Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Negotiations between the province and the teachers: a primer for parents

First day of school
OPSBA has walked away from the table, after bad-faith bargaining.
Our Premier, Kathleen Wynne, has gone to the media complaining that the agreement with OSSTF should be good enough for ETFO.
If that were so elementary teachers would be pleased. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. I used to like her forthright attitude. No more.

The media fails to grasp what it is that the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), and the province, Ontario Public School Boards Association (OPSBA), are doing at the negotiation table. I'm sure most parents do not understand that working conditions are learning conditions.

In the past, local school boards negotiated with local teacher representatives. Legislation changed this, and now portions of the local collective agreements are now based on an overlay between OPSBA (AKA the province of Ontario) and ETFO in Toronto. Agreements set down from on high. Unfortunately, initiatives, such as full-day kindergarten, costing billions of dollars, did not receive adequate or sustainable funds.

OPSBA's mandate
Following the passing of Bill 122, School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2014, in April 2014, OPSBA is committed to ensuring the new collective bargaining process supports and strengthens our remarkable public school system. We believe that teachers and support staff deeply influence a positive and productive learning environment for students and are supported in this role through the peace and stability engendered by successfully negotiated collective agreements.

Field trips take time to plan
The idea was to hammer out important issues provincially, before locals bargained collectively, for local and regional differences. Theoretically, this gives Ontario a vision of Ontario students, and should raise standards across the province. Instead, they are lowering the common denominator.

The high school teachers union (OSSTF) and OPSBA have come to an agreement. There are crucial differences between the high school overlay and the elementary school overlay agreement.

The differences

  • Class size: maximum size is 22 students for high schools, no max for kindergartens, which run up to 34 students, and nothing for gr. 4 - 8. The province instituted a maximum of 20 for Primary grades (Gr. 1 - 3). They have line-up for bathrooms, and must visit their cubbies, to prepare for out door play, in staggered numbers.
  • Yard duty: Need I say more? Do you phone a parent with an issue, or go to the bathroom? No, you have to run outside to do yard duty.
  • Sick leave: High school teachers cover one another, although some occasional teachers are called, or students are sent to the resource centre. Elementary teachers, generalists, must be replaced. It is important for continuity, and delivering a quality program.
    Yard duty
    • Preparation Time: High school teachers create a lesson plan for gr. 9 geography and history, which they deliver many times. Elementary school teachers are generalists, and create curriculum for Language Art, Math, Music, Art, Dance Drama, Health and Physical Education, Social Studies, all the while differentiating program and creating Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) for special needs students.
    • Split grades: This doesn't exist in high schools. See lesson plan issue above. 
    • Professional Development: There is little money for this, since elementary teachers must be replaced in the classroom, or go to after-hours events.
    • Report cards: They take hours at the elementary level, including IEP reports. High school teachers plug in a mark and comment #9,
    • Salary: There is a disparity between the salary grid for high school and elementary teachers, including extra pay for being department heads (This is not done in the elementary panel, despite having teams leaders.)

     OPSBA is trying to strip class size from the current overlays for the younger kids. This means that a high school has a maximum of 22 students in grade 11 math, but elementary schools have junior kindergarten sizes of 33 children. My granddaughter was in one. It's crowd control, especially with young special needs students integrated into renovated regular classrooms.
      A wide-range of needs and backgrounds,
      life in a portable!

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

    Federal Election #42 2015

    Here we are again! Too many ignore the importance of an election. Whether it is Federal, provincial/territorial or municipal, government political work affects our lives.

    Election campaigns are complex
    Teachers are wise to take this opportunity to explore this important facet of Canadian Politics. Students can collect articles, campaign pamphlets, view debates, and generally exploit this phenomenon that lends itself to literacy and integrated unit opportunities. You need not have a great deal of experience or be a political animal, the older students (Gr. 4 and above) can have a grand time. My Gr. 8’s, back in 2006, found a lot of excitement in following what proved to be a minority government.

    Critical Thinking Skills

    We debated platforms, talked about issues, spoke of local candidates and party leaders. There
    was a buzz. We learned not to believe everything we read. In the time since, however, there are much more information out there than before.  In my classrooms we compared and contrasted what we read, saw on TV and heard on radio. My classroom walls were filled with articles that students would rush in to show me.

    It was interesting comparing the difference between Municipal ( and Regional), Provincial and Federal mandates and issues. It is the Municipal elections that have a profound effect on citizens in terms of your region and local taxes, but a Federal election is a prime opportunity for separating out the various levels of government and determining their mandate and effect upon Canadians as a whole. Once the election was over we were not finished. Then we compared the candidates between 2004 - 2006. Wikipedia was a great source, as long as we were not looking for much more than data.

    Another aspect of this current election is the effect that applications like Twitter and Facebook have on election fever.

    Learning Activities

    1. CheckTo begin: a) Create a title page and a table of contents. Create a KWL chartKWL
     b) View this Powerpoint introduction to voting in Canada, an overview - based on the book:Canada Votes.
    Can you add any information to your chart now? Do you have any more questions?
    c) Here are some photos of my bulletin boards: these are the resources we have used in the classroom.
    2. L.A.a) Visit the Political party names and logos page on Election Canada's website to find the registered political parties.
    b) What is the platform of the various parties?c) Compare the issues using comparison charts like these for 2006.
    3. L.A. VOCABULARYSpelling activity sheet | My Wordsearch Puzzle | My Crossword Puzzle | Glossary of special terms.

    ballot box
    Prime Minister
    Governor General
    polling station
    political party

    electoral officer
    returning officer
    electoral reform
    campaign manager
    polling agencies
    Leader of the Opposition
    House of Commons
    b) of vocabulary words.
    c) Elections Canada has information in other languages, as well.
    c) Here are some vocabulary words you should know:
    d) What do you think should be done to resolve these issues. If you were a candidate what would your platform be like?
    e) What do you think about the various slogans candidates are using?
    f) Which of the issues concern you?
    e.g. Education, Poverty, the economy, First Nations, Equality for families, Day Care, Definition of marriage, Immigration Policy, Free Trade, Health Care, , Low voter turnout, low percentage of young voters, the environment, gun violence, corruption in government, Senate Reform, fixed election policy made into law, first past the post.
    4. Matha) How many women vs. men sat in Parliament in 2006?
    b) i) What is the gender ratio of candidates (this is 2006 info) running in this election? Equal Voice is trying to increase the numbers of female candidates.
    ii) What about the ethnic ratio of candidates? Does it vary by province, territory or rinding?

    5. Matha) What was the voting results (by party) in the last Federal Election in your riding, by province or in Canada? Visit the map of election 2006 results.
    b) This is the Parliamentary seating chart for the 41st parliament. Students can label this seating chart and colour code it by party affiliation. Then can compare and contrast the 2006 results.
    2006 Seats in the House
    Seating Govt

    6. Math a) Look at the graphs that examine polls, created by CBC news. Another great site has been created at WLU (2008) looks at various polls. Very thoughful site. It looks at the inconsistency of polls. Dr. Kay questions the lack of systematic approach by pollsters.
    b) Compare the Globe & Mail interactive graph results dating from 2000 to 1867. Originally the two parties in Canada were the Tories and the Liberals. Which results indicated that other parties were involved and winning seats and in which years?
    c)Write 250 words about the expenses in the 2000 election.
    d) Wikipedia also has polling data. At this site you can compare graphs from various polling agencies.
    i) Write 5 questions a peer should be able to answer based on these graphs.topii)What do impact you think the "undecided" electors make? Check the polls, compare the events by looking at the enwspaper editorials on these topics.
    e) Facts and Figures about Canada and voters. This page includes historical facts and a timeline.
    f) Election 2004 Results in Nepean-Carleton by the 611 individual polling stations, by Southern Ontario,
    g) percentage of votes by party for 2000 & 2004, (all in .pdf format) from the larger document on the Elections Canada web site.

    7. a) Many newspapers, and other media, have been printing polling information.
    b) i)Do you think that this information is reliable or accurate? ii) Do you think it has a direct effect on the election, rather than reporting news? iii) Does taking a poll change the election results?
    d) Newspapers are owned by an increasingly smaller number of people. Compare coverage by various news sources.
    e) Why do you think that the 2008 Election was called?

     f) Election features
    b) Try Toronto StarmacleansCTV
    Globe&Mail for election news.
    Use this organizer5 W's for your note taking.

    b) Do you know which rules apply to the Media on Election Day? Media at the Polls
    8. MathResearch on the Election:
    You should be aware of the candidates in your riding. Go to Elections Canada and put in your postal code.
    A) Elector information:Election Process
    Am I on the list of electors?
    What information do you have on the election?
    Where is my local returning office?

    B) The voting process:
    Where do I vote?
    Is there level access at my polling station?
    When is my polling station open on election day?
    When can I vote in advance?
    How do I vote by special ballot?
    Our bulletin board!

    C) Candidates
    Who are the candidates in my electoral district?
    What are people saying about the gender ratio and the predicted number of women in cabinet?
    Equal Voice says that few women are running in winnable ridings. Write an essay or present a logical argument on your findings.
    CTV shows where the party leaders are travelling.
    Logical Argument
    What has been happening during the election campaign? Create a timeline of the process.

    h) In which ridings were there VERY CLOSE class? e. g. Parry Sound-Muskoka (2006).
    D) Research a history of democracy.
    D) Write a 5-paragraph essay on one topic or aspect of the election. It could be a biography, it could be about the slogans, corruption, comparing the platforms of the different candidates, compare voting practices in other countries.
    9. History:
    b) "Voting in Canada: How a Privilege Became a Right" -CBC Documentary on Equity Issues in the Canadian electoral process. How minority groups won the right to vote across history.Math
    c) CBC Canada archives about previous elections. Great videotapes!
    d) History of Federal Ridings since 1867. (Government of Canada)
     10. Matha) Explore different levels of government.
    b) Here are some more research questions about Canada's House of Commons:i) What were the standings in the House of Commons?House of Commons
    ii) Who sits where in the House?
    iii) Where are our parliament buildings?
    iv) Can you name this: building?
    11. a) artCollect some editorial cartoons (CBC has some on-line) for the past month, available on-line. Check for the targets of various cartoons. Is there an evidence of bias for or against particular parties by various media outlets? 

    b) Check out the editorial cartoons, the editorials, letters to the editor and look for bias on the part of reporters and individual newspapers.
    12. Checka) On-line quizzes: Canada Election Quiz;  Maclean's Quiz

    13.  Elections Canada Resources: Young Voters | Learning Resources

    14.  Student Vote In 1971 22% of 15 - 19 year olds had jobs (Macleans, 2006). People aged 23 to 29 who won't vote: 14%. According to Elections Canada, percentage of 18-24 year olds who actually voted in 2000: 25%. In 2001 it was 13% of teens who worked full-time. What do you think about having 16 - 18 year olds vote? Is it the right thing to do? Do you think they will vote thoughtfully? Will they vote properly? Will they vote at all? What is the percentage of voters by province and territory?

    Quick Links Here is  web page. This includes a PDF Teacher's Guide.DemocracyProject

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