Today freedom has different enemies.
It must be fought for in different ways.
It will take very different qualities of mind and heart to save it.
– John Holt (1923-1985 home education pioneer)
March 17, 2013 by Tunya
Today freedom has different enemies.
It must be fought for in different ways.
It will take very different qualities of mind and heart to save it.
– John Holt (1923-1985 home education pioneer)
September 16, 2014 by Tunya
Navigating The Swampy River Is Hard To Do
The current pickle the BCCPAC boat is in reminds me of a treacherous swampy river. It would be so easy to find a safe harbor on either side, retreat, and forget the parent struggle. With two sides in this nasty impasse and the teachers’ strike this means choosing either the teacher union side or the government side. But, please, let’s not forget, BOTH are of one mind when it comes to the question of who should educate children and how — the state.
Shouldn’t parents be involved in meaningful ways? This is where BCCPAC comes in. They are a third force promoting the parent voice on behalf of their children.
I am reminded of the Sullivan Commission Report on Education, 1989, which made this profound comment:
*** ”The home schooling issue clearly contains within it some of the most fundamental tensions between competing ideals and values to be found in educational and social policy today. It involves the question of parental rights in schooling versus those of the state, questions about where the public good should supersede private interest, questions about who should be accountable for children’s education and well-being, and questions about the limits of individual choice and participation in schooling.”
The School Act was amended to provide for home schooling as a legal choice. What remains to this day, however, is the right of all parents to have a voice and choice in their children’s education. The state schools still gather 88% of students with a mainly one-size-fits-all mentality.
The stalemate in this dispute is largely about how schools will be managed. Will the status quo prevail with rigid formulas about staffing or will local management decisions be made at the school level? This is where BCCPAC has a third point of view to offer whereby parents would be involved so that individual needs can be met with flexibility and funds available at the local level. This plan is worth close attention, especially since it is acknowledged that competency in working with special needs students is sadly lacking in many cases. There is so much current new information that is simply not being welcomed or embraced by the industry and which needs strong advocacy from parents to see benefits for children in their lifetimes.
The history of parent involvement in education has a long, sad history. First, there was the PTA model where teachers swayed discussions away from competency and relevancy to student needs. Then various consultative models were tried, which had no clout. Now the BC School Act provides for an advisory role for parents The BCCPAC steadfastness in steering through the current quagmire of obstacles — and in spite of being swamped by organized teacher detractors — is commendable.
And certainly the time will come — the sooner the better — when parents will have a voice in changing the status quo which throws up these teacher strikes that harm students so frequently.
September 12, 2014 by Tunya
One of the self-identified “challenges” noted by this program — UDL, Universal Design for Learning — “concerns about parents not understanding” — says loads about the proper, or should it be said, improper preparation of this program.
Is it already in place, rolled out, with adequately prepared teachers, with students assigned to the program, with evaluation checklists for all involved (including parents), with the parents involved in planning, and the principal equally prepared and accountable? Just some questions.
Are there opt-out provisions? Can parents be satisfied that the academic part of the school’s mandate is not displaced or limited by the “social-emotional learning” mission of UDL? How much parent involvement is expected and in what spheres — fund-raising or actual advisory capacity to the school and regarding their own individual child?
Is it time for the parents to promote a Parents’ Charter in this school?
This 1977 codified Parent Rights document might help in shaping a more instrumental role for parents in this school, and particularly note these parts:
5 The right to involvement . . .
c) to consultation before fundamental changes are made which affect the parents, the child, or the total school climate
6 The right to safeguards
d) to expect strict supervision over new programs, innovations and experiments, and that parents have special rights in these instances:
i) to receive a written description of the program, rationale, goals and supporting references;
ii) to grant or refuse permission for their child’s attendance
iii) to receive satisfaction that the program is run by qualified, well-prepared personnel
iv) to be involved in the ongoing evaluation.
Remember: The parent signs the child into the school — anew — each year. There is an understood, unwritten, CONTRACT here. Usually, as with most parents, there is an expectation that the basics, the fundamental tools and skills of learning will be acquired and that knowledge of one’s world will also be transmitted. Parents are wise to also check the school-issued “Student Code of Conduct” which the parent is also required to sign-off on. However, does this, in effect, give to the school the parents’ “negative permission” or “negative consent”, or consent by default — meaning that unless a parent “signs OFF” in the case of new programming, that their consent is assumed? Check the possible tricky wording here.
Remember: Parents on the whole still want the “traditional” elements of education to be assured. New approaches and programs should be justified by evidence, and supported by all parties affected. Parents should be intimately informed and involved in new ventures in a public school.
Also remember: It is the parent who is ultimately responsible for the child’s education. How openly (OR stealthily) a new program is brought in and embraces parents as the primary managers (or not) is a measure of how credible and well-intentioned a new program proves to be.
This fast-paced 21st Century is throwing a lot of hurdles — never before confronted — our way. Parents, as regarding how they have the primary oversight over tender, immature beings in their care, have a daunting challenge. It’s imperative that educators and parents be obliged to work together for shared goals vis-à-vis the versatile citizens the future expects.
Footnote: It is these kinds of issues as noted above that motivate more parents to undertake home education — where they are the educator and parent — so as to avoid the conflicts of conscience that arise when there is discord between these two critical roles during a child’s development.
September 10, 2014 by Tunya
[See this story http://www.cknw.com/2014/09/10/48447/ Teachers Heckly Premier ]
RED SHIRTS FOR THE CHILDREN — WAY TOO SOON, PEOPLE !
BC is only 25% hard core socialist, so it’s too soon for kids to wear red shirts.
Remember: Two days ago — See CKNW http://www.cknw.com/2014/09/08/website-promotes-province-wide-education-rallies/
Please look at the story, even if you didn’t go to the link about the Rally. The banner for this new group says “WEAR RED”. I made a comment and asked: “Do we want BC and Vancouver in RED shirts?” I gave a link to the president of the Chicago Teachers Union addressing the BCTF at their August meeting in Kamloops.
Then I gave a link showing Chicago teachers at their long strike wearing red shirts. I should have mentioned then, but will now. A number of shirts and protest signs had the logo of the ISO, the International Socialist Organization. The vice-president of CTU is a well-known Marxist, who speaks at Marxist conferences.
One of the comments to the Chicago story mentioned the historical fact of the Communist Goals recorded in the Congressional Record: Of the 45 goals, here are two of them:
17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers' associations . . .
19. Use student riots to foment public protests . . .
OK, guys and gals. Please look at this photo on this CKNW story. Copy it into your computers. Enlarge it. Print it. What do you see? Do you see three children, maybe 4, clothed in red shirts?
I protest, using those kids to heckle the Premier !
How soon, when school starts again, instead of the Soviet Red Scarves, before we see students wearing red shirts in BC?
September 8, 2014 by Tunya
$40 Day Government Initiative Is An Article Of Faith In Parents
On July 31, 2014, BC Finance Minister, Mike de Jong, announced the $40 day initiative to pay parents during a teacher strike: "Parents can utilize that money to acquire tutoring for their children, they can use the money to explore other educational opportunities as they see fit and for some parents, it'll be basic daycare."
Headlines that call this payout “childcare subsidies” do an enormous disservice both to the intent of the funding initiative and the many efforts that parents are now assembling to keep up to their children’s educational needs.
Why isn’t some well-meaning media outfit reporting the many opportunities that parents, ex-teachers and community organizations have already organized for education, learning and skill training? Find out how many have already started homeschooling programs.
I’m really hoping this initiative is a start to government devolution of the rigid centralized system to one that will encourage and inspire people to innovate and find resources that will fulfill the diverse needs and talents of children in this modern era. The possibilities are immense and exciting. Why are we bound to these rigid, man-made regulations which so repeatedly cough-up turmoil to what could be nature’s way to be responsive and loving to people’s needs?
Let’s not forget what public education historically is about. It’s about states’ efforts to give all parents equal opportunities to have their children educated apart from those parents who have already been teaching them themselves, providing tutors, or sending them off to private schools. Government assistance to public education was never meant to be indoctrination through government schooling. It was part of the safety-net thinking to help those who were unable to do it alone, financially or physically.
This $40 day reimbursement is there to help those parents, who — having already registered their children in public schools — now find themselves deprived and left high and dry because of a walkout by government workers. By virtue of being the parents or caregivers they have a rightful claim to the education funds collected from taxpayers for the education of the young in our province.
Further down the line, parents will be negotiating for a claim for the education of their children 13 and older and for those needing extra premiums for special needs.
[published to CKNW article on "childcare", and to BCCPAC 20140908]
September 5, 2014 by Tunya
WANTED: Legal Beagle Re: $40 donation to BCTF
September 3, 2014 by Tunya
September 1, 2014 by Tunya
[Sent as comment to Globe & Mail to their story — B.C.’s closed schools leave parents stranded — http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bcs-closed-schools-leave-parents-stranded/article20295700/#dashboard/follows/ ]
APPETITE FOR MAJOR STRUCTURAL CHANGE IS GROWING EXPONENTIALLY
While the mediator in BC’s troubled teacher negotiations, Vince Ready, says there is little appetite by the two parties to settle, there is however a remarkable “appetite” for fundamental reforms as to how education is to be obtained.
From an earlier G&M story we learn that “Since teachers won the right to collective bargaining in 1987 there have been 52 strikes, a series of controversial legislation, bitter court battles and only a single new contract signed without the aid of strikes or legislation.” (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/history-of-bitterness-between-bcs-teachers-and-governments/article20285359/#dashboard/follows/)
Some are projecting the teacher strike will last a whole semester. The BCTF is being counseled by at least one lawyer to “wait-out” the government. Looks like neither side will be the first to blink for a l-o-n-g time!
Meanwhile with the $40 day voucher plan parents are finding, or will find, ways to spend that money on educational opportunities. Also, the parents, individually, and through their provincial group, BCCPAC, are providing more noise in vying for voice in bargaining and in apportioning of special needs funds. Parent pushback is a reality.
Also, the intellectual food is there for people to really examine how the current industrial structure of bargaining and the monopoly delivery of schooling are dysfunctional. A paper by a labor relations scholar opens up the matter, that in future, governments will be inclined to “steering, not rowing the boat” and that the BCTF, which has “structured reality” in their favor is likely to be posing formidable challenges to provincial governments, whatever their political orientation” for a very long time to come.
Time to convene some serious discussions about fundamental change, eh?
August 30, 2014 by Tunya
[posted to The Tyee http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2014/08/30/Reasons-Not-to-Cool-Off/ on story "Three Reasons Teachers Must Keep Picketing to Keep Pressure on BC Gov't" by Bill Tieleman.]
$40 Oils The Slippery Slope To Vouchers
Maybe that’s why John Fryer, long time public sector union organizer and now professor of Public Administration, U Vic, counseled BCTF to go back to work but keep bargaining. Parents are to be paid $40 for every strike day come the new school year. That first payout would be the beginning of the end — a “post public universe” as Tom Fleming, historian, predicted 3 years ago in his book “Worlds Apart: BC Schools, Politics & Labour Relations Before & After 1972 (Bendall Bks).
Imagine abolishing the Ministry of Education — vouchers paid out by Finance and a Department of Standards and Regulations to monitor accountability. Massive reduction of bureaucrats!
Imagine no more public school teacher strikes, as the monopoly would no longer exist.
However, Fryer might actually be experiencing a “conflicted” mind as a report for the federal government that he headed actually discussed the proper role of government as being to “steer, not row the boat.” So vouchers (or any of the other choice mechanisms working in other jurisdictions) would be in that direction. So, his counsel to return to work may have been just a way for BCTF to gain favor with parents, not to forestall per diem payouts from the education fund. Not sure how Fryer actually sees the $40 idea.
But in the history of BC, vouchers have been an item. In 1973, NDP Premier Barrett and MLA Bob Williams “privately looked with favour on the voucher system, whereby each parent would receive a voucher for the year’s cost of a public school education and would have the choice of whether to apply this in public or non-public schools.” (The 1200 Days, 1978, Kavic, Nixon)
A Vancouver Sun story (School voucher system mulled: plan aimed at choice over schools, Oct 27’87) had then Social Credit Minister of Finance, Mel Couvelier, forming a committee to examine “the total education budget to determine if there are ways to spend money more efficiently.”
The moment I heard about the $40 idea (July 31, 2014), I immediately could see good policy implications and provided 7 reasons to support the initiative. I sent my comments to a number of media outlets in early August. See my blog for “Education Debit Account Idea Explained” http://www.parentsteachingparents.net/2014/08/education-debit-account-idea-explained/
Apparently there is some pretty frantic bargaining going on right now. Wonder if the looming $40 payout to parents is front and center or just in the back of the bargainers’ minds.
Whatever, the emergence of parents as a third force in BC during these hectic and troubled times is such a welcome sign,. I do hope, for the sake of parents and their desire for long term stability and choice in seeking the best education for their children that the voucher idea sticks around for serious discussion, promotion and implementation.
August 28, 2014 by Tunya
[comment to various news stories re Teacher Strike negotiations — Vancouver Sun, The Province, Huffington Post (BC). What I'm trying to establish is that it is wrongheaded to retain a structure that does harm to its mission (EDUCATION) and to society (DEMOCRACY) as a whole. What ever differences the two contending sides have, they will not give up their "playpen" the monopoly public education system. It may be time for serious work on exits via vouchers, charter schools, etc., which give the consumer — the parents — more flixibility to acquire the education that best fits their child. This conflict in BC raises serious questions of validity, credibility and accountability of the present rigid system.
Also questions about proper governance: Should government ROW or STEER the boat? Lots of literature, pro and con, on this topic. How about DIVERSITY of boats?]
TEACHER STRIKE NEGOTIATIONS LEGAL, BUT NOT LEGITIMATE!
What have you when two competing usurpers clash over stolen booty? It’s a squatters’ dilemma of sorts, isn’t it? Both squatting on someone else’s property, yet because they’ve been there for so long — each in his own way thinks he is the rightful owner by virtue of long occupancy and entrenched footholds.
This is the way I characterize this current clash between the BC government and the teacher union. This squatters’ war has been going on for over 40 years. The government-of-the-day, REGARDLESS of its political stripe — socialist, liberal or conservative believes it must govern a monopoly education system — believing they know what’s best for the individual students and parents in the system. The teachers’ union, BECAUSE of its political compass set in the 70s, believes in worker control of the workplace and has through its actions and structuring of reality in effect become a parallel government.
The history of the BC public education system has been well documented in the book, Worlds Apart: BC schools, politics & labour relations before and after 1972, (Fleming, 2011, Bendall Bks). Jim MacFarlan, BCTF president in the 70s was described as a “radical Marxist” who “believed schools should be used as instruments of social change”.
The closing paragraph of Fleming’s book (3 yrs ago!) said prophetically: “ . . .will government and the teachers’ federation finally find ways to behave in a civilized manner, or will the discord of recent decades finally weaken support for old organizational relationships to the point that a new ‘post-public’ universe of schooling will emerge? Sooner or later, these are questions that British Columbians and their government will be obliged to answer.”
While the book informs the bargainers in these critical talks, we can easily get the gist of the history from this article (go straight to “teacher power”)http://historicalstudiesineducation.ca/index.php/edu_hse-rhe/article/view/454/611
What I mean to say is this: Parents are the legitimate “owners” of education of their children. They are ultimately responsible to society and their children to obtain the best they can for them. The industry of “public education” that has arisen is an aberration even if most states of the world also run this way. A self-serving rapacious, predatory and parasitic industry thrives on monopoly and threatens to suffocate democracy and education. But, everywhere in the world, this centralization of education is being challenged. The domination by public sector teacher unions and their obstacling of choices and reforms are being confronted and corrected.
No doubt the bargainers and the mediator see the writing on the wall. There is a “post public” configuration awaiting. The monopoly is an invisible bargaining chip on the table. It is actually the government side that is reading the cards perfectly — parents ARE a third force in the picture, and will eventually reclaim their prime responsibility which has been so selfishly usurped. That is why the $40 per diem idea is so refreshing — an acknowledgement that parents have the first claim on the education dollar to help educate their children. See more of my argument here “When will the dam burst for parents?”http://www.parentsteachingparents.net/2014/08/when-will-the-dam-burst-for-parents/
You can bet both sides will try to keep the monopoly intact, but the world picture portends otherwise! See also the literature in public administration, which describes governments as “steering, not rowing the boat”. See also John Fryer’s research on this.
August 26, 2014 by Tunya
[In a Teacher Strike it is ultimately the students who are the victims. It’s great when students can research the issues and come up with an analysis, which can be put down for others to see. Armand Birk, a university student, had his first published piece in the Huffington Post — For Every Student, There Was A Teacher — http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/armand-birk/bc-teachers-strike-students_b_5703501.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-british-columbia Aug 24 ’14 After many comments and lively discussion Armand then asked: “Do you believe that the situation at hand would have been so dire if these issues had been fully addressed when they originally arose 12 or so years ago? . . What are your thoughts?” Below is my response and would love to hear back.]
GOVERNANCE VERSUS IDEOLOGY FRAMES THE PRESENT SCHOOL STRIKE
Armand: After publishing your excellent tribute to teachers you are now probing the larger picture, one of policy and financial management.
Firstly, let me say that I, as parent and grandparent, do agree that relationships between teachers and their students can be precious and should be valued. But that is not what the current struggle is about.
Now you ask if things would be different today if proper decisions were made 12 years ago.
But, that is not what is informing the two sides — the government and the teacher union — during their secret negotiations. They are immersed in age-old divisions that go back at least 40 years and well documented in the book Worlds Apart: BC Schools, Politics & Labour Relations Before & After 1972, Thomas Fleming (Bendall Bks, 2011).
This is key to understanding this “Hatfield/McCoy Feud” being played out today in BC. The closing paragraph of Fleming’s book (3 yrs ago!) said prophetically: “ . . .will government and the teachers’ federation finally find ways to behave in a civilized manner, or will the discord of recent decades finally weaken support for old organizational relationships to the point that a new ‘post-public’ universe of schooling will emerge?”
All members of the bargaining teams are well-aware of this 40 year feud and probably have well-thumbed copies of Worlds Apart in their briefcases. To read an article online of this issue go straight to the section “teacher power” http://historicalstudiesineducation.ca/index.php/edu_hse-rhe/article/view/454/611
You will see how teacher union members, though not directly through BCTF, were instrumental in defeating the government and bringing in the first NDP government in BC. You will read how the BCTF president, “radical Marxist” Jim MacFarlan (misspelled McFarlan in article) “believed schools should be used as instruments of social change”. History records that BC governments of every stripe — socialist, liberal, conservative — struggled with this militant union ever since.
You ask good questions, but I stress the issues go far beyond 12 years of history. The issues relate to ideology, that is, political agendas and you will find the politics of the inner BCTF circle (Yes, some still there from ’72) are off the continuum of local everyday politics in BC. The current strike rallying cry — As Long As It Takes — is part of the narrative from this extreme left website whose logo proclaims — Agitate, Educate, Organize http://rankandfile.ca/2014/06/28/bc-teachers-keep-your-eyes-on-the-prize/
[In a Teacher Strike, students are the ultimate victims, so it's great when students actually research, then place their analysis down for others. Here is a university student, Armand Birk, who had his first published article in Huffington Post — For Every Student, There Was A Teacher, Aug 24 '14 http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/armand-birk/bc-teachers-strike-students_b_5703501.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-british-columbia After many comments, Armand then asked: "Do you believe that the situation at hand would have been so dire if these issues had been fully addressed when they originally arose 12 or so years ago? . . . What are your thoughts?" My answer below, and would love to hear back!]
In case you didn’t know, we have TWO School Acts in BC. The Independent Schools Act, which forbids sedition — fostering discontent and overthrow of government, and the BC School Act, which says nothing about sedition. It’s too bad that besides all the active and unconcealed acts of rebelliousness being demonstrated, we now have the BCTF president, Jim Iker, urging members to actively swamp school board elections this Fall. (Lay control?)
Armand: I appreciate your well-meaning questions and answer from a history that I've lived through. We learned that a military defense system should not be governed by the soldiers and understood education should not be run by teachers. Pasi Sahlberg, the highly revered speaker on behalf of Finnish education and its achievements also believes teachers should not dominate decision-making. http://eltorofulbright.blogspot.com/2013/05/my-interview-with-pasi-sahlberg.html
Armand: Who manages the education system is probably the biggest issue of the current quarrel, not finances. I hope you’re thinking of going into public administration studies at University. Best wishes.