What Educators Really Need

Christine Saulnier, director of the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives – Nova Scotia, and economist Michael Bradfield unveiled the Nova Scotia Alternative Provincial Budget last Wednesday in Halifax (photo courtesy of Robert Devet, Halifax Media Co-op)

The authors of a couple of reports by right-wing think-tanks have been doing their best to discredit teachers in Nova Scotia this past month.

I’d rather not mention the names of the think-tanks or their authors, so they don’t get any more attention than they already have. If you’re familiar with the political landscape in this province though, you probably know who they are.  (If not, one of them is the first hit when you Google “Nova Scotia think tank.”)

Continue reading What Educators Really Need

Talking education with Rick Howe

Rick Howe invited me on his show on News 95.7 in Halifax today to discuss the education review panel that was recently announced for Nova Scotia.

girl-drawing-back-to-school-1239803-mWe talked about the broader context in which the review is taking place – the “education reform”/privatization movement – and how we need to be wary of simplistic ways of thinking about education. Lots of ink has been spilled about the so-called math wars, some going so far as to talk about a “math crisis” in Canada. The government has talked about aligning the curriculum with the “needs of the economy,” and business and finance are well represented on the panel itself.

But math scores on standardized tests are not the most important thing in our schools. A narrow focus on basic math and literacy skills means our kids miss out on learning about empathy, political engagement and the arts, among other things.

Educational “success” for all depends on us addressing overarching issues like poverty and inequality.

You can hear the entire interview here.

Who’s reviewing Nova Scotia’s education system?

magnifying glass

A teacher told me the other day she’d like to be on an official panel that reviews dentistry practices. As a person with teeth, she feels she has a good understanding of how the job works.

She was joking, of course, and in reality commenting on the comprehensive P-12 education review panel named by minister Karen Casey last week. Casey announced that former lieutenant-governor Myra Freeman would be chairing the panel of six. Continue reading Who’s reviewing Nova Scotia’s education system?

Some advice for the CEOs advocating merit pay for teachers

Imagine paying doctors based on whether their patients live or die, or paying social workers based on how many down-and-out clients they coach into becoming successful.

These are ridiculous suggestions. Yet the same logic underlies the idea put forth in a report by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), a group of 150 top Canadian CEOs, which says teachers should be paid according to their so-called “performance” in the classroom.  Continue reading Some advice for the CEOs advocating merit pay for teachers

This is about facing, not defacing history

Photo taken from facebook.com/deejayndn
Photo taken from facebook.com/deejayndn

[The party held for John A. MacDonald’s 199th birthday last weekend and consequent outrage expressed via the #SirJAM hashtag, along with the push to name more things after Sir John A., have given me an excuse to re-publish this piece from a couple of years ago about the re-naming of Cornwallis Junior High School. (The school ended up being re-branded “Halifax Central Junior High.”)

To make it more current, you could substitute “Cornwallis” with “MacDonald” and “put a bounty on Mi’kmaq scalps” with “deliberately starved Indigenous people of the Prairies,” and so on; the idea is the same. While there are still lifetimes of work for settlers to do in terms of redress for the calamities of colonialism, it’s good that conversations about historical memory are at least starting to happen.  Continue reading This is about facing, not defacing history

More questions for Teach For Canada

Before I wrote my last post expressing my skepticism about Teach For Canada, I wrote to the contact address on its website to ask a few questions. Information on the website seemed sparse, and I didn’t want to risk misrepresenting the organization. Continue reading More questions for Teach For Canada

Teach For Canada can only make things worse

Have you heard of Teach For Canada? It’s a new project spearheaded by Nova Scotian Kyle Hill, a Rhodes scholar and business consultant; and Vancouver-born Adam Goldenberg, former speechwriter for Michael Ignatieff and fellow at Yale law school.

Hill and Goldenberg want to address “educational inequality” in Canada, i.e. “[f]unding gaps, infrastructure deficiencies, and rapid teacher turnover” in rural and Aboriginal communities. Their solution? A program that would send university graduates (from any degree program) to work as schoolteachers for two years in these communities. Hill and Goldenberg hope to attract “some of Canada’s top graduates – our country’s future leaders” to their program, who would take their places in classrooms following a summer-long training period.

Continue reading Teach For Canada can only make things worse