Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
A Surrey school official hit the jackpot last year with a record amount of compensation in the B.C. public education sector.
Brian Bastien, a former associate superintendent in the Surrey school district, received total compensation worth $614,382 in 2009-10 -- more than twice that given to Surrey superintendent Mike McKay and three times the average compensation for school superintendents elsewhere in the province.
Bastien's base salary was $117,095 but he also received $486,650 in "vehicle allowance, unused vacation, retiring allowance and severance payout," according to a statement filed by the district and posted this month -- along with similar reports from all B.C. school districts -- on a government website. There was also a pension contribution of $9,637 and another $1,000 unaccounted for.Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Surrey+school+district+official+gets+record+compensation/4031849/story.html#ixzz19T9NM7zq
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Following is the Mount Arrowsmith Teachers' Association's Christmas wish list, from president Jill McCaffery.
On behalf of the Mount Arrowsmith Teachers' Association we would like the wish the Board of School Trustees a very Happy Holiday and all the best for 2011.
1. We wish that trustees will join with teachers, support staff, parents and the public to advocate for full funding for public education whichever Grinch (I mean government) is in power.
3. Special education teachers wish they could spend as much time helping students as they spend doing paperwork.2. We wish that trustees now and in the future will recognize that school closures don't benefit students and take the heart out of a community.
4. Classroom teachers wish they could have more support to help meet the diverse needs in their classrooms.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
The president of the local teachers’ union is upset with allegations made against the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) in a recently released report.
Last week, provincially appointed reviewer Don Avison — a graduate of Kamloops High and a TRU alumnus — issued a report into the B.C. College of Teachers, saying the college works mainly to protect teachers’ interests and is effectively controlled by the BCTF.
Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association president Jason Karpuk said the report is tantamount to fear-mongering.
“I think it’s a report that’s sort of a conclusion in search of evidence,” he said.
To view the rest of the article, click here.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
"The report, The Children Left Behind, compares 24 of the world’s wealthiest countries for three indicators: material inequality, education inequality and health inequality. Why look at inequality among children? The report states:
The idea that inequality is justified as a reflection of differences in merit cannot reasonably be applied to children. Few would deny that children’s early circumstances are beyond their own control. Or that those early circumstances have a profound effect on those present lives and future prospects. Or that growing up in poverty incurs a substantially higher risk of lower standards of health, reduced cognitive development, of under achievement at school, of lower skills and aspirations and eventually of lower adult earnings, so helping to perpetuate disadvantages from one generation to the next.
None of this is the child’s fault.
Canada is among the worst for income inequality for children but there is special relevance here for British Columbia?
Year after year, in good times and bad, BC continues to have the highest rate of child poverty in Canada. Some steps have been taken such as the Strong Start program and four year old kindergarten. But the most important problem – child poverty – has not been improved.
One specific recommendation in the report is to increase minimum wages, something that has not happened in BC in a decade. Several countries have taken this step. In the United Kingdom the 2010 report of the National Equity Panel argued:
The minimum wage is a powerful tool in reducing labour market inequality.
Here in BC it is not powerful enough. Even an increase to $10 will not be sufficient. What is needed is a living wage policy such as that which was introduced in New Westminster. What is needed is an anti poverty program which many provinces, but not BC, have adopted."
To view the rest of the article, click here.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Re: Former education minister George Abbott's Nov. 24 letter ('21st-century learning ‘successful, effective’):
It is most unfortunate that Abbott chose to criticize David Komljenovic, a Kamloops teacher and member of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation executive committee, for raising legitimate concerns that 21st-century learning is merely a guise for further privatization of our public-education system.
Many teachers across B.C. share his concerns, including the leaders of the BCTF.
Abbott’s letter implied the BCTF endorses the government’s vision of 21st-century learning and that Komljenovic was wrong to question it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We believe every idea or innovation must withstand scrutiny and critical review. In fact, Abbott’s sidestepping of the privatization threat makes us even more worried about the lack of transparency around this agenda for change.
The BCTF welcomes all opportunities to discuss positive change in our schools and, certainly, some of the changes proposed under the banner of 21st-century learning do seem positive.
To view the rest of the article, click here.
Monday, December 13, 2010
'Manufactured crisis': BCTF's Lambert
Lambert says the college has always been independent, and the idea there is a crisis was borne out of personal and political issues on behalf of Walker and Krieger, both former BCTF representatives on council.
"The allegations that the Federation interferes with self-regulation of individual teachers, the discipline of individual teachers, is absolutely and utterly false," she told The Tyee.
"It's a manufactured crisis and it has no credibility or no kind of grounds in any kind of polling we've ever done."
Lambert had hoped the report would focus solely on the workings of the council, but she feared it would touch on areas the college currently has no control over, particularly professional development courses, which the union currently delivers, fearing the college would make certain courses mandatory.
"If you're told that you must take whatever course of training, it's much different than if you are a reflective practitioner of inquiry and research into your own practice," she told The Tyee.
"If I am told to take a course in science teaching and I'm a teacher librarian, that's not going to have any relevance to me and that's going to be completely ineffective."
According to Avison's report, other professional colleges are actively involved in the monitoring of professional development of its membership, and it was part of the college's original responsibilities as designated by the province's legislative assembly. But the college rejected this responsibility from the beginning, and left the responsibility to the union to create and disseminate the development workshops.
Unlike professions such as lawyers and doctors, however, teachers are not self-employed and are required by their employers, the school boards, to participate in five unpaid professional development days per year.
To view the rest of the article, click here.
"It's part of your practice. Like when you say mandatory it sounds like a boss/slave relationship, it sounds really weird to me. We're a profession, we require that of ourselves," says Lambert.
Scholastic - Blog
Practical Leadership - Managing the daily decisions of a school administrator
December 13, 2010
Penny wise and pound foolish.
That’s the best way to describe the recent move among schools to save money by cutting school librarians and/or reducing funding for school libraries. The actions of school boards and administrators across the country shortchange our students and our society as well.
A school library in each and every school, staffed by a professional and certified librarian, is critical to the education of our students. We cannot expect to have an informed citizenry if we neglect to teach our students to think critically and evaluate the information that inundates them daily.
Significant and extensive research, led by Keith Curry Lance and his team, proves over and over that school libraries have significant impact on student achievement. More than sixty studies, beginning in Colorado and expanded to twenty-two other states, clearly document that school library expenditures are a key predictor of academic achievement, as measured by standardized tests scores. Other key predictors are the amount and level of library staffing, the size of the collection, and the time the school librarian spends in direct instruction.
The school library of the 21st century is not a book warehouse. It’s not confined between four walls and entered through a single door. Instead, it’s a portal to information, print and electronic, on site and off. It’s the specialized classroom that teaches skills for the adult world. Students learn to access information, critically evaluate it, and communicate it to others. They are introduced to books that excite them to become lifelong learners and readers. As Laurie Halse Anderson, renowned young adult author and spokesperson for the American Association of School Librarians, says, “ A school without a library is like a school without a roof.”
To view the rest of the blog post, click here.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
There are now four entries in the race for a Langley school board seat.
As of Thursday, four people had filed their nomination papers for the Jan. 15 byelection.
Former trustee Hattie Hogeterp was first off the mark. Now Vancouver City employee Brian Leonard of South Langley, former Wix-Brown Elementary PAC president Cecelia Reekie, and North Otter resident Ed Wood are in.
Nominations close at 4 p.m. on Dec. 11 (today).
Read more: http://www.langleyadvance.com/Four+board+byelection/3957289/story.html#ixzz17ko7NWn9
The BCTF is officially non-partisan and does not donate directly to any political organization, including the NDP. The federation does, however, conduct effective campaigns to support teaching and learning and funding to ensure that happens. In that we are equally non-partisan. It is called advocacy, Mr. Gilmour, not bullying. As a union of highly educated professionals who often use their "nice summer-long vacations" on further education to improve qualifications, which support the learning of students of this province, we are proud of that.
Anne Guthrie Warman, president,
Vancouver Secondary Teachers' Association
Read more: http://www.vancourier.com/travel/Teacher+union+doesn+bully+advocates/3957632/story.html#ixzz17k8cNvAA
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 8, 2010
Government report shocks, disappoints teachers
Teachers across BC are shocked and disappointed to read the report released by the Ministry of Education on the current state of the College of Teachers.
The report, entitled A College Divided and written by government appointee Don Avison, is highly biased and politicized, said Susan Lambert, president of the BC Teachers’ Federation. “It’s laced with unsubstantiated allegations and continues a sorry history of friction within the College of Teachers.” Lambert said that teachers have always been committed to rigorous criteria for the self-regulation of their profession and take their responsibilities for the safety and well-being of students extremely seriously.
“Teachers care about kids. That’s why we go into the profession, and that’s why we must do everything possible to ensure that the high standards parents and teachers expect can be upheld in our schools,” she said. Lambert pointed out that the report was sparked by erroneous allegations that the BCTF had been interfering unduly in discipline matters before the college; specifically allegations that 271 “person complaints” had not been properly addressed. In fact, as the report states, “many of these complaints had been reviewed by the registrar and had been found to be either beyond the council’s jurisdiction or not sufficient to warrant ‘further action’.”
Lambert said that: “In a meeting with BCTF leaders, Don Avison clearly and emphatically told us he found no evidence to support the allegation that the BCTF interfered with proper discipline processes.”
There’s a long and fractious history behind this report, including then Education Minister Christy Clark’s unilateral firing of the entire elected college council in 2003, replacing them with hand-picked government appointees. “Teachers are committed to maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and quality in our public schools. We did it before the college ever came into being, and we continue to be committed to this principle,” Lambert said.
The report outlines four possible options for the college: the status quo, a substantial reorganization, creation of a new teacher certification board, or it being subsumed into the Ministry of Education. The BCTF does not favour one option over another.
If the college were to be disbanded, there are critical functions that would have to be maintained: approving teacher education programs, issuing teaching certificates, dealing with disciplinary matters, and revoking the right to teach when warranted. Lambert said that the BCTF remains open to full discussions with all partners towards creating a culture of respectful decision-making on these difficult issues.
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For more information, contact Nancy Knickerbocker, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
“The first hour of debate on third reading of my [New Democratic Party MP Bill Siksay] private member's Bill C-389, giving equal protection for trans people under Canadian law will be on Dec 7 at about 5:30pm,” (UPDATE DEC 7: Siksay's latest update:"Consideration of the bill will start after some votes, which take place at 6:00pm Eastern.")
If passed, the bill will enshrine “gender identity” and “gender expression” in the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code legislation.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Students from Finland outperform peers in 43 other nations – including the United States, Germany and Japan – in mathematics, science and reading skills. Finland is also ranked top in economic competitiveness.
The performance of this small and remote European country springs directly from education policies set in motion 40 years ago, according to the World Bank in its report “Policy Development and Reform Principles of Basic and Secondary Education in Finland since 1968.”
Explaining the excellence of the schools in Finland is extremely complex. They have beautiful school buildings, well-trained teachers, state-of-the-art technology any fancy textbooks, but that doesn’t explain everything. I will not present an exhaustive or exclusive explanation for Finland’s success, but 10 CHARACTERISTICS MAY BE HELPFUL TO UNDERSTAND:
To view the ten characteristics, click here.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
The province's teachers' union will be watching for a possible precedent-setting B.C. Supreme Court legal challenge of class sizes and class compositions in the coming weeks.
The Nanaimo District Teachers' Association filed the petition with the court because executive members claim the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district's board of trustees has incorrectly interpreted the School Act when it approved the number of students in its classrooms.Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Teacher+union+takes+court+over+class+size/3926083/story.html#ixzz17D0iVCVm
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Jim Sinclair has been re-elected to a two year term as president of the BC Federation of Labour. Sinclair has held the post since 1999 and ran unopposed.
Also elected today was Irene Lanzinger to a two year term as Secretary-Treasurer of the Federation. Lanzinger is past president of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation and also ran unopposed.
"I look forward to working with Irene and the Federation's affiliated unions on behalf of working people in our province," says Sinclair. "The fight for a fair minimum wage, training and good jobs for our young people, workplace safety and respect for all workers will remain our focus in the months ahead."
"I'm excited about the opportunity to continue the great work of the Federation and working to build the kind of province we all want," says Lanzinger.
To view the rest of the posting, click here.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Janet McDougald acclaimed as chair, Suzanne Nurse elected as vice-chair at inaugural meeting
TORONTO, Dec. 1 /CNW/ - At the first meeting of the newly elected board of trustees on Dec. 1, Janet McDougald was acclaimed as chair. McDougald has been a trustee for 22 years, has served as chair for 13 years and was previously vice-chair for three years. Suzanne Nurse, trustee for Brampton wards 2 and 6, was elected as vice-chair. Nurse is starting her fifth year in public office. Trustees also welcomed four new members to the board.
"It is truly an honour to serve the board in this capacity—and a privilege that I take respectfully and seriously," McDougald said in her inaugural remarks. "I want, as a board, for each of us to put on the metaphorical armour for the next four years, because public education needs, and will continue to need, defence—and we are on the front line."
McDougald acknowledged new funding the board received, but noted that, "Instead of the $12 million for each of four years that the province acknowledges Peel students are owed, after four years the board will receive only $30 million in additional funding instead of $48 million—a funding shortfall of $18 million. And at no point do we catch up—after four years, we remain behind. This is not acceptable. So can we just say 'Thanks', and play nice?"
"I have heard it said that it is as though we do not 'like' the province. We are not 'thankful' for all the new funding received in the last seven years," said McDougald. "Well, of course we are thankful—we know how supportive this province is in terms of education funding, and of public education. However, this is about getting the funding our parents expect and our students deserve—our fair share. And we fully understand the financial situation at the province, so we are not asking for any new money, we are asking for the government to make difficult decisions and re-distribute existing funding so the per pupil erosion stops."
In addition to fairer funding, McDougald outlined other key roles she feels trustees need to play in the defence of public education, "We cannot forget that so many people from around the world choose our board as a place for their children to learn. In return, they expect—and deserve, that we will understand and appreciate their cultures and traditions. That we will warmly welcome them to schools. They also hope, they want and they demand that we hire the very best staff in our schools and that they reflect the population in the community."
"I also see our defender role to be about pushing some boundaries in the next four years. To have more dialogue about school choice, about providing greater opportunities for all students to be in programs that connect to their interests, and not just those in regional programs,"
Tony Pontes, director of education, shared some of the major achievements of the past year in his annual report to the board. "Through the lens of this year's annual report theme, Share the Smile, we've uncovered some of the stories that make up who we are as a system and why we have so many reasons to smile. This theme allows us to highlight and celebrate the dedication of our staff, and showcase the appreciation we have for the important involvement of our parents, caregivers, volunteers and community partners." The printed annual report will be available in February 2011.
View the complete text of McDougald's and Pontes' remarks at www.peelschools.org
Janet McDougald, Chair, Peel District School Board, 905-278-1402, email@example.com