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September, 2014

  1. Fabian Advances Through Education Systems

    September 29, 2014 by Tunya

    [Jay P Greene blog had a guest post by Matthew Ladner — The Brown Shirt Left —

    The accompanying visual. a poster of a brown shirted commando, has disappeared.  Below is my comment on this story.]

    Polarization Seems To Be The New Tactic

    There is something in the air, and I get it here in British Columbia, Canada, and from my readings about world events.

    We’ve just finished a bitter Teacher Strike — mid June to 22 Sept — and we thought that was the end of agitation. But no, soon the word was out that this was just the beginning. Beginning of what, you might ask? Well, a lot of unfinished business — class size, underfunding, etc. etc.

    Also, this year we are to hear an appeal from the government side about a court decision that found bargaining in bad faith and violation of the union’s constitutional rights. What is different about this latest court event (we have many in public education in BC) was that for the first time an intervener was given standing when the Appeal convenes next month. The Coalition of BC Businesses is expected to present regarding financial harms to the economy.

    What has happened is that the left in BC doesn’t want any tilting to happen in favor of the government. A strong organized campaign and petitions are underway — ONE: to discredit the small businesses in CBCB and TWO: to identify businesses in the province which can be seen to support public education. These are “polarized” for two treatments — ONE are “approached” to disassociate from CBCB upon pain of boycott, etc., and TWO are encouraged to post this sign in their window.

    Not calling them “brown shirts” yet, but kind of intimidating!

    I found your event in Arizona on a video. Hecklers were shown. I could not find the Republic story and link didn’t work

    I was surprised to see Security at this event. I saw them escort two hecklers but there must have been more, as I was sure I heard a female voice. I wonder when the time will come when disruptive hecklers will be IDed and referenced in the files. I’m fearful for future democracies and wonder what the young people at this event must have thought.

    Anyway, to sum up, I’m wondering if gradualism is being replaced with rapid polarization. This is the 130-year anniversary of the Fabian Society, devoted to bring about democratic socialism through gradualism and permeation — logo — Educate, Agitate, Organize. They’ve got outriders and camp-followers everywhere, it seems.

  2. 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?

  3. Education savings accounts (ESA)

    September 23, 2014 by Tunya


    BC’s $40 A Day Payout To Parents During The Teacher Strike Is The Start Of The Education Savings Account (ESA) Idea In Canada

    Practically all Western Democracies follow the principle that it is the parents who are ultimately responsible for their child’s education. Government schools are there as back-up for parents — part of the safety net of a welfare state. Check the School Acts. It is parents who are to register their child into a public school unless they have made other plans, for example, independent school or home education.

    Citizens generally support public education through their taxes and expect the government to distribute that dedicated money for the education of a targeted population of young children and youth.  For the government to actually produce that education lays it open to debate as to whether this amounts to indoctrination.  To operate a near monopoly service using government workers (public school teachers) is what has evolved over the years and is rarely challenged. It should be!

    Thus it was with great surprise that the Minister of Finance in BC, Mike de Jong, announced the notion of a $40 day payout to parents whose children in the primary years would be deprived of their government school of choice during a teacher strike.  The strike is now over and thousands of parents will receive $560 per qualified child.  The Finance Minister at that time enjoined parents to acquire “tutoring . . . other educational opportunities . . . [or] basic daycare.”

    It was an article of faith and trust in parents that they would do the right thing in the event the strike would last a long time.

    This, in effect, amounts to the first Education Savings Account idea in Canada.

    1. Parents will receive the money.  No one in any official capacity opposed this idea despite a great deal of grumbling from some quarters who felt this was “education money” and should go either to teachers or to “the system”.
    2. It is the Finance Minister who is to supervise the distribution of this education money to the qualifying parents, not the Minister of Education. This is significant.
    3. This is “devolution” in practice.  Central government is not determining how the money is to be spent and we have yet to see how many educational efforts were mounted in the 14-day period.
    4. Innovation, flexibility and discovery of resources never before tapped came to the fore.  Who is to say that horseback riding is not an educational accomplishment? Tutoring outfits were overwhelmed with demand for basics in math and reading.

    Now, we just need to build on this idea and expand the principle and practice.

    Watch this video about Arizona’s ESAs


  4. Some polls can lead to totalitarianism

    September 22, 2014 by Tunya

    [During our recent teacher strike the newspaper, Victoria Times Colonist, staged a demonstration about the shaky credibility of online polling. Their “poll” even warned:”This is not a scientific poll.”  After the results were in the author of the joke concluded that “special-interest groups [can] hijack the poll and claim the results as valid." Please read the whole story and comments. Below is my comment on another poll, this one "bought" by a special interest group which produced the desired results.]
    Polls Can Easily Become A Tool Of Totalitarianism
    (by Tunya Audain 100425, comment to blog, The Report Card, by Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun Education Reporter on story: “Most British Columbians want more public- school funding: poll” 100423 )
    BC is experiencing a deluge of organized attacks and destabilization maneuvers to force more funding for government schools.
    Even though throughout the rest of the world the same constraints on public spending are being felt, and school spending is seriously being cut back, BC seems to be experiencing more than its share of grief from the lobbies which benefit from the education tax dollar.
    Thus, we see the call for more funding for public service workers – teachers — in our schools, rather than more efficient spending of money. That independent schools do “more with less” is a thorn in the side of the public government schools.
    On another blog, one in Ontario (School for Thought), we were discussing tools of totalitarianism and how the media was used to ensnare citizens to totalitarian thinking. The article started out with Hitler having said “Your child belongs to us already”’ and then we discussed how a totalitarian state used propaganda techniques to brainwash.
    I contributed a classic case of how polls can be used to contribute to totalitarianism and I provided the link to the Vancouver Sun story about the Angus Reid poll: “Most British Columbians want more public-school funding: poll”.
    This poll was commissioned by a group whose aim is in the name: BC Society for Public Education. Therefore, you know that they lobby for more public education and, of course, for less competition from independent schools. And that is what the poll delivered.
    Briefly, there were three questions: 1) Should the government do more to support public education; 2) to increase funding for public education, and 3) to continue funding private schools? The scores were 81% YES 79% YES and 64% NO. What an outstanding result! It garnered considerable mileage in the press and meetings. The poll achieved what the client wanted.
    The newspaper, however, through its blogging ability, received over 100 comments and, unfortunately (for the lobby), some serious questions were raised:
    1. Were the questions loaded? Or leading?
    2. Isn’t Angus Reid polling rather questionable considering they are left-wing and support massive social spending? Don’t they use questionable polling techniques, that is, online polling?
    3. Who is behind this poll and who pays?
    The answers:

    1. See the pdf for the questions
    Note how the preamble leads to a “correct” answer. How it “primes the pump”, so to speak, for the waterworks to follow. The questions were well “crafted”, manufactured.
    1. The online polling is questionable. The “random selection” was done from the Angus Reid Forum, a self-volunteered array of citizens who get points for surveys taken, and qualify for monthly awards of $1000, $100, or other perks. The left-wing swing of the principal of the company is well noted in his writings.
    2. The group commissioning the poll has been in place since 2005 and with Board members long associated with “progressive” activism, including Patti Bacchus, current chair of the VSB.
    (Wouldn’t they just love to deflect an accounting probe away from the VSB?) Two current BCSPE Board members, Helesia Luke and Catherine Evans, run a communications, public relations, guerilla marketing company. Their literature includes these statements: “How you ask questions is important – language matters”, and “Asking questions influences groups in some way.” Funding for BCSPE and expensive polls – who know?
    What if, what if the poll did have more credibility? That is, what if a disinterested group (one without an agenda or self-interest) commissioned a poll on these issues? Suppose someone, just for an academic exercise, repeated such a survey, but with a different slant to the questions and preamble, could they have achieved a result of 81% NO, 79 % NO to more support or funding for public education, and 64% YES for continued funding for private schools?
    The headlines would scream: “8 out of 10 British Columbians want government to stop supporting and funding public education: poll”. “2 out of 3 want more funding for private schools: poll”.
    Wishful thinking? SURPRISE. The Angus Reid Chief Research Officer, Andrew Grenville, shows how you can get an exact opposite result just by the way the question is framed.  
    Enjoy this lovely story. Why The Way You Ask a Question Can Determine The Answer.
    So, is this education underfunding crisis in BC a magnificent example of engineering disinformation and propaganda by ideological stakeholders? Isn't that how agent provocateurs work?
    [Remember:  This comment was made 4 1/2 years ago.]







  5. supporting a parent group struggling against opposition

    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.