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a pox on both their houses — a quizz

March 8, 2014 by Tunya

BC news is highlighting — once again — the disruptive clashes between the teachers’ union and government.

Score 0-10 if, and how much, you believe these statements are true.

___ 1 The BCTF and the government of the day — conservative, socialist, liberal — have been vying for dominance in matters educational in BC for 40 years.

___ 2 The BCTF gained a strategic foothold in the 70s after the NDP first came to power and “radical Marxist” Jim MacFarlan, started the drive to use schools as “instruments of social change.”

___ 3 Fast forward to March 2014 a twitter post said: “Gov reps testified under oath that teachers = tough to bargain w/ because they aren't self-interested, they have a social agenda.” Does this mean a “social agenda” is more important than bread and butter issues?

___ 4 In the 2011-12 teacher job actions the government side totally approved the teacher demand to withhold report cards from parents and not engage in parent/teacher conferences.

___ 5 The BC Ed Plan is revising the public school curriculum to align with global 21st Century Skills. Hopefully, experts in subject fields are involved, but are they? After a Globe & Mail story on Math: "In BC, the worst math teacher I know, the one who confused my kid so much we had to hire a tutor, is now part of the panel developing the math curriculum. Why? Not because of any math knowledge, but because he's high-up in the union." This comment is upsetting, if true.

___ 6 Professional opinion also seems upset with the direction of BC curriculum development. Robert Craigen, Math professor (Manitoba) said on a blog: “What possessed the Ministry to give the BCTF full control over design and content of the curriculum? I’ve seen some of their modules and sample course plans, lessons, etc. and if they are any indication you’re in for province-wide in-class political indoctrination . . . If I lived there and had small children I’d be seriously thinking about leaving the province, for their sake.” This is doubly upsetting coming from someone within the teaching profession.

___ 7 Sophistication of BCTF bargaining prowess is in the literature. “The Future of Our Schools” (2012) says : “The British Columbia Teachers Federation is a fine example of how to organize for a successful strike, even when defying the courts.” Larry Kuehn, ex BCTF President and now staff at HQ provided this tip to an Osgoode Hall Law professor: “The key to our strategy was to restructure ourselves in a way which assumed that we had the right to bargain the whole range of things and then to try to take that into the bargaining arena . . . the strategic view was that if we did that for a period of time and we have restructured the reality then the law would follow.” Theatrics and cunning strategies are used by both sides to try to sway public opinion.

___ 8 The BC Ed Plan is claiming local development for provincial needs. Yet gurus who are consultants and turnaround experts in other countries and jurisdictions have been frequent flyers here. A Ministry official told a group of parents last April, 1 month before the provincial election — “regardless which party wins — the BC Ed Plan will go ahead: Because it’s international!” This is appalling, if true, that the current government is not in control but in league with international agents.

___ 9 While both sides in these disputes claim they are working in the public interest and on behalf of the children, it seems obvious that they are in general collusion because of a mutual need to retain the monopoly system which primarily serves system needs first. The system will never allow parents and public to be included. A court case would prove that this exclusion is harmful to democracy and education. 

___ 10 Australia has two Reviews active at the moment — A Curriculum Review and A Review Into Teacher Training. BC also should have similar Reviews. 

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