A Refreshing Take On Corporate Sports

Teach 2010: alternatives to mindless corporate culture

This is a collaborative website for teachers to post and find resources for teaching the 2010 Winter Olympics from a critical perspective. If you have a lesson plan idea, upcoming events listings or links to articles or organizations please send us an email at contact@teach2010.org.

This website is also being developed in collaboration with the Teaching 2010 Resistance project, which has developed a critically-minded Olympics workshop for students. This workshop is being presented in schools throughout Greater Vancouver beginning in October 2009.

Is Oprah Dangerous?

Columbia University professor, Herve Varenne, wonder’s about the pedagogic and health effects of Oprah.  In a world in which ‘experts’ are often derided, criticized, or just plain ignored, Varenne’s comments are a healthy inoculation to the reign of ‘common sense.’

In an earlier post, I asked a question, with a tongue in my cheek: “how could we tame Oprah?” I did not specifying who ‘we’ are, on what grounds ‘we” should try to tame her, and whether taming Oprah (and others like her) is something that could be done. After all, they are wonderfully extra-Vagant (as Boon, 1999, might put it) and likely to escape most forms of social control.

I leave the questions open for the moment in order to expand the puzzle triggered by a critique of the advice Oprah dispenses on matters like vaccination. There is every evidence that, from the ‘official’ public health point of view, her shows can be dangerous, particularly when she discusses vaccination. She may endanger the health of individual children not getting vaccinated, as well as the health of the public as these children get sick and may sicken others. At least this is what us, sober headed experts in public health as driven by medical research, might say (and have said). As a highly schooled expert myself, and someone who generally accepts what other experts tell me, I am uncomfortable at any challenge to my expertise, particularly when it comes from someone as powerful as Oprah. But I am not writing her to complain. I continue here to puzzle.

Read here for the rest of the item: “on taming the ignorant powerful …”  From: On anthropology, education, culture, and more …

Racism and Aborignal Education in BC

The recent issue of the BCTF Teacher published a refreshing, if hard hitting, look at aboriginal education and what might be the core factors impeding success.  Former northern BC teacher, Deb  McIntyre has this to say on the subject:

It is no secret that our Aboriginal students trail behind their non-Aboriginal peers in school achievement. The grim facts show up in standardized test scores, school completion rates and overall emotional satisfaction. (Aboriginal Report 2003–04 —2007–08 How are we doing? www.bced.gov.bc.ca/abed/performance.htm) Typically, a lot of blame gets tossed about. The more liberal excuses tend to blame the conditions of poverty. I have heard other teachers suggest poor parenting is involved. Some complain about an essential lack of inner motivation. We even blame the media for promoting “gangsta” lifestyles over scholarly pursuits. I would like to offer a radically different perspective. What if the problem is really a symptom of something that nobody wants to talk about; what if our educational system was inherently racist?

Read the full story here: “A different look at the problem of Aboriginal student achievement”

Olympic Cop Part of APEC ’97 Pepper Spay Brigade

The Tyee — Bud Mercer, the Olympics’ Top Cop

He was on the frontlines of some of B.C.’s most notorious moments of civil unrest, and now the security of the 2010 Olympic Games — and the nation’s reputation for peace, order and good government — may well rest on the decisions he makes if tensions arise during the games. Geoff Dembicki of The Tyee and Bob Mackin of 24 Hours Vancouver collaborate on an in-depth four-part series looking at Mercer’s controversial past, and present responsibilities.

When is small small enough to close a school?

When is small, too small?  When does preserving small schools start to equal undermining medium to large size schools?  Irrespective of the merits of having pleasant small, neighbourhood schools where your children and one or two of her/his best friends attend, what are the demerits of keeping schools open.  Small school struggles in Vancouver, as opposed to small-school struggles in rural areas, seem to be about preserving boutique experiences for parents able and willing to spend the time to campaign and lobby.  In her education blog for the Vancouver Courier, Naoibh O’Conner talks about the Garabaldi Annex situation.  Charged with increasing enrolment to a minimum of 77 from 41, the school has achieved 58 students in two years of work.

The future of the Garibaldi annex is up for debate again.

The East Side kindergarten to Grade 4 school at 1025 Slocan St. faced closure in 2008 because of its dwindling student population, which stood at 41 that year. It has room for 165 students.

Parents rallied to save the elementary, arguing the prospect of closure was scaring families away from registering.

The Vancouver School Board agreed to keep it open until September 2010 if it attracted at least 36 more students. In September 2008, enrolment grew from 41 to 49, then to 58 in 2009. That’s still short of the 77 students needed to meet the school board’s expectation.

The cost of keeping its doors open is $114,742, according to school board staff. Read the full comment here: Class Notes: Closing time?

Former BCCPAC Powerhouse Found Guilty of Fraud

Reggi Balabanov didn’t mince words when she went up against opponents during the early years of the Campbell administration. Facing off against parents who saw what the provincial Liberal government’s cuts to education would do, Balabanov found it more useful to cultivate a political alliance with then education Minister Christy Clark.

Reggi Balabanov sentenced for fraud – Report Card

Reggi Balabanov was once the most influential parent in B.C.’s public school system. She was president of the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) when Gordon Campbell’s Liberals came to power with the intention of giving parents a greater role in public schools. Balabanov formed a tight relationship with Campbell’s first education minister, Christy Clark, and had as much – if not more – access to the minister as other education partner groups.

Post Secondary Education Matters -vote wisely May 12th

New Post Secondary Education web site set up by Rob Clift (CUFA-BC)

BC Needs Universities

Every issue in the 2009 BC election is linked in some way to the province’s public universities. Whether it be training medical professionals, conducting research that results in new economic opportunities, or helping communities and individuals adapt to a changing world, public universities are part of the solution.

We invite you to use this website to learn more about how BC’s public universities affect all aspects of our lives and to use that knowledge to help you decide how to cast your vote on May 12th.

U Hill Schools to be Rebuilt -finally!

Late Friday afternoon, a month after Ministry of Education staff put the U Hill rebuilding plan on hold, Liberal MLA Colin Hansen announced a major infrastructure program for Vancouver School Board that includes rebuilding U Hill Secondary and constructing a new elementary school.

We are all appreciative of this announcement. It’s been a long time coming. We look forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting to the hard work of designing and building our renewed community schools.

As members of the current Parents Advisory Council we want to say a very special and loud thank you to the many parents past and present who have lobbied, argued, emailed, discussed, pushed, prayed, begged, pleaded, and just plain believed that someday our children and our community’s needs would be responded to. We want to also thank school administrators, like former U Hill principal Jill Philipchuk, who worked with parents, staff, and senior administrators to keep the pressure on. It is also important to recognize the work of current and former school board trustees who worked hard on this issue: Kevin Milsip and Alan Wong (COPE), Carol Gibson and Ken Denike (NPA), and more recently former DPAC and PAC activist and current Board Chair, Patti Bacchus (Vision). Without the combined effort of politicians, administrators, staff, and parents the results of our education system would be much poorer.

We must, however, remember that this is a problem that we have all known about for close to a decade. There have been plans and approvals and pauses all along the way. Several cohorts of parent volunteers have grown tired trying to explain over and over again that schools are needed. We hope that for the future whom ever is in provincial office will change the way in which schools are planned and built so that real needs are met when they exist, not years after they have shifted from minor headache to major problem.

Ron Broda, BCCPAC President Takes Leave of Absence

Dear Members;

As many of you know, there have been a number of very unfortunate developments lately. The fact is that the current Board is divided. The Board will change at our AGM in May and the new Board will be starting with a clean slate. You, dear members, are responsible to do your own due diligence and elect candidates for the Board who truly have the best interest of students and BCCPAC at heart.

There are also long-standing issues that predate this and even the last two Boards. There is a plan in place to address these issues. It is the now complete Governance Audit and the implementation of its recommendations. That process needs to be slow, deliberate and well thought out.

The Governance Audit was initiated as a result of a series of member resolutions asking for changes.

This year we have begun the process of consulting with members, as identified in the Audit Report’s recommendations. Following those consultations, there will begin the process of writing a new Constitution and Bylaws document, also as identified in the audit’s recommendations. I urge members to attend the Governance Audit Member Input Sessions. Your input will help build a better BCCPAC.

In the last edition of Newsbytes you were informed that the Board’s next meeting will be a facilitated discussion, held to assist the Board in addressing current challenges. The announcement stated that Past President Howland and former 2nd Vice-President Tedrick had been invited to attend. They did not know about the invitation until after NewsBytes was published and are unable to attend. The meeting will include an independent mediator, as was always the intent.

Last year I made a very difficult decision to stand for election to this position. I had been on this Board for three years. I knew the challenges that I faced and the time commitment I was making. Frankly, the most logical decision for me personally would have been not to seek election, but I could not bring myself to walk away from this organization.

If the time I am spending devoted to BCCPAC was dealing with our true purposes, I would be very satisfied and invigorated, as the achievements that we have made have sustained me to this point; however, I am spending far too much of my time attempting to put out unnecessary fires.

I have decided to take a step back for a while. I will be reassessing the role I have in BCCPAC’s future. I will also be doing some deep strategic thinking about developing an effective plan to improve this organization.

I am taking a temporary leave beginning today. I have not yet determined how long that leave will be. I will be back well before the AGM. During my leave 1st Vice President Ann Whiteaker will assume my duties as identified in BCCPAC’s Constitution and Bylaws.

Hoping to return for the future for ALL of our children.

Ron Broda, President & CEO