Tag Archives: Working conditions

Vancouver schools dip into contingency funds, layoff teachers #bced #bcpoli #yteubc

Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun, May 1, 2014– Vancouver School Board trustees have saved their band and strings programs, decided not to close for three extra days in November, and will keep the district’s athletic director, but will be using up nearly all of their capital reserve fund to do so.

The reserve fund is made up of income the district makes from leasing out property and is normally kept as a contingency at about one per cent of the nearly $500-million total budget. A budget passed by the board on Wednesday night reduces that $5-million fund to just $500,000.

Budget reductions in other areas will result in more than 26 full-time positions being eliminated, on top of the 24 positions already slated to be cut due to declining enrolment or previous decisions, such as a plan to close an adult education centre.

“We didn’t save the day. We deferred the inevitable,” said school board chairwoman Patti Bacchus on Thursday. “We were very clear last night that we’re taking a big risk and we’re putting whoever is elected next year in a tough spot. This will make next year’s budget even harder.”

The school board is forecasting a $26.6-million shortfall for the 2015-16 school year and a $3.76-million shortfall for the 2016-17 year, when enrolment is projected to increase. School board elections will be held this fall.

Read More: Vancouver Sun

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Vancouver+School+Board+balances+budget+dipping+into+contingency+funds/9797740/story.html#ixzz31HmyS3MB

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

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

PAGE FOUR: BC MINISTRY OF EDUCATION TO INVESTIGATE TEACHER ED RESEARCH DEBACLE

The British Columbia Minister of Education has announced an investigation into the research contracts that funded a teenager’s “study” of teacher education programs at the University of Victoria and University of Helsinki.

This story has been floating around since last fall, but the Ministry has had nothing to say about these sole-source research contracts until the Canadian Taxpayers Federation of BC obtained and published the final report. A story by Times Colonist reporter Amy Smart about the research contracts and the student’s report, was also a big nudge (see below).

[Following the initial story about the government funded teen researcher by Tracy Sherlock in theVancouver Sun last September, I’ve written about the situation on WTBHNN and Janet Steffenhagen has covered it on her blog for the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils. But it was Jordan Bateman and the CTF‘s FOI activity that finally forced the Ministry to acknowledge there is at least the appearance of problem here.]

CBC News Vancouver ran the story this evening, watch their report here:

I’m doubtful we’ll get any real insights into this bizarre episode, at least in the short term, because Education Minister Peter Fassbender indicated that the investigation would focus on contract “procedures” rather than substance of the decision making process. Rick Davis, the Ministry’s “superintendent of achievement,” is the official who gave the contracts to Anjali Vyas, who at the time was a recent high school grad and deejay, she is now an undergraduate student at UBC.

Can there be a rational explanation for funding a high school grad to travel to Finland to study teacher education? I’m interested to know what it was Rick Davis and the BC Ministry of Education were expecting? Did they really believe that funding a 10 month “study” of teacher education conducted by a recent high school grad would produce insights into the professional preparation of teachers?

Read More: WTBHNN

PAGE THREE: MOVE ALONG, THERE’S NOTHING TO SEE HERE. OR, HOW SERIOUSLY DOES THE BC MINISTRY OF EDUCATION TAKE RESEARCH ON TEACHER EDUCATION?

Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation of British Columbia, has been exploring the question of why the BC Ministry of Education would finance a teenager to conduct research on teacher education in Finland. Through Freedom of Information requests the CFA collected and published 115 pages of communications among Rick Davis, Anjali Vyas, the high school grad who was funded to travel to Finland and write a report on teacher education, and other Ministry employees.

These documents raise a number of questions about how the Ministry, and particularly “superintendent of achievement” Rick Davis makes decisions about doling out single source research contracts. These documents also represent events in ways that are inconsistency with the initial media reports about genesis of this project. (Read my previous posts on the subject herehere, andhere.

One thing that has been missing is Vyas’ final report to the Ministry. Bateman posted the report on the CTF website today.

Read the report if you like.

Or not, because as you might expect given the circumstances, there are no insights to be found in the report. Not even the “through a student’s eyes” perspective that Davis said was the point of the project. Instead, the report is a collection of general statements, with little or no data to illustrate or support the claims made. For example, there is exactly one quote from interviews conducted in Finland to go with one quote from a UVic student. There are a few references to and quotes from published works, but no reference list. But I’m not really interested in picking apart the report or judging the author.

Rather, my question is what was Rick Davis and the BC Ministry of Education expecting? Did Davis really believe that funding a 10 month “study” of teacher education conducted by a high school grad would produce insights into the professional preparation of teachers?

I’m at a loss to understand the rationale behind this debacle. Ignorance? Disrespect? A combo platter, with arrogance on the side?

If it’s the first—that is, if the person in the role of “superintendent of achievement” for the province really did believe this was a good use of public funds and could produce useful insights into teacher education—then I respectfully suggest he shouldn’t have that job.

There’s no arguing that Davis and the BC Ministry of Education have, by their actions in this case, illustrated a profound disrespect for teacher education and educational research in general. Perhaps merely an extension of the BC Liberals ongoing disrespect for professional educators.

Read More: WTBHNN

Everything you need to know about #bced bargaining (a history) #bcpoli #yteubc

Katie Hyslop, The Tyee, May 4, 2014– It’s been almost a year since British Columbian teachers saw their contracts expire, but the union and its employer couldn’t be further apart at the bargaining table.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has demanded a four-year teacher contract with a 10.75 per cent wage increase, plus 2.75 cost of living increase, a return to the class size and composition rules last seen in 2001, and an increase in the number of specialty teachers like counsellors and teacher librarians hired in B.C. districts. The employer has calculated the union’s wage proposal at 15.9 per cent, assuming the national cost of living index will be 1.5 per cent every year until 2017.*

In contrast, the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association is proposing a 10-year deal, with a 1.75 per cent wage increase on ratification. It includes a total 6.5 per cent wage increase over the first six years, with contract negotiations reopened in the sixth year to determine further, if any, wage increases. Class size and composition levels, as imposed by the government through 2012’s Education Improvement Act, would remain the same under the employer’s terms.

Efforts to pressure each other into making concessions have had little effect. Now, over 40,000 members of the teachers’ union are currently in stage one of a three-stage “job action,” after 89 per cent of them voted in favour of a gradual strike last month.

Their employer responded to the action last week by presenting the union with an estimated $5-million bill to cover teachers’ health and welfare benefits premiums in June, unless a negotiated deal is reached before the school year ends — a move the union called illegal.

Current negotiations, ongoing for 15 months, are further complicated by a B.C. Supreme Court decision in January that found the government’s response to an earlier ruling, preventing teachers from bargaining class size and composition levels until after current contract negotiations are settled, was also unconstitutional.

The government appealed the January decision, which is expected to be heard in court in October.

Collective bargaining between the B.C. government and the union has a dizzying, yet important history. The troubles began under the Social Credit government of the 1980s and continued under the New Democratic Party government of the 1990s, but the issue has become much more heated since the current BC Liberal government came to power in 2001. Teachers haven’t forgotten any of it.

Looking back at 13 years of quarrelling, one may find hints to where the current bargaining dispute is headed. If you don’t remember every strike vote or court case, this refresher is for you.

Keep reading: The Tyee

Alberta Teachers’ Association rejects plan for competency reviews #bced #criticaled #yteubc

ATA News release, May 5, 2014–Alberta Teachers’ Association President Mark Ramsankar is calling today’s report of the Task Force for Teaching Excellence an assault on teachers and is raising serious concerns about direct ministerial interference in the work of the task force.

From the beginning, Johnson’s task force has lacked transparency and legitimacy. The politically driven recommendations have the potential to seriously undermine the culture of education in Alberta, a global leader in education. This seriously undermines teachers’ trust in and relationship with this Progressive Conservative government. Mark Ramsankar, ATA President

The ATA has identified changes that are offensive to teachers and will undermine the culture of education in Alberta, including recommendations that

  • strip teachers of fundamental employment protections,
  • force recertification every 5 years,
  • grant teaching certificates to individuals who do not have a teaching degree,
  • fail to recognize fundamental differences between policing conduct and reviewing teacher professional practice,
  • turn principals from collaborative school leaders into factory bosses, and
  • attempt to extort compliance from the Association by threatening to remove principals from membership and/or break it up.

Ramsankar says the Association has received information from many very well-placed sources that indicate that Minister Johnson and his bureaucrats have been very active in directing the work of the task force, including the drafting of recommendations.

Ramsankar is calling on Premier Hancock to immediately and clearly outline the position of the government on the task force recommendations attacking the profession.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional organization of teachers, promotes and advances public education, safeguards standards of professional practice and serves as the advocate for its 35,000 members.

Read more: ATA

CFP: Academic Mobbing (Special Issue of Workplace) #education #criticaled #ubc

LAST Call for Papers

Academic Mobbing
Special Issue
Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

Editors: Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross

Editors of Workplace are accepting manuscripts for a theme issue on Academic Mobbing.  Academic mobbing is defined by the Chronicle of Higher Education (11 June 2009) as: “a form of bullying in which members of a department gang up to isolate or humiliate a colleague.” The Chronicle continues:

If rumors are circulating about the target’s supposed misdeeds, if the target is excluded from meetings or not named to committees, or if people are saying the target needs to be punished formally “to be taught a lesson,” it’s likely that mobbing is under way.

As Joan Friedenberg eloquently notes in The Anatomy of an Academic Mobbing, the toll taken is excessive.  Building on a long history of both analysis and neglect in academia, Workplace is interested in a range of scholarship on this practice, including theoretical frameworks, legal analyses, resistance narratives, reports from the trenches, and labor policy reviews.  We invite manuscripts that address, among other foci:

  • Effects of academic mobbing
  • History of academic mobbing
  • Sociology and ethnography of the practices of an academic mob
  • Social psychology of the academic mob leader or boss
  • Academic mobbing factions (facts & fictions) or short stories
  • Legal defense for academic mob victims and threats (e.g., Protectable political affiliation, race, religion)
  • Gender norms of an academic mob
  • Neo-McCarthyism and academic mobbing
  • Your story…

Contributions for Workplace should be 4000-6000 words in length and should conform to APA, Chicago, or MLA style.

FINAL Date for Papers: May 30, 2014

CFP: Educate, Agitate, Organize! Teacher Resistance Against Neoliberal Reforms (Special Issue of Workplace)

Educate, Agitate, Organize! Teacher Resistance Against Neoliberal Reforms

Call for Papers

Special Issue
Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor

Guest Editors:
Mark Stern, Colgate University
Amy Brown, University of Pennsylvania
Khuram Hussain, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

I can tell you with confidence, one year later [from the Measure of Progress test boycott in Seattle schools], I know where our actions will lead: to the formation of a truly mass civil rights movement composed of parents, teachers, educational support staff, students, administrators, and community members who want to end high-stakes standardized testing and reclaim public education from corporate reformers.—Jesse Hagopian, History Teacher and Black Student Union Adviser at Garfield High School, Seattle

As many of us have documented in our scholarly work, the past five years have witnessed a full-fledged attack on public school teachers and their unions. With backing from Wall Street and venture philanthropists, the public imaginary has been saturated with images and rhetoric decrying teachers as the impediments to ‘real’ change in K-12 education. Docu-dramas like Waiting For ‘Superman,’ news stories like Steve Brill’s, “The Teachers’ Unions’ Last Stand,” in The New York Times Magazineand high profile rhetoric like Michelle Rhee’s mantra that students, not adults, need to be “put first” in education reform, all point to this reality: teachers face an orchestrated, billion dollar assault on their professional status, their knowledge, and their abilities to facilitate dialogical spaces in classrooms. This assault has materialized and been compounded by an austerity environment that is characterized by waning federal support and a narrow corporate agenda. Tens of thousands of teachers have suffered job loss, while thousands more fear the same.

Far from being silent, teachers are putting up a fight. From the strike in Chicago, to grassroots mobilizing to wrest control of the United Federation of Teachers in New York, to public messaging campaigns in Philadelphia, from boycotts in Seattle to job action and strikes in British Columbia, teachers and their local allies are organizing, agitating and confronting school reform in the name of saving public education. In collaboration with parents, community activists, school staff, students, and administrators, teacher are naming various structures of oppression and working to reclaim the conversation and restore a sense of self-determination to their personal, professional, and civic lives.

This special issue of Workplace calls for proposals to document the resistance of teachers in the United States, Canada, and globally. Though much has been written about the plight of teachers under neoliberal draconianism, the reparative scholarship on teachers’ educating, organizing, and agitating is less abundant. This special issue is solely dedicated to mapping instances of resistance in hopes of serving as both resource and inspiration for the growing movement.

This issue will have three sections, with three different formats for scholarship/media. Examples might include:

I. Critical Research Papers (4000-6000 words)

  • Qualitative/ethnographic work documenting the process of teachers coming to critical consciousness.
  • Critical historiographies linking trajectories of political activism of teachers/unions across time and place.
  • Documenting and theorizing teacher praxis—protests, community education campaigns, critical agency in the classroom.
  • Critical examinations of how teachers, in specific locales, are drawing on and enacting critical theories of resistance (Feminist, Politics of Love/Caring/Cariño, Black Radical Traditions, Mother’s Movements, and so on).

II. Portraits of Resistance

  • Autobiographical sketches from the ground. (~2000 words)
  • Alternative/Artistic representations/Documentations of Refusal (poetry, visual art, photography, soundscapes)

III. Analysis and Synthesis of Various Media

  • Critical book, blog, art, periodical, music, movie reviews. (1500-2000 words)

400-word abstracts should be sent to Mark Stern (mstern@colgate.edu) by May 15, 2014. Please include name, affiliation, and a very brief (3-4 sentences) professional biography.

Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by June 15. Final drafts will be due October 1, 2014. Please note that having your proposal accepted does not guarantee publication. All final drafts will go through peer-review process. Authors will be notified of acceptance for publication by November 1.

Please direct all questions to Mark Stern (mstern@colgate.edu).

#BCed negotiator confirms BC #Liberals bargained in bad faith with teachers #bcpoli #ubc # yteubc #ubced

Katie Hyslop, The Tyee, March 6, 2014– In a letter to the editor sent to the Creston Valley Advance on March 5, Melanie Joy, a trustee for the Kootenay Lake School District and former chair of the BC Public School Employers Association, said the provincial government bargained in bad faith during the 2011-12 teacher collective agreement negotiations.

Joy, who chaired the negotiating team charged with reaching a deal with the teachers union from 2011 to 2013, said she appreciates current Education Minister Peter Fassbender was not involved in negotiations at the time, but said his assertions that government was fully committed to bargaining a collective agreement with the union are “inconsistent with my experience.”

“By my firsthand recollection, government tactics concerning the Bill 28 reconciliation sessions, and collective bargaining between the BCTF and BCPSEA, were accurately described in Justice Griffin’s BC Supreme Court ruling when she concluded, “Government thought that a teachers strike would give the government a political advantage in imposing legislation that the public might otherwise not support.

This strategy was pursued, in part, by the restrictive bargaining mandate set by government in addition to the net-zero monetary directive. No other part of the public sector was asked to seek so many concessions from a union with no increase in compensation.”

In 2012, the provincial government introduced the Education Improvement Act, which prevented teachers from negotiating class size and composition limits until after an agreement had been signed, instead setting government’s own class size limits. It also installed a mediator — Charles Jago, a BC Liberal Party donor and author of a 2006 BC Progress Board report that said the province’s education system was “constrained by legislated processes and provisions as well as by labour agreements” — to help reach an agreement between the teachers’ union and its employers.

Joy said the employers’ association and Jago tried their best, and succeeded, in reaching a negotiated deal. But government was disappointed with the effort.

“Although the negotiated agreement met the monetary mandate, government representatives informed us of their dissatisfaction with the agreement, including the lost opportunity, now identified in the recent judgment, to “impose concessions which advance education initiatives” through legislation triggered by the failure of collective bargaining.”

Minister Fassbender’s public statements about wanting to reach a long-term negotiated collective agreement in the current round of bargaining is undermined by government’s actions in this area, said Joy, referring specifically to government’s replacement of the employers’ association’s negotiating team this past summer with one government negotiator.

“Despite how pleased the minister now claims to be with the negotiated agreement, the facts that this government 1) moved swiftly after the election to replace elected school trustees on the [association’s] board with its own public administrator, 2) appoint a government negotiator in the midstream of current [union] bargaining, and 3) replace the senior staff at [the association], tell a very different story.”

Given the ongoing teachers strike action vote, Joy concluded her letter by advising the government to heed Justice Susan Griffin’s recent decision on the unconstitutionality of the Education Improvement Act.

“In the future, it might be wise to follow Griffin’s reflection that perhaps, “This affirms the wisdom of the Korbin labour relations model: government is removed from the direct bargaining relationship with public sector employees and bargaining takes place with the employer association, which has a more direct interest in reaching agreement.”

Read her entire letter here. Results of the union’s strike action vote will be announced at a BC Teachers’ Federation press conference tonight at 9:30 p.m.

Read More: The Tyee

#BCed teachers overwhelmingly approve strike vote #bcpoli #ubc #ubced #yteubc #edstudies

BCTF News Release, March 6, 2014– A total of 26,051 teachers voted yes in a province-wide vote conducted March 4–6, 2014. In all, 29,301 teachers cast ballots, of whom 89% voted yes.

“With this vote, BC teachers have sent a very clear message to the BC government; it’s time to negotiate in good faith, take back the unreasonable proposals, and offer teachers a fair deal that also provides better support for students,” BCTF President Jim Iker said.

In releasing the results, Iker stressed that there is no immediate action planned. “There will be no job action tomorrow, there will be no job action next week,” Iker said. “Teachers now have 90 days to activate the strike vote with some sort of action. There is no set timing for when we will begin. It will depend entirely on what is happening at the negotiating table and whether or not the government and employers’ association are prepared to be fair and reasonable.

“BC teachers are committed to negotiating a deal at the table. That is our goal. The vote is about putting pressure on both sides to get an agreement. We will work very hard to get that negotiated settlement without any job action. A strike vote is a normal process in labour relations and helps apply pressure to both parties during negotiations.”

If job action becomes necessary, Iker outlined that it will occur in stages, but any initial action will not:

  • include immediate school closures or disruption for students
  • ask teachers to stop participating in extracurricular activities
  • affect report cards or communication with parents.

Any initial job action will be administrative in nature and have no impact on student learning. If, at some point talks stall or government does not move on key areas, that initial job action could escalate into rotating strikes. Once again, it depends on events at the negotiating table. There will be no full-scale walk out as a result of this vote. Such action would require another province-wide vote of the BCTF membership.

“Teachers voted so overwhelmingly in favour because the government has tabled unfair and unreasonable proposals that would undo the class size, class composition, and specialist teacher staffing levels we just won back in a BC Supreme Court Ruling,” said Iker. “The employer’s salary offer is also less than what was given to other public sector workers and ignores how far BC teachers have fallen behind their colleagues across Canada.”

Day of action or general strike in BC? #bced #bcpoli #bcfed #ubc #bced #yteubc

Consistently for well over a decade the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has stepped up for labour leadership, and thereby opened opportunities for every worker in the province. This has meant taking hard stands at the bargaining table, strike votes, job action, and strikes. At each moment this meant giving time and giving up wages so that other and future workers benefit. At each and every step the BC Federation of Labour (BCFED) was there with the BCTF, sitting, standing, and walking beside the teachers. This time is no different as the teachers stand up once again this week to take a strike vote against unfair labour practices.

Make no mistake, a month after a BC Supreme Court finding of the BC Liberals’ underhanded and unfair labour practices, this is a no confidence vote in the Ministers of education and labour if not the government itself. Nearly a decade since mobilizing workers into a general strike capacity in the province, it may be time once again for the BCFED to mobilize a Day of Action. More than 1993 and 1994 or 2004 and 2005, worker and student discontent in BC is boiling over. The BCTF is once again adopting a leadership role and we can expect the BCFED and workers in the province to share in this current stand against unfair labour practices.

#BCed teachers taking strike vote #bcpoli #ubced #ubc #yteubc #edstudies

BCTF, March 4, 2014–After a full year of bargaining and more than 40 sessions at the table, BC teachers have called for a strike vote to push back against major concession demands, an unfair salary offer, and a deliberately confrontational attempt to reverse the recent BC Supreme Court decision on class size, composition, and staffing levels, said BCTF President Jim Iker.

“Teachers care deeply about our schools, our students, and our communities. We don’t take a strike vote lightly,” said Iker. “However, this government seems incapable or unwilling to let the BC Public School Employers’ Association negotiate fairly with teachers. Christy Clark, her government, and BCPSEA are insisting on rollbacks, freezing wages, and ignoring the Supreme Court of British Columbia.”

Iker said he was incredibly disappointed and frustrated as teachers have worked hard this round to create a sense of calm and purpose at the bargaining table. While the last round was dominated by government acting in bad faith, this time teachers were hopeful that new players and a new framework agreement would help both parties reach a fair and reasonable deal….

On the call for today’s strike vote, BCTF President Jim Iker said: “For teachers, our only recourse in response to the unfair, unreasonable, and deliberately confrontational proposals at this point is to apply pressure through a strike vote. Such a vote, however, does not mean imminent school closures.  We will consider all job action options and timing very carefully. Our goal is to reach a negotiated deal at the bargaining table without having to resort to job action.”

Once a strike vote is taken, a union has 90 days to activate it with some sort of job action.

The BCTF strike vote will take place on March 4, 5, and 6, 2014.  Results will be announced on the evening of March 6.

Job action, if needed, will occur in stages, but any initial action will not:

  • include immediate school closures or disruption for students.
  • stop teachers from participating in extracurricular activities.
  • affect report cards or communication with parents.

Any escalation of job action will depend on progress at the negotiating table.

BC teachers’ resolve unmoved as gov dumps more $ into court #bced #bced #ubc #yteubc

British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, January 27, 2014: An historic day for public education and labour rights in BC. The BC Supreme Court reaffirmed that provincial legislation limiting teachers’ bargaining rights is unconstitutional, restored collective agreement provisions stripped in 2002, and ordered the province to pay $2 million in damages plus court costs.

The Court’s Judgment indicates the depths to which the BC Liberals descended in undermining collective bargaining in the province:

  • The freedom of workers to associate has long been recognized internationally and in Canada as an important aspect of a fair and democratic society. Collective action by workers helps protect individuals from unfairness in one of the most fundamental aspects of their lives, their employment. [Summary, p.2]
  • The Court has concluded that the government did not negotiate in good faith with the union after the Bill 28 Decision. One of the problems was that the government representatives were pre-occupied by another strategy. Their strategy was to put such pressure on the union that it would provoke a strike by the union. The government representatives thought this would give government the opportunity to gain political support for imposing legislation on the union. [Summary, p. 3]
  • When legislation is struck down as unconstitutional, it means it was never valid, from the date of its enactment. This means that the legislatively deleted terms in the teachers’ collective agreement have been restored retroactively and can also be the subject of future bargaining. [Summary, p.4]
  • Collective bargaining was seen as fulfilling an important social purpose, by providing a means to promote the common well-being. Collective bargaining is a means of providing equality in the workplace, diminishing the arbitrary power of the employer and allowing workers a means to protect themselves from unfair or unsafe work conditions. [para. 46]
  • Just as it is hard to imagine a law that is otherwise an interference with a Charter right being found not to interfere because of pre-legislative consultation, it is even harder to imagine a situation where legislation is found to be unconstitutional as amounting to substantial interference with s. 2(d) rights, but then this unconstitutionality could be “cured” by the government “consulting” with the union after the fact of the legislation. This is essentially the unusual position the government takes in this case. [para. 91]
  • As a matter of principle I am of the view that it would be rare that the government could rely on its “consultation” conduct after the fact of legislation declared invalid based on its breach of a s. 2(d) Charter right, to cure the unconstitutionality of the legislation, and to then pass virtually identical legislation. Such a process would encourage state actors to ignore s. 2(d) rights with impunity as there would be no practical consequences for a breach. [para. 92]
  • But since the government insisted on starting from an extreme position, linking the two aspects of the unconstitutional legislation together, and insisting that all that was needed to fix the unconstitutional legislation was government consultation, the BCTF response position was rather predictable. If one side starts from an extreme position, it should not be surprised if the other side does not immediately compromise all that is important to it. [para. 356]
  • From before collective bargaining began in 2011, the government expected that the round of collective bargaining would likely fail to result in an agreement between the BCTF and BCPSEA. This is because the collective bargaining mandates government had issued to BCPSEA, combined with a continued prohibition on negotiation Working Conditions, were predicted by the government to be so unacceptable to the BCTF.[para. 380] The government thus expected from even before collective bargaining began in March 2011 that it would lead to the BCTF calling a strike. [para. 381]
  • The government saw that the failure of the two negotiating tables could be a useful political opportunity for it. As early as June 2011, the government was considering a strategy of a combined legislative response to an expected teachers’ strike and to Bill 28. [para. 383]
  • The government thought that a teachers strike would give the government a political advantage in imposing legislation that the public might otherwise not support. It felt that the timing of legislation to deal with a teachers strike and failure of collective bargaining could fit conveniently with the timing of legislation to address the Bill 28 Decision repercussions. The government planned its strategy accordingly so that it could have one legislative initiative at the end of the one year suspension granted in the Bill 28 Decision.[para. 384]
  • Rather than taking full strike action, instead the teachers withdrew some administrative, non-essential services, such as preparing report cards. Teachers continued to provide all teaching and classroom services. [para. 385]. When a full strike did not materialize, so important was a strike to the government strategy that in September 2011, Mr. Straszak planned a government strategy of increasing the pressure on the union so as to provoke a strike. [para. 386]

Academic job market decimated, crashing #highered #edstudies #criticaled #caut #aaup #bced #bcpoli

Oftentimes, the academic job market for full-time (FT) faculty is inversely related to economic recessions. Not anymore. In this prolonged Great Recession, turned Great Depression II in parts of North America and across the world, youth have been particularly hard hit, more pronounced by race. The most common description for this current economy for youth is “a precipitous decline in employment and a corresponding increase in unemployment.” In Canada and the US, unemployment rates for the 16-19 year olds exceed 25%. At the same time, one of the most common descriptions for postsecondary enrollment and participation in Canada and the US is “tremendous growth at the undergraduate level… the number of graduate students has grown significantly faster than the number of undergraduate students over the last 30 years.” With “school-to-work” and “youth employment” oxymoronic, corporate academia and the education industry are capitalizing on masses of students returning to desperately secure advanced credentials in hard times, but no longer does this matter to the professoriate.

If higher education enrollment has been significant, increases in online or e-learning enrollment have been phenomenal. Postsecondary institutions in North America commonly realized 100% increases in online course enrollment from the early 2000s to the present with the percentage of total registrations increasing to 25% for some universities. In Canada, this translates to about 250,000 postsecondary students currently taking online courses but has not translated into FT faculty appointments. More pointedly, it has eroded the FT faculty job market and fueled the part-time (PT) job economy of higher education. About 50% of all faculty in North America are PT but this seems to jump to about 85%-90% for those teaching online courses. For example, in the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Master of Educational Technology (MET), where there are nearly 1,000 registrations per year, 85% of all sections are taught by PT faculty. In its decade of existence, not a single FT faculty member has been hired for this revenue generating program. Mirroring trends across North America, support staff doubling as adjunct or sessional teach about 45% of MET courses in addition to their 8:30-4:30 job functions in the service units. These indicators are of a larger scope of trends in the automation of intellectual work.

Given these practices across Canada, in the field of Education for example, there has been a precipitous decline in employment of FT faculty, which corresponds with the precipitous decline in employment of youth (Figure 1). Education is fairly reflective of the overall academic job market for doctorates in Canada. Except for short-term trends in certain disciplines, the market for PhDs is bleak. Trends and an expansion of the Great Recession predict that the market will worsen for graduates looking for FT academic jobs in all disciplines. A postdoctoral appointment market is very unlikely to materialize at any scale to offset trends. For instance, Education at UBC currently employs just a handful (i.e., 4-5) of postdocs.

To put it in mild, simple terms: Universities changed their priorities and values by devaluing academic budget lines. Now in inverse relationship to the increases in revenue realized by universities through the 2000s, academic budgets were progressively reduced from 40% or more to just around 20% for many of these institutions. One indicator of this trend is the expansion of adjunct labor or PT academics. In some colleges or faculties, such as Education at UBC, the number of PT faculty, which approached twice that of FT in 2008, teach from 33% to 85% of all sections, depending on the program.

Another indicator is the displacement of tenure track research faculty by non-tenure track, teaching-intensive positions. For example, in Education at UBC, about 18 of the last 25 FT faculty hires were for non-tenure track teaching-intensive positions (i.e., 10 courses per year for Instructor, Lecturer, etc.). This was partially to offset a trend of PT faculty hires pushing Education well over its faculty salary budget (e.g., 240 PT appointments in 2008). Measures in North America have been so draconian that the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) was compelled to report in 2010 that “the tenure system has all but collapsed…. the proportion of teaching-intensive to research-intensive appointments has risen sharply. However, the majority of teaching-intensive positions have been shunted outside of the tenure system.” What is faculty governance, other than an oligarchy, with a handful of faculty governing or to govern?

Read More: Petrina, S. & Ross, E. W. (2014). Critical University Studies: Workplace, Milestones, Crossroads, Respect, TruthWorkplace, 23, 62-71.

Equity, Governance, Economics and Critical University Studies #criticaled #edstudies #ubc #ubced #bced #yteubc

Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor
Equity, Governance, Economics and Critical University Studies
No 23 (2014)

As we state in our Commentary, “This Issue marks a couple of milestones and crossroads for Workplace. We are celebrating fifteen years of dynamic, insightful, if not inciting, critical university studies (CUS). Perhaps more than anything, and perhaps closer to the ground than any CUS publication of this era, Workplace documents changes, crossroads, and the hard won struggles to maintain academic dignity, freedom, justice, and integrity in this volatile occupation we call higher education.” Workplace and Critical Education are published by the Institute for Critical Education Studies (ICES).

Commentary

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

Articles

  • Differences in Black Faculty Rank in 4-Year Texas Public Universities: A Multi-Year Analysis
    • Brandolyn E Jones & John R Slate
  • Academic Work Revised: From Dichotomies to a Typology
    • Elias Pekkola
  • No Free Set of Steak Knives: One Long, Unfinished Struggle to Build Education College Faculty Governance
    • Ishmael Munene & Guy B Senese
  • Year One as an Education Activist
    • Shaun Johnson
  • Rethinking Economics Education: Challenges and Opportunities
    • Sandra Ximena Delgado-Betancourth
  • Review of Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think
    • C. A. Bowers

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

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

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

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

In 2013, the BC government cannot claim to be ignorant of the abundant evidence of the harm done to children’s health and development by growing up in poverty, nor of the huge additional costs in health care, education, the justice system and lost productivity we are already paying by keeping poverty rates so high.

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

BC school district adopts anti-homophobia policy #bcpoli #bced #yteubc #ubced

About a third of all BC school districts have a similar policy in place

Renee Bernard, News1130, November 15, 2013– The largest school district in the province will become the latest to adopt an anti-homophobia policy.

Surrey school board trustees have voted unanimously to embrace the new anti-discrimination code.

Gioia Breda of the Surrey Teachers Association worked on the document and says it’s an important philosophical statement to support students facing homophobic bullying.

“You can compare students who experience racism, for example. When they go home, those students have parents who are often supportive and sympathize, whereas LGBTQ youth may not have come out to their parents,” she explains.

She calls it a pro-active code.

“It offers a positive and inclusive curriculum, more sexual health education for LGBTQ youth, and education for administrators, staff and counsellors about LGBTQ issues.”

She says the policy is designed to protect both students and staff.

Just over a decade ago, the school board made national headlines in its fight to ban books featuring same-sex couples, a policy it eventually changed.

The board’s anti-bullying code was adopted with relative ease, compared to the situation in Burnaby a few years ago, when that school board encountered protests from parents.

About a third of all BC school districts have anti-homophobic bullying policies in place.

Read More: News1130

BCPSEA backs down on free expression dispute with teachers / BCTF #bced #yteubc

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

The New Academic Labor Market and Graduate Students: new issue of Workplace #occupyeducation #bced #yteubc

The Institute for Critical Education Studies (ICES) is extremely pleased to announce the launch of Workplace Issue #22, “The New Academic Labor Market and Graduate Students” (Guest Editors Bradley J. Porfilio, Julie A. Gorlewski & Shelley Pineo-Jensen).

 The New Academic Labor Market and Graduate Students

Articles:

  • The New Academic Labor Market and Graduate Students: Introduction to the Special Issue (Brad Porfilio, Julie Gorlewski, Shelley Pineo-Jensen)
  • Dismissing Academic Surplus: How Discursive Support for the Neoliberal Self Silences New Faculty (Julie Gorlewski)
  • Academia and the American Worker: Right to Work in an Era of Disaster Capitalism? (Paul Thomas)
  • Survival Guide Advice and the Spirit of Academic Entrepreneurship: Why Graduate Students Will Never Just Take Your Word for It (Paul Cook)
  • Standing Against Future Contingency: Activist Mentoring in Composition Studies (Casie Fedukovich)
  • From the New Deal to the Raw Deal: 21st Century Poetics and Academic Labor (Virginia Konchan)
  • How to Survive a Graduate Career (Roger Whitson)
  • In Every Way I’m Hustlin’: The Post-Graduate School Intersectional Experiences of Activist-Oriented Adjunct and Independent Scholars (Naomi Reed, Amy Brown)
  • Ivory Tower Graduates in the Red: The Role of Debt in Higher Education (Nicholas Hartlep, Lucille T. Eckrich)
  • Lines of Flight: the New Ph.D. as Migrant (Alvin Cheng-Hin Lim)

The scope and depth of scholarship within this Special Issue has direct and immediate relevance for graduate students and new and senior scholars alike. We encourage you to review the Table of Contents and articles of interest.

Our blogs and links to our Facebook timelines and Twitter stream can be found at http://blogs.ubc.ca/workplace/ and http://blogs.ubc.ca/ices/

Thank you for your ongoing support of Workplace,

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

Quebec teachers’ group calls Charter of Values extremist #bced

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

CUPE BC launches ad campaign to avert strike in public schools #bcpoli

CUPE BC, August 25, 2013– CUPE’s education workers [launched] a radio and television advertising campaign on Monday focused on building support for the union members’ work to keep BC’s schools clean, safe, and inclusive.

“We’ve made every effort to bargain a fair and reasonable settlement with the employers, but their lack of preparation is threatening to disrupt classes this fall,” said Mark Hancock, CUPE-BC President.

CUPE education workers’ collective agreements throughout the province expired over a year ago. Previous negotiations in spring 2013 were derailed when it became clear that government had not given the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) a mandate to reach a settlement.

BCPSEA is now directly controlled by the BC government, but it was not prepared for the latest round of bargaining in August when talks broke off for a third time.

“If the government doesn’t show a commitment to bargaining, our members will take full-scale job action,” said Colin Pawson, Chair of the BC K-12 Presidents’ Council. “They’re frustrated that we’ve had three false starts to negotiating, and the clock is ticking.”

It has been more than four years since the education assistants, clerical staff, trades, custodians, bus drivers and other education workers represented by CUPE have received a wage increase. Virtually all of the 57 CUPE locals representing education workers have had positive strike votes.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents more than 27,000 education BC workers in the K-12 system.

Listen to the radio ad here.
View the TV ad here.

See more at: http://www.cupe.bc.ca/news/3148#sthash.Z5mNdsd2.dpuf

CUPE BC education workers’ strike mandate set

CUPE BC, July 10, 2013– After the first week of summer vacation for students, education workers across the province are resolved to make sure BC schools are clean, safe, and inclusive.  The 27,000 CUPE education workers have voted to strike in almost all of the 57 K-12 Locals, in 53 school districts.

Going without a wage increase since 2009, CUPE education workers remain hopeful for funded settlements that would see similar agreements as were achieved for other public sector employees.

“CUPE education workers want a fair settlement with the provincial government,” said Colin Pawson, President of CUPE Local 1091 in Delta and Chair of the CUPE BC K-12 Presidents’ Council. “Without any adjustment of wages for more than 4 years, it is time the people who keep our children’s schools working are respected.”

Both CUPE K-12 Locals and school boards agree that needs of students must be at the forefront of negotiations. This sentiment had been clearly expressed by school boards early this year and is now being reaffirmed to the new Minister of Education, Peter Fassbender.

Most recently, School District 33 in Chilliwack expressed “grave concerns” to the Minister that for the BC Government to realize long-term labour peace “the best interest of students and the implementation flexibility of Boards may be marginalized.”

“We further urge your Ministry to provide funding for a reasonable increase for our CUPE staff and any wage changes considered for our teaching staff in this round of bargaining,” said Chilliwack School District Chair Walt Krahn and Vice Chair Silvia Dyck in a letter to the Minister.

“Any agreement is only successful if all sides have been considered and the delivery of public education can continue to meet the needs in the most cost effective manner,” the letter stated.

CUPE education workers include education assistants, clerical staff, trades, aboriginal workers, youth and family workers, custodians, and bus drivers.