Monthly Archives: April 2012

What we are losing in BC schools. Parents need to know…

What follows is a letter written by Garibaldi Secondary School’s English Department head, Steve Moore (reprinted with Steve’s permission):

Among the cacophony of axe-grinding and mud slinging on both sides of the Bill-22/BCTF debate has been lost a very important point: the parents of BC are largely unaware of the erosion over the past 5 years of the varieties of courses their students take in secondary schools.

Due largely to funding deficits, coupled with declining enrolment in many districts, the loss of courses in the arts, technology, manual skills, languages, academic specialties, and other electives has gutted most of our secondary schools.

Only seven or eight years ago, a secondary school could run specialty electives (often called “singletons,” because they usually had only enough students for one class) with 15 students. Currently, in most mid-size secondary schools, courses are routinely cancelled because they do not reach an enrolment of 25 or more.

This has led to a climate in secondary schools wherein students who have, for example, studied drama and acting since Grade 8, reach Grade 11 and are told that they cannot move on to the higher levels, because “only” 20 students signed up for Acting 11/12.  Similar situations exist every year – and, in fact, increase yearly – for students of literature, music, visual art, technology, and second languages.

This is a political issue, but we are not writing to blame anyone.  We simply wish to activate one of the strongest untapped powers in the province: the parents of our students.  How many parents have been told their artistically-motivated student cannot continue in her field, and must fill up her timetable with courses that do not hold her interest, and are really just “filler” courses?  How many students excel in French or Mandarin and are told in Grade 12 that the final level is not available, due again to a “small” enrolment of 18-20 students?

We know the Ministry of Education thinks that distributed learning (or online learning) can solve the problem, and that may be the case with something like English Literature or French 12, but we still shudder to think what sort of “education” one thinks a student receives in a literature course that they take online: where are the discussions, debates, immediate feedback on ideas and essays?

However, we are especially worried about the arts, which cannot be taught from a distance.  The arts are not immediately pragmatic, so they often fall into the background as people argue over “success” and finding a career, preferably in a lucrative field.  This conversation – over the pragmatic “relevance” that so many shallow, short-sighted people think should be a part of all courses – is a dead end.  Successful people are the ones who have the creativity to see the worth of things others take for granted; they are not the automatons formed by a limited, rigid education.

Instead of listening to the blatherings of the “relevance” crowd, we should notice what all educational theorists have in common: their unanimous respect for the social, intellectual, and creative importance of the arts.  Sir Ken Robinson – currently one of the more popular thinkers in education – has built his whole theory of education around the need for creativity and the freedom of thought that arts brings to all students, regardless of their ultimate career choices.  Similarly, high level business executives and CEOs routinely mention their desire for creative and well-rounded employees, as opposed to narrowly trained dullards.

In short, for five years, we have steadily eroded the options for students in secondary schools, all the while feeding them the lie that the world is their oyster, and that we are here to make sure they at least have the opportunity to explore all forms of knowledge.  The actual state of affairs is the opposite: the world (through the aegis of the Education Ministry) has been made to appear as if all it cares about is students’ future earning power, and the schools facilitate this by severely limiting students’ learning horizons.

Ulysses famously exhorted us all to “follow knowledge like a sinking star/Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.”  Today, we are making that impossible, by sending kids away from the very courses that lead to the bounds of human thought and creativity, all because districts cannot fund many courses of fewer than 25-27 students.  In turn, this is the case because of the funding given to the districts from the Ministry.

Thus, good, well-meaning people (administrators) are being forced into the role of supporters of a system they cannot legitimately support, and do so only out of fear of retribution from their superiors.

So, what we are left with are the “basics:” the standard three Rs, and science courses, with a few lucky elective survivors. Is this what we want for our students – the future leaders of our world?

The time for parents, students, and the general public to fight for a well-rounded education is now. We cannot do it for you. Contact your school, your MLA, or the Minister of Education, when your son/daughter is told their education is going to be limited to a few courses, none of which are in the arts or other creative electives.

We all owe it to the students, and the future of our world, not to be silent in the face of this wholesale stripping of education to its bare bones.

Unless, of course, we are happy to encourage our students to aspire only to a limited life of “hoard[ing], and sleep[ing], and feed[ing].”

But I do not think we, as a society want this. We want, instead, to inspire our students to “drink/Life to the lees,” and to do “some work of noble note” in their lives. The arts and creative courses are the paths to this lofty goal, and we must demand for them their rightful place at the centre of any education worthy of the name.

Crass negligence in lumber mills

My heart goes out to the people in Prince George who are connected to the lumber mill tragedy. What a terrible tragedy for the families, and the community as a whole! Most of all, I feel humbled, diminished. As a teacher, I don’t face the kind of risks that big industry workers face every day. Its easy to forget that the machine that pays for what I do is run by these hard-working people, and that people sweat their lives away to make the machine go. In this case, they gave much, much more.

I also feel angry. Only weeks ago, another mill explosion happened under almost identical circumstances. Everyone who has a brain in their head knows damn well that dust is the issue here: fine particulate dust, just like the dust in flour mills. Nevermind the “no proof” and the “we need time to investigate” bullshit. Unless you’re an idiot, you know that the fine dust from pine beetle infested wood is the problem. I heard one guy on the CBC this morning saying that when you mill the stuff, you can hardly see across the room for the dust.

How on earth is it possible that the employer at this mill allowed this very preventable situation to happen? Why didn’t the employer, knowing full well that this mill is in the same situation as the previous mill that blew, protect the workers? Why didn’t the employer add more cleanup time to the budget so that the dust could be properly removed? A couple of guys dead – a few lost fingers, a few in the burn ward. All part of the risks inherent in the industry, right? Yeah… right.

Our student, Alex Jayy.

Alex died at 21 years of age. Some of the many people who loved him gathered here last night, at his old high school, to say goodbye. The drama teacher, who had acted almost as a surrogate mother to Alex (taking him into her home, feeding him when he was hungry, giving him love and direction when he was directionless), suspended her grief long enough to organize a memorial service for Alex at the school. She is a remarkable woman.

Alex was a skilled musician and an actor. The service was a fitting homage to him, featuring music performed by many of his talented friends. When the formal event ended, we went outside the school to where a large Japanese cherry was in full bloom. His friends released balloons, and a woman in the crowd (I’m not sure who she was), sang a beautiful swelling hymn to the sky as we watched the balloons float away. Her dark alto voice seemed to envelope all of us like a warm breeze, and we thought of Alex and how much we loved him. Dear Boy.

He was just that, I guess –  just a boy – a boy who came to our school. We knew him well, and we know his friends well, and his girlfriend, and her family. From a distance, it might not seem to mean anything, but when you work here day to day, it’s everything. We have loved him, and now he’s gone. Goodbye Alex.

Why do you want violence removed from hockey?

Does anyone really want violence taken out of hockey? Let me preface by saying that there is a big difference between hitting that is integral to the game of hockey, and hitting that is unnecessarily dangerous. A good clean hit to knock a player off the puck is part of the game. Running physical interference within the framework of the rules is a technical element of the game that makes it fascinating. Hits are going to happen, and at times, injuries are going to happen. Such is the nature of the sport. All of this belongs in hockey, but violence is a very different thing.

Before you can answer the question of whether you really want violence removed from hockey, you must think back on the incidents that have really irked you. I suggest that if you are angered more by the injury received by a player on a team you support, than by a player on a team you don’t support, you don’t really care to see violence taken out of the game. What you really care about is your team winning. Do you, in your heart of hearts, hope for your home player to receive a long suspension when he makes a dangerous play?

I have to confess that in my own interest in seeing justice done to violent players, my outrage is usually directed to players on other teams. Duncan Keith’s hit on Daniel Sedin was brutal, and I felt it right and proper that Keith received a suspension. Five games was not enough, but I digress. On the other hand, in last year’s playoff, when Aaron Rome lined up Johnny Horton and took him out of the playoffs, I, a Canuck fan, didn’t think he deserved the harsh treatment he got.

I’m sure that Canuck fans will argue about the details (Keith’s hit was at high speed with his elbow directed at Sedin’s face), but argument only supports my point; people argue in favour of the home team, which suggests that they are less concerned about violence than they are about its consequences to their team, or to their enjoyment of the game, or (in the case of owners) to their bottom line. This is the very reason why elite players don’t face the same sanction for violent actions that lower-skilled players do, and this is the reason violence continues.

If winning and losing, and money have any sway in our decision making about removing violence from hockey, decreasing violence will never happen. Until our reason becomes more philosophical, we’ll fail. If we really want to reduce the overall level of violence in hockey, we need to think about its effect on players – those players whose lives can be seriously and permanently affected by injuries. We also need to think about the problem of violence in society as a whole. We need to talk about sensationalism, and how we, as human beings, relate to violence. We need to reduce violence because it is essentially undesirable in a civilized world – not because it takes away the home team’s advantage.

“I support kids, not the union.” What a crock!

I wonder how many teachers who say, “I support kids, not the BCTF,” have really tried to imagine the past ten years in BC public school teaching without the BCTF. I wonder if anyone really thinks they would have achieved a legal victory over the government on Bill 27/28 if there had been no union in place to fight the law on constitutional bases. THE CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED BY YOUR GOVERNMENT!!! Do you really think you could stand alone against such tyranny without support? The victory in this case will go down in Canadian legal history as an enormous victory in support of human rights. Its precedent will forever illuminate the rights of workers in Canada – your children, for example.

Similarly, I wonder how many people believe that teachers would have been able to negotiate a contract with the BC Liberal Government in 2005 without the union. Do these people recall how quickly the government moved to legislate a contract? Do they recall the solidarity we had and the support we had? Do they recall that the dispute only was able to last ten days before the employer gave in to arbitration? I wonder if there is anyone who believes that the BC Liberal government would have worked cooperatively with teachers had there not been a union at that time. Has this government ever worked cooperatively with the grass roots of any public service agency?

The BCTF is not perfect. No human institution is perfect. But in these times, I am amazed to hear people disparage their own union. In my whole life, I’ve never seen such closed off, mean spirited government as what we are seeing now. I’ve never seen such flagrant disregard for the rights of the citizenry in my whole life as I have seen in Bill 22, and yet I hear teachers who want to engage in kinder, gentler job action. Why? To gain public support? If we had public support, the Liberals would have negotiated with us in the first place – long before there was any talk of job action. Public support will not get better for us, no matter what we do. We are a largely female profession, and you KNOW the history of public support when it comes to anything female (or do you?). We either take a serious, defiant stand now, or we accept the government’s message that public school is not important, that teachers are somehow unworthy of international labour law, and therefore should be denied fundamental labor rights like seniority and freedom from interference through these ridiculous mandatory evaluations. I will not stand cap in hand and accept such abuse. And what empowers me to make this stand? The union.

I’m tired of the mantra, “I support kids, not the union”, as if the union doesn’t care about kids. If the union didn’t stand for you, you would be powerless to stand for anything, including the kids. And good luck to them if we give up this fight!

Fighting for a vision of education

Today teachers in BC vote on yet another plan of action to protest the unwillingness of our employer to recognize our working needs. I plan on voting with the union to keep protesting. I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s not good enough for us to wait for our lawyers to challenge the legislation imposed on us, a legislation which is inevitably going to be deemed unconstitutional, just as the previous legislation was. We need to hold to our principles and disobey the government; otherwise our lack unified action will be perceived as acceptance of the government’s mandate. And what is the mandate? It is to completely take educational decision-making away from educators. It involves a vision that would see lessons broadcast from one source to many classrooms at a time, as if teaching actually works like this; as if such a model can possibly service the many reluctant learners that we see in public school. You’re damn right, I’m going to protest a bill that advances such a vision.

This is my position, but it is not easy to sustain. Our job action is not like that of other unions. We don’t affect markets or the profit margins of rich men; we affect innocent children, who are beautifully, blissfully disconnected from political agendas. They trust us. They trust that what we are giving them is what they will eventually need. They appreciate our volunteerism. They relate to us; they eat with us; they play with us. They bounce ideas off of us in order to try to come to some understanding of their world. Is it any wonder, then, that we are reluctant to take action? We are not “sticking it to the man”; we are defending a system that is very personal. What we do is at the core of human dignity: we impart knowledge, skill and attitudes to children. It is very, very difficult to take the position that we will disappoint children in the short run, so that we can protect this system in the long run.

Earlier I mentioned that legal challenges aren’t good enough. They’re not. It took 10 years of legal work to overturn the first legislated contract by this government. The deadline for the government to address the repercussions of that legislation has passed, and nothing has come of it. While that legal challenge was in the works, we struck “illegally” against another attempt at the same unconstitutional legislation, and won; and now the same government is making a third attempt to do the same thing. Every attempt chips away at our influence and at our fortitude. Inexorably, the system is being taken out of the control of teachers, who see education as a journey toward personal betterment for each individual according to his/her needs; and being given to the oligarchy of powerful men, who see people as labour capital, and education as a means to economic gain.

I see this fight as a turning point. If we stop our protest, we will be seen as being amenable to the government’s neo-liberal vision. I’ve heard the commentators on corporate radio saying that this is not about the kids – that this is a labour dispute. They’re only scratching the surface of what this fight is about. There are deep philosophical issues at stake here that will change forever the meaning of the word “education”.

I wonder what my dad would think of the Occupy movement

My dad, a talented metallurgical engineer, and shrewd businessman, rose quickly through the ranks of his company. He worked for Cominco, a multinational mining corporation that boasted the world’s largest lead/zinc smelter in the small BC interior town of Trail. The history of Cominco was one of incredible success. The Trail operation began as a gold smelter for the ore that was mined out of the LeRoi mine in nearby Rossland. Its location on the mighty Columbia River was ideal, as the river provided Cominco with limitless hydro-electric power.

When the LeRoi Mine ran out of gold, Cominco retooled its operation to smelt lead and zinc from the very rich Sullivan Mine located in Kimberley, some 200 miles away by rail. From the early 1900’s to the 1980s, two factors contributed to Cominco’s success: one was the manufacturing industry in the developing superpower to the south, the U.S (World War II was especially good to Cominco); the second was the impunity that the company enjoyed in development and operations. In the early days, Cominco ravaged the land, damming rivers, stripping the foliage and belching toxic smoke into the air. Men worked in clouds of lead fumes without respirators. There was endless demand for Canada’s metal, and there was nothing stopping production.

After the War, a strong union movement gripped North America, and the city of Trail boomed. There was good money to be made in Trail. Displaced persons from Italy immigrated there for work and the city grew, eventually building a large hospital, several pools and parks, and a fine arena for its hockey team. The very profitable company kicked in money to the town. Citizens enjoyed reduced electricity rates, as the power requirements of a city were minimal compared to the factory, which itself was bigger than many small towns. If there was ever a model for trickle-down economics, Trail was it.

Up until the 70s, kids from the local high school knew that they would be able to make a good living: buy a house, raise a family, and grow a retirement plan. If you became a tradesman, you could make a very good living indeed. In the 70s, the joke among many young boys was that after graduation they’d be attending the University of Cominco. In fact, there were even t-shirts bearing the logo!

As time wore on and society in general became more educated, the Company came under more and more pressure from environmentalists. The union got wise to the inherent health risks in jobs at the smelter, and the workers demanded and won many concessions from the company, including things like regular lead level checks in union kids’ hair, and paid shower time for the employees. The company was so profitable that it could give these concessions and still survive.

But that all changed in the early 80s. A brutal recession hit, driving the metals prices lower while the interest rates rose into the high teens. The company learned new automation technologies that would reduce its environmental footprint while simultaneously cutting the labour force in half. At one point, the rumor in the plant was that after all the layoffs, the youngest union worker left was in his 30s. The company demanded huge tax breaks and government support – always threatening to shut down. With the number of young people laid off, and the harsh mortgage rates, the price of housing dropped like a stone. Suddenly secondary business had to shut down in the community. The hospital shut down beds. Life in Trail got worse. The population of the City dropped. The company was losing money, and debt trickled down to the workers.

In those dark days, under threat of operational shutdowns and further layoffs, the union in Trail gave huge concessions, even allowing contracting out of various jobs to non-unionized workers. The mine in Kimberley shut down for two years, partly due to the abundance of ore from the huge Red Dog Mine in Alaska. When the Sullivan Mine opened again, the workers started at a substantially reduced wage. In all of the layoffs and government lobbying, my dad was instrumental. An upper level manager in those days, Dad was making just a little more than the highest paid union tradesmen. We enjoyed a very good standard of living. Dad was able to buy property and other investments, taking advantage of the low real estate prices of the 80s. He did well.

The recession eventually ended, but the Company continued to struggle under the pressure of relatively stable (low) metal prices. A large mining company from Australia named Teck, eventually bought controlling shares of Cominco and a new era began. Dad was redeployed, but remained with the company. The economic forces in place, particularly Canada’s low currency in comparison to the U.S., restored Tech-Cominco to profitability. But there were still efficiencies to be found, and the Company had become good at finding them. Reinvestment stopped happening very much in the small city of Trail, in favour of a factory in the developing country of Peru, where the labour force was much cheaper. It was Dad’s project to get the Peruvian plant operational. I remember asking him if Cominco was paying the labourers well in Peru. He told me that, although they were being paid far less than the workers in Canada, they were paid much better than most people in Peru. As evidence of Cominco’s ethical treatment of the Peruvians, he followed up by saying that no one in the Peruvian factory had ever quit.

Unbeknownst to Dad, his life was soon to end. In 1999, he contracted an aggressive cancer, but in his last few years, he began getting paid more money than he had ever been paid before. Teck Cominco was pulling in record profits, and Dad was getting bonuses – large ones that had previously been unavailable to him, no matter how much the company earned, and no matter how demanding his job had become. The city of Trail recovered somewhat, but never ever regained the prosperity that it had enjoyed before the 80s. It is a city left behind, where retailers struggle to survive. The work force has lost benefits and remuneration relative to the economy. There have been occasions when the demand for electricity in the U.S. has set up scenarios where it was more profitable for the company to shut down its operations and sell its hydro power than it was to produce and sell metal, so that’s just what it did. The union workers were laid off for months while the company’s profits went up and up.

Trickle down economics in Trail is a thing of the past, and what has happened in Trail is a blueprint for all of North America. Outsourcing, and the co-opting of profits have left the laborers behind. This is now the world we live in, and yet we still cling to the belief that the success of large corporations somehow trickles down to everyone. It’s a myth.  If there is a solution, it surely lies in public policy aimed at redistributing the benefits of profits: subsidies for the basic needs of everyone: housing, health and education. The reason why this doesn’t happen, is, as the Occupy movement has shown us, the fact that it is the big corporations who are able to successfully lobby government. They stubbornly continue to propagate the trickle-down myth, allowing them to protect their immense power.

A few disturbing trends

I don’t have the statistics in front of me to substantiate the claims that you are about to read. However, I have been paying attention, and I didn’t come up with these notions on my own. If you read this, and know of any literature that could substantiate (or discredit) my concerns, please comment. Here are some of the things that worry me.

1. In Canada, interest rates are low, and housing prices are about as high as they can possibly be. If interest rates increase even a little bit, common Canadians, who are stretched already to afford mortgages for overinflated property values, could run into a problem of not being able to afford their homes. If the property values decrease below their current equity levels, get ready for big problems.

2. Corporations are paying their CEOs and shareholders massive amounts of money – more than ever, while workers are getting paid less and less relative to the economy.  This effect multiplies. Fewer people have money to spend, so the retail sector loses out, leading to even more poverty and unemployment.

3. A lot of politicians are getting caught in lies – usually involving sweetheart deals and other conflicts of interest, but they don’t seem to be getting punished.

4. Powerful people are rigging elections. We have seen this in the U.S. for many years with Nixon’s “dirty tricks”, with G.W. Bush’s “dimpled chad” scandal, with Canada’s “Robocalls” scandal, and with British Columbia’s “stolen PINs” scandal in the leadership election. It’s worthy of note that in the NDP federal leadership election, someone launched a cyber-attack on the online voting system, slowing down the process immensely.

5. Governments seem to be ignoring the U.N; Charter to which they’ve signed. This is particularly worrisome when basic human rights and freedoms are denied. Governments are passing laws that violate their own constitutions.

6. Surveillance is on the increase. Cameras are everywhere. Governments now have the power to spy on innocent citizens. They are passing laws that will allow them to hack our emails and phone calls without any judicial process. They don’t need probable cause, or any reason at all.

7. Laws are focusing on punishment. Mandatory minimum sentences make is easier now to incarcerate people for minor crimes. Crime statistics show that harsher penalties do nothing to deter real criminals. Besides the huge added social cost of funding an increased prison population, the increasing harshness (e.g. allowing police to strip search in any apprehension situation, including traffic offenses) seems to be aimed at keeping a population at bay. This sets up a scenario where if dissent is criminalized, the state will be allowed tyrannical control.

8. Public protest, including striking or public demonstration, is becoming illegal.

9. Incumbent governments are spending public money on campaign advertising when there is no election.

10. Education is being funded less, much less, and in such a way that it favours people who can afford private schools. Education policy has increased the use of letter grades and high stakes testing to limit access to higher education. This mainly hurts people of lower socioeconomic status.

11. Intellectualism is under attack. The findings of scientists, the arguments of philosophers, the observations of social critics and artists, are being disparaged – even mocked, while athleticism, jackass behaviour and brutality are being exalted. Intellectuals are being accused of “hiding behind big words.”

12. Mainstream media news is owned by the powerful people who are influencing public policy. Journalists are reporting press releases rather than investigating.

13. News reporters are being monitored and denied access to government, based on the content of their writing. The strategy is to conduct press interviews in a closed door, private venue. Typically journalists who report stories that make the government look bad are barred from these venues.

14. Taxes are being introduced that favor big business, but which have a profound effect on the middle class.

15. In full knowledge that Western societies have an aging population, benefits to the elderly are being reduced, or access to them is being postponed.

Catholic guilt can be a good thing.

The Catholic Church is not as medieval as people think. It’s far from perfect, but it has a tradition that is very relevant in these times. It is the belief in reconciliation. Reconciliation is a concept that modern educators, and  justice ministries deal with all the time, but they’re laughably behind the church on this.

The sacrament of reconciliation in the Catholic Church takes a bit of a beating from non-Catholics. A common joke is the idea that a Catholic can do whatever he wants; all he need do is confess his sin and all is forgiven. This belief is a fallacy – unfortunately one that is likely believed by many catholics themselves (hence the joke). The truth about the Catholic concept of reconciliation is that forgiveness is contingent on the confessor being truly sorry. A well-conscioned Catholic would believe that you may be able to fool the priest – maybe even yourself, but you’ll never fool God. Catholics are taught that the sinful act is really a symptom of a bigger problem: a sinful heart. And they’re taught that EVERYONE has a sinful heart – everyone! So who can be saved? This conundrum is the source of Catholic guilt – a knowledge that on our own, we are sinful beings. This theme is not exclusive to Catholics. Every religion recognizes hubris, but few instill it into their children like Catholics.

Popular psychology over the years has rightly recognized the crippling effect of guilt. For example, women who have been assaulted, often feel guilt about becoming victims. Surely this can’t be healthy, but Catholic guilt is a different thing. Catholic guilt is a recognition of one’s fallibility. It’s a recognition that being wrong, or doing wrong is inherently human, and as such, it is only avoided through the nurturing of a well-informed conscience, as well as “the grace of God”. In secular terms, “the grace of God” can be looked at as the fortunate confluence of circumstances that reduce the attractiveness of doing wrong. But in every life, situations occur that cause a person to lose his dignity – if not in action or word, at least in thought. We lash out hurtfully at people, or we forgo our morals when opportunity or desire (or both) increase the likelihood behaving badly.

An understanding of one’s fallibility is very important, as it allows a person the ability to look objectively at his own behaviour and recognize his treachery while still being able to keep his ego intact. Without being able to admit to one’s own culpability, a person can never truly engage in restitution, because in order to view himself as a decent person, he will have to make excuses, misappropriate blame, or deny. He will not be able to properly forgive himself and move on, and therefore he will run the risk of assuming his maladaptive behaviour into his ego.

Consider the example of a person who needlessly steals from a store. If he can not look objectively at his behaviour and recognize his culpability, he is unlikely to be able to resolve not to repeat the behaviour. On the other hand, if he can look at the behaviour as something that is objectively wrong, and if he can accept the blame for it, he can attempt to put it behind him, and do better in the future. Furthermore, it allows him to view other people as worthy of forgiveness. This connection is the essence of restitution. It may seem self-evident, but there are many people who can’t look objectively at their behaviour. In fact, any priest will tell you that many Catholics are not endowed with this sense of “guilt” (for lack of a better word).

The concepts of human culpability and forgiveness can, and should be taught. The secret to endowing our children with the ability to internalize these concepts must lie in child-rearing. However this is accomplished, it is extremely important. Without it, we cultivate a population of antisocial self-centeredness, and our society is doomed to fail. It is hard to know if we are getting better or worse in this regard. To see the unconscionable behaviour of many people, even some of our most powerful politicians, one might think the latter is true.

Justice Griffin’s decision on Bill 27/28

I have been telling every teacher I know that they MUST read Justice Griffin’s decision – the whole thing. I have never read a clearer interpretation of the Charter rights that all Canadian workers are entitled to. If ever there was a way to know what our rights are, as well as the limitations of those rights, this is it. Just pour yourself a glass of wine, and sit down and read. And what better forum for you than this humble blog? Here you can fire out comments as you think of them. I really believe this is required reading for all teachers, and anyone who wants to understand what is meant by freedom of lawful assembly, the right to fair negotiation, and the right to strike. You may just be surprised!

Read The Decision by clicking.