Category Archives: BC Education

Sandra Mathison explains how #VSB39 firing by #BCED Minister is political and partisan #bcpoli #UBCeduc ##UBCBEd2017 #ubc

Sandra Mathison, The Globe and Mail, October 19, 2016–  Education Minister Mike Bernier fired the Vancouver School Board on Monday morning, a shocking move illustrating how very differently the public and the politicians see the role of school boards. On the one hand the public sees school boards as advocates for their community and their schools. On the other hand the government sees school boards as technocrats appropriately constrained by the B.C. School Act to manage school districts.

Citizens go to the polls in an election year and vote for school trustees who will manage the school district, but voters also expect advocacy for the district, schools and children. The public does not see itself as simply electing bureaucrats; they elect champions. Greater parental involvement in schools was established in the 1970s and 80s with the creation of parent advisory committees giving members of the public every reason to believe their voices matter. With control vested in the politicians and educational bureaucracy of the moment, school trustee advocacy for well-funded, appropriate education is framed in relation to the current provincial party (the B.C. Liberals) and educational leadership (Minister of Education Bernier).

As shocking as firing the Vancouver School Board is, the provincial government’s action reflects a historical pattern of centralized education governance that has become ever more acute. By law, school boards are subordinate to the provincial government and charged with managing the budget and implementing the curriculum and standards set by the ministry. This change is not recent and began as early as the 1970s although escalated dramatically with Socred changes to school governance in the 1980s.

Firing school boards is draconian but it has happened before in British Columbia. In 1985, the Socreds fired both the Vancouver and Cowichan trustees for submitting needs-based budgets rather than complying with government-set spending limits. Provincial governments have made other changes to school boards that have outraged the electorate, such as the NDP’s 1995 plan to centralize schools and reduce the number of school boards from 75 to 37 (a plan only partly implemented and a reduction in the number of school districts to the current 60).

Even though firing a school board in B.C. is legal within a centralized education system, it is unmistakably a political act. The BC Liberals have been in an antagonistic relationship with local education authorities and other education constituencies such as the BC Teachers’ Federation for years. Firing the VSB trustees is a political move, but it is also a bureaucratic move that fosters the centralization of educational decision-making. It is easy to see this as merely a partisan move, rather than one that is both political and partisan.

Mr. Bernier accused the VSB trustees of spending too much time on advocacy and too little time on following the rules. Many Vancouver parents accuse the B.C. Liberals of flouting democracy for political ends.

This dramatic situation in Vancouver raises the question: Are school boards necessary? The answer has to be yes.

Read More: The Globe and Mail

Vancouver’s polar opposites in funding K-12 v University #ubc #vsb39 #ubceduc #bced

UBC's Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre

UBC’s Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre

Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, Vancouver Observer, October 7, 2016– Vancouver, the city of disparities, is faced with polar opposites in its educational system.

The contrast between K-12 schools and the university in Vancouver could not be more stark: The schools sinking in debt with rapidly declining enrolments and empty seats versus the university swimming in cash and bloating quotas to force excessive enrolments beyond capacity.

With central offices just 7km or 12 minutes apart, the two operate as if in different hemispheres or eras: the schools laying off teachers and planning to close buildings versus the university given a quota for preparing about 650 teachers for a glutted market with few to no jobs on the remote horizon in the largest city of the province.

There is a gateway from grade 12 in high school to grade 13 in the university but from a finance perspective there appears an unbreachable wall between village and castle.

Pundits and researchers are nonetheless mistaken in believing that the Vancouver schools’ current $22m shortfall is disconnected from the university’s $36m real estate windfall this past year.

The schools are begging for funds from the Liberals, who, after saying no to K-12, turn around to say yes to grades 13-24 and pour money into the University of British Columbia, no questions asked.

There may be two ministries in government, Education and Advanced Education; there is but one tax-funded bank account.

Read More: Vancouver Observer

Special issue: Educate. Agitate. Organize: New and Not-So-New Teacher Movements #highered #bced #criticaled

We are thrilled to launch this Special Issue of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labour:

Educate. Agitate. Organize: New and Not-So-New Teacher Movements

Special Issue of Workplace
Edited by
Mark Stern, Amy E. Brown & Khuram Hussain

Table of Contents

  • Forward: The Systemic Cycle of Brokenness
    • Tamara Anderson
  • Introduction to the Special Issue: Educate. Agitate. Organize: New and Not-So-New Teacher Movements
    • Mark Stern, Amy E. Brown, Khuram Hussain
  • Articles
  • Principles to Practice: Philadelphia Educators Putting Social Movement Unionism into Action
    • Rhiannon M Maton
  • Teaching amidst Precarity: Philadelphia’s Teachers, Neighborhood Schools and the Public Education Crisis
    • Julia Ann McWilliams
  • Inquiry, Policy, and Teacher Communities: Counter Mandates and Teacher Resistance in an Urban School District
    • Katherine Crawford-Garrett, Kathleen Riley
  • More than a Score: Neoliberalism, Testing & Teacher Evaluations
    • Megan E Behrent
  • Resistance to Indiana’s Neoliberal Education Policies: How Glenda Ritz Won
    • Jose Ivan Martinez, Jeffery L. Cantrell, Jayne Beilke
  • “We Need to Grab Power Where We Can”: Teacher Activists’ Responses to Policies of Privatization and the Assault on Teachers in Chicago
    • Sophia Rodriguez
  • The Paradoxes, Perils, and Possibilities of Teacher Resistance in a Right-to-Work State
    • Christina Convertino
  • Place-Based Education in Detroit: A Critical History of The James & Grace Lee Boggs School
    • Christina Van Houten
  • Voices from the Ground
  • Feeling Like a Movement: Visual Cultures of Educational Resistance
    • Erica R. Meiners, Therese Quinn
  • Construir Y No Destruir (Build and Do Not Destroy): Tucson Resisting
    • Anita Fernández
  • Existential Philosophy as Attitude and Pedagogy for Self and Student Liberation
    • Sheryl Joy Lieb
  • Epilogue
  • No Sermons in Stone (Bernstein) + Left Behind (Austinxc04)
    • Richard Bernstein, Austinxc04

Thanks for the continued interest in and support of our journals, Critical Education and Workplace, and our ICES and Workplace blogs. And please keep the manuscripts and ideas rolling in!

Sandra Mathison, Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, co-Directors
Institute for Critical Education Studies

E. Wayne Ross on The Courage of Hopelessness: Democratic Education in the Age of Empire #ubc100 #highered #bced

THE COURAGE OF HOPELESSNESS: DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION IN THE AGE OF EMPIRE

E. Wayne Ross
University of British Columbia
Friday, January 15th, 2016  12:30-2:00 p.m.
Scarfe Room 310

Abstract:
In this talk I argue there is a disconnect between the rhetoric and reality of democracy in North America that subverts traditional approaches to democratic education. The tropes that have historically dominated the discourse on democracy and democratic education now amount to selling students (and ourselves) a lie about history and contemporary life. Our challenge is to re-imagine our roles as educators and find ways to create opportunities for students to create meaningful personal understandings of the world. Education is not about showing life to people, but bringing them to life. The aim is not getting students to listen to convincing lectures by experts, but getting them to speak for themselves in order to achieve, or at least strive for an equal degree of participation and a more democratic, equitable, and justice future. This requires a new mindset, something I call dangerous citizenship.

Short Bio:
E. Wayne Ross is Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at UBC. He has written and edited numerous books including: Critical Theories, Radical Pedagogies and Social Education (Sense, 2010); The Social Studies Curriculum: Purposes, Problems and Possibilities (4th Ed., SUNY Press, 2014) and Working for Social Justice Inside and Outside the Classroom (Peter Lang, 2016). He also edits the journals Critical Education, Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, and Cultural Logic.

1 in 5 BC children live in poverty #bced #bcpoli

Early Edition, CBC News, November 24, 2015–A B.C. children’s advocacy group says the provincial government is failing the province’s youngest and poorest residents, with one of every five children living in poverty.

In a report published Tuesday, the First Call: B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition makes 21 recommendations to help reduce the child poverty rate to seven per cent or less by 2020 — including raising the minimum wage and welfare rates and adopting a $10-per-day childcare plan.

“It’s neglect to allow thousands of children to languish in poverty in this province when we know what would help and what will help,” said Adrienne Montani, provincial coordinator for First Call.

Vulnerable groups

Poverty for children is especially dire in urban regions, with half of all B.C. youngsters in poverty living in Metro Vancouver, according to First Call’s report. However, children in rural regions are in trouble too. The report says more than one in two children on B.C.’s Central Coast live in poverty.

Single-parent families are also at a much greater risk of poverty, with 50.3 per cent of children from those families living in poverty, while only 13 per cent of children from two-parent families live in poverty, the report says.

Little improvement

The percentage of B.C. children living in poverty has barely changed since last year’s report from the same group. That report found 20.6 per cent of B.C. children in 2012 were living in poverty. In the report released Tuesday using 2013 data, First Call found that number to be 20.4 per cent [1 in 5 B.C. children are living in poverty].

“[The change] is so minute it’s hard to measure. We’re still talking about thousands of children in poverty in this province,” said Montani.

The national poverty rate for children according to the report is 19 per cent.

Montani says she wants to see the provincial government work on the issue of child poverty with a sense of urgency.

“I really don’t understand why B.C. is the last province in the country not to have a provincial poverty plan.”

Read More or Listen: CBC News

#UBC says Now is the Time to Speculate #ubcnews #highered #bced #caut

With the Chair of BoG and Sauder School of Business administrators under investigation, UBC advises that now is the time to speculate about President Gupta and all University affairs, if not everything. As it should be at a research institution. As it should be with the economy in shambles.

Over the past few weeks, speculation on the sudden resignation of President Gupta has been impressive. For starters, here are some running reasons for the resignation:

  1. The University guesstimates that the resignation was a “leadership transition.”
  2. The FAUBC reports that the University also presumes that the President “wishes to return to the life of a Professor of Computer Science.”
  3. Martha is inclined to accept at face value that this was Arvind’s “decision to step down” and whatever the reason we should respect whatever the University says it is or isn’t.
  4. Jennifer suggests that in challenging Montalbano, Chair of BoG, the President lost a masculinity contest. In other words, he lost what the Romans called a ludi mingo (roughly translated as a p-ing game or contest).
  5. Wayne postulates that triskaidekaphobia finally took its toll on the President, the thirteenth in UBC’s history. The presidential hot-seat– think of the Spinal Tap drummer syndrome here.
  6. Eva fancies that the President was told by the Chair of BoG that his fountain would not spew higher than the Martha Piper Fountain, prominently configured on the highest point of campus at the centre of the Martha Piper Plaza. Alas, President Piper must be reinstalled. This reason adds missing clues and details to #4.
  7. The Ubyssey posits that the President might have found something foreboding in his “performance reports.” This may have required reading between the lines.
  8. Nassif presupposes that the President was yet another of the “victims of end runs by deans,” wherein there is a well-trodden path dating back more than a century.
  9. Charlie conjectures that Montalbano and the BoG evened the score by making Gupta’s tenure difficult after he canned or nudged out VP Ouillet.
  10. Tony has a suspicion that, post Gupta’s resignation, UBC leaders adopted PM Harper’s template of denying implication in the controversy.
  11. CUPE Locals believe that Gupta was “removed by the largely unelected Board of Governors.” Emphasis on “unelected.”
  12. Simona and Frances figure that administrators still left on campus have some answers. They gather that Gupta “didn’t treat administrators with the same care” as faculty members. Needy as they are, certain admin got anxious and jealous. “Arvind was alienating people one at a time,” one administrator confided. It was time for him to go back down to research and teaching.
  13. Andrew reckons that “there’s some kind of mutual agreement” at work. Nobody knows what this agreement is or if it was really mutual or just a fist-bump and not really an agreement in the official sense if it was just a wink wink to agree to disagree.
  14. ? [send us your reckons]

UBC says now is the time to speculate. Indeed, we’re hearing that a new motto for the next one hundred years at UBC is being bounced around in Central: Occasio Speculatio. After all, Tuum Est, the motto for the first hundred never recovered after the students in the 1960s dubbed it: Too Messed.

#UBC crisis of administration extends downward to bloated middle management #highered #caut #bced #ubcnews

The University of British Columbia’s current failures of academic governance may have been publicly signalled by the sudden resignation of President Gupta on 7 August, but the crisis of administration extends well back into the University’s recent past and down into the lower chain of command. In fact, the President’s resignation is just the tip of the iceberg. The failures and crises extend from the President’s Office through the deans down to the bloat of middle managers, assistant and associate deans. Most noticeably, UBC has been skirting and fumbling around Canada’s Federal Contractor’s Program to appoint its middle managers. One might conclude that favouritism, if not nepotism in cases, is common while searches bound by the Federal Program of employment equity are rare. For this rank of middle managers, appointments are made with no procedures and hence there is no input from faculty members or the wider academic community and reappointments are made with no evaluation or review.

Unlike policies governing the appointment of department heads and deans, which are regulated by searches and reviews, there is no University policy to regulate the appointment and reappointment of assistant and associate deans. UBC has 97 policies but suspiciously none to regulate the hiring of these middle managers. Why is this? And unlike other universities (e.g., Simon FraserToronto), at UBC the deans have liberty to appoint middle managers at pleasure or whim. The result is a bloating of the assistant and associate dean ranks from 47 in 2000 to 72 in 2015— ostensibly all without searches or regard for policy. With no policies or searches to regulate or monitor qualifications, the result is a mixed bag and questionable levels of competence.

Faculty members were expecting President Gupta to clean up a mess. Cleaning house, he predictably ran into the resistance of status quo. The provosts and middle managers preferred to leave well enough alone. Consider this for instance:

On 19 September 2014, a few months into President Gupta’s appointment, I submitted a request to the Board of Governors to form a policy for hiring and reappointing assistant and associate deans. Basically, the request was to reign in these at whim appointments, curb the bloat of middle managers and align with fair hiring practices. Refusing to address the request, in October the BoG bounced it to University Counsel, which proceeded to ‘consult’ with the Provosts, Vancouver and Okanagan. On 12 January, I was told by University Counsel that the two Provosts, “who would be the Responsible Executives for such a policy do not consider this to be a priority.” In other words, employment equity does not apply to a large and bloated subset of management within the University. On 23 February and 30 March 2015 I followed up with renewed requests to the President’s Office. The President advised re-routing the request back to the Provost’s Office. I hesitated until the announcement of the Provost, pro tem. Sadly, unwilling to shake up status quo, on 24 June the new Provost repeated the old: “I also do not see it as a priority at this time.”

Although the provosts, and by prerogative the deans, do not consider employment equity and fair procedures “to be a priority” in the appointment of the University’s managers, for the balance of the University faculty and staff, this remains priority.

Bounced around the President’s Office for nearly a year, this basic request to align administrative appointments with hiring guidelines and peer universities has come full circle. The middle management bloat at UBC coincidentally began with President Piper’s initial appointment. Now, looking back and wondering how we got here, requests to deal with the administrative crisis are piling up, higher and deeper. Now, with President Piper back in office, this specific request lands on her desk, regardless of how and where it has been bounced.

With the Faculty Association of UBC calling for the resignation of the Chair of the BoG, perhaps this faculty governance body will make good on its responsibility to form meaningful policy. Top down or bottom up, its time to clean up UBC’s administrative mess, failure by failure, crisis by crisis. Sorry to say provosts, this actually is a priority.

New Workplace Issue: Reforming Academic #Labor, Resisting Imposition, K12 and #HigherEd

New Workplace Issue #25

Reforming Academic Labor, Resisting Imposition, K12 and Higher Education

Workplace and Critical Education are published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies. Please consider participating as author or reviewer. Thank you.

Peter McLaren: Putting radical Life in Schools #criticaled #edstudies

Paul Street, Truthout, January 25, 2015– Review of Peter McLaren, Life in Schools: An Introduction to Critical Pedagogy and the Foundations of Education, 6th Edition (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2014):

“School reform” has a very bad reputation among left thinkers and activists for some very good reasons in the neoliberal era. Captive to corporate-backed school privatization activists, contemporary “school reform” sets public schools, teachers, and teacher unions up to fail by blaming them for low student standardized test scores that are all-too unmentionably the product of students’ low socioeconomic status and related racial and ethnic oppression. Its obsession with test scores assaults imagination and critical thinking, narrowing curriculum and classroom experience around the lifeless task of filling in the correct bubbles beneath droves of authoritarian multiple-“choice” questions crafted in distant, sociopathic corporate cubicles. Students become passive recipients of strictly limited information deposited into their brains by teachers who “are prevented from taking risks and designing their own lessons as the pressure to produce high test scores produces highly scripted and regimented” pedagogy, wherein “worksheets become a substitute for critical teaching and rote memorization takes the place of in-depth thinking” (Henry Giroux). Pupils are rendered incapable of morally and politically challenging – and envisaging alternatives to – the terrible conditions they face under contemporary state capitalism and related oppression structures outside and inside schools.

Much if not most of what passes for school reform is really about public school destruction, corporate takeover, slashing teachers’ salaries and benefits, and undermining students and citizens’ ability to question a system that has been concentrating ever more wealth and power into elite hands for more than a generation. It is deeply (and by no means just coincidentally) consistent with the late comedian George Carlin’s 2005 rant about what “the big wealthy business interests that control everything…don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking.” As Carlin elaborated:

“They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people…who are smart enough to, figure out how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago. You know what they want? Obedient workers people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it.”

But what if “school reform” meant the empowerment of radically democratic educators who sought the opposite what Carlin’s business owners want – and more? What if those teachers were dedicated to helping future citizens and workers become sufficiently smart, inspired, confident, courageous, loving and solidaristic, not only to understand what the capitalist owners and their coordinators are doing to society and life itself, but also to resist those elites and to create an egalitarian, democratic, sustainable, peaceful, and truly human world turned upside down? Such teachers wouldn’t think that schools could bring about such a revolutionary transformation on their own. They would, however, understand “how,” in the leading left educational and social critic Peter McLaren’s words, “schools are implicated in social reproduction…how schools perpetuate or reproduce the social relationships and attitudes needed to sustain the existing dominant economic and class relations of the larger society.” Determined to interrupt and overturn that deadly reproduction, they would grasp the “partial autonomy of the school culture” and the necessity of occupying that space as “a vehicle for political activism and creating a praxis of social equality, economic justice, and gender equality” (Life in Schools, 150).

That is the goal behind McLaren’s classic text Life in Schools: An Introduction to Critical Pedagogy and the Foundations of Education, recently updated for the Obama era in a sixth edition. “We are living,” McLaren writes near the end of Life in Schools:

“…in what Antonio Gramsci called a war of position – a struggle to unify diverse social movements in our collective efforts to resist global capitalism – in order to wage what he called a war of maneuver (a concerted effort to challenge and transform the state, to create an alternative matrix for society other than value). Part of our war of position is taking place in our schools. Schools form part of Gramsci’s integral state as a government-coercive apparatus and an apparatus of political and cultural hegemony that continually needs to be renewed in order to secure the assent of the dominant group’s agenda.” (Life in Schools, 245-46).

Life in Schools is (among other things) a sprawling, many-sided, and brilliant manual of theory, history, and practice for teachers, teachers-in-training, and current and future education professors ready to enlist in that “war of position.” The stakes, McLaren reminds us (like his colleague and ally Giroux [1]), are not small:

“Today, amidst the most powerful conglomeration of cultural, political, and economic power aver assembled in history…we have seen our humanity swept away like a child’s sigh in a tornado…The marble pillars of democracy have crashed around our heads, leaving us ensepulchered in a graveyard of empty dreams… The omnicidal regimes of our Anthropocene Era have brutalized our planet to the point of bringing ecosystems and the energies of evolution and speciation to the point of devastation and Homo Sapiens to the brink of extinction….Time is running out quickly. We are being chased to by the hounds of both heaven and hell ‘with all deliberate speed’ and we are being continually outflanked.” (xxi, 259, 261)

Building on stories from his early years as what he considers a rather naïve liberal teacher in an inner-city Toronto school, McLaren takes his readers on a long and loving trip from his years in the classroom (Life in Schools contains a previously published journal [titled Cries From the Corridor] in which McLaren recorded his teaching experience prior to his engagement with radical theory) through the theory of revolutionary critical pedagogy; the roles that mainstream schools and educational doctrine play in subjugating working class and minority students; the structures and ideologies of contemporary oppression and inequality (class, race, gender, ethnicity, and empire); and methods for teachers to instill students with confidence, hope and capacity for resistance and solidarity.

Read More: Truthout

It’s report card season. How should parents respond to their students grades? [Updated]

It’s report card season. Just how useful are report cards? How should parents respond to their students grades? What kind of questions can or should parents ask teachers about the assessment of their students’ performance? Should parents reward their students for good grades?

Sandra Mathison, an expert on evaluation and co-director of Institute for Critical Education Studies, offers advice on these and other issues in the UBC News Experts Spotlight.

Listen for Dr. Mathison’s comments on report cards today on Vancouver radio (News 1130 and CBC Vancouver’s On The Coast) and television (Global News BC1)

Listen to the podcast of Dr. Mathison’s comments on CBC’s On the Coast, with Stephen Quinn.

From The Province: Don’t overreact when it comes to school report cards: Expert

From Yahoo News: Don’t reward good report cards: UBC professor

From E-Valuation: Reporting Evaluation Results ~ The Case of School Report Cards

Learn more about the new UBC MEd in Critical Pedagogy & Education Activism

Next information session:
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
BC Teachers’ Federation
4:00 – 5:30pm
100 – 550 West 6th Ave.
Vancouver

Application deadline: January 23, 2015
Program begins: July 2015
CPEA PosterDownload poster PDF
More Information: pdce.educ.ubc.ca/CPEA

New #UBC Grad Program in Critical Pedagogy & Education Activism #bctf #bced #bcpoli #yreubc #occupyed

NEW MASTERS PROGRAM IN THE INSTITUTE FOR CRITICAL EDUCATION STUDIES
CRITICAL PEDAGOGY AND EDUCATION ACTIVISM
BEGINS JULY 2015

APPLY NOW!

The new UBC Masters Program in Critical Pedagogy and Education Activism (Curriculum Studies) has the goal of bringing about positive change in schools and education. This cohort addresses issues such as environmentalism, equity and social justice, and private versus public education funding debates and facilitates activism across curriculum and evaluation within the schools and critical analysis and activism in communities and the media. The cohort is organized around three core themes: solidarity, engagement, and critical analysis and research.

BCTFRallySignJune2014

The new UBC M.Ed. in Critical Pedagogy and Education Activism (Curriculum Studies) is a cohort program in which participants attend courses together in a central location. It supports participation in face-to-face, hybrid (blended), and online activism and learning.

A Perfect Opportunity

  • Earn your Master’s degree in 2 years (part-time)
  • Enjoy the benefits of collaborative study and coalition building
  • Channel your activism inside and outside school (K-12)
  • Sharpen your knowledge of critical practices and skill with media and technology

Petrina and Ross on the #BCTF and @BCLiberals #ubc #yreubc #criticaled #bced

FALL RESEARCH CONVERSATION in EDCP

Discussants: Stephen Petrina and Wayne Ross
Scarfe 310
November 4, 2014
12:30 pm to 2:00 pm
Light lunch and gathering Noon to 12:30 pm
Year of Research in Education event

This research conversation will focus on
The Legacy of the B. C. Teachers – Government Impasse

Two questions for discussion might well be:

  • What fundamental problems remain after a “settlement” has been reached? Should these problems affect the curriculum and pedagogy of courses in the UBC Teacher Education program?
  • To this department conversation we encourage faculty to bring with them one or two of their degree candidates, those having written comprehensive exams or in the process of so doing.

Hosted by Wm. Doll and Donna Trueit

Tobey Steeves on #BCTF and #BCed v @BCLiberals shock doctrine #Bcpoli #criticaled

BRITISH COLUMBIA OBSTRUCTS THE SHOCK DOCTRINE: STRUGGLE, SOLIDARITY, AND POPULAR RESISTANCE

Tobey Steeves, October 26, 2014, Workplace— The 2014/2015 school year had a rocky start in British Columbia, Canada, where teachers and the ruling government have been locked in a contest over the future of public education in the province. Teachers finished the 2013/2014 school year locked out and on strike, and neither the teachers nor the government appeared willing to concede defeat. This clash between public and private values offers meaningful lessons for friends of public education.

The struggle over maintaining public services is not unique to British Columbia (BC), of course, and Naomi Klein’s (2007) notion of shock doctrines provides a lens for understanding how and why public services around the world have been attacked and subverted via [manufactured] ‘crises’. In The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Klein argues that shocks and disasters can disrupt societies’ “ruling narratives” and can – if given half a chance – be turned into opportunities for profit-grabbing and corporate re-structuring. Klein provides numerous examples from around the world to show that shock doctrines have been managed and cultivated in order to create “orchestrated raids on the public sphere” (p. 26). Klein’s analysis can be extended to BC, where the provincial government has nurtured the spread of privatized education – at the expense of public schools.

I have previously argued that the shock doctrine is alive and well in BC, and involves a broad attack on teachers and the “tacit re-imagining of public education as a vehicle for private profit as well as the intentional re-direction of public resources to redistribute the burden of risk, access, and service to favour private profits over public need” (Steeves, 2014, p. 10). This includes preferential resourcing for private schools in BC, a push to direct public resources away from the provision of learning opportunities and toward a concern with extracting profit, and the systematic commodification of BC’s curriculum. To update and supplement this analysis, I would like to: (i) elaborate on the contexts that compelled BC’s teachers into rejecting shock therapy and to mount a full-scale strike, (ii) outline some of the impediments to (re)solving the bargaining impasse between teachers and the provincial government, (iii) describe key features of the collective agreement that bridged the impasse between teachers and the provincial government, and (iv) highlight some of the tactics that were used to challenge shock therapy and to cultivate shock resistance in BC

Download: BRITISH COLUMBIA OBSTRUCTS THE SHOCK DOCTRINE

Read More: Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

BC Liberals neglecting child poverty, Aboriginal children, youth mental health #bced #bcpoli

Representative for Children and Youth, News Release, October 9, 2014– The provincial government must step up its commitment to helping British Columbia’s most vulnerable children and youth by following through on recommendations, Representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said today as she released her Office’s latest report.

Not Fully Invested: A Follow-up Report on the Representative’s Past Recommendations to Help Vulnerable Children in B.C. shows that while 72 per cent of the Office’s recommendations between 2008 and 2013 have been acted upon, a number of the most important ones have been ignored. Those unfulfilled include key recommendations made by the Representative to the B.C. government as a whole to improve the lives of Aboriginal children, those living in situations of poverty and domestic violence and those in need of mental health services.

“It’s very disappointing, because these recommendations are the ones that require the greatest leadership and commitment from the provincial government and they have been largely ignored,” Turpel-Lafond said. “Considering that the well-being of our most vulnerable children and youth is at stake, I expect more from government and I think most British Columbians do as well.”

The Representative’s Office, an independent expert oversight body, made a total of 148 recommendations during the course of releasing 22 reports between 2008 and 2013. This report, the first to track progress made toward fulfilling cumulative recommendations made by the Office, shows that 72 per cent of the total recommendations have been substantially or fully implemented. Generally, recommendations made to public bodies – predominantly to the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) – to address policy, standards, procedures and compliance, have been implemented.

However, of the nine recommendations made to the B.C. government as a whole – the ones requiring the greatest cross-ministry involvement and organization – seven have been largely disregarded. Among these is a call for a provincial strategy and action plan to address child poverty, a call to establish a Minister of State for Mental Health to provide the necessary leadership and accountability on this file, a call for a strong and well-resourced provincial domestic violence plan and the establishment of domestic violence courts in B.C., and a call for a viable strategy to ensure that Aboriginal children and families receive equal supports and services to their non-Aboriginal counterparts.

Many of the Representative’s recommendations have focused on strengthening quality assurance and outcomes reporting by MCFD. However, this report also finds that MCFD’s ability to measure its own performance and publicly report on whether it is achieving results has remained inconsistent and inadequate – yet another sign of a gap in government leadership in this area.

The Representative notes that during the time period these recommendations were made, MCFD’s annual budget was reduced by $100 million in real dollars when inflation is taken into account. Sufficient investment in children and families is important in both a financial and a leadership sense.

“We do not make these recommendations lightly. Each of our reports requires months and sometimes years of research, file reviews, data analysis, interviews with workers in the field and interviews with family members and young people,” Turpel-Lafond said. “While the government is not compelled by legislation to follow our recommendations, to do so shows commitment and makes good sense.

“It is clear that the Province does not yet have a plan that focuses on children across government, nor any comprehensive, focused and accountable approach to ensure that the next generation will be able to reach their full potential. Considering what is at stake, government can and should do better.”

Download Not Fully Invested: A Follow-up Report on the Representative’s Past Recommendations to Help Vulnerable Children in B.C.

If you have a job, thank a #bced teacher #bctf #bcpoli

BCEDRally

If you have a job, if you want a job, thank a teacher. And those of us who work in British Columbia truly are indebted to the teachers. Not in some academic way; rather, we are indebted for the BC teachers’ / BCTF’s stand for workers’ rights, for fair bargaining rights, for the right to call into question the failures of employers and governments.

If you don’t have a job, and more and more do not, thank the government and your local elected economist. The economy continues to fail and labour discontent is increasing for good reasons.

This particular teachers’ strike is over but more labour unrest is on the horizon in BC. Who’s next?

Nurses, doctors, postsecondary educators and workers at major Crown corporations including B.C. Hydro and the Insurance Corp. of B.C. are some of the public-sector workers who have not yet accepted the government’s standard offer of 5.5-per-cent wage increases over five years.

The public sector contracts that are still up in the air represent half of the workers, but they include some of the most expensive contracts, accounting for two-thirds of the government’s $21-billion wage bill this year.

That creates significant uncertainty for a B.C. budget that remains balanced on a razor’s edge…

Contract Status of BCPSECRead More: Justine Hunter, Globe & Mail

Tentative contract for #BCed teachers #bctf #bcpoli

CBC, September 16, 2014– A tentative deal has been reached in the months-long B.C. public school teachers’ strike, but the final details still have to be worked out, mediator Vince Ready confirmed this morning.

 The breakthrough in negotiations between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association comes on the fourth day of marathon talks at a Richmond, B.C., hotel.

  • No details about the deal will be released before it is finalized, said Ready, who emerged from the hotel to confirm the tentative deal shortly after 4 a.m. PT.

The BCTF first tweeted that a tentative deal had been reached around 3:50 a.m. A few minutes later, Ready told reporters both sides would be meeting again later Tuesday to finalize the details.

Read More: CBC

#BCed teachers vote 99.4% to binding arbitration #ubc #bcpoli

FINALvote-result

“It’s time Government makes at least one move,” BCTF President Jim Iker pleaded as he announced that an overwhelming 99.4% of teachers voted “Yes to binding arbitration” today to end the strike.

The BC Government remains entrenched, with the Minister of Finance Mike de Jong flippantly commenting on the CBC this morning that “the only people bound in binding arbitration are the tax payers.” Ah, the dreaded bogey of the tax hike…

Like de Jong, the BC Minister of Education Peter Fassbender has been faced squarely looking into the past. Or most would say stuck in the past. Again, nearly every blog has to end this way: As NDP Leader John Horgan put it at the BC Fed-BCTF Rally on Friday: “Mr. Fassbender I say you failed at negotiation, you don’t understand mediation, you couldn’t spell arbitration, so how about resignation?”

BC public sector unions in solidarity with #BCTF #bced #bcpoli

BC Federation of Labour, September 9, 2014

BC public sector unions are sending a message to the Premier that they stand in solidarity with BC teachers and are urging her to accept the proposal for binding arbitration.

“The Premier is attempting to use other settlements in the public sector to create a divide among workers in the province,” said Jim Sinclair, President of the B.C. Federation of Labour.

“This tactic is not only an insult to working people in BC, but it also shows how little the Premier understands and respects the collective bargaining process.”

A letter, signed by the presidents of BC’s largest public sector unions, states their full support for BC teachers and reminds the Premier that every bargaining table is unique and every process to settlement different.

The letter states: “We urge you to immediately stop attributing your refusal to bargain critical issues with teachers because you want to be ‘fair to other public sector workers.’ If you want to be fair to all public sector workers, send the outstanding issues to binding arbitration as proposed by the BCTF and remove E80 from the bargaining table.”

“Our unions stand in solidarity with BC teachers in their efforts to win a fair collective agreement and improve educational resources for BC’s children.”

Read full letter

#BCTF putting to vote ‘Yes to binding arbitration’ #bced #bcpoli

BCTFIker Sept8-2014

BCTF President Jim Iker announced this morning that the union’s membership will vote on binding arbitration on Wednesday. This ‘Yes to binding arbitration’ vote is immensely important, as this will formally put the power of the union’s members behind President Iker’s request to the BC Government on Friday to move the stalled contract negotiations to binding arbitration. This also reaffirms the union’s pressures on the BC Government to bargain in good faith.

It’s whal all teachers, students, and parents want,” the BCTF affirms.

The “only hold out so far” is the BC Government, marked by Minister of Education Peter Fassbender’s blinkered neglect of the public and the strength and resolve of the BCTF, and his stubborn inability to move from timeworn, original positions. As NDP Leader John Horgan put it at the BC Fed-BCTF Rally on Friday: “Mr. Fassbender I say you failed at negotiation, you don’t understand mediation, you couldn’t spell arbitration, so how about resignation?”