Several articles of interest

“…The sad state of the Education Debate is most dramatically revealed in British Columbia public education, where the system is experiencing a protracted ‘crisis’. The gulf separating the Government and the BC Teachers Federation is now a canyon and the total breakdown has all the elements of a “class war” with students as the victims. In this game of brinkmanship, BCTF militants like Tobey Steeves are attempting to depict the conflict as “an encounter” with what Naomi Klein termed the“shock doctrine,” a cruel by-product of world-wide “disaster capitalism.”

It’s time to reclaim the sensible middle ground. More thoughtful educators like Kirp are correct in claiming that “teaching is not a business” and system-wide reforms based upon the business model are bound to fall far short of expectations. Failing to build professional relationships and organizational capacities can and do make or break any —and all –well-intentioned, clearly needed, school reforms.

The real lesson is that system-wide reforms live and die in the classroom.  “It’s impossible to improve education by doing an end run around inherently complicated and messy human relationships,” Kirp wisely points out. “All youngsters need to believe that they have a stake in the future, a goal worth striving for, if they’re going to make it in school. They need a champion, someone who believes in them, and that’s where teachers enter the picture. The most effective approaches foster bonds of caring between teachers and their students.”…”

From July 31st, but still useful background information.

“The ongoing labour dispute between B.C.’s unionized teachers and their employer, the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, has been characterized by a battle to garner favourable public opinion, with clarity often giving way to spin and carefully chosen statistics designed to sell a particular point of view.

Without a contract for more than a year, the members of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation are out on strike, and progress at the bargaining table appears hard to come by. The messaging from both sides leaves students, parents, voters and other observers struggling to untangle the complex issues involved. Here, we answer some of the most vexing questions.”

“The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducts core
competency tests that are solid predictors of future economic growth – more
so than “input measures,” such as average years of schooling. PISA assesses
the academic ability of 15-year-olds across three subject areas – reading,
mathematics and science. While Canada’s outcomes remain well above the
OECD average, they have been slipping.

The 2012 results rarely mentioned the relative ability of Canadian schools
to overcome the education disadvantage of students from families with low
socio-economic status. Canada ranked fifth among OECD countries in terms of
minimizing the negative impact of low socio-economic status on mathematics

“Canada and Finland are two countries with nearly identical average mathematics scores in 2012 (Finland 519, Canada 518). Their top and bottom quarter scores are also close. And consequently so are their respective gradients. The slope of the Canadian gradient (31.2) is the “flattest” among the jurisdictions illustrated; Finland’s is second lowest (33.3). Both are well below the OECD average (39.2), which means Canada and Finland are offsetting social disadvantage more effectively than is the typical OECD country.”

and part 2:

“…Teachers across the country seem to be mad as hell and not willing to take it any more.

Some of the battles are very public. In fact, in the next year, a great many students across the country could be caught in disputes between teachers and governments.

As well as the B.C. conflict, teachers in Saskatchewan have rejected a second proposed deal, those in Alberta are resisting a proposal that they have to requalify every five years, while their counterparts in Prince Edward Island are protesting against job cuts, Newfoundland has appointed a conciliation board because contract talks broke down, and cash-strapped Ontario risks labour disruptions this fall despite last week’s vote of confidence in a premier who entered public life as an education activist.

But the malaise goes even deeper. With summer approaching, many parents – now required to juggle child care, holidays and work – look at all the friction and scratch their heads. Some can only dream of the security, wages and benefits that a teaching job provides. What more could a person ask?

Talk to teachers across the country, however, and what emerges is something far more complicated than a quest for cash.

They claim to be struggling to cope with ever-greater pressure from parents, administrators and governments to perform at the same time that society no longer seems to value that performance the way it once did.

Are these concerns justified? And what can be done to resolve the conflict and keep it out of the classroom?…”

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