Vancouver faces stark contrasts between funding for K to 12 and university

Vancouver faces stark contrasts between funding for K to 12 and university
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.

At first glance, the cheques suggest parity across the Vancouver system. For 2016-17, the schools, with about 49,000 students get a base operating grant of $436m and the university, with about 42,000 students gets a base of $420m. So what’s the problem?

One is left to birth and migration rates while the other is manipulated with enrolment quotas. For each decrease of enrolment in the Vancouver schools the University ironically matches with an increase of teachers for the job market.

UBC’s Faculty of Education, which could be financially assisting the schools to meet this historic shortfall, is instead bloated with a $2.6m deficit partially to maintain a quota for a steady flood of new teachers into Vancouver.

With the building boom at UBC, in March the Faculty of Education occupied a floor and a half of the new Ponderosa Commons building, despite about two floors of unoccupied or underutilized space in its Scarfe building. Education’s share of the $57m building is $18m.

At the same time 21 Vancouver schools were scheduled for closure or demolition to meet a shortfall the government gave a $19.5m windfall to renovate UBC’s Life Sciences building.

Wheeling and dealing, the Liberal government is robbing Peter to pay Paul, demoralizing Petra to pump up Paulette.

UBC appears to be throwing money around like it grows on Endowment Land trees. With the Vancouver real estate boom, it does.

The short history of UBC at 100 years is that it was born spoiled with a sizeable estate in 1915-1916 and remains spoiled in 2016-2017.

Through the stroke of a pen in 1858, Queen Victoria created the colony of British Columbia and transformed First Nations traditional territory into Crown Land. In 1907, an amendment to the BC Land Act granted 3,000 acres (5 sq. miles) to a University Endowment.

UBC property sits precariously on unceded Musqueam territory aggressively developed by settlers into prime Vancouver real estate over the past century and most aggressively since 1988 when the UBC Real Estate Corporation (Properties Trust) was established. In 1994 UBC converted 200 acres of its campus and Endowment Lands into condo and shopping centre development.

By 2003, as University Hill Secondary school was crammed and the urban plan expanded, so flush with cash was the university that its Properties Trust offered to bankroll renovations to its National Research Council (NRC) building and charge the busted VSB a monthly lease. In 2008, the Liberals stepped in, effectively saving the university from a $37.9m renovation.

The Vancouver Schools have had to defer $700m of building maintenance costs while UBC has announced plans for an $822 million building boom on it campus, with generous commitments from the Ministry.

As in real estate goes demographics: from boom to bust, the empty seats in Vancouver schools will inevitably be empty seats in the university. Like the VSB, it won’t be long before UBC begins to schedule the closure or demolition of empty academic buildings, that is, if someone opens the doors to realize there’s no one inside.

With more and more faculty members preferring to work at home, save for staff, empty offices are making hollow buildings the norm.

The Ministry is now threatening to fire the School Board for suspending school closure and demolition plans but when the University Board colludes to hide decisions from access and scrutiny the Ministry looks the other way.

Vancouver is now desperate to resolve the deepest school finance crisis and worst university administrative legitimacy crisis in 100 years. False distinctions between the two or the success of one at the expense of the other are at the root of the crises.

It’s the story of Vancouver: Broke and barely making it versus fixed, rich, and laughing all the way to the bank: 99% versus 1%.

Stephen Petrina and E. Wayne Ross are professors in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

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(Un)Learning Anthropocentrism: An Ecocritical Framework for Teaching to Resist Human-Supremacy in Curriculum and Pedagogy

UBC Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy
2016-2017 Seminar Series

(Un)Learning Anthropocentrism: An Ecocritical Framework for Teaching to Resist Human-Supremacy in Curriculum and Pedagogy

John Lupinacci, PhD
Cultural Studies & Social Thought in Education
College of Education
Washington State University

October 28, 20106
Scarfe 1214 

In this talk, I will call attention to—and critically question—the epoch now referred to as the Anthropocene in relationship to Western industrial assumptions rooted in the understanding of human-beings as separate from and superior to all other life-forms and the environments upon which they depend. Drawing from an ecocritical framework in education, I emphasize that because anthropocentrism is cultural rather than inherently natural, it is amenable to social change. As a scholar-activist educator, I take the position that (un)learning anthropocentrism as radical change is imperative in light of environmental degradation, climate change, and the multitude of social and ecological problems that follow as a consequence. The stakes are high and the capacity of the planet for sustaining life depends upon future generations learning to live in harmony and at peace with the diverse ecosystems within which they reside. More than a critique of anthropocentrism, I work to challenge this worldview and seek ways of engaging educators and educational researchers in doing the same. Drawing from ecocritical projects in education—including critical animal studies, anarchism, and ecofeminism—while recognizing centuries of wisdom in indigenous epistemologies, this talk shares a pedagogical process aimed at helping educators to recognize an anthropocentric worldview, to examine how this worldview is implicated in maintaining human (and male, white, able-bodied) supremacy, and to rethink anthropocentrism in favor of ecological alternatives that are socially just and encompass all living systems.

John Lupinacci is an Assistant Professor at Washington State University. He conducts research and teaches in the Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education (CSSTE) program using an approach that advocates for the development of scholar-activist educators. His ecocritical work in education is interdisciplinary and draws from critical social theory through anarchist philosophy, critical animal studies, new materialism, and queer-ecofeminist philosophy while recognizing that many of these Western frameworks are entangled with colonial cultures and thus ought not take precedence over—or appropriate—diverse indigenous knowledges. Drawing heavily from critical conceptions of environmental education, Dr. Lupinacci’s research focuses on how people—specifically educators, educational leaders, and educational researchers—learn to both identify and examine destructive habits of Western industrial human culture and how those habits are taught and learned in schools. His experiences as a high school teacher, an outdoor environmental educator, and a community activist-artist-scholar all contribute to his research, teaching, and development of interdisciplinary research projects open to the (im)possibilities of unexpected spaces with(in) education and educational research.

Download poster [PDF]


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Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor


Special Issue of Workplace
Edited by
Karen Lynn Gregory & Joss Winn

Articles in Workplace have repeatedly called for increased collective organisation in opposition to a disturbing trajectory in the contemporary university… we suggest that there is one response to the transformation of the university that has yet to be adequately explored: A thoroughgoing and reflexive critique of academic labor. 

Table of Contents

  • Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor
    Karen Lynn Gregory, Joss Winn
  • Towards an Orthodox Marxian Reading of Subsumption(s) of Academic Labour under Capital
    Krystian Szadkowski
  • Re-engineering Higher Education: The Subsumption of Academic Labour and the Exploitation of Anxiety
    Richard Hall, Kate Bowles
  • Taxi Professors: Academic Labour in Chile, a Critical-Practical Response to the Politics of Worker Identity
    Elisabeth Simbürger, Mike Neary
  • Marxism and Open Access in the Humanities: Turning Academic Labor against Itself
    David Golumbia
  • Labour in the Academic Borderlands: Unveiling the Tyranny of Neoliberal Policies
    Antonia Darder, Tom G. Griffiths
  • Jobless Higher Ed: Revisited, An Interview with Stanley Aronowitz
    Stanley Aronowitz, Karen Lynn Gregory
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Upcoming Institute for Critical Education Studies seminars

The Institute for Critical Education Studies is please to sponsor two upcoming seminars on curriculum issues in Latin America and Spain.

Curricular Discourses with Practical Implications:
Perspectives and Experiences From Spain & South America
September 22, 2016
11:30am – 1:30pm
Scarfe 310
University of British Columbia

This seminar brings together scholars from Spain and South America working within a variety of curriculum studies traditions to discuss curriculum issues in contexts ranging from elementary education to higher education. The seminar will be an opportunity to explore how curricular discourses have implications in educational practices in local, national, and global contexts.

Panelists include Dr. Renato Gazmuri (Universidad Diego Portales, Chile); Sandra Delgado (Colombia), Fernando M. Murillo (Chile), Breo Tosar (Spain), and Héctor Gómez (Chile).

Curricular Ideologies in the Discussion and Negotiation of the Chilean Social Studies Curriculum
Monday, September 26, 2016
Noon – 1:oopm
Scarfe 1209
University of British Columbia

Renato Gazmuri, PhD, Assistant Professor at Universidad Diego Portales (Chile). 

Dr. Gazmuri will discuss his research on the construction of the social studies curriculum in Chile. The Chilean social studies curriculum has been defined through processes of discussion and negotiation between diverse actors and institutions with different views on the subject. In order to identify and describe these ideologies, a sequential and recursive methodological device was designed and applied in three stages of production and analysis of information: a documentary compilation around three curricular events of debate and negotiation, application of questionnaires, and interviews. At each stage a content analysis was performed. Five curriculum ideologies are identified and described, considering their assumptions about how the curriculum should define the subject matter, as well what its aims, contents and its guidelines for teaching.

These seminars are free and open to the public.

The Institute for Critical Education Studies (ICES) was formally established in October 2010 to conduct and support cultural, educational, or social research within a critical education or critical pedagogy tradition. The ICES network consists of two flagship journals (Critical Education and Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor), two primary blogs (ICES blog and Workplace blog) and an array of other social media.

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Call for Manuscripts: Radical Departures: Ruminations on the Purposes of Higher Education in Prison

Call for Manuscripts:
Critical Education

Radical Departures: Ruminations on the Purposes of Higher Education in Prison

Series Editors:
Erin L. Castro, University of Utah
Mary Rachel Gould, Saint Louis University

Higher education in prison is experiencing a moment of increased attention throughout the United States. The Second Chance Pell Program, an Experimental Sites Initiative facilitated by the U.S. Department of Education, has helped to propel access to education inside prisons into mainstream discourse. The commonsense justification provided for increasing access to higher education in prison, a bipartisan language spoken across the political landscape, hinges on a compelling rationale: access to higher education in prison reduces recidivism, lowers cost, and increases safety and security. Departing from conventional logic regarding the rationale for higher education in prison, this special edition considers possibilities and futurities regarding postsecondary educational opportunity made available inside prisons.

The series aims to explore how various educational theories and theorists can inform understandings of and desires for higher education in prison. We invite manuscripts that provide imaginative and theoretically grounded visions for postsecondary education inside prisons that are disentangled from the logics of the carceral state and the afore mentioned commonsense rationales for higher education in prison. Authors are invited to put on hold narrow discourses of recidivism to explore higher education inside prison through conceptual, empirical, theoretical, pedagogical, narrative, and poetic articles that approach this topic from a variety of perspectives, frameworks, and positionalities.

In considering higher education in prison, we especially seek manuscripts authored and/or co-authored by currently incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, co-written essays among diverse stakeholders, and other creative configurations.

Manuscripts may examine, but are not limited to, the following questions:

  • What does it mean to teach and/or learn on inside prisons?
  • How can educational theory inform possibility inside prison classrooms?
  • What does/should education mean inside prisons during hyperincarceration?
  • What should be the purposes of higher education in prison?
  • How can/do various educational theories take root inside prison classrooms?
  • Which theoretical bodies are useful in (re)imagining and (re)engaging higher education in prison?
  • How do examples in practice provide potential for re-theorization?

Manuscripts due: May 1, 2017.

For details on manuscript submission see: Critical Education Information for Authors

Additional questions can be directed to Erin L. Castro:

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EDCP Seminar: Abraham DeLeon “A Schizophrenic Scholar out for Stroll: Multiplicities, Becomings, Conjurings”


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There is plenty of guilt to go around. You can start with this list …

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Seminar: Challenges and Tensions in Curriculum Management: Theory and Practice

Challenges and Tensions in Curriculum Management: Theory and Practice

Public Seminar Sponsored by
Institute for Critical Education Studies

July 13, 2016
Scarfe 2108
2125 Main Mall
University of British Columbia

Carolina Castro, Héctor Gómez, and Fernando Murillo, co-authors in the recently published book Desafíos y Tensiones en la Gestión Curricular: Teoría y Práctica [Challenges and Tensions in Curriculum Management: Theory and Practice] in Chile, will present their contributions to the discussion of curriculum design, development and implementation in the contexts of schools and higher education.

The book, co–edited by Gómez and Castro, gives voice to a variety of perspectives and experiences in schools and higher education. In this regard the authors ask: How is curriculum managed? Who is involved in the process and how? What authority do curriculum managers have, and how is power distributed in order to influence and make decisions on the curriculum? What effective spaces for innovation exist? How are perennial and new issues considered in the management of curriculum?

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 6.11.50 PMCurriculum Design and the Teaching Role: An Outstanding Relationship. Reflections From Research at a Hospital-Based School
Carolina Castro

Bachelor in Education – Primary School Teacher, Master of Arts in Education and Curriculum. Head of the Curriculum Unit at Universidad Católica Silva Henríquez in Santiago, Chile.

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 6.12.04 PMProfessional Formation Beyond the Know-How: Considerations and Challenges for a Post-Competence Curriculum Management
Fernando M. Murillo

Bachelor in Education – TEFL, Master of Arts in Education and Curriculum, UBC PhD student in Curriculum Studies

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 6.12.16 PMTeacher Education in Chile: Curriculum design and its Complex Discourses.
Héctor Gómez

Bachelor in Education – Teacher of History and Social Sciences, Master of Arts in Education and Curriculum, UBC PhD Student in Curriculum Studies


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(Re)Considering STEM Education: A Special Series in Critical Education

Critical Education Special Series: Call for Papers

(Re)Considering STEM Education: A Special Series in Critical Education

Series Co-editors:
Mark Wolfmeyer, Ph.D., Kutztown University of PA
John Lupinacci, Ph.D., Washington State University

Critical Education provides a space for inquiry into the philosophies and contexts of educational priorities set by today’s global elite and the role of STEM Education in the political and economic restructuring of education and educational research. The time is now for an ongoing, dedicated space that deconstructs and reconstructs the interdisciplinary, ubiquitous, powerful and perhaps dangerous STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The series title reflects our concerns and suggests a space for dedicated inquiries taking up oppositions to—and substantive and timely reframings of—STEM. It is the desire of the editors of this series to cultivate a series of articles from a diverse array of educational research occurring both within and from outside the critical-foundations community. The special series continues a long tradition of such critique, at least those occurring in STEM related journals like For the Learning of Mathematics, Journal of Urban Mathematics Education and Cultural Studies of Science Education, and will be the first location dedicated specifically to critical explication of STEM on the whole.

We invite manuscripts that contribute to understanding and defining STEM education in a variety of ways, from critical curricular and pedagogic explorations of STEM contents on their own and in total, to broader conception of STEM such as the infiltration of STEM culture throughout higher education and research programs. In considering STEM, we especially seek explorations (re)considering how STEM perpetuates systems of domination and hierarchy while potentially offering unexpected moments for reformations that foster alternatives. In other words, how is mainstream STEM a part of the problem? In (re)considering STEM, we hope contributions will provide the opportunities for scholarly projects that range from policy to grant research, curriculum to media, experiences in STEM education from diverse students, and from teacher innovation to student resistance.

The issue aims to critique STEM but also present it as a space for critical examinations that move beyond the traditional perspectives reproducing the dominance of STEM. Such endeavors might include but are not limited to manuscript submissions that draw from a variety of frameworks appropriate to critical-foundations work, including critical theories like, ecojustice education, critical race theory and critical disability studies and with goals that counter neoliberal projects and embrace community, democracy, anarchism and anti-capitalism. In general, this series seeks to foster an ongoing scholarly conversation through manuscripts that broadly engage the question: How are critical scholars engaging and working within STEM educational spaces and/or habits of mind?

All manuscripts, including references and notes, should be 4000-6000 words. Authors are encouraged to submit complete manuscripts that match this call for papers as soon as possible. For now, this is an open call lasting at least through December, 30 2016.

All manuscripts are subject to the journal’s blind peer review process and are to be submitted online at

Pending review and the editors’ approval, articles will be published in this special series of Critical Education. Articles should follow the journal style guidelines of APA 6th Edition

(For info:

We also encourage essay reviews of books on these subjects. For more information about submitting a book review contact the editors. Reviews should be approximately 2500 words.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Mark Woflmeyer ( and John Lupinacci (

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Documentary on East Van’s Purple Thistle Centre – Common Notions: No Handbook Required

Carla Bergman, Corin Browne and John Collins have made a film about The Purple Thistle Centre, which will be screened at the DOXA film festival:

Common Notions: No Handbook Required
Wednesday, May 11, 2016 – 5:00pm
Vancity Theatre (1181 Seymour St)

For almost 15 years, the youth-run arts and activism space, the Purple Thistle, has been home for a variety of activities, from guerilla gardening to DIY publishing and screen-printing. Common Notions: Handbook Not Required is not only a celebration of the Thistle’s achievements, it’s a manifesto for the youth liberation movement. An array of alternative education advocates and scholars including Astra Taylor, Gustavo Esteva, and Madhu Suri Prakash, as well as local organizer Khelsilem, make a compelling case for democratizing knowledge and re-imagining our current systems of education. They argue that institutionalized schools, as we currently know and understand them, offer an extremely narrow and commodified definition of what it means to teach and to learn. Consensus decision-making, inclusivity, and a strict “noassholism” policy are just some of the Thistle’s guiding principles. Last year, the Thistle officially closed its doors. But this isn’t necessarily all bad news. Youth members and staff facilitators say the spirit of the collective will carry on in different permutations. After all, the Thistle was never meant to be an institution, but a path to a different way of experiencing the world. -SC


Common Notions: Handbook Not Required Trailer from John Collins on Vimeo.

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