of ideas will be interesting and informative for readers.

As Mr Wilson’s letter raises a number of points and poses a number of questions, I will deal with them one paragraph at a time.

Robert Green makes one point that I fully support: that public funds should not be used to support private schools. However, he fails in his principal arguments that the budget means that “the neediest students are asked to make serious sacrifices” and that cutting the private-school subsidies would do much to remedy the overall financial situation.

Actually my principal argument was not about remedying the province’s overall financial situation so much as it was about the injustice of imposing austerity on the public education system while leaving generous subsidies for the rich to attend private schools untouched. I’m surprised that someone who claims to oppose public subsidies for private schools doesn’t share my outrage over this blatant injustice.

A secondary point of my op-ed was to show that there is no good reason to exempt private school subsidies from sharing in the burden of austerity. The private schools claim these subsidies save the system money. However, this is a highly questionable claim due to the other forms of government support private schools receive (listed in my article) in addition to the 60% tuition subsidy. While the FAE’s claim that there are significant savings to achieve by integrating private school students into the public system may also be somewhat questionable, even if this reintegration is cost neutral it is still extremely worthwhile as it will eliminate the significant social costs associated with an education system that is segregated along class lines.

read more »

June 12, 2014

Austerity by any other name would smell as foul

An edited version of this article ran in the June 11th edition of the Montreal Gazette under the title “A bad budget for education

By Robert Green

There’s a very good reason the Couillard government wants to avoid using the word “austerity”. The word has become associated with a villainous act that evokes the names of such detested figures as Ebenezer Scrooge and the Sheriff of Nottingham; the act of taking from the poor to give to the rich.

However, avoiding the use of the word austerity may not be enough to prevent Quebecers from seeing the villainous truth behind the recent Liberal budget.

The Leitão budget is clearly moving Quebec in the direction of Choice #2

The Leitão budget is clearly moving Quebec in the direction of Choice #2

Nowhere is this more true than with respect to the Leitão budget’s implications for education. While Quebec’s wealthy will see no change whatsoever to the generous subsidies they receive to send their children to elite private schools, the province’s most needy students will be asked to make do with less.

The Leitão budget has extremely serious implications for Quebec’s public schools. It imposes cuts of $150 million for 2014-15, restrains growth in spending to a paltry 2.2 percent for the years following and freezes hiring for administrative posts.

The reason these cuts are so serious is that they are being imposed at a time when Quebec’s public education system is already in crisis.

School boards are in financial crisis having already been cut to the bone thanks to the $640 million in cuts since 2010. Some have resorted to running deficits while others have sought to raise school taxes. The notion that school boards still have bureaucratic fat that can be cut without affecting services to students is contradicted by both the school boards themselves and public sector unions.

Schools are in crisis due to the growing number of special needs students – a crisis exacerbated by a large and growing private school system that is permitted to use entrance exams to filter out such students, causing them to flood into public schools. The spending cuts mean that there will be even less money for psychologists, child care workers, speech therapists and drug councillors. In other words, fewer resources that can offer children with special needs the fighting chance they deserve.

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February 19, 2014

Overwhelmed Canadian Teachers Quitting in Droves

Improve working conditions to keep new teachers from leaving the profession, says expert

By Justina Reichel | Published February 19, 2013 by The Epoch Times

Canada’s education system is in crisis, says an education expert, and as a result teachers are quitting the profession at an alarming rate.

Bullying from parents, false accusations from students, a lack of merit-based pay, few support resources, stifling curriculum requirements, and overwhelming workloads are just some of the reasons new teachers are leaving, says Jon Bradley, an associate professor and program director at McGill University’s Faculty of Education.

An estimated 30-50 percent of Canadian teachers are leaving the profession within their first five years on the job, says Bradley, with similar stats reported in countries such as the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

In Alberta, 40 percent of teachers are leaving within the first five years, according to researchers at the University of Alberta.

“Why are so many leaving? That whole area needs to be addressed,” Bradley says, adding that given the myriad issues involved, the education system is in crisis.

“I believe it is in a crisis. I believe it’s being held together, you know, by a string and a prayer. But it’s in crisis, and we ignore the crisis at our peril.”

Bradley notes that the high turnover of new teachers is not only costly, it takes away from the learning experience of students who benefit most from teachers who “hit their stride” after 7-10 years on the job.

Read more:

January 9, 2014

Parents mous, enfants fous, profs à bout

Josée Blanchette | Sept 6, 2013 Le Devoir

On dit souvent qu’il n’y a pas de job plus difficile au monde que celui de parent. Je…

On dit souvent qu’il n’y a pas de job plus difficile au monde que celui de parent. Je suis d’accord. Mais il y a un boulot encore moins valorisant que celui-là : se tenir debout devant une classe de 24 enfants qui ne sont pas les vôtres. Je me prosterne devant ce mur d’enseignantes (notez le féminin) qui s’aligne dans la cour d’école à chaque rentrée. Je suis béate d’admiration devant leurs 25 tentacules indépendants (notez le masculin).

Devant ces hommes aussi, mais on n’en rencontre que 12 % au primaire. Jamais vu un mec enseigner à mon B. Et c’est grand dommage, mais c’est un autre sujet.

Le sujet, c’est le décrochage de tous ces enseignants, hommes ou femmes, 25 % au primaire dans les cinq années qui suivent leur arrivée devant un tableau noir ou blanc, selon les derniers chiffres disponibles au ministère de l’Éducation (2011). Un sur quatre ! Un phénomène en progression. Si les parents décrochaient au même rythme que les profs, il faudrait un ministère des Orphelins du Québec pour pourvoir aux besoins des enfants.

Pourquoi décrochent-ils ? Non, ce ne sont pas les moisissures dans les murs ; quoique le symbole est frappant. Tous les professeurs avec qui je me suis entretenue en viennent à des constats similaires. L’Association québécoise des enseignantes et des enseignants du primaire publiera sous peu un mémoire pour appuyer leurs dires, mettant en cause la précarité, la lourdeur de la tâche, la formation inadéquate, le manque de ressources et… la discipline.

Read more:?

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:

November 16, 2013

QPAT Convention 2013: Coping Strategies When What Teachers Need is Change

Should conventions held by teachers unions include workshops aimed at politicizing and empowering its membership or should they merely offer tips and techniques to use in the classroom? How one answers this question reveals a great deal about how one sees the nature of teachers unions themselves.

Following a historic victory of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) last year, union President Karen Lewis explained this victory as the product of a change in union leadership that brought with it a change in the philosophy of how the union should be run. She described this philosophical shift as moving from a “service model” to an “organizing model”. This involved making structural changes to the union itself so that it could be more effective at educating and empowering members:

…we purposely tried to change the culture of union so that the union is about education, is about empowering teachers … And as a result, the union officers took pay cuts, significant pay cuts, so that we can have an organizing department, so that we can have a research department, so that we didn’t do the union the way the old union was done, because those days are over…

The unity achieved by the CTU educating and empowering its grassroots members transformed the CTU from an organization incapable of fending off the various attacks against the working conditions of its members into a fighting organization capable of not only defending their members but actually making gains on their behalf.

While paying lip service to the historic victory of Chicago teachers in a recent issue of QPAT’s newsletter Liaison, QPAT itself could not be further from the organizing model that was responsible for this victory: their democratic structures could not be more opaque or inaccessible to the grassroots members; their approach to negotiation seems more intent on telling members what to think and how to vote than on empowering members and encouraging real debate; they see no problem paying their president and certain members of their permanent staff salaries and perks that far exceed those received by the highest paid teachers. 

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May 9, 2013

If America’s Serious About Appreciating Teachers, Here’s What it Takes

By Jose Vilson | Published May 7, 2013 by


How do we actually appreciate teachers?

For one, America can start by giving teachers more voice in policy and practice. Our voices in the decision-making process have been nullified or patronized, an attitude reserved for a woman-dominated profession. Teachers shouldn’t just have a seat at the tables currently reserved for wealthy businessmen, technology experts, policy wonks, fresh out-of-the-Ivy-League newbies, and politicians. They should get the opportunity to create the table, creating the consortia, and developing the protocols for how we discuss our profession. Respect for expertise goes a long way towards making teachers feel appreciated.

We can also pay teachers well. We can pay beginning teachers a liveable wage—$45,000—and get third-year teacher salaries up to $65,000 and up, maxing out at $140,000. Of course, we can have other discussions on remuneration, but, as National Board Certified teacher Renee Moore would say, “We shouldn’t be afraid to get paid.”

More to the point, we need to assure that teachers have a wage that keeps them satisfied with their jobs and unafraid to try best practices, akin to doctors and lawyers as they move up in their professions. Having a union assures that teachers get equitable salaries regardless of sex, race, or religion, and we can use a healthy mix of old and new solutions to ensure equitable payment for educators.

Lastly, we can improve working conditions for all schools. Instead of investing monies towards bigger central office staff and SmartBoards, we can work on improving our school buildings. We need to make them look friendlier and less like prisons. We can make school lunches healthier, and provide students with recess and the arts more often. We can reduce the constant need for standardized diagnostic testing that requires special programs and seating arrangements that take away from, not promote, classroom learning. Also, as education advocate Patrick J. Sullivan would say, our strategy for improving schools can’t be “open-close-open-close.” Sustaining these ecosystems takes much more thoughtfulness than we currently invest.

Read more:

May 3, 2013

Teaching has become a precarious profession, symposium hears

By Janet Bagnall | Published May 3, 2013 by the Montreal Gazette


In Quebec, about 55,000 teachers have permanent positions; 20,000 are on short-term contracts; 16,000 are called in as needed to do replacement work or other tasks. There is a high turnover of teachers in the province, Tardif said.

“In a Montreal high school, in a single year Grade 10 students will be taught math by five or six different teachers. And in underprivileged neighbourhoods, the teacher turnover is very intense.”

Teachers want out, Tardif said. He cited studies showing that half of Quebec teachers have thought of leaving the profession. Twenty-one per cent have already taken time off. According to Quebec Education Department figures, one in four teachers who does not have a permanent position is thinking of leaving in the next five years.

Teaching has become a precarious profession, Tardif said.

“This increasing precarity and the worsening conditions of the work of teaching and the rate of school failure are two sides of the same coin.”

April 7, 2013

Teacher’s resignation letter: ‘My profession … no longer exists’

Letter by Gerald J. Conti, posted by Valerie Strauss | Published April 6, 2013 by The Answer Sheet


I came to teaching forty years ago this month and have been lucky enough to work at a small liberal arts college, a major university and this superior secondary school. To me, history has been so very much more than a mere job, it has truly been my life, always driving my travel, guiding all of my reading and even dictating my television and movie viewing. Rarely have I engaged in any of these activities without an eye to my classroom and what I might employ in a lesson, a lecture or a presentation. With regard to my profession, I have truly attempted to live John Dewey’s famous quotation (now likely cliché with me, I’ve used it so very often) that  “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” This type of total immersion is what I have always referred to as teaching “heavy,” working hard, spending time, researching, attending to details and never feeling satisfied that I knew enough on any topic. I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised. STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill.

A long train of failures has brought us to this unfortunate pass. In their pursuit of Federal tax dollars, our legislators have failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education. The New York State United Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle. Finally, it is with sad reluctance that I say our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students by establishing testing and evaluation systems that are Byzantine at best and at worst, draconian…

Read more:

February 23, 2013

Fish with Fur: Natural Selection of Teachers

Published February 11 by Mr Teachbad

About five years ago I read Tin­ker­ing Toward Utopia: A Cen­tury of Pub­lic School Reform by David Tyack and Larry Cuban (Har­vard, 1995). It’s a great his­tor­i­cal overview, writ­ten before the Dark Times, and I rec­om­mend it.

The thing that still sticks out most for me from that book is their argu­ment that edu­ca­tion reform, small– or large-scale, can­not be suc­cess­ful with­out a great degree of sup­port and com­pli­ance from teach­ers. Ulti­mately, we are the ones who run this place. We don’t get to decide where we’re going, but we’re fly­ing the plane. You need us.

We wanted to go to Las Vegas, but you’re mak­ing us go to your aunt’s wed­ding in Syra­cuse. Well, guess what, asshole…we’re not going to either. We’ll tell you we’re going to Syra­cuse. Oh, yeah…and you’ll believe us. But really we’re just going to fly this thing out of gas over the Andes and one of us is going to end up eat­ing the other one.

Tyack and Cuban were right. If reforms are to work and teach­ers are to do what the peo­ple who decide these things want them to do, teach­ers have to be on board. If they aren’t happy, they won’t go along and it sim­ply can’t hap­pen with­out their buy-in. But there is an impor­tant unstated assump­tion in this argu­ment. The assump­tion seems to be that teach­ers, for bet­ter or worse, will stick around long enough to be able to thwart any changes they don’t like.

What Tyack and Cuban didn’t count on is that teach­ers might leave or be removed from the pro­fes­sion en masse rather than go along. They hadn’t con­sid­ered the pos­si­bil­ity that any reform effort could pos­si­bly be so broad, unpleas­ant, well-funded or per­sis­tent as the one we are see­ing now.

The result is that the reforms are chang­ing the demog­ra­phy and char­ac­ter of teach­ing. The organ­ism of the teach­ing pro­fes­sion is adapt­ing in a nat­ural selection-y sort of way; chang­ing itself to sur­vive in the chang­ing cir­cum­stances of its envi­ron­ment. Teacher sat­is­fac­tion is sink­ing like a stone. Teacher turnover is greater and the pro­fes­sion is becom­ing younger.

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February 7, 2013

Quebec teachers’ jobs increasingly stressful

By Patricia Melnyk | Published February 6, 2013 by The Montreal Gazette


Although I believe that the teaching profession is still widely respected in the community, many people are not aware of just how stressful a typical workday can be, especially if a teacher has difficult classes such as those aforementioned. Sadly, these difficult situations are increasingly becoming the reality.

There are people who think that teachers have a “cushy” job because they have two months off in the summer. But these same people might not realize two things: first, that a teacher’s annual salary is pro-rated over a period of 12 months, and second, many teachers spend part of their summer preparing to teach a new subject in the fall, or planning their course material.

The media make frequent mention of the high student dropout rate in Quebec. However, as Mr. Bradley asserts, we also need to start confronting the existence of a similarly high teacher dropout rate (40 per cent dropping out after five years on the job), and talk about what can be done to curtail this parallel crisis.

Interviewing departing teachers more purposefully would help us get a better understanding of why teachers are leaving the field in such high numbers. If we truly want to retain our teachers, we will need to offer not only higher salaries and other perks, but also improved working conditions.

Read the entire article: