Category Archives: Ethics

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.

New Workplace Issue: Academic Bullying & Mobbing #academicfreedom #ubc #aaup

New Workplace Issue #24

Academic Bullying & Mobbing

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

Henry A. Giroux: Authoritarianism and the assault on public #education #criticaled #bced

Henry A. Giroux, Truthout, December 30, 2014– As public schools are privatized, succumbing to corporate interests, critical thought and agency are erased, and education emphasizes market values rather than democratic ideals. The emergence of larger radical social movements depends on public education maintaining its role as a democratic sphere.

Once 2015 begins both the US Senate and House of Representatives will be controlled by the Republican Party, one of the most extremist political parties in US history. (1)Coupled with the empty centrism of the Democratic Party, their ascendency does not bode well for public education or a host of other important social issues. Nor does it bode well for democracy. If we conjured up George Orwell and his fear of state surveillance, Hannah Arendt and her claim that thoughtlessness was the foundation of totalitarianism, and Franz Kafka whose characters embodied the death of agency and the “helplessness of the living,” (2) it would be difficult for these dystopian works of literary and philosophical imagination to compete with the material realization of the assault on public education and public values in the United States at the beginning of the 21st century.

These are dangerous times. Compromise and compassion are now viewed as a pathology, a blight on the very meaning of politics. Moreover, in a society controlled by financial monsters, the political order is no longer sustained by a faith in reason, critical thought and care for the other. As any vestige of critical education, thought and dissent are disparaged, the assault on reason gives way to both a crisis in agency and politics. The right-wing Republican Party and their Democratic Party counterparts, along with their corporate supporters, despise public schools as much as they disdain taxation, institutions that enable critical thinking, and any call for providing social provisions that would benefit the public good. Not only are both parties attempting to privatize much of public education in order to make schools vehicles for increasing the profits of investors, they are also destroying the critical infrastructures that sustain schools as democratic public spheres.

Teachers have been deskilled. Losing much of their autonomy to be creative in the classroom, they have been relegated to technicians whose sole objective appears to be enforcing a deadening instrumental rationality in which teaching to the test becomes the primary model of teaching and learning. Moreover, they are being demonized by the claim that the major problem with public education is lack of teacher accountability. The hidden order of politics here is that larger political and economic considerations such as crushing poverty, mammoth inequality, a brutalizing racism and iniquitous modes of financing public education all disappear from the problems facing schooling in the United States. Teachers also serve as an easy target for the (un)reformers to weaken unions, bash organized labor, discredit public servants, and “argue that education can be improved if taxpayer money is funneled away from the public school system’s priorities (hiring teachers, training teachers, reducing class size etc.) and into the private sector (replacing teachers with computers, replacing public schools with privately run charter schools etc.).” (3)

Read More: Truthout

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.

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

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


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


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

Blue dots symbol of resistance for First Nations #idlenomore #bced #bcpoli #yteubc

Blue dots becoming symbol for First Nations Education Act resistance

Meme meant to represent those not included or considered in current FNEA legislation

Angela Sterritt, CBC News, February 12, 2014– A “blue dot” movement has taken the Twittersphere and Facebook by storm. Photographs of Indigenous people with a blue dot on their chest are being posted on social media.

It follows what happened at a joint announcement on the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act (FNEA).

The proposed legislation was announced in the Kainai First Nation on the Blood Tribe Reserve in Alberta. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt held a ceremony in the community to “seal the deal.”

Reda More: CBC News

Cookie-cutter solutions for First Nations education won’t work #idlenomore #edstudies #bced #ubc

PM Stephen Harper and Chief Weasel Head

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Chief Charles Weasel Head at last week’s announcement about changes to First Nation education. (Photo by Arnell Tailfeathers)

Angela Sterritt, CBC News, February 12, 2014– Twila Singer knows a thing or two about education on-reserve.

All five of her children are part of the Kainai First Nation and went to school on the Blood Tribe Reserve – in Blackfoot territory – close to Stand Off in southern Alberta. Her eldest son is now in college and her youngest is in Grade 1.

So when Singer caught wind of a community event last week, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was to announce a historic education agreement between the federal government and First Nations, she put her ear to the ground.

“No one knew what was going on, we were left in the dark,” said Singer.

The release also publicized a peaceful rally outside the Kainai Nation High School, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper made his announcement related to First Nations education.

On the day of the event, Singer made the decision to go inside for the announcement.

“We just prayed and decided that it would be OK, it would be safe to go in,” she said, but she didn’t expect what unfolded once they arrived inside.

Blue dots for uninvited guests

“We were separated at the door and given either a blue dot or a yellow dot. The blue dots were uninvited guests and were ushered to the gymnasium, and the invited guests were the yellow dots and they were brought to the auditorium where the dignitaries were.”

Along with about 40 others in the gym, Singer and her daughters, aged seven and 17, viewed what was happening in the auditorium on TV monitors. At the end, the invited guests were directed to go to the gym for a feast.

That’s when Singer was kicked out – for tweeting.

“I was so confused. Everyone around me was on their phone. My baby has never experienced violence or anger, she started to cry, so I left. In all honesty I was really embarrassed.”

Then, her 17-year old daughter was asked to leave.

In a video posted online, Singer’s teen daughter, Bryn Taylor, is seen being confronted by three men, two standing in front of her, and one man at her side. The man on the side wraps his arm around her back for almost a minute, and then lifts her up by her arm.

As people behind her shout “leave her alone” and “this is what my reconciliation looks like,” two men pick her up by each arm and she hits the floor, then they pick her up and escort her out.

“Our families were in there, our people were in there, people who we love and interact with every day, and I think she was wanting somebody to say something,” said Singer.

She said the air of silence mixed with confusion captured the essence of the announcement about changes to the First Nations Education Act that day.

“We didn’t develop it, or have a referendum on it, we were left out of the loop,” she said.

Lacking consultation

The Blood Tribe and Kainai Board of Education also put out a press release on the day of the announcement that said the proposed act “has not met the Crown’s legal duty to consult and accommodate.”

The release said the “proposed legislation is being forced on the Blood Tribe and it is similar to how the government assimilated Blood children through Indian residential schools.”

But consultation is something the engineers of the proposed First Nations control of First Nations education act tout. According to the official website, the agreement is the result of “intensive consultations, discussions, dialogue and studies.”

It stated that “the first phase included eight consultation sessions across Canada, more than 30 video and teleconference sessions, and online consultation activities, was completed in May 2013.”

Arnell Tailfeathers, who was at the announcement as an invited guest in a media capacity tweeted to @CBC_Aboriginal, “Treaty 7 chiefs had a teleconference with Valcourt in Calgary. Valcourt hung up on them after he was done speaking.”

For Saddle Lake councillor Shannon Houle, the federal government’s assertion of consultation could not be further from the truth.

Read More:  CBC News

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).


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


  • 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

to blog or not to blog?

The International Studies Association (political science folks) is discussing a proposal to ban Association journal editors, editorial board members and anyone associated with its journals from blogging. Here is the language:

“No editor of any ISA journal or member of any editorial team of an ISA journal can create or actively manage a blog unless it is an official blog of the editor’s journal or the editorial team’s journal,” the proposal reads. “This policy requires that all editors and members of editorial teams to apply this aspect of the Code of Conduct to their ISA journal commitments. All editorial members, both the Editor in Chief(s) and the board of editors/editorial teams, should maintain a complete separation of their journal responsibilities and their blog associations.”

Singling out blogs, but no other social media or letters to the editor or op eds, the ISA asserts that blogging is some how unseemly, that it is a kind of discourse that is not proper professional behavior, and that if one blogs one is likely to sink into some abyss losing a grasp on one’s dignity and respectability.

At best this proposal is quaint, a desire for a past when professors stayed in their offices and wrote for and engaged with their peers through narrow publication channels (like the ISA journals). At worst, this is a draconian effort to challenge academic freedom, to squelch professors’ engagement in public life, and to control access to knowledge. The silliness of this proposal does little to obviate its threat to civic engagement of scholars, both the activist minded and those who understand the world is bigger than the university campus.

“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
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, 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 Liberals unaccountable after “colossal failure of public policy” and “shameful facts” #bcpoli #bced #yteubc #idlenomore

Today’s report, British Columbia: 2013 Child Poverty Report Card, in which Campaign 2000 describes BC’s “shameful facts” and a decade of “dismal statistics,” and the November 6 report, When Talk Trumped Service: A Decade of Lost Opportunity for Aboriginal Children and Youth in B.C., in which Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond describes the BC Liberals’ policies on child welfare a  “colossal failure of public policy,” give an accurate portrayal of the failings of the BC Government.

The BC Government’s policies on children and youth are failures, pure and simple.

Ah yes, but we are told day in day out that it’s the economy stupid, and if we all just close our eyes and tap our heels together three times we can imagine how well off each of us are. Do not blink we are told.

Representative for Children and Youth Turpel-Lafond is taking a stand against the Liberals’ meetings that are all “talk” and no action.

And as she has on at least one other occasion,  Turpel-Lafond declined an invitation to attend, saying her schedule did not allow it and that she was reluctant to attend a gathering that was focused more on talk than on delivering services to children.

“I am a bit uncomfortable attending at this point because I have just done a report entitled When Talk Trumped Service – and [the Ministry of Child and Family Development] 100 per cent paid for a conference for more talking,” Ms. Turpel-Lafond said.

Read More: The Globe and Mail


BC again the worst province in Canada for child poverty: Liberals failing #bced #bcpoli #ubc #yteubc #idlenomore

Campaign 2000, November 26, 2013– The latest figures from Statistics Canada (2011) once again show that BC is the worst province in Canada when it comes to major measures of child poverty:

  • BC had a child poverty rate of 18.6 per cent — the worst rate of any province in Canada, using the before-tax low income cut-offs of Statistics Canada as the measure of poverty.
  • BC had the worst poverty rate of any province for children living in single mother families — 49.8 per cent.
  • BC also had the worst poverty rate of any province for children living in two-parent families — 14 per cent.
  • BC’s poverty rate for children under 6 years at 20.7 per cent is 8 percentage points higher than the Canadian average.
  • British Columbia also had the most unequal distribution of income among rich and poor families with children. The ratio of the average incomes of the richest 10 per cent compared to the poorest 10 per cent was 12.6 — the worst of any province.

Despite these shameful facts, and a decade of similarly dismal statistics, BC has inexplicably refused to follow the lead of most other provincial and territorial governments, of all political persuasions, to develop and implement a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.

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.

Read More: British Columbia: 2013 Child Poverty Report Card (Campaign 2000)

Canada failing poor children, families years after vow to eradicate poverty #idlenomore #ubc #bcte #bcpoli

Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen, November 26, 2013– More than two decades after MPs pledged to eradicate child poverty by the year 2000, Canada continues to fail its poorest citizens.

One in seven children — or 967,000 — lived in poverty in 2011, down slightly from 979,000 in 2010, while four in 10 aboriginal children live in poverty, according to a 2013 report card prepared by Campaign 2000.

The umbrella organization, which represents a coalition of 120 national groups committed to eradicating child poverty in Canada, based its report on the most recent data available from Statistics Canada.

More children and their families lived in poverty as of 2011 than they did in 1989, when the House of Commons unanimously resolved to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000.

Our child poverty rate, based on 2009 data, puts Canada at 24th place out of 35 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

The dismal results have renewed calls for drastic changes to Canada’s system of child benefits and movement on a long-awaited federal action plan to reduce poverty.

Many provinces and territories have created or are developing such strategies, but the federal government continues to drag its feet, said Project 2000’s Anita Khanna.

“We don’t see the same leadership or dedication from the federal government,” she said. “There’s been a lack of political will to tackle this issue.”

The Campaign 2000 report recommends the federal government implement a child benefit of $5,400, indexed to inflation, as a starting point to addressing the problem.

Eligible families can currently receive up to $3,654 annually through the combined Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) and National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS).

The funds are paid monthly and are non-taxable, non-refundable and based on the previous year’s family net income, meaning those with lower incomes receive a larger benefit than those with higher incomes.

Eligible families with net incomes of up to $25,356 received the maximum CCTB/NCBS this year, while families in the net income range of $25,356 to $43,561 may receive the full CCTB and part of the NCB.

Advocates want the government to eliminate the Universal Child Care Benefit, a monthly taxable payment of $100 to all families who have children under age six, and redirect the funds to the NCBS. It also wants the cash directed to the Child Tax Credit and the Child Fitness Tax Credit to be included in the new, larger National Child Benefit Supplement.

After these adjustments, the additional cost of raising the maximum CCTB/NCBS to $5,400 would be $174 million, the report says.

Campaign 2000 is unequivocal in its position that the Universal Child Care Benefit — which the Conservative government created in 2006 to give families more choice in choosing the child care option best suited to them — has not been an effective use of taxpayers’ money.

Public spending for the benefit from 2006 to this year is approximately $17.5 billion, the report says, yet it claims the federal government has collected no data to show how that money has been spent.

“A recent analysis concluded that — based on the available data — the claim that the UCCB has accomplished or improved ‘choice in child care’ is questionable at best. If it were used for regulated child care, the annual $2.5 billion expenditure could have modestly funded 700,000 additional child care spaces in each year,” the report says.

Read More: Ottawa Citizen

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

BC gov wasted $66-million over 12 years on failed aboriginal child services #bcpoli #bced #yteubc #idlenomore

Lindsay Kines, Victoria Times Colonist, November 6, 2013– The B.C. government’s failed attempt to reform the aboriginal child welfare system during the past 12 years has wasted nearly $66 million without helping a single child, the province’s child watchdog says in a new report.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond accuses the government and aboriginal organizations of blowing money on consultants, pointless research projects and endless meetings that go nowhere and deliver no tangible results.

“To be blunt, a significant amount of money has gone to people who provide no program or service to directly benefit children,” she writes in her 86-page report, When Talk Trumped Service.

More than half the money was spent on a failed effort to set up Regional Aboriginal Authorities, while the rest went to self-governance initiatives in the Ministry of Children and Family Development that bled money away from front-line services, the report says.

Turpel-Lafond said the “colossal failure of public policy” took place at a time when many aboriginal children have no safe place to live and no help coping with violence, abuse, mental illness and learning disabilities.

“Children and youth deserve better, and the best contrition for this rather shameful debacle would be a real effort to improve the outcomes for those children by actually knowing what they require and what works to support them — to stop directing the money into the big theoretical fixes, and instead shore up the front lines of the system, especially in those places where the paved roads end in B.C.,” the report says.

Turpel-Lafond spares no one in her report, noting that aboriginal organizations — particularly political groups — have been willing participants in the fiasco.

“Whether this is because they have been so overburdened by so many agendas . . . or if they believe that they are actually making progress, the representative is unsure,” the report says.

The report urges the Ministry of Children and Family Development to refocus its energy on delivering front-line services to children and leave discussions about a self-government to the Attorney General.

Turpel-Lafond said Children’s Minister Stephanie Cadieux has indicated that she was unaware of the problems.

Cadieux, who is slated to speak with reporters this afternoon, issued a statement in which she said the ministry agrees with Turpel-Lafond’s findings and recommendations.

“We know our focus needs to be on providing direct services to aboriginal children and families,” the statement said. “That’s why, two years ago, the newly appointed deputy minister began the process of shifting the focus of contracts from governance to service delivery.”

All aboriginal contractors have been told that future contracts will focus on direct services, Cadieux said.

She denied, however, that the money spent over the past decade was wasted. “Our efforts to build relationships with First Nations communities have established a solid foundation for government as it continues to move forward on the development of government structures.”

Read More: Victoria Times Colonist

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.

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