Category Archives: Government

The Fear Created by Precarious Existence in The Neoliberal World Discourages Critical Thinking / La peur créée par l’existence précaire dans le monde néolibéral décourage la pensée critique

E. Wayne Ross  was recently interviewed about the impact of neoliberal capitalism on schools, universities, and education in general by Mohsen Abdelmoumen, an Algerian-based journalist.

Over the course of the interview he discussed a wide-range of issues, including: the fundamental conflict between neoliberalism and participatory democracy; the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) and the possibilities of transforming schools and universities into forces for progressive change and, in particular, academic freedom and free speech on campus, schools as illusion factories, curriculum as propaganda; what it means to be a dangerous citizen; and the role of intellectuals/teachers as activists.

The interview has been published in English and French, links below.

The Fear Created by Precarious Existence in The Neoliberal World Discourages Critical Thinking –  American Herald Tribune

La peur créée par l’existence précaire dans le monde néolibéral décourage la pensée critique – Algérie Résistance II

La peur créée par l’existence précaire dans le monde néolibéral décourage la pensée critique – Palestine Solidarité

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More: The Globe and Mail

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

UBC's Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre

UBC’s Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More: Vancouver Observer

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

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

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

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

Table of Contents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vulnerable groups

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

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

Little improvement

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

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

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

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

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

Read More or Listen: CBC News

Threat Convergence: The New Academic Work by Petrina, Mathison & Ross #highered #criticaled

THREAT CONVERGENCE:
THE NEW ACADEMIC WORK, BULLYING, MOBBING AND FREEDOM

Stephen Petrina, Sandra Mathison & E. Wayne Ross

The convergence of the casualization, fragmentation, intensification, segmentation, shifting and creep of academic work with the post-9/11 gentrificaton of criticism and dissent is arguably one of the greatest threats to academic freedom since the Nazi elimination of the Jewish professoriate and critique in 1933, Bantu Education Act’s reinforcement of apartheid in South Africa in 1952, and McCarthyism in Canada and the US in the 1950s and 1960s. In the history of education, this would be quite the claim yet the evidence seems to speak for itself. Academic work has been fragmented into piecemeal modes and intensified as academics absorbed, through amalgamation, traditional clerical staff and counseling work. The balance of the academic workforce has been reduced and casualized or segmented to an “at whim,” insecure, unsalaried part-time labor pool, the 8-hour workday and 40-hour academic workweek collapsed to 60-80 hours, and the primary locus of academic work shifted off-campus as the workplace crept into the home and its communal establishments. Academic stress— manifested as burnout through amalgamation and creep of work, and as distress through bullying, mobbing and victimization— underwrites increases in leaves of absence. Non-tenure track faculty are hit particularly hard, indicating “contingency or the precariousness of their position” as relentless stressors.

Nowadays, it’s whimsical to reminisce about work-life balance and promises that the academic workforce will be renewed as boomers retire with baited expectations, or that the workweek and workplace for salaried full-timers could be contained within the seduction of flextime and telecommuting. In many ways, the flexible workplace is the plan for boomers by boomers with both nest eggs and limits on retirement age breaking. As currency values, retirement portfolios, and savings spiral downward while dependent children and grandchildren and inflation spiral upward, incentives to retire erode. Precariously unemployed, underemployed and part-time academics aside, boomers still in the academic system are trended to face the biggest losses. As economic incentives to retire decrease, incentives for intellectual immortality and legacy management flourish with the boomers’ political leanings moving toward the center. One can hardly blame them.

Enthusiasts of anything “flexible” (learning, space, time, work, etc.) and everything “tele” (commuting, conference, learning, phone, work, etc.), academics readily workshift with additional liability but no additional remuneration— instead is an unquestioned acceptance of the “overtime exemption”— while the employer saves about $6,500 per year per worker in the tradeoff as worksite or workspace shifts from campus to home. The academic workweek is now conservatively 60 hours with many PT and FT reporting persistent 70-80 hour weeks. Perhaps academic women can finally have it all after putting in the 120 hour workweek. One reason institutions now cope with many fewer FT hires is that academics are all too willing to do the work of two. As Gina Anderson found a decade ago, “with apparently unconscious irony, many academics reported that they particularly valued the flexibility of their working week, in terms of both time and space… in the same breath as reporting working weeks in the order of 60 hours.” For most academic workers, the cost of flexibility is effectively a salary cut as overheads of electricity, heat, water, communication and consumables are shifted to the home. Carbon footprint reductions are a net benefit and for a minority, the savings of commuting and parking offset the costs of this homework or housework. What is the nature or implications of this increasing domestication of academic work and displacement of the academic workplace? For academic couples with or without children, the dynamics of housecohabitry, househusbandry or housewifery necessarily change as the academic workplace shifts and labor creeps into the home. With temptations to procrastinate on deluges of academic deadlines, academic homes have never been cleaner and more organized. Nevermind the technocreep of remote monitoring. Over the long run, although some administrators cling to the digital punch card and time stamp with Hivedesk, Worksnaps or MySammy, “smashing the clock” in the name of flextime and telework is about the best thing that ever happened to academic capitalism.

This is not exactly a SWOT analysis, where Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats are given due treatment. Rather, the focus is on this threat convergence as it resolves through historic displacements of the academic workplace and work. To what degree are the new policies for academic speech inscribed in academic work, regardless of where it’s done? As the academic workplace is increasingly displaced and distributed, are academic policies displaced and distributed as well? Observed at work, monitored at home and tracked in between—these are not so much choices as the cold reality of 21st century academic work.

Read More: Threat Convergence

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download: BRITISH COLUMBIA OBSTRUCTS THE SHOCK DOCTRINE

Read More: Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talks called off, #HongKongStudents moving strikes to secondary school #scholarism

AL-hk-0910ePhoto: Reuters

 Straits Times, Hong Kong Reuters, October 9, 2014– The Hong Kong government on Thursday called off talks with pro-democracy student leaders after they threatened an expansion of protests, dealing a blow to attempts to ease tensions that have seen tens of thousands take to the streets to demand free elections and for leader Leung Chun Ying to resign.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, the city’s No 2 government official, was speaking on the eve of planned talks with student leaders after protests paralysed the city.

“Students’ call for an expansion of an uncooperative movement has shaken the trust of the basis of our talks and it will be impossible to have a constructive dialogue,” Ms Lam said.

Hong Kong’s Justice Department handed the investigation of a US$6.4 million (S$8 million) business payout to Mr Leung to prosecutors on Thursday as political fallout grows from the mass protests in the Chinese-controlled city.

The latest development on Thursday came after student protesters said they would not retreat from their barricades and threatened more secondary school strikes if the government does not meet their demands for democracy, reported the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

“Without a just explanation and concrete ideas of how to settle the current dispute, Hong Kong people will not retreat. And there’s no reason for anyone to ask us to retreat. Therefore the Occupy movement must be ongoing,” said Mr Alex Chow, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Students.

He warned that the protests will continue until the government has responded to their demands and provides substantial solutions to ease political tensions, according to the SCMP.

Joshua Wong, convenor of student activist group Scholarism, threatened a new wave of class boycott in secondary schools if the government fails to meet their core demands, including the retraction of Beijing’s restrictive framework on universal suffrage and the resignation of Mr Leung.

Read more: Straits Times

 

Gen ’97 the youth of #HongKongStudents #scholarism

hong-kong-democracy-protest

Yoichi Shimatsu, New American Media, October 3, 2014– Hong Kong – On both sides of the barricades blocking this city’s streets, media pundits from New York and Beijing assert that the protests in Hong Kong arise from demands for greater autonomy. Completely unnoticed is a major demographic shift in the region’s population, which is redefining the issues that motivate the younger generation to shut down this global financial center.

The leadership and activist numbers are coming from Generation ’97, young people born during the 1997 handover of the then-British Crown colony to Chinese sovereignty. These youngsters, most still in the secondary level (high school), are finding themselves at the forefront of a populist struggle for electoral rights. They are motivated by anxieties about local identity and a consequent need for better representation, reflecting attitudes that differ subtly but significantly from the traditional opposition parties.

Leadership of the democracy movement was suddenly thrust onto this youth cohort before the protests, when a corruption scandal broke involving the controversial publisher of the Apple Daily press paying illegal contributions to politicians in the opposition parties. The Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation turned up examples of pocketing of unreported donations for personal gain. This corruption further taints the image of a pan-democratic alliance that was already divided by rivalries and unexplained dropouts prior to the street protests.

Underlying the youth movement’s strategy of civil disobedience is a deepening distrust of their pre-1997 elders in both camps, who operate in a political culture of “deal-making” and an elitist obsession with property and wealth, regardless of political affiliation. What the young radicals confronting tear gas and riot police reject is the selling out of Hong Kong’s unique way of life to the highest bidder, whether wealthy businessmen from China or globalist financial corporations.

In contrast with the figureheads of the opposition parties, these youth are not aligned with Britain or the United States, but are battling instead for their own Hong Kong as the last bastion of Cantonese culture. For that goal, the ever-increasing ranks of post-1997 youth realize the vital importance of equal voting rights to chose leaders who will represent the people of Hong Kong, especially the poor and disadvantaged, and not just its wealthy elite.

A manga antihero

The most charismatic figure to emerge from the youth movement is Joshua Wong, one of four student leaders of Scholarism, a political front of high school students and college freshmen. The Gen ’97 teen activists with Scholarism are the driving force behind the street protests, overshadowing the Occupy Central organizers and their seniors in the Federation of Hong Kong University Students.

These secondary schoolchildren are prepared to cast away university admission and promising careers — unimaginable sacrifices in this upwardly mobile society that cherishes education above all — in their commitment to political rights. By making the unthinkable break with traditional values in a conformist urban society, the rebellious youth have shocked anxious parents, unionized workers and the lower middle class of this Cantonese-speaking city into worried support with food donations, cash, praise and admiration. The example of teenagers holding out against tear gas has convinced many formerly passive residents to take a stand on the streets.

Joshua, 17, shows a precocious understanding of the complexities of Hong Kong politics, and yet remains adamant in remaining an outsider to the establishment. His strong commitment to street agitation is not based on an alpha male image from kung fu movies. To the contrary, the slim teenager is modest and soft spoken, while succinct in explaining his viewpoints. A Bruce Lee-style bowl cut touches his wide-set almond eyes, which are exactly like those of maverick antiheroes in Japanese comics known as manga. This lad is clearly the role model for young people across East Asia, who are disaffected by traditional career paths, choose a variety of lifestyles and are tuned in to social media.

“I admit it’s annoying to hear nothing but Mandarin in the metro instead of Cantonese,” he says, “but I am not a right-winger who makes comments against visiting mainlanders.” His statement should come as a surprise to the National People’s Congress in Beijing, whose worst nightmare is the electoral victory of an anti-China secessionist figure. Out of these gut-level fears, the NPC voted unanimously to require all nominees to gain its approval before the 2017 election of a new Chief Executive, the highest position in Hong Kong.

In contrast to the leaders of the opposition parties, or Hong Kongers who emigrated to Canada or Britain before 1997, Scholarism members simply do not have any personal memory of UK rule, and therefore hold no attachment to the British lifestyle that the last royal governor Chris Patton mistakenly referred to as “the Hong Kong way of life.” Gen ’97 accepts the “one country, two systems” formula as a fact of life. It is the only political order they have ever known.

“The relationship between Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China cannot be amended at this late stage,” Joshua explains. “There is no other road than ‘one country, two systems’.” By the same token, he adds, “Under that formula, our first priority is equality for all residents, and this means greater equality in the electoral system. We cannot let our common future be determined by a 1,200-member election committee instead of by the 7 million people of Hong Kong.”

Read More: Truthout

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

BCEDRally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tentative contract for #BCed teachers #bctf #bcpoli

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

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

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

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

Read More: CBC

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

FINALvote-result

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

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

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

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

BC Federation of Labour, September 9, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read full letter

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

BCTFIker Sept8-2014

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

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

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

BC Premier #ChristyClark put the hard hat on and fire @FassbenderMLA #bced #bcpoli #bctf #teachers

Christy Clark

It is due time Premier Clark, to put the hard on again, and make two tough decisions: Fire Minister Fassbender and agree to binding arbitration to settle the contract with the BC Teachers’ Federation. Two tough decisions. Put the hard hat on.

The Minister of Education has to go as his failures in the aggregate are destructive and disruptive. He has to go. As the opposition NDP Leader John Horgan put it at the BC Fed-BCTF Rally yesterday: “Mr. Fassbender I say you failed at negotiation, you don’t understand mediation, you couldn’t spell arbitration, so how about resignation?”

Premier Clark, how about firing Minister of Education Fassbender? And agree to binding arbitration. Put the hard hat on and make two tough decisions.