Category Archives: Critical Education

The Amazing E. Wayne divines, predicts and bends #bced Ministry’s back-pedal #bcpoli #whystopatfinland

E. Wayne Ross, WTBHNN, May 8, 2014– On Tuesday May 6, 2014, the “Amazing E. Wayne”—renowned mystic, soothsayer, prophet, knower of things about BC politics—wrote the following about BC Minister of Education Peter Fassbender’s announcement of an investigation into the bizarre story of Rick Davis, the BC Ministry of Education official who commissioned a $16,000 report on Finnish teacher education from a 19-year-old high school graduate he met when she as deejaying at a wedding:

I’m doubtful we’ll get any real insights into this bizarre episode, at least in the short term, because Education Minister Peter Fassbender indicated that the investigation would focus on contract “procedures” rather than substance of the decision making process.

As predicted the Fassbender investigation found that everything is hunky-dory in the Ministry. Read all about it here.

Fassbender’s, technical investigation into procedures of doling out single-source contracts, misses the larger point, which is the misguided judgment of education ministry staff in this case, particularly Rick Davis. Opting to CYA politically reinforces the point I have been hammering on since this imbroglio came to light last September, that is, the BC Ministry of Education actions demonstrate a profound lack of respect for the teaching profession, teacher education, and educational research in general.

BC Ministry @FassbenderMLA may allocate $864m for #bced grad research projects #16kpergrad #bcpoli #whystopatfinland

In all fairness to the balance of BC grads overlooked in research allocations last year, the BC Ministry of Education will do the right thing: Allocate $16,000 for each grade 12 student to conduct a comparative education research project of their choice. This could help those seniors who may not graduate actually complete. Yes, in the face of budget cuts and bad faith bargaining in provisioning fair contracts for BC teachers, allocating $864m to grads may seem a bit frivolous. Or not.

But fair is fair. Guaranteed, BC high school seniors should be knocking on the Ministry’s door for their allocations.

In this developing scenario, the BC Ministry of Education will continue its comparative education research agenda. Why stop at Finland?

Grads could hit the pavement, traveling to each and every country– no, not just country (there are only about 200), but every province and state in the world– to compare the educational system with that of BC. But are there 54,000 provinces and states? No, so expand the comparative ed research agenda to cities– there are about 37,000 cities. Obviously, some will have to go to small towns.

OK, theres the math. The ministry will allocate $864m to send 54k grads to cities and towns around the world the compare their ed systems with BC.

It’s not easy to get reports from grads so make that $900m. But then you might ask, why stop at grade 12? Isn’t that ageist?

E. Wayne Ross on the #bced govt research agenda #bcpoli #criticaled #edstudies #yteubc

E. Wayne Ross, WTBHNN, May 5-7, 2014

PAGE FOUR: BC MINISTRY OF EDUCATION TO INVESTIGATE TEACHER ED RESEARCH DEBACLE

The British Columbia Minister of Education has announced an investigation into the research contracts that funded a teenager’s “study” of teacher education programs at the University of Victoria and University of Helsinki.

This story has been floating around since last fall, but the Ministry has had nothing to say about these sole-source research contracts until the Canadian Taxpayers Federation of BC obtained and published the final report. A story by Times Colonist reporter Amy Smart about the research contracts and the student’s report, was also a big nudge (see below).

[Following the initial story about the government funded teen researcher by Tracy Sherlock in theVancouver Sun last September, I’ve written about the situation on WTBHNN and Janet Steffenhagen has covered it on her blog for the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils. But it was Jordan Bateman and the CTF‘s FOI activity that finally forced the Ministry to acknowledge there is at least the appearance of problem here.]

CBC News Vancouver ran the story this evening, watch their report here:

I’m doubtful we’ll get any real insights into this bizarre episode, at least in the short term, because Education Minister Peter Fassbender indicated that the investigation would focus on contract “procedures” rather than substance of the decision making process. Rick Davis, the Ministry’s “superintendent of achievement,” is the official who gave the contracts to Anjali Vyas, who at the time was a recent high school grad and deejay, she is now an undergraduate student at UBC.

Can there be a rational explanation for funding a high school grad to travel to Finland to study teacher education? I’m interested to know what it was Rick Davis and the BC Ministry of Education were expecting? Did they really believe that funding a 10 month “study” of teacher education conducted by a recent high school grad would produce insights into the professional preparation of teachers?

Read More: WTBHNN

PAGE THREE: MOVE ALONG, THERE’S NOTHING TO SEE HERE. OR, HOW SERIOUSLY DOES THE BC MINISTRY OF EDUCATION TAKE RESEARCH ON TEACHER EDUCATION?

Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation of British Columbia, has been exploring the question of why the BC Ministry of Education would finance a teenager to conduct research on teacher education in Finland. Through Freedom of Information requests the CFA collected and published 115 pages of communications among Rick Davis, Anjali Vyas, the high school grad who was funded to travel to Finland and write a report on teacher education, and other Ministry employees.

These documents raise a number of questions about how the Ministry, and particularly “superintendent of achievement” Rick Davis makes decisions about doling out single source research contracts. These documents also represent events in ways that are inconsistency with the initial media reports about genesis of this project. (Read my previous posts on the subject herehere, andhere.

One thing that has been missing is Vyas’ final report to the Ministry. Bateman posted the report on the CTF website today.

Read the report if you like.

Or not, because as you might expect given the circumstances, there are no insights to be found in the report. Not even the “through a student’s eyes” perspective that Davis said was the point of the project. Instead, the report is a collection of general statements, with little or no data to illustrate or support the claims made. For example, there is exactly one quote from interviews conducted in Finland to go with one quote from a UVic student. There are a few references to and quotes from published works, but no reference list. But I’m not really interested in picking apart the report or judging the author.

Rather, my question is what was Rick Davis and the BC Ministry of Education expecting? Did Davis really believe that funding a 10 month “study” of teacher education conducted by a high school grad would produce insights into the professional preparation of teachers?

I’m at a loss to understand the rationale behind this debacle. Ignorance? Disrespect? A combo platter, with arrogance on the side?

If it’s the first—that is, if the person in the role of “superintendent of achievement” for the province really did believe this was a good use of public funds and could produce useful insights into teacher education—then I respectfully suggest he shouldn’t have that job.

There’s no arguing that Davis and the BC Ministry of Education have, by their actions in this case, illustrated a profound disrespect for teacher education and educational research in general. Perhaps merely an extension of the BC Liberals ongoing disrespect for professional educators.

Read More: WTBHNN

CFP: Academic Mobbing (Special Issue of Workplace) #education #criticaled #ubc

LAST Call for Papers

Academic Mobbing
Special Issue
Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

Editors: Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross

Editors of Workplace are accepting manuscripts for a theme issue on Academic Mobbing.  Academic mobbing is defined by the Chronicle of Higher Education (11 June 2009) as: “a form of bullying in which members of a department gang up to isolate or humiliate a colleague.” The Chronicle continues:

If rumors are circulating about the target’s supposed misdeeds, if the target is excluded from meetings or not named to committees, or if people are saying the target needs to be punished formally “to be taught a lesson,” it’s likely that mobbing is under way.

As Joan Friedenberg eloquently notes in The Anatomy of an Academic Mobbing, the toll taken is excessive.  Building on a long history of both analysis and neglect in academia, Workplace is interested in a range of scholarship on this practice, including theoretical frameworks, legal analyses, resistance narratives, reports from the trenches, and labor policy reviews.  We invite manuscripts that address, among other foci:

  • Effects of academic mobbing
  • History of academic mobbing
  • Sociology and ethnography of the practices of an academic mob
  • Social psychology of the academic mob leader or boss
  • Academic mobbing factions (facts & fictions) or short stories
  • Legal defense for academic mob victims and threats (e.g., Protectable political affiliation, race, religion)
  • Gender norms of an academic mob
  • Neo-McCarthyism and academic mobbing
  • Your story…

Contributions for Workplace should be 4000-6000 words in length and should conform to APA, Chicago, or MLA style.

FINAL Date for Papers: May 30, 2014

CFP: Educate, Agitate, Organize! Teacher Resistance Against Neoliberal Reforms (Special Issue of Workplace)

Educate, Agitate, Organize! Teacher Resistance Against Neoliberal Reforms

Call for Papers

Special Issue
Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

Guest Editors:
Mark Stern, Colgate University
Amy Brown, University of Pennsylvania
Khuram Hussain, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

I can tell you with confidence, one year later [from the Measure of Progress test boycott in Seattle schools], I know where our actions will lead: to the formation of a truly mass civil rights movement composed of parents, teachers, educational support staff, students, administrators, and community members who want to end high-stakes standardized testing and reclaim public education from corporate reformers.—Jesse Hagopian, History Teacher and Black Student Union Adviser at Garfield High School, Seattle

As many of us have documented in our scholarly work, the past five years have witnessed a full-fledged attack on public school teachers and their unions. With backing from Wall Street and venture philanthropists, the public imaginary has been saturated with images and rhetoric decrying teachers as the impediments to ‘real’ change in K-12 education. Docu-dramas like Waiting For ‘Superman,’ news stories like Steve Brill’s, “The Teachers’ Unions’ Last Stand,” in The New York Times Magazineand high profile rhetoric like Michelle Rhee’s mantra that students, not adults, need to be “put first” in education reform, all point to this reality: teachers face an orchestrated, billion dollar assault on their professional status, their knowledge, and their abilities to facilitate dialogical spaces in classrooms. This assault has materialized and been compounded by an austerity environment that is characterized by waning federal support and a narrow corporate agenda. Tens of thousands of teachers have suffered job loss, while thousands more fear the same.

Far from being silent, teachers are putting up a fight. From the strike in Chicago, to grassroots mobilizing to wrest control of the United Federation of Teachers in New York, to public messaging campaigns in Philadelphia, from boycotts in Seattle to job action and strikes in British Columbia, teachers and their local allies are organizing, agitating and confronting school reform in the name of saving public education. In collaboration with parents, community activists, school staff, students, and administrators, teacher are naming various structures of oppression and working to reclaim the conversation and restore a sense of self-determination to their personal, professional, and civic lives.

This special issue of Workplace calls for proposals to document the resistance of teachers in the United States, Canada, and globally. Though much has been written about the plight of teachers under neoliberal draconianism, the reparative scholarship on teachers’ educating, organizing, and agitating is less abundant. This special issue is solely dedicated to mapping instances of resistance in hopes of serving as both resource and inspiration for the growing movement.

This issue will have three sections, with three different formats for scholarship/media. Examples might include:

I. Critical Research Papers (4000-6000 words)

  • Qualitative/ethnographic work documenting the process of teachers coming to critical consciousness.
  • Critical historiographies linking trajectories of political activism of teachers/unions across time and place.
  • Documenting and theorizing teacher praxis—protests, community education campaigns, critical agency in the classroom.
  • Critical examinations of how teachers, in specific locales, are drawing on and enacting critical theories of resistance (Feminist, Politics of Love/Caring/Cariño, Black Radical Traditions, Mother’s Movements, and so on).

II. Portraits of Resistance

  • Autobiographical sketches from the ground. (~2000 words)
  • Alternative/Artistic representations/Documentations of Refusal (poetry, visual art, photography, soundscapes)

III. Analysis and Synthesis of Various Media

  • Critical book, blog, art, periodical, music, movie reviews. (1500-2000 words)

400-word abstracts should be sent to Mark Stern (mstern@colgate.edu) by May 15, 2014. Please include name, affiliation, and a very brief (3-4 sentences) professional biography.

Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by June 15. Final drafts will be due October 1, 2014. Please note that having your proposal accepted does not guarantee publication. All final drafts will go through peer-review process. Authors will be notified of acceptance for publication by November 1.

Please direct all questions to Mark Stern (mstern@colgate.edu).

#BCed teachers call strike vote against unreasonable government #bcpoli #bced #yteubc #ubc #edstudies

BCTF, February 25, 2014– After a full year of bargaining and more than 40 sessions at the table, BC teachers have called for a strike vote to push back against major concession demands, an unfair salary offer, and a deliberately confrontational attempt to reverse the recent BC Supreme Court decision on class size, composition, and staffing levels, said BCTF President Jim Iker.

“Teachers care deeply about our schools, our students, and our communities. We don’t take a strike vote lightly,” said Iker. “However, this government seems incapable or unwilling to let the BC Public School Employers’ Association negotiate fairly with teachers. Christy Clark, her government, and BCPSEA are insisting on rollbacks, freezing wages, and ignoring the Supreme Court of British Columbia.”

Iker said he was incredibly disappointed and frustrated as teachers have worked hard this round to create a sense of calm and purpose at the bargaining table. While the last round was dominated by government acting in bad faith, this time teachers were hopeful that new players and a new framework agreement would help both parties reach a fair and reasonable deal.

Since January 27, when the BC Supreme Court released its ruling that found the Christy Clark government had acted in bad faith, BCPSEA has tabled unreasonable proposals:

  • New language that would yet again strip all provisions on class size, class composition, and staffing levels for teacher-librarians, counsellors, special education, and other specialist teachers.
  • A salary offer that starts with a 0.5% increase on the date of ratification. The increase is not retroactive. Because the previous contract expired last June, this means zero for all of 2013–14 school year to date. The proposal is followed by another zero for 2014–15 school year and then various ones and point fives over the next four years. The last four years of the 10-year term, an idea teachers rejected in June by a province-wide vote of 96%, features an ill-defined indexing scheme that even BCPSEA’s negotiators could not explain.

“The move to once again strip class size, composition, and staffing levels from teachers just days after the BC Supreme Court’s ruling showed total disrespect for the law, for teachers, and for students,” said Iker. “This government, through BCPSEA, is trying to pretend Justice Griffin’s ruling never happened. Their proposal to eliminate class size, class composition, and staffing levels would ‘supersede and replace all previous articles that addressed class size, composition, and staffing levels.’ For 12 years teachers have worked to defend our rights, our working conditions, and our students’ learning conditions, and once again we find ourselves facing a government focused only on confrontation.”

On the salary front, BCPSEA’s offer means BC teachers are being asked to take up to two more years of zeros after no salary increases in 2011–12 and 2012–13.

“Despite most other public sector workers receiving increases in the range of 3.5 to 4% over two years as part of the co-operative gains mandate, the government has directed BCPSEA to pursue a totally different agenda with teachers,” said Iker. “Trying to force wage freezes on teachers for another two years is not reasonable or fair, given what the government negotiated with other workers in the public sector. Teachers are asking for an increase that addresses the rising cost of living and a market adjustment that reflects how far we are behind other teachers in Canada. We believe that’s fair and reasonable.

“BC teachers cannot sit back and let Christy Clark and her government talk about labour peace in public, while trying once again to provoke teachers behind closed doors. We will do everything we can to secure a fair deal for teachers and better support for our students.”

Read More: BCTF Press release

Want (to not) Teach for Canada? #yteubc #bced #ubc #ubced #highered #tfc #tfa

Want (to not) Teach for Canada?

Teaching should be an Olympic Event–
There are 82 countries in the Winter Olympics and many could be in the Teach for competition…

Learn a bit more:
@SandraMathison
@eWayneRoss
@icesubc
@TobeySteeves
Tobey’s blog for critical analyses of TFC

Critical Education recently published a three part series of articles focused on Teach for America and the Future of Education in the United States

Critical Education is published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies

BC teachers’ resolve unmoved as gov dumps more $ into court #bced #bced #ubc #yteubc

British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, January 27, 2014: An historic day for public education and labour rights in BC. The BC Supreme Court reaffirmed that provincial legislation limiting teachers’ bargaining rights is unconstitutional, restored collective agreement provisions stripped in 2002, and ordered the province to pay $2 million in damages plus court costs.

The Court’s Judgment indicates the depths to which the BC Liberals descended in undermining collective bargaining in the province:

  • The freedom of workers to associate has long been recognized internationally and in Canada as an important aspect of a fair and democratic society. Collective action by workers helps protect individuals from unfairness in one of the most fundamental aspects of their lives, their employment. [Summary, p.2]
  • The Court has concluded that the government did not negotiate in good faith with the union after the Bill 28 Decision. One of the problems was that the government representatives were pre-occupied by another strategy. Their strategy was to put such pressure on the union that it would provoke a strike by the union. The government representatives thought this would give government the opportunity to gain political support for imposing legislation on the union. [Summary, p. 3]
  • When legislation is struck down as unconstitutional, it means it was never valid, from the date of its enactment. This means that the legislatively deleted terms in the teachers’ collective agreement have been restored retroactively and can also be the subject of future bargaining. [Summary, p.4]
  • Collective bargaining was seen as fulfilling an important social purpose, by providing a means to promote the common well-being. Collective bargaining is a means of providing equality in the workplace, diminishing the arbitrary power of the employer and allowing workers a means to protect themselves from unfair or unsafe work conditions. [para. 46]
  • Just as it is hard to imagine a law that is otherwise an interference with a Charter right being found not to interfere because of pre-legislative consultation, it is even harder to imagine a situation where legislation is found to be unconstitutional as amounting to substantial interference with s. 2(d) rights, but then this unconstitutionality could be “cured” by the government “consulting” with the union after the fact of the legislation. This is essentially the unusual position the government takes in this case. [para. 91]
  • As a matter of principle I am of the view that it would be rare that the government could rely on its “consultation” conduct after the fact of legislation declared invalid based on its breach of a s. 2(d) Charter right, to cure the unconstitutionality of the legislation, and to then pass virtually identical legislation. Such a process would encourage state actors to ignore s. 2(d) rights with impunity as there would be no practical consequences for a breach. [para. 92]
  • But since the government insisted on starting from an extreme position, linking the two aspects of the unconstitutional legislation together, and insisting that all that was needed to fix the unconstitutional legislation was government consultation, the BCTF response position was rather predictable. If one side starts from an extreme position, it should not be surprised if the other side does not immediately compromise all that is important to it. [para. 356]
  • From before collective bargaining began in 2011, the government expected that the round of collective bargaining would likely fail to result in an agreement between the BCTF and BCPSEA. This is because the collective bargaining mandates government had issued to BCPSEA, combined with a continued prohibition on negotiation Working Conditions, were predicted by the government to be so unacceptable to the BCTF.[para. 380] The government thus expected from even before collective bargaining began in March 2011 that it would lead to the BCTF calling a strike. [para. 381]
  • The government saw that the failure of the two negotiating tables could be a useful political opportunity for it. As early as June 2011, the government was considering a strategy of a combined legislative response to an expected teachers’ strike and to Bill 28. [para. 383]
  • The government thought that a teachers strike would give the government a political advantage in imposing legislation that the public might otherwise not support. It felt that the timing of legislation to deal with a teachers strike and failure of collective bargaining could fit conveniently with the timing of legislation to address the Bill 28 Decision repercussions. The government planned its strategy accordingly so that it could have one legislative initiative at the end of the one year suspension granted in the Bill 28 Decision.[para. 384]
  • Rather than taking full strike action, instead the teachers withdrew some administrative, non-essential services, such as preparing report cards. Teachers continued to provide all teaching and classroom services. [para. 385]. When a full strike did not materialize, so important was a strike to the government strategy that in September 2011, Mr. Straszak planned a government strategy of increasing the pressure on the union so as to provoke a strike. [para. 386]

Academic job market decimated, crashing #highered #edstudies #criticaled #caut #aaup #bced #bcpoli

Oftentimes, the academic job market for full-time (FT) faculty is inversely related to economic recessions. Not anymore. In this prolonged Great Recession, turned Great Depression II in parts of North America and across the world, youth have been particularly hard hit, more pronounced by race. The most common description for this current economy for youth is “a precipitous decline in employment and a corresponding increase in unemployment.” In Canada and the US, unemployment rates for the 16-19 year olds exceed 25%. At the same time, one of the most common descriptions for postsecondary enrollment and participation in Canada and the US is “tremendous growth at the undergraduate level… the number of graduate students has grown significantly faster than the number of undergraduate students over the last 30 years.” With “school-to-work” and “youth employment” oxymoronic, corporate academia and the education industry are capitalizing on masses of students returning to desperately secure advanced credentials in hard times, but no longer does this matter to the professoriate.

If higher education enrollment has been significant, increases in online or e-learning enrollment have been phenomenal. Postsecondary institutions in North America commonly realized 100% increases in online course enrollment from the early 2000s to the present with the percentage of total registrations increasing to 25% for some universities. In Canada, this translates to about 250,000 postsecondary students currently taking online courses but has not translated into FT faculty appointments. More pointedly, it has eroded the FT faculty job market and fueled the part-time (PT) job economy of higher education. About 50% of all faculty in North America are PT but this seems to jump to about 85%-90% for those teaching online courses. For example, in the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Master of Educational Technology (MET), where there are nearly 1,000 registrations per year, 85% of all sections are taught by PT faculty. In its decade of existence, not a single FT faculty member has been hired for this revenue generating program. Mirroring trends across North America, support staff doubling as adjunct or sessional teach about 45% of MET courses in addition to their 8:30-4:30 job functions in the service units. These indicators are of a larger scope of trends in the automation of intellectual work.

Given these practices across Canada, in the field of Education for example, there has been a precipitous decline in employment of FT faculty, which corresponds with the precipitous decline in employment of youth (Figure 1). Education is fairly reflective of the overall academic job market for doctorates in Canada. Except for short-term trends in certain disciplines, the market for PhDs is bleak. Trends and an expansion of the Great Recession predict that the market will worsen for graduates looking for FT academic jobs in all disciplines. A postdoctoral appointment market is very unlikely to materialize at any scale to offset trends. For instance, Education at UBC currently employs just a handful (i.e., 4-5) of postdocs.

To put it in mild, simple terms: Universities changed their priorities and values by devaluing academic budget lines. Now in inverse relationship to the increases in revenue realized by universities through the 2000s, academic budgets were progressively reduced from 40% or more to just around 20% for many of these institutions. One indicator of this trend is the expansion of adjunct labor or PT academics. In some colleges or faculties, such as Education at UBC, the number of PT faculty, which approached twice that of FT in 2008, teach from 33% to 85% of all sections, depending on the program.

Another indicator is the displacement of tenure track research faculty by non-tenure track, teaching-intensive positions. For example, in Education at UBC, about 18 of the last 25 FT faculty hires were for non-tenure track teaching-intensive positions (i.e., 10 courses per year for Instructor, Lecturer, etc.). This was partially to offset a trend of PT faculty hires pushing Education well over its faculty salary budget (e.g., 240 PT appointments in 2008). Measures in North America have been so draconian that the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) was compelled to report in 2010 that “the tenure system has all but collapsed…. the proportion of teaching-intensive to research-intensive appointments has risen sharply. However, the majority of teaching-intensive positions have been shunted outside of the tenure system.” What is faculty governance, other than an oligarchy, with a handful of faculty governing or to govern?

Read More: Petrina, S. & Ross, E. W. (2014). Critical University Studies: Workplace, Milestones, Crossroads, Respect, TruthWorkplace, 23, 62-71.

Equity, Governance, Economics and Critical University Studies #criticaled #edstudies #ubc #ubced #bced #yteubc

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
Equity, Governance, Economics and Critical University Studies
No 23 (2014)

As we state in our Commentary, “This Issue marks a couple of milestones and crossroads for Workplace. We are celebrating fifteen years of dynamic, insightful, if not inciting, critical university studies (CUS). Perhaps more than anything, and perhaps closer to the ground than any CUS publication of this era, Workplace documents changes, crossroads, and the hard won struggles to maintain academic dignity, freedom, justice, and integrity in this volatile occupation we call higher education.” Workplace and Critical Education are published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies (ICES).

Commentary

  • Critical University Studies: Workplace, Milestones, Crossroads, Respect, Truth
    • Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross

Articles

  • Differences in Black Faculty Rank in 4-Year Texas Public Universities: A Multi-Year Analysis
    • Brandolyn E Jones & John R Slate
  • Academic Work Revised: From Dichotomies to a Typology
    • Elias Pekkola
  • No Free Set of Steak Knives: One Long, Unfinished Struggle to Build Education College Faculty Governance
    • Ishmael Munene & Guy B Senese
  • Year One as an Education Activist
    • Shaun Johnson
  • Rethinking Economics Education: Challenges and Opportunities
    • Sandra Ximena Delgado-Betancourth
  • Review of Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think
    • C. A. Bowers

Nelson Mandela | Pete Seeger | champions and guardians of education

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013 | 1919-2014 Pete Seeger

Champions and Guardians of Education

Thank you

BC schools class composition worse than ever #bced #bcpoli #ubc #yteubc #edstudies

BCTF New Release, January 8, 2014– Data on BC’s education system released by the government shows our province’s class composition is worse than ever before, said BCTF President Jim Iker. There are over 16,000 classes with four or more children with special needs.

“BC teachers fully support including all students, like those with special needs, in our classrooms, but 12 years of cutbacks have meant those kids are not getting the support they need,” said Iker. “Ever since the BC Liberal government stripped our collective agreement in 2002, learning conditions for all students have deteriorated. We see the results today because more teachers than ever before are dealing with overly complex classrooms without the support of specialist teachers to support students.”

The data released by the Ministry of Education shows there are 16,163 classes with four or more students with special needs. That represents one in four of all classes in BC. In addition, a staggering 3,875 classes have seven or more children with special needs in them. The data also highlights concerns with the support available for English Language Learners (ELL) formerly known as ESL in BC. There are 4,636 classes with seven or more English Language Learners (ELL). Within that total are 1,956 Kindergarten to Grade 3 classes with seven or more English Language Learners.

“Class composition is one of the most important aspects in education,” said Iker. “An overly complex class puts immense pressure on the teacher to meet the needs of all students. As teachers, we fully support and embrace diversity in learning styles and needs in our classrooms, but we can only do so much without extra support before students lose out.”

Iker also pointed out that the worsening of class composition year-over-year has coincided with dramatic cuts to learning specialist teachers. For example, since 2002 BC has lost approximately 700 special education teachers and over 300 English Language Learner teachers. Furthermore, BC has the worst student-educator ratio in Canada and funds education $1,000 less per student than the national average.

“BC teachers are among the best in the world, but this government is making it harder for them to do their jobs and harder for students to get the education they deserve,” said Iker. “It’s time for government to step up, correct their past mistakes, and address BC’s worsening class composition.”

Click here to view the Class composition chart.

Generation of BC students short-changed by government #bced #bcpoli #ubc #yteubc #edstudies

BCTF News Release, January 27, 2014– Marking the 12th anniversary of Bill 28, the unconstitutional legislation that stripped teachers’ collective agreements, BCTF President Jim Iker said the result is that a generation of students in BC have been short-changed.

“Children who were in Kindergarten in 2002 when government illegally stripped class-size and class-composition language from our collective agreements are now in Grade 12,” said Iker. “The result is those students, an entire generation of BC kids, have spent their whole K–12 education in larger classes with less one-on-one-time and less support from specialist teachers like counsellors and special education teachers.”

Iker explained that stripping teachers’ working conditions from collective agreements actually enabled the government to underfund education, which has led to the deterioration of students’ learning conditions.

“It is because of the support of parents and the hard work of teachers, who are doing more with less, that BC’s public education system is still as strong as it is,” said Iker. “But more and more teachers are telling me that further cutbacks, or even the status quo, are unsustainable.”

Due to the government’s illegal actions in 2002 and subsequent underfunding, BC has fallen behind the rest of Canada in support for public education.

  • BC is last on seven key measures of education funding in Canada.
  • BC is second worst in terms of per-student funding at $1,000 less than the national average. Only PEI is doing worse.
  • BC has the country’s worst student-educator ratio. That means there are more students per educator than anywhere else in Canada.
  • There are over 16,000 classes, 25% of BC’s total, with four or more children with special needs in them. That is a staggering 70% since 2006. It means all kids are getting less one-on-one time with their teachers. And, it means kids who need extra help aren’t getting it.
  • BC has lost 1,400 specialist teachers since 2002 even as the need for their services has gone up significantly. Close to 700 special education teachers, over 100 counsellors, and 300 teacher-librarians have all been cut from the system.

“After 12 years, with 2002’s Kindergarten class now graduating, it’s time to recognize that government has not lived up to British Columbians’ expectations,” said Iker. “It’s unacceptable that BC is the second worst in Canada on per-student funding and has the worst student-educator ratio. It’s time to end the cuts and begin to bring BC’s education funding up to at least the national average. That will give teachers and students the resources they need to make our public education system even better.”

 Background

“Got Land?” hoody continues to spark controversy #idlenomore #edstudies #bced #ubced #bcpoli

First Nations sweater sparks nationwide controversy

Canadian Civil Liberties Association, January 25, 2014– Thirteen-year-old student, Tenelle Starr, inadvertently became the centre of a nationwide controversy over just five words on her sweater: “Got Land? Thank an Indian.”

Starr, who lives on the Star Blanket First Nation reserve and attends Grade 8 in Balcarres, a small town approximately 100 kilometers from Regina, says she wore her sweater to promote her heritage and and treaty rights. (Read more) Starr says that she initially wore the sweater after Christmas break without incident, and was shocked when school officials later forbade her from wearing her sweater to school. She continued to wear it, however, and was instructed each time to either remove it or turn it inside out. According to school officials, other students and their parents were offended by the sweater, which they called “cheeky,” “rude,” and even “racist.” (Read more)

After meetings between the school, Starr, her mother, and the Star Blanket First Nation, school officials determined that the sweater was not inappropriate and that Starr would be able to wear it to school, according to the CBC.

Creator of the sweater, Jeff Menard, says that he’s been flooded with orders for his “Got Land?” t-shirts and sweaters following nationwide coverage of the controversy.

Read More: CCLA

January 28 National Day of Teach-ins focused on First Nations Education Act #idlenomore #ubc #bced #bcploi #occupyeducation #edstudies

Idle No More + Defenders of the Land
Teach-ins
January 28, 2014

Idle No More— As we begin a new year, we invite Idle No More groups to organize local teach-ins on January 28th based around the First Nation Education Act and the broader Termination Plan that it represents.  We recognize that every Nation and community has their own unique stories, struggles, and practices and we hope that every teach-in is rooted in the on-the-ground realities that are the heart of the movement. When we include our local allies and supporters to attend, help, and promote local teach-ins we believe this adds strength to the bundle of arrows we continue to build through education.

As a support to teach-in organizers we are developing educational tools to use at local teach-ins that will focus on the  First Nation Education Act and the broader Termination Plan of the Canadian government.  Please feel free to use these tools, or to develop your own!  We are also hoping that each teach-in will create a quick list of local struggles or issues and that we can share these lists to help guide the Idle No More movement.

We need to support one another as we continue to fight for our lands, water, sovereignty, and our future generations.  We hope that these teach-ins help to deepen and strengthen our roots and prepare us for the work that lies ahead.

Read More: Idle No More

‘Got Land?’ #IdleNoMore Day Of Action January 28 #bced #bcpoli #occupyeducation

Staff, Indian Country Media Network, Popular Resistance, January 26, 2014– Above photo: Courtesy Tenelle Starr/Via Metronews.ca, Tenelle Starr, a Grade 8 student at Balcarres Community School, wears her, “Got Land? Thank an Indian,” sweatshirt. Starr and other students wearing sweaters bearing that slogan were initially instructed to wear them inside-out due to complaints.

The grassroots Idle No More movement was already planning a national day of action across Canada for January 28 to teach people about the First Nations Education Act, which most Indigenous Peoples oppose. Now the organizers are exhorting everyone to dress for the occasion—in a “Got Land? Thank an Indian” t-shirt or sweatshirt.

Idle No More has scooped up 13-year-old Tenelle Starr, the eighth-grade student from Star Blanket First Nation who persuaded school officials to let her wear a hoodie with the words “Got Land?” on the front and “Thank an Indian” on the back.

Since that day, the shirt’s maker in Canada, Jeff Menard, has been swamped with orders. But now he might want to add another phone line. Idle No More is calling on everyone across Canada to don the slogan, which Menard sells on t-shirts and bibs in all sizes, in addition to hooded and non-hooded sweatshirts.

Menard has set up a website,Thank An Indian, to field and fulfill orders. The shirts, bibs and other items that he said are forthcoming are also showcased on his Facebook page of the same name. A portion of the proceeds will go to help the homeless.

Those wishing to buy the slogan south of the 49th Parallel can order at its U.S. source. The White Earth Land Recovery Project, part of the Native Harvest product line that is run by Ojibwe activist and author Winona LaDuke, has sold hoodies and t-shirts bearing the slogan for years. Menard has said he got the idea after seeing friends from the U.S. wearing similar shirts.

The message and the lesson have taken on new urgency as racist comments proliferated on Tenelle’s Facebook page to such a degree that it had to be taken down. But that has only solidified the teen’s determination to make a difference and to educate Canadians, which she said was her intial goal in wearing the shirt to school.

She received support, too, from Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Alberta, which invited her to the Neil Young concert in support of its efforts to quell development in the oil sands of the province. She attended the Saturday January 18 performance as an honorary guest, according to Idle No More’s website. Young is doing a series of concerts to raise funds for the Athabasca Chipewyan’s legal fight against industrial activity in the sands.

Tenelle “is now calling, along with the Idle No More movement, for people everywhere to don the shirt as an act of truth-telling and protest,”Idle No More said in a statement on January 17. “Now and up to a January 28 Day of Action, Tenelle and Idle No More and Defenders of the Land are encouraging people across the country to make the shirt and wear them to their schools, workplaces, or neighborhoods to spark conversations about Canada’s true record on Indigenous rights.”

CBC News reported that Tenelle’s Facebook page was shut down at the suggestion of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which briefly investigated some intensely negative and racist comments that were posted on the girl’s page after the school ruling.

“It was racist remarks with attempts to shadow it in opinion, but they were pretty forceful, pretty racist,” Sheldon Poitras, a member of the band council for the Star Blanket First Nation, and a friend of the family, said to CBC News. “The family was concerned about Tenelle’s safety.”

The family deactivated Tenelle’s Facebook account “on advice from RCMP,” CBC News reported, and the RCMP confirmed that it was investigating.

The message is a quip laden with historical accuracy that refers to the 1874 document known as Treaty 4, which Star Blanket First Nation is part of, in which 13 signatory nations of Saulteaux and Cree deeded the land to the settlers of what would become modern-day Canada.

Nevertheless, many continue to view the message as racist. Idle No More aims to debunk that notion as well as clarify the historical record. Tenelle has participated in Idle No More rallies with her mother as well, the group said.

“Everyone can wear the shirt,” said Tenelle in the Idle No More statement. “I think of it as a teaching tool that can help bring awareness to our treaty and land rights. The truth about Canada’s bad treatment of First Nations may make some people uncomfortable, but understanding it is the only way Canada will change and start respecting First Nations.”

Although Menard said that support has been streaming in from chiefs and others throughout Canada for both him and Tenelle, there has been negative feedback that shows there’s still a lot of misinformation to be dispelled, he told ICTMN.

“I’ve been getting hate messages, Tenelle has been getting hate messages,” Menard said in a phone interview on January 21, but reiterated that the slogan merely reflects historical fact. “If anybody learns their history they see that the Indians were here first.”

Read More: Popular Resistance

BC govt driving more into debt and poverty #bced #bcpoli #idlenomore #yteubc #ubc

As if two recent reports that the government of British Columbia was failing aboriginal and poor children weren’t bad enough, this week’s Housing Trends and Affordability report from the RBC confirms that the Liberals are driving more and more into debt and poverty.

In bankster speak, BC offers “two-tiered affordability.” In everyday speak, it’s a province divided: rich versus poor. And guess which ones the Liberals are backing and picking to reach the finish line?

First Call and Campaign 2000’s British Columbia: 2013 Child Poverty Report Card tells it like it is:

the BC government cites the importance of capitalism and free markets to poverty reduction… But the child poverty statistics in this report tell another story — even a growing economy can leave many people behind when we allow inequality to grow. BC has seen growing wealth for a few, while more middle and low income families struggle to make ends meet on poverty level wages.

The BC government has managed to remake and maintain the Province as the most unaffordable in the nation. The RBC Report goes on to say

Across the country, housing affordability continues to be the poorest, by far, in the Vancouver area, where the latest RBC measures are significantly above their long-term average.

And the link between unaffordability and child poverty?

In 2013, the BC government cannot claim to be ignorant of the abundant evidence of the harm done to children’s health and development by growing up in poverty, nor of the huge additional costs in health care, education, the justice system and lost productivity we are already paying by keeping poverty rates so high (2013 Child Poverty Report Card).

It is enough to generate a recall vote for a government seized by power. If you feel and think things are bad, they are.

BC school district adopts anti-homophobia policy #bcpoli #bced #yteubc #ubced

About a third of all BC school districts have a similar policy in place

Renee Bernard, News1130, November 15, 2013– The largest school district in the province will become the latest to adopt an anti-homophobia policy.

Surrey school board trustees have voted unanimously to embrace the new anti-discrimination code.

Gioia Breda of the Surrey Teachers Association worked on the document and says it’s an important philosophical statement to support students facing homophobic bullying.

“You can compare students who experience racism, for example. When they go home, those students have parents who are often supportive and sympathize, whereas LGBTQ youth may not have come out to their parents,” she explains.

She calls it a pro-active code.

“It offers a positive and inclusive curriculum, more sexual health education for LGBTQ youth, and education for administrators, staff and counsellors about LGBTQ issues.”

She says the policy is designed to protect both students and staff.

Just over a decade ago, the school board made national headlines in its fight to ban books featuring same-sex couples, a policy it eventually changed.

The board’s anti-bullying code was adopted with relative ease, compared to the situation in Burnaby a few years ago, when that school board encountered protests from parents.

About a third of all BC school districts have anti-homophobic bullying policies in place.

Read More: News1130

Students say “We’re young, not stupid:” Keep big oil out of our schools #bced #yteubc #bcpoli #DavidSuzuki #occupyeducation

pump jack writes curriculum

This is what you call genuine pro-activism. Barely a month into its launch of Energy IQ (yes, “IQ”), Canadian Geographic is sheepishly back-pedalling and having to answer to students. Energy IQ is to be The Energy Curriculum for the entire nation. The first hint that something was suspect about this was the photo gallery in the June Canadian Geographic Magazine that featured and introduced the new Energy IQ curriculum. As if the author of the curriculum, the proud Pump Jack, “iconic symbol of the West,” dominates. Is this is a curriculum about, for, and from BIG power?

That’s the question students in Vancouver are asking as they join forces with Power Shift, a green grass roots environmental movement. “We’re young, not stupid,” they say, “Keep big oil out of our schools.” The students’ Open Letter and petition are generating international interest and momentum. Dear CAPP, the students write: “The Energy IQ program is of serious concern to us as current high school students, specifically because of its inherent corporate bias and the ideals it will promote…. Propaganda has no place in our schools.” The high school activists currently have over 600 supporters signed on to the petition and were featured by the CBC (tv and radio) on 14 November.

The two student-activists at the front of the protest, Sophia and Sydney, note that “We just believe we should not have corporations in our public classrooms” “It’s just not saying the full truth and we really believe that it shouldn’t be used in the classrooms.”

And this pro-activism is excellent timing, as the new Pump Jack curriculum begins to make its way into the schools. Just as oil and gas dominate clean energy in Canada, the students are asking why Pump Jack is behind the Energy IQ Curriculum.

Yes, teachers and students can criticize the curriculum and politically remix it, but prior questions are those the students are asking, whether Pump Jack ought to be authoring and issuing curriculum for the schools. Or why is Canadian Geographic joined with Pump Jack?

Or what in the world is going on with the Geography curriculum? The Pump Jack curriculum is linked to the Canadian National Standards for Geography, but the energy and economics Standards within might as well have been written by Pump Jack itself. The word “capitalism,” Pump Jack’s child and daddy (go figure) economic system for a century, does not appear in the Standards. For the Environment and Society standard, students can “Speculate on the environmental consequences of a major long-lasting energy crisis (e.g., high/low crude oil prices),” and maybe speculating is enough. Surely, documenting and acting on climate change need not be a standard. Of course, “climate change” does not appear in the Standards either.

Invented in Oil City (it’s true) in 1913, Pump Jack is celebrating its 100th birthday this year so maybe it is appropriate that it authors and teaches the global Energy IQ curriculum. Happy Birthday Pump Jack! Remember the combination: 40-31-24-5.

Some still consider social justice in schools to be “indoctrination” #bced #yteubc #occupyeducation

Perhaps not too surprising all things considered in BC, the Social Justice 12 course continues to be dismissed as indoctrination. One one hand, it’s not surprising given the swing right over the past dozen years in the province. On the other, any subject or course that is not one of the official nine (i.e., art, careers, applied skills, language, math, music, physical education, science, socials) is nearly doomed to skepticism or marginalization. In the Surrey Leader, Tom Fletcher belittles the course as  “student indoctrination” and curriculum activities endorsed by the BCTF as “one-sided caricatures:”

Their buzzword is “social justice,” which is portrayed by leftists as superior to plain old justice, in ways that are seldom defined. So what exactly are the goals of this “social change”? Here’s some of what I’ve gleaned.

Parents may recall the 2008 introduction of an elective high school course called Social Justice 12. This was mainly the result of intense protest by a couple of gay activist teachers, and the ministry curriculum describes its emphasis on inclusion of racial, cultural and sexual differences…. BCTF bosses love to talk about the importance of “critical thinking.” These one-sided caricatures of Nike, Enbridge and other familiar villains seem designed to produce the opposite.

Today’s follow-up response to the column reiterates the conservative, anti-union politics at hand:

Great column. I consider this one as one of the most important ones that Tom Fletcher has written, alongside the one about “science gives way to superstition”.

If the B.C. Teachers’ Federation advocates a collectivist ideology such as socialism, the chances of saving our children from the influence of dangerous, very militant, egalitarian philosophy are slim.

Like it or not, the BCTF is one of the most astute, successful labor unions in the country and Social Justice 12 stands as the single-most progressive curriculum innovation in BC over the past 25 years. Given its origins in the passionate commitments to education by a courageous, gay couple, tenuous existence and tests in and out of courts for almost a decade, conservative challenges to deny enrolment in certain districts, and a challenge to the official curriculum, the course triumphed. This was against nearly all odds. Social Justice 12 is that important– not as content per se but as an example and precedent that curriculum can be transformative and transformed.

And the lesson is this simple: Through its professionalism, insights, and yes, politics, BCTF finds the way, opens the doors, and welcomes these necessary additions to an overly officious curriculum. In that way, the BCTF’s social justice politics and the course are refreshing for a change in this province.