BC & ON teachers’ anger, arrogance & sense of entitlement

Where on earth does the Ontario and BC teachers’ overwhelming righteous indignation and sense of entitlement come from? Such arrogance is truly breathtaking.  As I just heard on SunNewsNetwork, BC teachers have been working to rule for six months.  For example, as this CP column by Tamsyn Burgmann shows, working to rule has meant doing nothing beyond normal — such as extra-curricular activities — as well as not providing report cards.  Well, in my opinion, not providing report cards is neglecting the duties outlined in provincial education legislation. Meaning, it should be grounds for firing — the lot of them if necessary. 

Now, regarding the YouTube video above, it is of a TVO round table on Ontario education with Steve Paikin (H/T Kristin at Conservative Reporter and Joanne at BLY) and shows a couple of brief interactions between Paikin and a retired teacher and former OSSTF official, named Doug Little

Little has always called himself a progressive when he has debated with me on this blog. So, what is it about people that are supposed to be forward-thinkers, that when they don’t get their own way, they resort to a type of threatening in a “my way or the highway” response? We have seen that very same type of phenomenon in Ottawa during the last three weeks about the robocall fiasco. Liberal and NDP MPs make unsubstantiated allegations and then scream so loud they start believing their own narrative — unless conservatives turn that narrative on its head — which I intend to do here about the notion that teachers somehow impact democratic election results. Here, for example, is a little Ontario history.

(1) In the late 1960′s and early 1970′s there were many protests to get the right to strike and other demands. For the whole story, check out this source. Bill Davis was Premier of Ontario for most of that period until he retired in 1985 and was re-elected several times. Meaning teachers’ protests had no effect on the politics at the time.

(2) In the 1990 Ontario election, David Peterson’s Liberals lost to Bob Rae’s NDP for a number possible reasons, although mostly for Peterson’s arrogance in taking Ontario voters for granted and calling an election after only three years. Teachers had no more effect on that outcome than in previous elections. 

(3) In June of 1995, the Mike Harris PCs were elected and the Bob Rae NDP were defeated. The PCs won because they promised to pay down the $11.9 deficit and turn the province around, which they did. The results of that election was to vote for a party, not so much against another one. Meaning, the teachers had nothing to do with the NDP defeat any more than they did the PC win.

(4) In June of 1999 the teachers unions did what they could to defeat the Harris PC government, instituting strategic voting. However, the Harris’ team won another majority government, albeit with fewer seats than in 1995. But, a majority is a majority! As previously, the teachers had no major effect on the outcome.

(5) In October 2003, the voters rejected the PCs and Ernie Eves (who replaced Harris after he retired), not because of anything the teachers did or didn’t do during that campaign but because Eves was seen as ineffective and too liberal.

(6) In October 2011, the McGuinty Liberals were re-elected for a third time. However, they won only a minority government while losing almost all the rural seats in Ontario they had held per this electoral map.

Think about it. Even after total media saturation of negative ads against the Ontario PCs and PC Leader Tim Hudak personally, such as those sponsored by WorkingFamilies and ETFO’s “Vote Against Kids,” all the teachers could do was get McGuinty a minority government. In fact, ten Liberal MPPs (including Cabinet Ministers) lost their seats –  because of the wind turbine issue.  So, even when the teachers spent millions and millions of dollars to get a government re-elected with a strong majority, they failed.

Meaning, that at the end of the day, the majority vote for the government they want. All citizens have a say, not just teachers. As I wrote recently, what the entire teaching profession seems to needs is a paradigm shift away from their sense of unrealistic entitlements. Education is about children, or at least it should be. And, governments, like families, have to live within their means. What is so hard about that concept for teachers and their unions to understand? That is the real narrative!

C/P JNW and thanks to newswatchcanada.ca.

Teacher, Faculty of Ed & union bashing will not improve public education!

Contrary to the opinions of many parents and Canadian taxpayers today, teachers, the teachers’ unions and faculties of education staff are NOT to blame for everything that is wrong in schools today. Yet, if you read the 300+ comments on a thread at EduChatter, it is obvious that there is an intense public anger and disdain against anyone and everyone within the public education system. And, that includes all those dozens of groups that are part of the Education Blob (Big Learning Organization Bureaucracies). Of course, that kind of discussion was not Paul Bennett’s intention given his post was just about how the various teachers’ unions resist reform. [Sentence added after posting.]

Perhaps, the anger and disdain are caused by looking through rose coloured glasses to a time when kids sat in rows and were taught the same traditional curriculum from itemized government documents. In fact, I still have a copy of the Ontario Department of Education’s “Grey Book” from the 1940′s through to the 1960′s where lists of content and skills could be quantified. Now, with the advent of the personal computer, the Internet, E-Books and Smart Phones, that is simply no longer possible!

Yes, I acknowledge that there are an awful lot of things needing improvement within our public education systems today. I also acknowledge that this post is fairly long because I didn’t want to take anything out.

To start with, there are the social promotion and no-fail policies that only seem to encourage and reinforce mediocrity.There is the all-pervasive “teacher/parent wall” when teachers communicate with parents with a “we know what’s best for your child better than you do” attitude rather than working with them as school partners.

Plus, there is the extremely divisive and controversial issue of quality teaching and teacher evaluation. In the United States, for example, they are turning to the results of standardized tests to evaluate and, even, to fire teachers. Here is a link to the Washington Post that claims 200 teachers were recently fired for just that reason – a decision that is just going to lead to a teacher shortage.

The reality is that many kids will admit that they don’t try to do very well on standardized tests. Moreover, teaching is not a passive activity. True, teachers are taught to motivate children but the reality is, politically correctness aside, that children have differing academic abilities. I mean, both my husband and I have taught in different school contexts and our standardized tests results varied from year to year and location to location — depending on the children.

All that said, there obviously needs to be some type of generalized teacher accountability criteria developed. However, it is not going to be the teachers themselves, the teachers’ unions, faculty of education staff or others in the blob – unless they get direction and orders from the politicians who are the governing party.

In other words, classroom teachers do not develop or set generalized board of education policy. Nor do principals or members of the Education Blob. Rather, teachers will implement board of education procedures which are based on government policy. They will do that, for example, a week before school starts at the end of this month. Specifically, they will decorate their bulletin boards, organize desks and tables and learning centres. Plus, they will develop and revise unit plans and day plans, depending on whether their grade level or subject specialty has changed, as well as whether or not there are any new board or government directives.  

In other words, at the end of this month and all through the school year, teachers will not be thinking about reforming anything. Rather, to not put too fine a point on it, they will be doing what they are told!

Faculty of Education staff will also not be setting school board or government policy either. Rather, they will be preparing teachers who will want to be hired by school boards to teach. Yes, there is a teacher surplus but that is not what pre-service students and their instructors think about. They think positively because they have no way of knowing who will be hired and who won’t.

So, at the end of each academic year (usually in late May or early June), faculty meetings are held to determine what curricula and modules will be included for the next group of pre-service students. Do the education faculty themselves decide what they should teach without examining government policies or curriculum guidelines? No, they don’t. 

In fact, having developed and implemented pre-service courses myself, I can confirm that education faculty are very careful to teach the knowledge and skills school boards want new teachers to know and do — because preparing teachers is what a faculty of education does. It does not try to reform the system.  

Put another way, faculties of education do not chose, willy nilly, what studies are going to guide their courses and practicum counselling. Rather, they follow the direction of the provincial government department/ministry involved — which usually sends memoranda to the Deans of such faculties.

So, as with classroom teachers, anyone who blames the faculties of education for all that is wrong with our education system today, is simply involved in scapegoating.

It’s actually similar with teachers’ unions in that they still have to convince the government of the day to make the changes they want. 

A case in point: Dalton McGuinty campaigned in 2003 and again in 2007 as the “Education Premier.” He promised that, if his Liberal Party was given a mandate to govern Ontario, he would implement smaller class sizes, have fewer drop outs and an increase in the number of high school students who would graduate with an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).

Well, Ontario now has more split grades to accommodate the smaller class sizes policy and fewer students dropping out and graduating from high school because of “no-fail” and “social promotion” policies. As this “Letter to the Editor” states: “Ontario is one of the ten best education system’s in the world.” Says who? On what basis does the writer make that claim?

Well, to begin with, the letter is written by a McGuinty Liberal MPP by the name of Dave Levac, which only reinforces my opinion that it is politicians who are primarily responsible for education reform. 

Levac claims, for instance that: “It’s clear that we have achieved a great deal since 2003 – taking our public education system from a declining state to one of the best in the world.” Declining state? Again I ask: Says who?     

My opinion is, therefore, that no matter which political party is in government or which province or territory is involved, when Canadians are dissatisfied with public education policy and practices, they should lobby and blame those who really are in a position to bring about change and reform — the elected politicians that represent the governing party, no matter which party that is!

And given the number of provincial elections this fall, that time is NOW – MAN on Oct, 4th, NFLD/Labrador on Oct. 11th, the NWT on Oct. 3rd, Ontario on Oct. 6th, PEI on Oct,. 3rd, SASK on Nov. 7th and the YUKON sometime in 2011.

Ontario teachers’ unions to spend $3 million to save McGuinty gov’t

When a public sector union in Canada, like the Ontario Catholic Teachers’ Federation, decides to spend $3 million of their members’ dues, to save a boondoggle-prone and inefficient provincial government, like the Dalton McGuinty Liberal government, you can assume that something is fishy. Why?  Because, as all taxpayers know, he who pays the piper calls the tune

During the last week, it has become very clear that Canada is in the midst of a paradigm shift. In fact, I now believe that the federal election of 2011 will go down in history as a shift either, back to the debt and deficits and entitlements of the 1970s or forward to smaller government and both government and taxpayers living within their means.  

And, symptomatic of that paradigm shift is the latest news that the Ontario Catholic Teachers Association are ramping up their battle with the Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) Party and its leader Tim Hudak in the lead-up to the Ontario election in early October. Remember, this is a group that represents “Catholic” teachers, Christians, who say they believe that they are their brother’s keeper. That being the case, how much good could $3 million do towards breakfast and lunch programs in inner city schools?  

Instead, that $60 levy against each and every member is apparently going to be used to help the McGuinty government get re-elected to a third majority government. And, according to the Toronto Star, that is in addition to whatever is being spent by the Working Families Coalition — which is also funded by the teachers’ unions, as well as other public sector unions.

Why? Because teachers’ collective agreements expire in 2012. Meaning, the teachers’ unions would have to face bargaining with the Tim Hudak PCs and they obviously don’t like that prospect one bit. On the extra levy, Christina Blizzard writes today in the Toronto Sun:

“It’s a protectionist racket — a shakedown to ensure teachers continue to get their lavish pay hikes and benefits. Since Premier Dalton McGuinty came to power in 2003, teachers have seen their pay hiked around 25% — an average of about 3% a year… [So] don’t look to the McGuinty Liberals to freeze teachers’ salaries, as they promised. They’ve failed miserably to hold the line on any public sector salary. Why start now?”

I heard Tim Hudak on the radio this week. He said he comes from a family of teachers and has nothing but respect for the profession. I feel pretty much the same way. I am a teacher. I am a retired teacher, as is my husband. I’m therefore, not going to be a hypocrite.  We both have a teachers’ pension (albeit mine is reduced). Do I appreciate what we have? You bet I do! Do I realize that it was collective bargaining that made our pensions possible? Yes, of course I do. But, I do not recall such partisanship and the complete lack of social conscience and willingness to compromise that I am seeing now.  

Well, Ontarians need to remember then that he who pays the piper calls the tune. In other words, if the McGuinty Liberals get re-elected, we can expect our taxes to go up to pay for public sector union demands — because they will owe them big time. So, three million to save the McGuinty government may not seem like much money in the grand scheme of things, but it is symptomatic of all that is wrong with our society today and its “we are entitled to our entitlements” attitude.   

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Endnote: I am puzzled every time I see the Working Coalition ad on TV, you know the one where the men in suits are sitting at a board table insinuating that good old “Tim” (meaning Hudak), should give capitalist Bay Streeters everything they want and forget everyone else. Well, hello?  Ridiculing capitalists? Look at the type of investments made by the Teachers’ Pension Plan and OMERS. In fact, the plans for teachers and municipal workers are two of the largest investment groups in the province.  It’s common sense. Capitalism creates a climate for investment. Investors create wealth. Wealth creates jobs. People work in jobs. People pay taxes which pay for public services. So, why bite the very hand that feeds them? Oh, silly me, it’s give the public sector unions everything they want and forget everyone else!