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    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)


  2. Education system neuters reforms

    November 16, 2014 by Tunya

    [ Yet another effort is made to teach READING to students for success in school.  The saying goes:  Learn to Read by end of Grade Three — then Read to Learn from Grade Four onward. It is a lamentable frustration to parents that this is not a priority for schools in general.,  This post to Society for Quality Education describes the effort and below is my comment. ]

    BEWARE:  Education System Swallows Reforms

    This essay is NOT to diminish or dampen enthusiasm for this Reading Intervention initiative in Wisconsin.  Good intentions, good people, good funding, however, do not necessarily result in enduring results over the long haul. 

    The Reading Wars have been around a long time.  So has the mortifying knowledge about the Matthew Effect — illiteracy at an early age has a downward spiraling effect on students whose failures compound toward unfulfilled lives and even criminal records. 

    The Reading Wars are political, not pedagogic, and some time in the future — despite tons of books and articles on the topic — the agenda issues will be revealed.  So far there is no definitive answer as to why this feud continues to spoil good education practice.  This RTI (Response to intervention) research project is favoring phonics as the preferred approach.

    As far as the school to prison pipeline this is also addressed by this project whose funding agency stresses the loss to productivity of illiterate citizens.

    Why do I show concern for this project?  Mainly because it is yet another research project — added to the tons of other previous research efforts — that stands to be neutered or absorbed by a performance-averse education system — a system which cares more for its own survival than what’s good for the children.

    I am hoping that written into the plan— in black and white in a prominent place — are the expectations for this program’s survival and succession once the professional consultants leave.  Thanks for the link but I see no prospects for long-term commitment.

    By way of cautionary tale, I add this story from the book, “Getting Schooled” by Garret Keizer — {quotes and paraphrasing]  *** The author’s wife, a highly trained special needs teacher, was involved in an enthusiastically supported, well-funded, project to build special facilities for treatment, classes, parent programs, service agencies, and offices for specialized personnel. . . . a ‘one-stop shopping for parents in need of broad-spectrum services, a cafeteria, activity rooms, cushioned playground’ . . . volunteers worked around the clock, community involved . . . ‘reporters came to snap the pictures . . . ‘A new day dawned.  It would be a short one.  You can build a school from the ground up, but the directing destiny will always move from the top down.  You can say ‘the kids come first’ till the cows come home, but in practice the kids come fourth behind the administrators, parents and teachers — or fifth, in a dairy economy, behind the cows. Within the space of about three years a new superintendent relocated his office to the building. The social service agencies vanished . . . at least one treatment room was rededicated as a space for obsolete computer equipment . . . ‘the spacious ‘gross motor room’ was commandeered for district-wide principals’ meetings . . . ‘ [few remembered the original project] ***

    Best wishes and Good Luck with your wonderful research study which promises so much good!



  3. Public Education is “performance-averse”

    November 13, 2014 by Tunya

    [To Jay P Green blog Nov 13 on New Yorker article — Better All The Time: how the “performance revolution” came to athletics – and beyond] ]

    Teacher Training Is A Key To Societal Benefits

    It wasn’t the “performance revolution” which produced such enormous benefits for Finland. Nor was it competition from other countries for markets. It was the notorious reputation Finland had for being the suicide capital of the world. The incidence of teen suicides was particularly troubling.

    Deliberate and vastly improved public education was the main approach adopted. Along with augmenting other social services, teacher training became a high priority for longer and more concentrated training. Each graduate was skilled in identifying and addressing special needs. About 25% of students are at one time or other receiving specialized, customized education assistance.

    This New Yorker article — Better All The Time: How “performance revolution” came to athletics – and beyond (Nov 10, 2014) — is really, bottom line, about teacher training. Yes, it’s a long article, with most of the content about athletics, then somewhat about manufacturing, then at the end is the QUESTION. “What are the fields that could have become significantly better over the past forty years and haven’t?”

    The author, James Surowiecki answers: “In one area above all, the failure to improve is especially egregious: education.”

    It’s teacher training where the author would recommend the application of insights gained from the sports and manufacturing fields. The very nature of sports — highly competitive — lends itself to application of skills mastery. Competition, choice and reliability were the leading factors in improvements in consumer goods — cars, TVs, etc. “Lemons, for the most part, have become a thing of the past,” says the author.

    Not mentioned, but certainly known by the readers, is the fact that many legal actions for “wrongful deaths”, for example, were also a stimulus for improvements as well as Nader’s book, “Unsafe at Any Speed.”

    What’s to be done about education? Unfortunately, we have no Nader. The closest we’ve seen was an article by Nat Hentoff, a long-time writer for the Village Voice who wrote: The Greatest Consumer Fraud of All, Social Policy, Nov/Dec 1977. He proposed the usual, obvious, intuitive solution — consumer/client/parent power and suits for damages. Of course, those in the education reform cause know the fierce opposition to that approach. And, we know how the “floodgates” argument has been used to quash malpractice suits.

    Furthermore, the education field has become not just any field of endeavor like sports, manufacturing or medicine but a conduit for political transformation of society. Leaders of this intended transformation in the teacher unions and university teacher training faculties strategically oppose any drift away of their captive consumer audience.

    We are awaiting a Review of Teacher Training in Australia. When a new conservative regime took over from a Labour government two reviews were launched. The one on the Curriculum is now being examined and we’re expecting the second soon.

    Australia is a highly politically polarized nation and feathers are starting to fly. The curriculum review had two controversial commissioners in charge — of course, seen as government messengers. Interesting that Kevin Donnelly, one of the two, had this to say about Australia’s teacher training just two years ago: “Many of the academics involved in teacher training have never been classroom teachers or worked in schools. Many are also committed to a cultural-left, progressive view of education that uncritically celebrates fads like open classrooms, critical literacy and personalized learning . . . students are often indoctrinated with ineffective theories like constructivism . . . much of the theory in teacher education is postmodern, neo-Marxist, politically correct and new-age.”

    In my opinion, North America will find relevance in both reports.


  4. Parents: 3rd Force in Education

    November 8, 2014 by Tunya

    [Society for Quality Education has been posting excerpts from the book, The Teaching Gap, (Stigler, Hiebert) and below is my comment.]

    Parents:  The THIRD FORCE In Education

    Every time some new eye-opener appears that claims some magic bullet to improve teaching, parents will sigh and exclaim:  “Why don’t they just teach?”  They may even say: “ Why, even Johnny asks why he should go to school because the teachers don’t teach!”

    So much is already proven (evidence-based it’s called) about effective learning and teaching it becomes a huge puzzle why there is so much toying in the education industry.  If styles do differ between cultures but the outcome is there — an “educated” student — why does it matter?  The bottom line is that knowledge can be transferred and skills can be developed and positive social behaviors can be acquired — if the expectation is clear and enforced.  By whom?  By the client, the parents who are the primary pivot in this enterprise. 

    For too long, parents have been seen as the “enemy” of the system.  Please, don’t say this is exaggeration! Just Google “parents enemy schools” and you’ll get 1,000s of entries.

    An active third party is actively resisted by the two main forces in education today — the ruling government and the powerful teacher unions.  Even while there may be appearances of disagreement between the two, let’s not for one moment think their behavior is not mutually beneficial.  Each party benefits from labor peace.  It’s the client — the parents and their children — who are left out of meaningful participation.

    The book, Parents and Schools: The 150-Year Struggle for Control in American Education (Cutler) outlines the struggle parents have had, and always ending in their involvement in terms conducive to the system, not the other way around.  Our democratic beliefs say otherwise, but the system contrives to make convenience for itself as the priority. 

    Parents should and must take a stand so that their children benefit from systems paid for by the public purse in the lifetime of their children — not some utopian distant future when all issues tossed at them (poverty, class size, class differences, racism, etc.) are solved.  It’s the here and now that counts for this developing child.  Don’t listen to system proclamations.

    Read:  Liberals, don’t homeschool your kids (wait several generations for the system to get better )

    Some say there are no Parent Rights in Education.  There always have been rights, and we codified them in the 70s — what’s known, what’s good practice.

    Go to my site and Search — parent rights.  Lots of articles.

    Australia has just finished a Review of their education system.  Big priority is improving relations with parents and services for parents.  The suggestion is to provide easy guides to what the curriculum is expected to do at each stage. 

    New Zealand has had 20 years of self-governing schools, with majority of parents on each school board.  This experience in self governance is a transferable skill to the rest of society.  NZ is tops of the chart on the CPI, Corruption Perception Index — that is, LEAST corrupt.

    See the Michigan story I posted in SQE on Ontario small communities.  Here is it that parents, who have homeschooled for 20 years, are now able to have co-operative mutual arrangements with public schools.

    It’s in the air.  Parents want IN in their lifetimes and their children’s lifetimes.

  5. TIME magazine helps expose education issues

    October 26, 2014 by Tunya

    TIME Article May Be The Trigger To Break The EDUCATION LOGJAM !

    We are just getting a little sniff of the STORM coming up.  The Nov 3 issue of TIME has not hit the stands yet. But, already the massive and powerful teacher unions in the US are starting petitions and boycotts against the magazine because of its upcoming cover story — Rotten Apples – It’s Nearly Impossible to Fire A Bad Teacher.

    Teacher unions in Canada are also getting nervous — and social media is abuzz on the topic. 

    I would suggest that long suffering parents and others frustrated by the public education establishment and its many abuses start cluing in to some of the controversies.  This may just be the best gift the public will ever have to shatter the myths and defenses of a system grown sour and harmful to the life chances of so many young students.

    Here are some of the SYSTEM’s excuses and countermeasures:

    – Due process is necessary to protect teachers.

    – Poverty, race, non-English speaking minorities are the reason for poor results.

    – Underfunding is the problem.

    – Weak-kneed principals are the problem:  a bad teacher can be fired easily.

    – Drop your subscription to TIME; refuse TIME in your library; sign the petition. [Kill the messenger!]

    Here is the opportunity for parents and others to ASK QUESTIONS:

    – How have teacher unions grown to be so powerful and obstreperous?

    – How have governments failed and allowed wholesale abuses to proliferate?

    – Why are parents reduced to fund-raising for schools instead of insisting on accountability?

    – How come curriculum is dumbed-down with social promotions and retreat from the basics with no commitment to even ensure learning to read is a priority?

    – How come “social justice” and collaborative competency and other social-emotional efforts are replacing the 3Rs?  Are the public schools really radicalizing students to feel so oppressed that they need to go out and “change the world”?

    – Why is the school system incapable of change?    Is one in four a rotten apple?   Apology demanded by teacher union because teachers are blamed for problems in schools.

    Here is a challenge:  Use these three terms in a meaningful sentence relating to this school issue: Vergara, Berliner, Scott Walker. 

  6. Can a teacher “UNTEACH” ?

    October 23, 2014 by Tunya

    [The blog — Barking Up the Wrong Tree — published 10 points parents can follow to help make kids "smarter"  —  This was my comment ot our Canadian blog, Society for Quality Education.]

    Can A Teacher Really UNTEACH Reading?   Part I

    Here we have someone whose niche in life seems to be digesting research papers and distilling the conclusions for application to daily living.  This is his introduction:

    “Hi, I'm Eric Barker, the guy behind the blog. Barking Up The Wrong Tree has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine and Time Magazine. You can email me here —

    Yes, Eric, I’ll email you when I finish my essay and let me tell you at the start:  You sent me on a merry chase — full of anguish and angst. 

    A favorite blog, Society for Quality Education, just featured your “10 things that would make your kids smarter” and I immediately glommed on to #3 — Don’t Read To Your Kids, Read WITH Them.  I read the 7 pg article by the Canadian professors where you concluded that if parents were shown how to read intentionally to stimulate literacy, there would be lasting benefits.  The experiment was with parents of low income and low education and the remarkable benefits did hold for three years after this program ended.

    Simply put, the parents of 3-year olds were given 90 hrs of preparation in reading WITH, not TO their children and included 8 units over 3 mo and included such concepts as importance of play, counting, colors, and making letter-sound matches (decoding & phonological awareness).   Very impressive results, but I did wonder if this knowledge got any further than this 2008 article?  Haven’t heard of any follow-through.  Perhaps, I cynically speculated, that such research is swallowed up by an education system, which self-interestedly withholds information such as this, which would intrude on their turf.

    Then I was reminded of my own experience with my children. I remember so vividly being told NOT TO TEACH my children reading at home because teachers would simply have to UNTEACH and start over from scratch. 

    I think this research, which BTW is appropriately subtitled “Unlocking the Door” should get urgent attention and parents of all socio economic status should be encouraged to gain these literacy preparedness skills to help their children.  I am very concerned about the figures relating to illiteracy and the pipeline to prison correlation. The schools can be doing much more to ensure all students by the end of Grade 3 acquire this fundamental skill. However, there is still to this day this resistance by the teaching profession against using phonics as one method to teach reading, especially to that number of students who do not thrive under the whole language approach. 

    This weekend in British Columbia we are having a two day conference of Primary School Teachers featuring a Whole Language specialist, Regie Routman, as keynote and workshop leader.  775 teachers are attending, yet I see nothing in their program that encourages me that they care about that percentage of students who need the decoding phonological approach to learn to read.  People should really read what Alfie Kohn says about Whole Language and why he favors the “old-fashioned phonics.”

    I’ve just read new reports from the US that show that phonics is definitely one strategy to be used.  Here is some information about Oklahoma

    From pg 13 we see there is a dedicated READ program (Reading Enhancement and Acceleration Development) which includes “skill development in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension”.

    Perhaps this brilliant Mr. Barker could dig up some research which illuminates why the teaching profession is so politically bound to withhold a teaching strategy that would help a good number of students with their reading acquisition ? 

    Can A Teacher Really UNTEACH Reading?   Part II

    While I’m still in my anguish and angst mode while unearthing disturbing contradictions in our Canadian school system, I note that there is acknowledgement in the US that Literacy is important.  Here is an article from the Core Knowledge organization — New Leaders in Literacy

    From the Early Learning Primer, October 2014 we read about the importance of Grade 3.

    *** Why third-grade reading proficiency matters

    The period between preschool and third grade is a tipping point in a child’s journey toward lifelong learning. During this time, children have to make a critical transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”

    If children do not have proficient reading skills by third grade, their ability to progress through school and meet grade-level expectations diminishes significantly. While all areas of children’s learning and development are critical for school success, the predictive power of a child’s third-grade reading proficiency on high school graduation and dropout rates is startling: 

    –  Children who are not reading proficiently by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school on time.

    –  Children who are not reading proficiently by third grade and also live in poverty are 13 times less likely to graduate high school on time.

    Society pays a high price for the nearly 1 million teenagers who drop out of high school every year through higher rates of unemployment, lower tax revenues and increased costs to the criminal justice, welfare and healthcare systems.

    MY POINT AGAIN:  Yes, parents should read WITH their children to help acquire literacy awareness.  Don’t listen to teachers who say they will have to UNTEACH.  And, if they’re not being taught reading in school, then, it is highly recommended that tutoring be privately bought otherwise life chances are seriously compromised without proper reading ability. 

    When we had our teacher strike in BC this September and parents were paid $40 a day to seek education elsewhere, many did send their kids to tutoring agencies.  I think that parents who have to buy tutoring for the fundamental skill of reading for their child should be able to charge their school district for a rebate!

  7. Radicalization in western schools?

    October 6, 2014 by Tunya

    ["White privilege" is to be a workshop and subject of curriculum development in Ontario — spurred by the Elementary Teachers' Association of Ontario. That's 6-13 year olds!  Lots of backlash on the Internet.  SQE (Society for Quality Education blog) featured a post, worth reading as a teacher unionist provides a POV.  Below is my second comment.]

    Should “Radicalization” Be A School Task?

    What’s the difference between this Madrassa school in Pakistan that trains suicide bombers  and a teacher who provokes outrage in students so they can feel oppressed?

    It’s a matter of degree, isn’t it? 

    Maybe the madrassa devoted to training suicide bombers is much, much worse than our public school which guilts, cajoles, and wheedles children to want to “change the world”.

    In reading scads of material on “white privilege”, which is becoming a sub topic in the social justice field, I came across a range of challenges activist teachers face in advancing their social justice cause. One pointer was to focus on students with “chips on their shoulders”.  One teacher of teachers, Maxine Greene, spoke at an AERA (American Educational Research Association, 2008) meeting saying  “we must teach ‘uneasiness, outrage, anything that will awaken . . . How can I cultivate appropriate outrage?’”

    Well, it’s happening.

    In America right now a new national curriculum in American History is being pushed. Instead of the traditional emphasis on historical heroes and the Constitution, etc., there is increasing emphasis on European exploitation, black bondage, white racial superiority, dropping of atomic bombs, race and segregation — relentlessly negative views of American history.  The seeds of discontent would lead young people to believe the propaganda on the Internet.  How does ISIS recruit but with preying on disenchanted young Americans?

    Is this too far from home, from Canada, for us to pay attention?  No.  The discontent is being sown here, and for the greater good.  For a “strong welfare state.”

    In so much of the writings on 21st C Learning and necessary transformations we see certain gurus appearing regularly with their visions of the new global world.  Two are now advising Ontario Ministry of Education – Michael Fullan and Andrew Hargreaves.

    In the literature, and often in the same reports is a buddy of Fullan’s and Hargreaves’,  Jal Mehta. Well, while so many of these gurus mask their intent in obfuscating narratives, this is what says about Mehta’s latest book:

     “The larger problem, Mehta argues, is that reformers have it backwards . . . Our current pattern is to draw less than our most talented people into teaching, equip them with little relevant knowledge, train them minimally, put them in a weak welfare state, and then hold them accountable when they predictably do not achieve what we seek. What we want, Mehta argues, is the opposite approach which characterizes top-performing educational nations: attract strong candidates into teaching, develop relevant and usable knowledge, train teachers extensively in that knowledge, and support these efforts through a strong welfare state.” 

    A strong welfare state — exactly what does that mean?  It means an enforced, delegated, coerced welfare state with compliant residents. Throw “citizenship” and “democracy” as we know it out the window!

    Much as I see the need for improved teacher training, what I see here is intense inculcation of teachers in “white privilege”, social emotional learning, etc. with the intent of converting both teachers and students to some new world order! 


  8. Teacher Unions Aim To Polarize Their communities

    October 5, 2014 by Tunya

    ["White privilege" is to be a workshop and subject of curriculum development in Ontario — spurred by the Elementary Teachers' Association of Ontario. That's 6-13 year olds!  Lots of backlash on the Internet.  SQE (Society for Quality Education blog) featured a post, worth reading as a teacher unionist provides a POV.  Below is my first comment.]

    Polarization — A Teacher Union Agenda

    When the “white privilege” topic hit me — the ETFO (Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario) PD (professional development) workshop and curriculum development project — I quickly jotted down some points which I wanted to submit, and then leave the topic for other work on my table.  However, I’ve been at it all day and here are my original points:

     #1            Why is it that out of 76,000 members only ONE chose to blow the whistle?  Did all the others think this was OK and timely?

    #2            How come the press didn’t work harder to get an ETFO member to comment?  As second-best couldn’t they have asked DL who always seems to be ready and able to comment?  SQE didn’t wait long to be told it’s private business.  Parents and public need not worry about 13 and under youngsters being  exposed to lessons and curriculum on “white privilege”.  We know what's best — is the inferred refrain.

    #3            Then I wanted to say how teacher unions are “creeping” further and further into policy and management and civics — far beyond trade union “bread and butter” matters.  How social justice and equality of outcomes has become a teacher union issue.  I wanted to mention that the bitter BC teacher strike was not just a polarizing event between government and teacher union — with both parties doing their best PR (public relations, polls, etc.) to whip up sympathy and distaste  for and against. 

    With the strike now ended, leftover unionist activists and lefty camp-followers are whipping up more division in BC. 

    – between parents (you have to be for or against us) and not say conveniently that you are FOR parents and a “pox on both your houses”

    – between those who belong to a business group that is intervening in an upcoming court case between government and union, and those businesses who are being canvassed to put signs in their windows that are in favor of public education

    – between those who believe in choice and independent schools and those who say one-size-fits-all is best, and besides, they maintain (without proof) that private schools rob public schools of funds

    – between those who insist on more public school funding and those who are pleased with BC scores despite the cry for funds

    – between those who think there should be democratic elections for school boards and those who call for union locals to take up-front roles in the elections

    #4            Then I was to point out that while our Independent School Act forbids SEDITION — sowing discontent to undermine government — no such restriction applies to public school workers.  With this I would close with saying there should be equivalency and that both School Acts should forbid SEDITION.

    I have to leave that essay unfinished.  I got further into the topic, with all the mileage of reporting and comments and really started worrying.  I think this “white privilege” thing goes beyond just sowing division and class war and polarization.  There is something very totalitarian, tyrannical and sinister going on.

    Please watch this second video (besides the one linked earlier) and note what Paige MacPherson and J J McCullough are saying. Fiery White Privilege Debate      

  9. 21st Century Gurus — Well-oiled & Organized

    October 2, 2014 by Tunya

    [It's only lately that things are speeding up, but these gurus have been greasing the skids for a long time — embedding their "expertise" and predictions for the future. Two such names, Michael Fullan and Andrew Hargreaves, have just been appointed to a team of 4 to help steer Ontario's education "transformation". This 37 pg Report — Towards a New End: New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (2013) — help see the "shift" from basics to "competencies" explained.  Below is a second post I made to Invisible Serfs Collar, a blog alerting the public to global efforts to change society through schools.]

    The 6 Cs, The 3 Es Of 21st C Learning = Welfare Statism

    From Professor Michael Fullan, Special Advisor to the Premier of Ontario, we see the 6Cs outlined :

    1. Character education
    2. Citizenship
    3. Communication
    4. Critical thinking and problem solving
    5. Collaboration
    6. Creativity and imagination

    From the Wales paper with Andrew Hargreaves involved we get 3Cs: 

    1. Engaged thinker
    2. Ethical citizen
    3. Entrepreneurial spirit

    But now,  given the name of yet another related Global Change Agent (GCA), Jal Mehta, we are getting closer to the REAL AGENDA, without all the fancy rhetoric and alphabetic mnemonics.  The latest book by Jal Mehta is — The Allure of Order: High Hopes, Dashed Expectations, and the Troubled Quest to Remake American Schooling.

    From the site, we read Mehta’s intent:

    “The larger problem, Mehta argues, is that reformers have it backwards . . . Our current pattern is to draw less than our most talented people into teaching, equip them with little relevant knowledge, train them minimally, put them in a weak welfare state, and then hold them accountable when they predictably do not achieve what we seek. What we want, Mehta argues, is the opposite approach which characterizes top-performing educational nations: attract strong candidates into teaching, develop relevant and usable knowledge, train teachers extensively in that knowledge, and support these efforts through a strong welfare state.” 

    A strong welfare state — exactly what does that mean?  It means an enforced, delegated, coerced welfare state with compliant residents. Throw “citizenship” as we know it out the window!

    Much as I see the need for improved teacher training, what I see here is intense inculcation of new teachers, not necessarily in the basics but in things like 6Cs and 3Es and other social-emotional learning AND means to police and enforce that transmission both to teachers and to our young people.

     Bye, bye liberty.  Did you read my earlier post about Rip Van Dinkle?

  10. 21st Century Learning — Dangers Ahead !

    October 1, 2014 by Tunya


    [I’m trying to use some “shock value” to alert people to the nice-sounding terms coming out of the mouths of change-agents who are trying to radically “reform” education.  Let me know if this is too far-fetched.]

    Here’s A Rip Van Winkle Story – An Epiphany Of Sorts

    Actually, this is about Rip van Dinkle. Here is the extract from Wikipedia — then I’ll come to my point.

    *** A 1988 issue of “Boys’ Life”, with its “Dink & Duff” comic strip has the African-American cub scout Dink pondering the meaning of Americanism, only to lapse into a coma and awaken in 2068 . . . He is greeted by a boy who addresses him as “Rip van Dinkle”, who tells him that in the 80 years that have passed the United States of America has been defunct and is now the “Royal Dominion of America”, or R.D.A., a monarchy under a “King Kongoon”. Dink is appalled by the heavy regulations he is now subject to, such as only being allowed to wear the official R.D.A. uniform instead of his Cub Scout uniform or only being allowed to eat vegetables in order to contribute to a “healthy society”. Dink is shocked awake back to 1988 realizing it was only a nightmare, but with a better understanding of personal liberty. ***

    Now to come to my point: It is a useful exercise to project into the future , in a Rip Van Winkle way, what we might actually find 20 or so years hence. As we examine many FUTURISTIC education plans, some already in stages of implementation, questions arise. Are these evidence-based or wishful thinking? Are these plans generated from real need with real people on the ground or just dicey proposals from itinerant gurus?

    The conversations on this site (Invisible Serfs Collar) lay the groundwork for these questions, concerns and projections. I am so thankful we have a skilled researcher, Robin, leading the probe.

    I was led to some new research about Wales, which I will share. But before that I bring forward the news that the Michael Fullan we hear about — “the Lead Global Change Agent” — has a new assignment here in Ontario and will be joined by three others: Andrew Hargreaves from Boston, Dr Carol Campbell from OISE, and Dr Jean Clinton from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences (child psychiatry) at McMaster University. They are to help with that province’s 21st C plan called Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario.

    The Wales research was something Hargreaves was involved with, along with OECD Schleicher and others — the usual competencies, etc. What I bring forward from this 143 pg 2014 report is the model (to emulate?) of the 21st C plan for Alberta, another province in Canada. There is a story here.

    The Alberta Plan is called “Inspiring Education” and was developed in the usual stealth manner — gurus, Ministry bureaucrats and Minister, and the teacher union. Then, there was a change of leadership in the governing party (due to resignation of the Premier). As new candidates campaigned and spoke with their constituencies they soon became aware of concerns by “customers” (mainly parents) of the new “competency-laden”, skill-short plan. The new Premier, sworn in on 8th Sept, had promised to “halt all major education curriculum overhauls under his premiership”.

    A new Minister of Education is now to steer recovery of Alberta’s famous glory as a high achieving province in Canadian and International Education Assessments. In the last 6 years there was a dismal slide in achievement.

    Here is the model that was boasted in the Wales report and still remains as a desirable model for OECD pursuits. From pg 118:

    *** “The Educated Albertan of 2030” – the education vision of Alberta, Canada

    Albertans have articulated their vision for education through specific outcomes which have been summarized as “the three E’s” of education for the 21st century.

    Engaged thinker – Alberta must cultivate students with an inquisitive, engaged mind. Students that are prepared to ask “why?” and think critically about the answers they receive.

    Ethical citizen – Knowing the answer is not enough. Our children and grandchildren must be ethical, compassionate and respectful to truly grow and thrive.

    Entrepreneurial spirit – To shape innovative ideas into real-world solutions, our education system should develop motivated, resourceful and resilient citizens. Alberta would do well to encourage our students to be bold, embrace leadership and actively seek new opportunities. ***

    MY CONCLUSION: Here is one jurisdiction, Alberta, having been caught up in the 21st C Learning Craze, now defying the Rip Van Dinkle epiphany of the loss of personal liberties so many other world jurisdictions are now blindly following and headed for !

  11. Will parents be allowed to Volunteer in schools?

    September 24, 2014 by Tunya

    [With the BC teacher strike finally over, 5 weeks of lost school, and 3 months of considerable debate — mid June to Sept 22, ’14, parents have become much more informed about the issues.  The feeling is that they will be more eager to be involved and become an actual “Third Force” along side the teacher union and government in decision-making, consultations, etc.  But, the question arises — will “the system” and the union allow this?  Below is a story from my days as a young parent.]

    Parent Volunteers Resent "SCAB" Label

    That was the front page headline that screamed across the page of our local newspaper, the North Shore News, Jan 5, 1983.

    I was a parent of a high school student.  Parents had been active volunteers in the school for years.

    However, since teacher aides were laid off, the volunteer services of parents were to cease as well.  The story by Bill Bell continues:

    *  "Union intimidation" is keeping parents from volunteering their services in West Vancouver's schools, claim representatives of the Hillside Parents Group.  Co-chairpersons Tunya Audain and Suzanne Latta have told the school board that since the teaching aides were laid off last September, parents have not been allowed to volunteer in areas where they were normally welcomed . . . 

    *  Audain later told the News that her group had been sent a letter from the West Vancouver Municipal Employees Association which she said gave her a very quick "political lesson" in how "rough" unions can be. Audain pointed out that the parents did not want to replace the teaching aides but only wanted to continue in the volunteer positions held before the aides were laid off. She told the News she resented the parents being labeled "scabs" for doing volunteer tasks.

    *  "Our first concern is the students, the union is way down the list," Latta said.

    *  Newly elected school board chairman, Norm Alban, refused to comment on the situation, fearing that the confrontation could escalate.

    Furthermore, we as a parents group deplored that school hallways had litter on the floors.  We suggested that students should pick up after themselves, but again we were chastised that this would interfere with the work of janitors.

    The usual excuse by the principal was "My hands are tied.?"  How many times have we heard that?