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The Backward Class

March 30, 2015 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at 08:59 AM

There is a movie now showing in art house cinemas that I urge you to see - The Backward Class. It profiles students at Shanti Bhavan school in India, a school which educates children of the "untouchable" caste and gives them a way to break out of the grinding cycle of poverty and despair the caste members are sentenced to. The film is riveting and very moving - I don't think there was a dry eye in the house (including moi). Go!

Sunday at the Movies (Professional Development)

March 29, 2015 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at 07:07 AM

The BC government has enraged the teachers' union once again, this time with new rules about professional development. more

IMHO, you ought to pick your battles, and this one is not worth picking - since undoubtedly the union will find work-arounds to achieve their own ends and professional development days will still be pretty much a waste of time. The BC government should instead pick a battle involving teacher empowerment and professionalism whereby, for example, the teachers are given substantial responsibility for curriculum and assessment development, working collaboratively with their professional colleagues. In this scenario, teachers would be empowered to identify their own areas of weakness - and then search out the most suitable professional development tools to address the weaknesses.  H/T TH

The School Choice Juggernaut

March 28, 2015 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at 10:46 AM

The US school juggernaut rolls on, as evidenced by this figure. (Update: a special needs voucher bill just passed the Arkansas house 90-0.)

I'm not sure why I keep giving you updates on the tidal wave of legislation south of us, since it doesn't seem to be having any effect whatsoever in Canada. However, I do think it's significant, for two reasons.

1.  The johnny-come-lately states would not be able to pass this legislation if there wasn't already evidence from the forerunner states that the voters want it because it is working.

2.  The more American families that learn about the advantages of school choice, the bigger its constituency and the more compelling school choice becomes to politicians.

Eventually, Canadian politicians will start to grasp that school choice saves taxpayers money and makes parents happy. It's just a matter of time.

An irresistible force is going to meet a movable object

March 27, 2015 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at 09:05 AM


I just had an interesting conversation about the likely high school teachers' strike next month. Ontario teachers are in a legal strike position as of April 20. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation has targeted seven Ontario school boards - Peel, Durham, Halton, Lakehead, Ottawa-Carlton, Rainbow, and Waterloo, saying there may well be a full withdrawal of services in these seven boards by the end of April at the latest.  more

The teachers in the non-striking boards will donate 5% each to the teachers in the seven striking boards, meaning that the striking teachers will receive 75% of their full salary and their take-home pay will hardly be affected. There will thus be no incentive to settle on the part of the unions - but of course students and parents will not be willing to hold out for very long since their graduation and post-secondary admissions will be in peril.

Spending More and Enjoying It Less

March 26, 2015 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at 07:12 AM

For a while, the Ontario government bragged about two education accomplishments - improved student test scores and higher graduation rates - but then it had to stop bragging about the first one when it became evident that student test scores were in fact dropping. 

Naively, we thought that the reason for the higher graduation rates was just because the government had made it so much easier to graduate, but now it turns out it was also inflating its statistics by counting students who had left Canada or died. more

It's beginning to look as if the Ontario government has no education accomplishments to brag about any more - despite huge increases in spending in a time of declining enrollment. H/T TB

Great teachers are made, not born

March 25, 2015 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at 07:24 AM

If you are a teacher, I guarantee there is at least one - and probably five or more - piece(s) of information in this article that will blow your mind. Most people, including teachers, think that great teachers are born, not made, but Doug Lemov is proving this false - everyone can teach like a champ and Doug is here to show you how. The article is long, but the nuggets just keep on coming!

Welcome, Maddie

March 24, 2015 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at 07:15 AM

On the weekend, the SQE board elected a new president, Maddie di Muccio. Maddie is a former town councillor in Newmarket, Ontario. She has been transparent regarding transparent and accountable government, appearing on the Michael Coren show, Newstalk 1010, AM 640, and various print media, such as the National Post and the Toronto Star, and writes a bi-weekly column in the Toronto Sun. The parent of three school-age boys, Maddie's focus is on children and youth issues. 

Shake and shake the Catchup bottle - First none will come and then a lot’ll

March 23, 2015 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at 06:17 AM

My reader tip stockpile is threatening to overflow, so today I'm catching up.

Listen to Doretta talk about the Toronto District School Board on the Jerry Agar show (the TDSB part starts at 32.20 and Doretta is on from 33:45 to 42:16 - just touch the red spikes to move around).  H/T DW

The Supreme Court of Canada has made an important ruling that protects private schools' right to religious freedom.  H/T DT, JE, &  DP

A new Stanford University study finds that students in Boston's charter schools significantly outperform their peers in the city's public schools.   H/T TB

A Queen's University professor is suggesting that a commonly-used IQ test is badly flawed.  H/T JE

Finland is apparently looking at moving in the direction of "progressive" education reforms.  H/T TB

Take this quiz to find out how well you know Canadian history.  H/T  LDA

Sunday at the Movies (The Comma Queen)

March 22, 2015 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at 08:03 AM

This is the first in a long series about punctuation, syntax, grammar, spelling, etc. After you have watched them all, you should be letter perfect!

Canadian Teachers Deserve Better

March 21, 2015 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at 08:24 AM

Click here for my latest posting to the Huffington Post, this one talking about how Canadian teachers are poorly supported by the education delivery system. So far I have 167 likes, 19 Facebook shares, and 6 tweets.

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