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About qball

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  1. More delete, Delete, DELETE!!!! http://www.delta-optimist.com/opinion/difficult-to-know-how-premier-made-her-decision-on-bridge-1.2100107 Difficult to know how premier made her decision on bridge  Ian Robertson / Delta Optimist October 30, 2015 10:32 AM EmailPrint       Last week B.C.’s privacy commissioner issued a stinging report on how a provincial government employee had destroyed emails relating to an inquiry about the Highway of Tears. A government employee counselled another to erase emails related to the inquiry. When that employee resisted, the other employee took over the computer and deleted the emails. He then swore under oath he had not done this, but finally confessed.   In response, the minister of technology, innovation and citizens’ services claimed it was an “exception.” Further checking by the privacy commissioner, however, showed that up to 40 per cent of all emails handled in the premier’s office were being systematically destroyed. Included was the commissioner’s statement that “the [premier’s] deputy chief of staff has not personally retained a single email she has ever sent from her government email address.”  So where are the records? How does this track with the premier’s election promise to have the most open, transparent government in the country?   Closer to home, in March of 2013 the Ministry of Transportation published a consultation guide that showed five scenarios to replace the George Massey Tunnel. This was to help in the discussions.   In September of that year, the premier announced at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention (all mayors and councillors in B.C.) that the tunnel was to be replaced by a single eight- to 10-lane bridge at the same location.  In April 2014, I submitted a freedom of information request for “materials such as documents, data, analysis prepared for the premier to allow her to determine and to announce that the Massey Tunnel would be replaced by a bridge over the Fraser River.” On June 4, I received a letter stating: “Although a thorough search was conducted, no records were located in response to your request.”  So what happened? How did the premier become involved, how did she become aware enough of the discussions, the pro and con? Did the cabinet participate in the multi-billion dollar decision so she could make this pronouncement?  Her public comment last week was: “Decisions I make are mostly made in cabinet meeting and all that’s evident to the public because all of that is recorded… and released.” But no records could be found, so did she simply make the decision on her own in the middle of a shower?   I later asked the question of the senior public servants in charge of the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project office in Richmond. Their response was silence. I asked them for the financial analysis of comparing the five choices. They responded: “It was high level.” I then asked: “Where were the notes?” They said none were taken.  So just how open and disciplined is the provincial government? Is this how you want a decision costing billions of dollars to be made? Who is hiding what? Where are the notes and briefing papers?  Ian Robertson is a retired professional engineer who has been active in South Delta affairs for over three decades.
  2. Even if you factor out the significant socio-economic advantage Private School kids have over the general population (which is the single biggest determinant of success in school and beyond), it is well known in education circles that grade inflation is absolutely rampant in the Private Schools. Understandable, given the huge tuition fees parents pay, and the absolute lack of job security Private School teachers have. LOL indeed...
  3. The I Support BC Teachers thread

    4500+ students over 5 years, is not exactly a small sample size, and the authors of the study didn't try to generalize the results to the larger population - it was just one example debunking the 'myth' that private schools do better than public schools. And sure the Fraser Institute takes a much larger sample, but if the data they collect is crap (FSA tests & Provincial Exam scores) then their results must be crap as well - and they are!
  4. The I Support BC Teachers thread

    This recent study at UBC seems to disagree with you... http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/public-school-graduates-beat-private-pupils-in-undergrad-research-finds/article4101993/ All you have to do is look to the US to see that Education for Profit, Charter Schools, Voucher systems... do not work in the best interest of most students.
  5. The I Support BC Teachers thread

    Thanks to the BCTF/public support for binding arbitration, the offers of financial assistance from other unions, and the external pressure applied by the Chinese Consulate (and Harper?!) the govt was forced to move. We didn't gain all that much, but what we didn't lose was even more important. From the beginning, the Libs put a number of concessions on the table that would have paved the way for their ultimate goal for BC's education system - privatization...
  6. The I Support BC Teachers thread

    As the Class Size & Composition issue is still before the courts, nothing was settled there, yet. The gov't committed $400 million over the term of the contract to hire back some of the specialist positions (Special Needs, Librarians, Counselors,...) that have been lost since 2002. This will help support all students, but does little for CS&C.
  7. Question about the teachers strike

    In 2005 the BC Liberals offered teachers a $4500 signing bonus in-lieu of a retro-active salary increase, setting the precedent. BC teachers have been without a contract for over 18 months. If the next contract was retro-active, any % gained in the first year and a half would continue to grow, compounding with future % increases, in perpetuity. This would be MUCH more expensive over the life of the contract, than a one-time signing bonus.
  8. The I Support BC Teachers thread

    Where exactly did I say I expect EA's/SETA's to be able to "teach the work"?! What I do expect is that, after sitting through a lesson and writing notes for those students with written output issues, an adult in my classroom should be able to help students work through any problems/issues they're having with the material. And to be clear, I'm talking about Math 8 or Math 9 here - not Pre-Calculus 12. It's not 'rocket science' at this level: ratios, rates, proportions, percent, area, surface area, volume, basic algebra... Things a 'somewhat' educated adult should be able to manage. In terms of "controlling and managing behaviours", these are rarely issues when students are able to do the work required of them. When they can't do the work, or get access to the assistance/support required to help them through it, the inappropriate behaviours start to appear. When I have to spend 10+ minutes every class, explaining to an EA/SETA why what they're trying to do is wrong or doesn't work, that is time I can't spend working with students - helping them find their mistakes, fix them and ultimately begin to understand the material. Even worse is the time it takes to correct problems students are having because they followed incorrect instructions from an EA/SETA. Don't get me wrong, there are many situations in my school where an EA/SETA is an invaluable help. Unfortunately, without some basic content knowledge and confidence, my Math classroom isn't one of them.
  9. The I Support BC Teachers thread

    The reality for me, as a high school math teacher, is that regardless of how many special needs students I have in my classes, EA's (SETA's in my district) are of essentially no value to me. There are very few EA's/SETA's in my district capable of competently doing math beyond a grade 7/8 level, so they simply become another person I have to manage & instruct, rather than a help to my students. To make matters worse, they often come to my classes with the same math issues/phobias they developed when they were in school and unknowingly project those onto the kids they work with (who are often the most vulnerable in the first place)!!! The worst one's will actually try to argue with me - in front of the class - when they think I'm doing something incorrectly, when in actuality, they have absolutely no clue what they're talking about. It absolutely infuriates the kids, frustrates me, and wastes far too much of all of our time...
  10. The I Support BC Teachers thread

    Probably wasting my time, but here goes... Over the past 40-odd years, class size hasn't changed all that much, class composition has changed a LOT, and the combination of both is vitally important. When I was in elementary school (early 80's) my classes regularly had well over 30 students but we were not the students/classes of today. There were ZERO students in those large classes with special needs. They weren't even in our school - they had their own classes in their own schools - completely segregated. Today, those very same students are integrated into every classroom, and their needs (combined with minimal funding and support) mean a lot of other students get little to no attention. I understand how you might think that fewer students = less work, but let me assure you that other than a change in the marking load - which is definitely subject dependent - everything else I have to do to run my classes is exactly the same whether I have 20 students or 40. The reality is, with smaller classes, I can actually do MORE - both individually with students, and with the class as a whole. For example, two years ago I had two Pre-Calculus 12 classes, one in each semester. Due to an unforeseen glitch in our timetable that unbalanced the classes, my first semester class had 19 kids start to end while my second semester class started with 31 (ended with 28). Both classes had a similar mix of extremely high achievers, strong academic types and reasonably academic kids who were really hard workers. The mean class mark was virtually identical, while the median mark was slightly higher in the larger class. In the first semester, with the smaller class, we finished the curriculum with 3 weeks remaining in the semester. Enough time to extend the curriculum in a couple areas, undertake a year-end project before starting our review AND prep for the Final Exam. With the second semester class, the larger one, we were just barely able to finish the curriculum and managed to squeeze in only 4 days for Final Exam review. The only significant difference between the classes was their size. In the smaller 1st semester class, I was easily able to meet all their needs, give them plenty of individual attention, and help troubleshoot problems that arose. In the larger 2nd semester class, I was regularly unable to get to each & every student who had a problem or question with their work. I'm positive that at least one, and possibly 2 of the students who withdrew from the 2nd semester class could have successfully completed the course with a satisfactory mark, were I able to spend more one-on-one time with them. Unfortunately, because of the size of the class, I just wasn't able to help them enough. Class composition is an even bigger issue, especially in my Junior classes. Because of the nature of the pathways students choose in Math, few students with special needs select the academic Pre-Calculus pathway, and those that do are often very high functioning or have developed coping strategies to help them meet the challenge of the academic rigor in these courses. In my Math 8 class last year, a class of 29 students, I had one student from our 'Life Skills' program who was almost entirely non-verbal. He came with a full-time aide (SETA) and was there primarily for social reasons rather than the math. As well, I had FIVE other students with IEP's (designated special needs): 2 ADHD (plus 2 others who definitely were ADHD, but undiagnosed), 2 with violent behaviour designations, and 1 with a chronic health issue. Along with these students, I had 4 students who were minimally fluent in English (ELL's), and 5 students who likely couldn't count their own fingers on one hand, but had 'magically' passed through grades 1-7 and landed in my grade 8 math class. All this and one part time SETA for the class (every other day) who had her own math issues lingering from her education and was very little help to me or the students. Guess how much time I was able to spend with the high achievers in that class? Basically none. They were essentially left to work on their own, as I had NO time to challenge them with any unit extensions or fun and interesting problems to stretch their knowledge and keep them enthusiastic about math. I also had very little time to help the 4 or 5 kids who really wanted to be successful, but just didn't know how. It was basically triage in my class on a day-to-day basis... So yes, class size AND composition matter. And they matter a LOT!!!
  11. The I Support BC Teachers thread

    I'm not entirely certain what specifically he's referring to here... In the school system, I think of 'fixed costs' as anything not enrolment dependent - like heat & hydro, for example. The classroom's need heat & lights whether there's 20 students or 30. He could also be referring to the many costs that have been off-loaded to school districts without any commensurate increase in funding. Each year, school districts are on the hook for millions of dollars of costs for things that used to be covered by the ministry, but are no longer - often with little or no notice. These added costs have FAR outpaced the meagre increases to base funding levels over the years, which means less money overall goes to educating kids.
  12. The I Support BC Teachers thread

    I'm pretty certain that the gov't knows these aren't "benefits", but lump them in to inflate the numbers... I mean, do they consider nurses a "benefit" when negotiating the doctors compensation?! (no, they just agreed to binding arbitration with the doctors, and then legislated a contract anyways - once they lost) It's no different than their "affordability zone". They add all sorts of non-benefits to the actual benefits and lump it all together as the BCTF's "wage demand" and then compare those numbers to other unions wage-only increases to make it look bad!!! And the worst part is, the general public can't/won't/don't see through the BS for what it actually is...
  13. The I Support BC Teachers thread

    The reality in BC is that the system itself is stretched so thin due to chronic underfunding, that despite the best efforts of the majority of the partners, there will be a few that are able to slip through the cracks and make life more difficult and challenging for the rest. I understand the struggle of being a TTOC - I was there myself (many years ago) and it was tough. My wife, also a teacher, spent the first 7 years in our district either on the TTOC list or doing shor-term contracts. It wasn't until our 10th year here, that she had her own classroom in a school and didn't have to pack up and move at the end of the year. In the long run, I found TTOC'ing to be extremely worthwhile, as I got to see the inner workings of the classrooms of dozens of experienced teachers. Both good and bad, I saw how the 'vets' were doing their jobs, and cherry-picked tons of immeasurably valuable ideas, lesson plans and classroom management strategies. And please remember - youth, energy and enthusiasm are in no way more valuable than years of experience when it comes to quality teaching practice. I've seen just as many horrifically unprepared new teachers & recent graduates, as I have older teachers just coasting & counting the days until retirement.
  14. The I Support BC Teachers thread

    Teachers ARE subject to performance reviews, and every school district in the province has language in their local collective agreement that outlines the process and how it works. In most districts, the evaluation process is structured in a positive way, allowing the administrator to work with the teacher to build on their strengths and overcome their weaknesses, but it also outlines a process whereby a teacher can be removed if their performance continues to be substandard. The union's role is to ensure that the collective agreement is followed, and that the evaluations are fair. Yes, they support the teacher, good or bad. It's what they're paid to do. But if the evaluation process is followed, and the teacher continues to be ineffective despite the interventions of the administrator, the school district and the union, that teacher can, and should be, removed from the classroom. A big problem is, administrators have become school 'managers' and have little to no time to be the educational leaders they should be. They simply don't have the time necessary to devote to the evaluation process, so they'll often use what little influence they have to get that poorly performing teacher to leave their school (bad teaching assignments, classroom changes, large classes & difficult compositions...) It doesn't fix the problem, but it gets the problem out of that administrators hair. As well, few (if any) administrators receive any actual formal training in evaluating teachers. Most will inherently understand what good instruction looks like and might be able to point out a few reasons why things aren't going well for a teacher, but they'll always try to relate back to what worked for them in their teaching past. Unfortunately, teaching is a very personal thing, and what works well for one person won't necessarily work for another. Teaching is not a "cookie-cutter" job where anyone can just jump in and follow a prescribed set of steps and be successful. It takes years of experience to master the craft, and very few ever master it completely. As an example, I teach high school math and right next door to my classroom is one of my math department colleagues. My classroom management style is pretty laid back & casual, and I'll often use humour & sarcasm to keep things running smoothly. My colleague next door is extremely formal and absolutely rigid. Our styles work well for us, but if we tried to use the others techniques it would be an unmitigated disaster. Further, in a high school, with specific subject specialties, teaching practice is often wound very tightly together with the subject matter. My math class 'shtick' probably wouldn't work very well in a socials class & vice-versa. My administrator was an elementary teacher back in the day. He has basically zero experience teaching high school math, and he probably wouldn't be entirely comfortable trying to evaluate what was going on, good or bad, in my classroom. Lastly (sorry for the long diatribe), for every ineffective teacher out there who probably should be removed using the evaluation process, there are at least as many good quality teachers who have been rail-roaded by administrators inappropriately. Regardless of the reason, there are administrators out there who will unfairly target perfectly successful teachers and try to end their careers. In my 17 years of teaching, I've seen it happen at least a dozen times. Without the union there to represent and protect those teachers, they'd all likely be gone from the profession.