The Vancouver Sun

January 17, 2012. 1:52 pm • Section: Report Card

Finally the B.C. Teachers’ Federation has revealed what sort of salary increase it wants in a new collective agreement: 15 per cent over three years.

That would include a three-per cent wage hike each year to cover cost-of-living increases and a three-per-cent market adjustment in the second and third year to bring B.C. salaries more in line with those offered in Alberta and Ontario.

The total cost of the wage increase plus proposed improvements in benefits and prep time would be about $300 million in the first year, BCTF president Susan Lambert told a news conference Tuesday before tabling the proposal at the bargaining table. That’s far less than the $2 billion cost cited earlier by the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, she added.

There would be an additional $130 million cost in years two and three.

Read full article here.

By Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

BCTF News Release here.

Staffroom Confidential Blog here.

BCTF  Teacher Newsmagazine:  Volume 24, Number 3, November/December 2011  

Like lambs to the slaughter: The erosion of the cultured citizen 

By Sean M. Douglas  

“I have never let school interfere with my education” wrote Mark Twain as he considered his own understanding of the world; but how long before someone holds a mirror up to public education and realizes that the reflection of the students staring back is not the one they thought they would see? It is a shame to see Mr. Clemens’ (Twains’ dual persona) fears become a reality as education becomes lost within the school.

Perhaps what first needs to be asked is, what should an education look like, versus what kind of learning is currently shaping the next generation?

One can hardly deny that education has changed since, say, the days of Socrates, and it is clear that the age of texting and self-corrective technology has led to a decline in communication skills, and while the decline of such proficiency is unfortunate, it will not be “the way to a dusty death.” What is unfortunate, however, is education’s digression from culture in the classroom, for it is through the process of being cultured that all skills follow; “ay, there’s the rub!”

There is, however, a great irony in such a digression of culture, for what often brings culture to a standstill is what occurs in the school itself, the same institution that one would assume seeks to shape the hearts and minds of the future. Then again, it is the ministry whose three objectives “focus on establishing high levels of student achievement; reducing the gaps in student achievement; and ensuring high levels of public confidence in public education.” When the emphasis of education is based around statistics and external perception, it is no wonder that students are not developing a sense of personal identity, citizenship, and culture.

Perhaps schools no longer know how to effectively implement the values of culture, for now that we have become so immersed in politics, we are so overwrought with tensions that our sensitivity and our fear of being unpolitically correct has eroded culture itself. One’s ability to teach classic literature, art, music, history, philosophy, and theory, is successfully being eroded, and it is these disciplines that are necessary for students to become cultured citizens.

Read full article here.

British Columbia Teachers’ Federation Teacher Newsmagazine,  Nov-Dec 2011

(OTTAWA: November 2, 2011) – The Canadian Association of University Teachers today unveiled a national campaign to protect Library and Archives Canada (LAC). The “Save Library and Archives Canada” is being launched by CAUT in response to funding cuts and internal managerial decisions that are threatening the quality and integrity of Canada’s only national public library and archives.

“Badly conceived restructuring, a narrowing of its mandate, and financial cutbacks are undermining LAC’s ability to acquire, preserve and make publicly available Canada’s full documentary heritage,” James L. Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers said at a news conference in Ottawa today.

These changes, Turk added, have already led to a reduction in the number of specialist archivists and librarians, reduced public access and services, and the loss of rare and important materials.

Liam McGahern, president of the Antiquarian Booksellers of Canada, said a growing number of Canadian materials are not being collected by LAC because of reduced funding and a change in its acquisitions policy.

 “Canadians recently lost a unique and irreplaceable set of journals chronicling late 19th Century stories of settlers and First Nations people of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Labrador Coast. This is just one of many examples,” McGahern explained. “Rare military documents, sheet music, and literature that would otherwise have gone to Library and Archives Canada are quietly all slipping away.”

CAUT is calling on the federal government to amend the LAC Act to ensure its mandate includes developing a comprehensive, not selective, collection of Canadian material.

 “Our nation’s artistic, historical, and cultural heritage is at stake,” said Turk. “Genealogists, historians, researchers, graduate students, Aboriginal communities, and the general public are all affected by what is happening at LAC.”

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is the national voice of 66,000 academic and general staff at 120 universities and colleges across the country.

More information on the campaign can be found at


Angela Regnier, Communications Officer,

613-726-5186 (O); (email)

Ontarians are busy debating where the province’s three new post-secondary campuses should be, with mayors from Barrie to Niagara Falls holding out their caps. But ahead of that decision, Glen Murray, Ontario’s new Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, says there are all kinds of ideas he wants to explore first. Those who lust after future campuses should take note.

Here are 10 things I learned about the future of higher education in Ontario from Glen Murray.

1. Murray’s biggest concern “is how we’re utilizing the existing capacity we have right now.” He thinks more campuses should be using their physical resources year-round, by offering three-semesters, perhaps.

2. He’s exploring three-year degrees. Three, after all, is the standard in Europe and is increasingly common in Australia. The fourth year could be rolled into the Master’s, he says.

3. Murray knows that students’ “tolerance” for 500-person lectures delivered on physical campuses is waning. He thinks future courses will include more online delivery. “I think you’re seeing the build out now, in the next few years, of information technology and online learning at the kind of scale you saw with the expansion of the colleges in the 70s and 80s,” he says.

4. Murray thinks the government can help us use our time more wisely, perhaps by offering courses on commuter trains and coaches. “Working, looking after your family, often your extended family… it’s very hard to find time to upgrade your skills,” he explains.

5. Murray thinks new campuses should be catalysts for downtown revitalization. When he was mayor of Winnipeg, Red River College wanted to build on the periphery, but he insisted it be built in the Exchange District. “That triggered a renewal of that part of Winnipeg where the vacancy rate dropped from over 50 per cent to around 10 per cent and provoked a renewal of the City of Winnipeg’s tax base,” he says, and “it spawned a whole bunch of new enterprises, triggered a digital effects industry, and repopulated a whole bunch of heritage buildings.”

6. Murray sees a lot of struggling places aching for development in Ontario too. He notes that successful revitalizations of downtowns are already underway by Brock University in St. Catharines and by Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ont. He sees potential for such revitalization in cities like Hamilton, Ont. where downtown is “50 per cent parking lots.”

7. But he thinks rural Ontario can’t be overlooked. “The problems of Dryden, Cornwall, Lindsay, Sudbury or Goderich are not that different from the problems of large urban centres where mainstreets have declined and are bereft of businesses and activities,” he says. “We want to make sure we’re restoring small-town Ontario and using our public institutions to help rebuild main-streets of small communities.” While he says it’s premature to guess where the new campuses may be, that statement makes it seem less likely that all will be built in fast-growing suburban Toronto.

8. Murray says Ontario will bound into the future on the backs of the Gazelles, small knowledge-based companies that derive value out of high-tech design and intellectual property. “[Gazelles] are often perfect in the small retail buildings that make up the small streets of downtowns and they need connections to some sort of university or research facility,” he says.

9. Murray won’t commit to making the new campuses teaching-focused, as was proposed in the recent book Academic ReformIn teaching universities, class sizes could theoretically be halved or tuition could be reduced—or both—because professors spend 80 per cent of their time teaching, rather than 40 per cent of their time teaching and 40 per cent on research as they do today.

10. Policy on the new campuses is coming in a month or so. In the meantime: “if universities are coming at me saying, look, right now we have X number of buildings and this kind of campus, we think we can use these assets to better serve our communities, but our new campus idea would add net new value by doing this, this and this,” says Murray, “that’s the type of thing I’m looking for.”


This article was written by Josh Dehaas for Macleans on campus. 

A Toronto elementary school has banned most balls from its playground, citing the need to protect staff and students after a parent got hit in the head with a soccer ball. The new policy has infuriated parents and students, and exposes what child-health researchers say is a growing focus on child safety that is keeping kids from being physically active.

On Monday, Earl Beatty Junior and Senior Public School principal Alicia Fernandez sent home a note warning parents their students are no longer allowed to bring soccer balls, basketballs, baseballs, footballs and volleyballs to school. All balls that weren’t made of sponge, or nerf, material would be confiscated.The school, which has about 350 students in Kindergarten to Grade 8, along with a daycare, has a small, walled playground that gets crowded during recess and flying balls had become a constant problem, said ward trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher. Two weeks ago a mother picking up her child at the daycare went to hospital with a concussion after getting struck in the back of the head with a soccer ball.

 ”They have been trying very hard for a long time to get kids to stop throwing balls so hard and it wasn’t working, so (the principal) just had to ramp up the policy,” Cary-Meagher said. Anna Caputo, a spokeswoman for the school board, said the ban was actually a long-standing policy at the school that had stopped being enforced until someone got hurt. ”Some parents will say it’s extreme and some may agree (the principal) had to quickly implement something that will address the situation at the school to avoid the further risk of injury to the students,” she said.

The Toronto school isn’t the only one to ban balls over concern for student safety. Last year, an Ottawa public school banned balls on the playground during winter. In June, a public school St. Catharines, Ont., banned balls after a girl got hit in the head while watching a schoolyard soccer game. Both bans were overturned after students at the schools started a petition.

 ”When it comes down to it, the kids are not allowed to do anything, so there’s 325 kids who are all just standing around for 15 minutes,” said Scott Taylor, whose 10-year-old son, Matthew, started the petition at the St. Catharines school. “Kids need to play; they need to have things to do.”

Click here to read the entire Vancouver Sun article, written by Tamsin McMahon. 

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