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Category Archives: Teachers
Critical Education has just published its latest issue at
This special issue of Critical Education, entitled “The Legacy of
Ferguson: A Referendum on Citizenship Denied,” presents papers about Ferguson, several of which were presented as part of a panel on Ferguson held at the College and University Faculty Assembly (CUFA) conference of the National Council for the Social Studies in 2015. Anthony J. Castro and Alexander Cuenca are the issue editors and have added additional articles to
address issues in Baltimore and to reflect back on Ferguson two years later.
As Castro notes in his introduction to this issue “as we arranged these pieces, we felt struck with an overwhelming sense of purpose. We have to keep this conversation real and alive. So with hope in our hearts and hands ready to toil with patience and persistence, we invite you to join the struggle, because Black Lives Matter.”
Thanks for the continuing interest in our work,
E Wayne Ross
Co-Editors, Critical Education
Institute for Critical Education Studies
University of British Columbia
Vol 8, No 2 (2017)
Table of Contents
The Legacy of Ferguson: A Referendum on Citizenship Denied
Hope and Persistence: The Legacy of Ferguson Introduction to the Special Issue of Critical Education
Anthony J. Castro
Ferguson and the Violence of Indifference in Our Classrooms
Black Lives Matter: Reflections on Ferguson and Creating Safe Spaces for Black Students
Same As It Ever Was: Ferguson, Two Years Later
My Reasonable Response: Activating Research, MeSearch, and WeSearch to Build Systems of Healing
The Media and Black Masculinity: Looking at the Media Through Race[d] Lenses
Turning a Moment into a Movement: Responding to Racism in the Classroom
Dr. E. Wayne Ross | Professor, EDCP
January 15, 2016
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.
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.
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.
Gioia Breda of the Surrey Teachers Association worked on the document and says it’s an important philosophical statement to support students facing homophobic bullying.
“You can compare students who experience racism, for example. When they go home, those students have parents who are often supportive and sympathize, whereas LGBTQ youth may not have come out to their parents,” she explains.
She calls it a pro-active code.
“It offers a positive and inclusive curriculum, more sexual health education for LGBTQ youth, and education for administrators, staff and counsellors about LGBTQ issues.”
She says the policy is designed to protect both students and staff.
Just over a decade ago, the school board made national headlines in its fight to ban books featuring same-sex couples, a policy it eventually changed.
The board’s anti-bullying code was adopted with relative ease, compared to the situation in Burnaby a few years ago, when that school board encountered protests from parents.
About a third of all BC school districts have anti-homophobic bullying policies in place.
Read More: News1130
Students say “We’re young, not stupid:” Keep big oil out of our schools #bced #yteubc #bcpoli #DavidSuzuki #occupyeducation
pump jack writes curriculum
This is what you call genuine pro-activism. Barely a month into its launch of Energy IQ (yes, “IQ”), Canadian Geographic is sheepishly back-pedalling and having to answer to students. Energy IQ is to be The Energy Curriculum for the entire nation. The first hint that something was suspect about this was the photo gallery in the June Canadian Geographic Magazine that featured and introduced the new Energy IQ curriculum. As if the author of the curriculum, the proud Pump Jack, “iconic symbol of the West,” dominates. Is this is a curriculum about, for, and from BIG power?
That’s the question students in Vancouver are asking as they join forces with Power Shift, a green grass roots environmental movement. “We’re young, not stupid,” they say, “Keep big oil out of our schools.” The students’ Open Letter and petition are generating international interest and momentum. Dear CAPP, the students write: “The Energy IQ program is of serious concern to us as current high school students, specifically because of its inherent corporate bias and the ideals it will promote…. Propaganda has no place in our schools.” The high school activists currently have over 600 supporters signed on to the petition and were featured by the CBC (tv and radio) on 14 November.
The two student-activists at the front of the protest, Sophia and Sydney, note that “We just believe we should not have corporations in our public classrooms” “It’s just not saying the full truth and we really believe that it shouldn’t be used in the classrooms.”
And this pro-activism is excellent timing, as the new Pump Jack curriculum begins to make its way into the schools. Just as oil and gas dominate clean energy in Canada, the students are asking why Pump Jack is behind the Energy IQ Curriculum.
Yes, teachers and students can criticize the curriculum and politically remix it, but prior questions are those the students are asking, whether Pump Jack ought to be authoring and issuing curriculum for the schools. Or why is Canadian Geographic joined with Pump Jack?
Or what in the world is going on with the Geography curriculum? The Pump Jack curriculum is linked to the Canadian National Standards for Geography, but the energy and economics Standards within might as well have been written by Pump Jack itself. The word “capitalism,” Pump Jack’s child and daddy (go figure) economic system for a century, does not appear in the Standards. For the Environment and Society standard, students can “Speculate on the environmental consequences of a major long-lasting energy crisis (e.g., high/low crude oil prices),” and maybe speculating is enough. Surely, documenting and acting on climate change need not be a standard. Of course, “climate change” does not appear in the Standards either.
Invented in Oil City (it’s true) in 1913, Pump Jack is celebrating its 100th birthday this year so maybe it is appropriate that it authors and teaches the global Energy IQ curriculum. Happy Birthday Pump Jack! Remember the combination: 40-31-24-5.
One might find a ban on “all forms of hands-on play… This includes tag, holding hands, and any and all imaginary fighting games,” in no Funcouver, especially if the Sedin brothers are on a penalty kill (some Canucks fans will assess a 5 minute major to me here), but who’d thunk it on a kindergarten playground in Aldergrove? That’s correct, no more tag on this playground. No holding hands either.
Coghlan Fundamental Elementary SCHOOL (SD35)
November 1, 2013
Dear Kindergarten Families,
Over the past couple of weeks during outside play time, we have had a number of injuries as a result of various games and types of hands-on play. This has impacted the safety of all the children outside.
Consequently, we have unfortunately had to ban all forms of hands-on play for the immediate future. This includes tag, holding hands, and any and all imaginary fighting games. “Star Wars” games have been particularly difficult for the Kindergarten children to remember to keep their hands to themselves. We will have a zero-tolerance policy with regards to hands-on play, resulting in the missing of playtime and trips to the office for those who are unable to follow the rules.
If you could please help to remind your child about keeping his or her hands to themselves, and reinforce other imaginary games (rather than fighting games) it would really help us to get the message across.
We really appreciate your cooperation and support in this matter.
Read More: CBC
Letter to parents: Aldergrove school says policy prompted by playground injuries
Gordon McIntyre & Ian Austin, The Province, November 5, 2013– You’ve heard the Alice Cooper lyrics “no more pencils, no more books … .” For kindergarten kids at Coghlan Fundamental Elementary School, tucked away in a remote rural area of Aldergrove, it’s no more tag, no holding hands, or you’ll get teacher’s dirty looks.
A letter went out to Coghlan kindergarten students’ parents on Friday, one of those types that often sit in backpack over a weekend or are put aside to be read later and somehow never are.
Julie Chen found the letter, explaining a new no-touch policy for kindergarten students, on Monday morning as she was packing lunch for her five-year-old daughter.
It reads, in part: “We have unfortunately had to ban all forms of handson play for the immediate future … we will have a zero-tolerance policy.”
Penalties for making physical contact with a schoolmate include being grounded during play time and/or a trip to the office “for those who are unable to follow the rules.”
“I read the letter, it said there had been quite a few injuries, I said, ‘OK,’ and kept reading,” Chen said. “When I saw no hands-on would be allowed, I just got mad, I got so upset.
“What is happening in our society when our kids aren’t even allowed to be kids any more? “Kids get hurt all the time. What are we going to do next, put them in a bubble to go to school?” Chen said she talked to other moms on Monday and most hadn’t read the letter. Based on what Chen told them, she said, they were appalled.
“I’m not going to tell my daughter she can’t push her friends on the swing,” Chen said. “Do we expect our kids to be robots? How can they possibly do this? They’re five-yearolds – you can’t stop them from running around and having physical contact.”
Read More: The Province
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.
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.
Over the last decade, the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation has systematically tested the limits of free expression for teachers. Through a series of grievances, arbitrations, and court cases, the BCTF has provided one of the most important legal records for teachers’ freedom of expression. The result is nothing short of a significant precedent for the schools.
Earlier this month, a bit of cleaning up after a court decision in the spring resolved the issue of Yertle the Turtle. The BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) finally backed down on the BCTF local’s challenge to the BCPSEA’s ban of certain quotes from the venerable Dr. Seuss book. Finally again, we will see teachers quoting truth to power: “I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights.”
This is far from the end, as free expression and academic freedom in the schools require active, living tests of boundaries and lines. The ban lifted on Yertle the Turtle turns a page but does not yet finish the chapter. The quotes from Yertle were spoken for a larger scope of rights, including rights to bargain contracts and define class sizes. For that, the BCTF’s appeal has gone back to the Supreme Court.
Children’s book ‘Yertle the Turtle’ now OK again in unionized B.C. classrooms
Terri Theodore, Globe and Mail, October 11, 2013– “Yertle the Turtle” is no longer under ban.
“Yertle the Turtle” can gather more fans — in school districts around British Columbia.
A freedom of expression grievance has been settled between the BC Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association based on the Dr. Seuss children’s book about a turtle trying to assert its rights.
The complaint was one of several made by the union when some school districts were banning classroom displays of union posters, buttons and T-shirts in the middle of a teachers’ contract dispute.
In one case, an administrator vetoed a quote for classroom display in Prince Rupert from the book “Yertle the Turtle,” saying it was too political.
Dave Stigant, with the Prince Rupert district, was given about 20 quotes from the book to determine if they would be appropriate to expose to students during an ongoing labour dispute.
He didn’t like this quote: “I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights.”
BCTF President Jim Iker said the quote was just a small example of several instances where the union felt it had a claim of unfair labour practices in the province.
“But definitely the ‘Yertle the Turtle’ one out of Prince Rupert highlighted the whole issue of freedom of expression and our constitutional rights.”
Iker said several such claims went to arbitration over the last four or five years before the issue was ironed out.
The complaints were settled based on a previous court case, a key arbitration ruling and an agreement with the employer on freedom of expression rights.
Teachers are now allowed to display or wear union posters, buttons and T-shirts.
“I’m hoping it clears it up. I think it actually gives both sides certainty and we know where the limits are in terms of materials and what we’re able to display or not display, and I think the employer knows what the expectations are,” Iker said.
He said teachers also know that they can’t discuss any kind of political or union messaging with students during instruction time.
Read More: Globe and Mail
CTVNews, September 4, 2013– An organization of Quebec teachers is calling the Parti Quebecois’ so-called “Quebec Values” charter extremist, warning it could hinder some teachers’ right to work if they aren’t permitted to wear such religious garb as hijabs, kippas, turbans or crosses.
The Federation Autonome de L’Enseignment, or FAE, denounced the proposed charter on Wednesday, saying they support secular values but that individuals have the right to religious expression.
“The right of our members to work is at stake,” FAE president Sylvain Mallette told a news conference.
Quebec has come under fire from a number of rights groups over the proposed charter, which would seek to restrict public employees from wearing religious symbols in the workplace, including in schools, daycares and hospitals.
Premier Pauline Marois is expected to announce the legislation early next week.
Mallette says the FAE — a 32,000-strong organization of eight public teachers’ unions — supports secular values such as removing prayer from schools and regulating religious holidays. But she added the legislation slated to be tabled by the Parti Quebecois is something else altogether.
“It is hypocritical to legislate a charter of secular values beneath a religious icon,” said Mallette, calling on the provincial government to remove the crucifix that has been hanging in National Assembly since 1936.
Mallette also called for the provincial government to remove subsidies for religious schools, which make up half of the private schools in Quebec.
“The right to believe does not translate to unequal treatment and preferential rights,” Mallette said.
The FAE is only the latest group to chime in against the proposed charter.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne both spoke out against the proposal earlier this week.
Nenshi said that residents of all faiths are welcome in his city, while Wynne said that diversity is the key to Ontario’s strength.
Read more: CTVNews