Friday, March 30, 2012

Heritage PBL in Social Studies

The Great (x3) Grandparents of one of my students;
he found this photo online today.
Spring is in the air, which means that it is time for my SS10 students to sink some serious PBL time into Heritage Research. The last cycle of research and presentation wrapped up last December (blog post & background here), and this new class is showing the characteristic enthusiasm that this project generates.

My students will use some class time and their own time to work on this project over the next 6 weeks, and then we'll take a week or more of class time for presentations in early May.

What I've noticed this year, is the how to boundaries of this project have been blown open by some changes in the way students learn and the way learning takes place in my classes and our "learning commons" library.  At this point, I'm seeing four trends:

1. Self-renewing tradition of story-telling
So many students have done this project now that students arrive in SS10 with some anticipation about this project. I get siblings coming in, armed with existing family trees, interview records, albums, etc, who are excited to carry on and add a new layer to the story with their own questions. The project has spread across all of the SS10 classes in our school, with a basic inquiry about heritage connections that has a place in all other SS classes. We've found some pretty solid ways for students to complete this project for whom "family" is tough sell, whether due to a lack of data or the presence of drama (divorce, custody, neglect, painful pasts). In fact, probably two of the most powerful projects we've seen in the last year involved students pushing through the difficulty of the project and using the inquiry as a means to bring some healing to their experience of family. One involved a critical examination of residential school survival and the other was pretty much a survival guide for broken homes. It is, in fact, heritage and identity that are under the microscope, not necessarily family, and the primary skill being developed is the ability to tell a story, not necessarily to investigate problems in personal histories. The stories invariably connect to the major themes of Canadian history and geography, indeed connect to virtually every major learning outcome in the Social Studies curriculum. Just this week one told me about her great-grandfather who fought in the Battle of the Somme, and another student told me how she is related to the Dionne Quintuplets. They weren't in my SS10 class, but it is increasingly important for students to weave their identity into the context of learning. My colleague Ian has noticed that his SS11 students are jumping in throughout the course with anecdotes about 20th century events that come from shared personal recollections. Colleague Joe notices the same thing in History 12, and Cheryl builds up her SS8 and SS9 students with a sense that their own history is important and relevant. This narrative skill comes across at every stage in the project; the students talk freely and without invitation when the learned experience of their heritage comes up. When they present, they rarely look at their notes or read from poster or screen, they speak passionately and with a sense of importance and usually use up more time than they thought they needed. It has to be seen to be believed (I really should suffer through the FOIPPA maze and record some of them).  The coolest part is to see students who are otherwise weak or reluctant come alive when they are making personal connections to curriculum through their own stories.

2. Cross-curricular learning
Today we met in the library, truly a learning commons at D.P. Todd, me, the teacher-librarian, 27 students, and on the sides a dozen or more students on spares who usually spend their time in the library. The students have heard my stories and background a few times now, and have shared some of theirs, and today was the librarian's turn. We gathered around in chairs and listened to her talk about life for her grandparents and their generation (1920s-1940s). Her story (history/herstory) wove between fashion, shipwrecks, technology, illnesses, expressions, immigration, attitudes, hair, sports, travel, and work. Her comments (and the students comments in reaction) would have been as appropriate in a Science, Planning, Textiles, PE, or English class as they were in my SS class -- there are heritage connections and associations in every context, and today reaffirmed that student identity, the one they negotiate between past/present/future, is the true curriculum. The students were rapt by her fast-paced story, and we followed with the Socratic thing where we examined what she had said, how she said it, and speculated on what kinds of questions would be needed to gain that level of intimate and engaging knowledge.

3. Multi-age learning network
As we told stories in the library, I was able to look around and realize that the Gr. 12 students on spares had all done a Heritage Project when they were in Grade 10 (and a related "Echo" project in Gr. 11).  I used some of them as examples of how to prepare and present heritage research, and before long they were chiming in and sharing what they had learned about themselves and the characteristics of past societies. I encouraged my students to reach out to others who had done this work and get advice, which they did. I left today wondering what would happen if we threw multi-age groupings together more often, especially students on either side of a specific comprehensive project. I also wondered about how I could make useful ties with students in other schools and so on. With four full classes to teach and an otherwise busy life, I'm not feeling terribly ambitious about expanding the scope of this project just yet.

As we finished this story-circle, grandiose advice from me & the librarian, and contributions from past students, there was weird silence like we had all just shared something important (that doesn't happen too often, believe me).  I yelled GO and they sped off to start on 27 different paths (that also doesn't happen too often).

4. Leveraging technology to involve parents
We use a variety of tech tools, sites, and strategies to get in to the research (e.g. Heritage tools on right column here).  We also rely on books, photo albums, heirlooms, recipe cards, old Bibles, and interviews with anyone willing to share).  Today was day one for most of them, though, and we had an hour at the computers to play with the project design and start differentiating between what would be useful to find online and what was worth looking for elsewhere. Naturally, many students wanted to plug their family names into genealogical search engines and hit the heritage jackpot (one actually did, finding a site tracing her family back 12 generations to 1600 in merry old England). Most students had no clue what names to use, some didn't even know the first names of their grandparents. The before and after questions I ask area always stunning, well over half the students report at the end that almost everything they learned from the project was new to them, that the family stories were somewhat known to parents, better so by grandparents, but few of them shared their stories unless they were asked... that's all it takes... just ask!  And ask they did today... I "made" them text or call their parents on   the spot, with questions like "what's oma's first name?,""where was grampy born?," "what was the name of the town that our family helped build?" and "where should I start when doing the Moffat history?"(that name opens the door to some of the most colourful local history in our region). There were some delays and call-backs and lots of students wandering around on their phones, getting something they thought "juicy" and diving back to their search to see what came up. It was interesting that they turned immediately to their own tech devices to solve problems (and their own data plans -- our wifi is hopeless), and were not as natural on the computers. One boy talked to his grandmother in Punjabi and learned, new to him, that his relative was an important Sikh leader embroiled in the aftermath of Operation Bluestar and the raid on the Golden Temple.  He got the name of some villages and such that probably won't seem like much to him now but I have a gut feeling will ring about in his head for the rest of his life. Another boy had a great tree with notes and photos set up online by his family, so he was texting his mom back and forth in order to interpret it and figure out what was significant about what he seeing on the screen (picture below). He had found discharge papers online for a WWI vet that matched a name in his family and wanted to establish the connection. From what I saw on the screens and in conversation, I think there were dozens of "lights going on" around the library-lab.  I got to play facilitator, playing off what they already knew, were learning about, and where they might go next.

"hey mom how are we related to the henry king guy that was in WWI on the ancestry tree"
Although we've set up this project for a couple of months with prompts, testimonials, and exemplars, the is just day one (of the dedicated time for the project), so I'm keen to see where we end up.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Staff Meeting Blues

As BC school administrators and teachers consider what will happen in the wake of Bill 22 and the better part of a year in "Phase 1" job action, it's time to take a closer look at the eventual return to staff meetings.

One of the most common quips heard during job action was "it's been real nice not having to go to staff meetings." That's dreadful -- if the meetings are that bad, why have them?

If your school staff is excited to return to the meeting table, then you really have cause to celebrate. But if you're with most schools and you are looking for ways to make staff meetings more effective, purposeful, engaging and generally less mind-numbing, you may want to read on for resources and challenges to your thinking.

Professional tools for administrators
This staff meeting assessment tool is from the Pacific Slope Consortium (critical thinking initiative, local/BC focus). It is intended to provoke some thought around what's working, what's not, and what's next. The discussion questions focus on the effort that takes place before a staff meeting begins.

First chance for new start
The stakes are high for the first get-together after job action. Local teachers have formally expressed their reticence to engage in email communications and professional development that is directed by administration, so the attention to detail at staff meetings is one of the most significant short-term actions an administrator can take towards positive patterns and intentions towards staff development. The "post-Bill 22" landscape may seem to have a chilly climate, but administrators are encouraged to see this as an opportunity to model a collaborative vision for their schools or even to make a fresh start on school culture.

Administrators have had ten months to plan for the "next" staff meeting; teachers will want to know what their team has prepared. Will we sort out how decisions are made? Revisit plans and projects that have been put on hold? How is the agenda set? How much "learning" or staff development can we expect, how much is just information, how will we be involved and valued? When we are unsure about process, do we establish some norms, use Robert's Rules, or make it up as we go along? Who gets left out when the process is in doubt? What value is placed on inclusion, on rigorous discourse? How much time should elapse between the introduction of an idea, a proposed action, and a staff decision? How unique is our experience at staff meetings? What other "elephants in the room" will we acknowledge and address? Each staff has a glut of questions and expectations, built up over months if not years, many of which they are reluctant to express.

Context for staff meeting success
As with most school-wide endeavours, the whole staff should own the success or failure of staff meetings, but the meeting at its most basic level is a chance for administration to involve staff in a collective effort for improvement of student learning and stakeholder satisfaction. The principal or his/her designate has a captive audience, sets the scope & tone of the meeting and usually the agenda. With that in mind, here some resources for

1. Developing a positive school improvement culture:
http://www.smallschoolsproject.org/pdfs/culture.pdf
http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/document/reports/sihande.pdf
http://www.readingrockets.org/article/26095/
http://www.realjustice.org/pdf/IIRP-Improving-School-Climate.pdf
http://www.saskschoolboards.ca/research/leadership/95-14.htm
http://www.bcpvpa.bc.ca/downloads/pdf/Standardsfinal.pdf

2. Exploring ideas on fixing staff meetings:
http://thelearningnation.blogspot.ca/2012/04/communication-isnt-everything.html
http://justintarte.blogspot.com/2011/01/how-can-we-improve-pd-and-faculty.html
http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin277.shtml
http://www.shift2future.com/2012/10/technology-influenced-leadership.html

3. Professional growth plans with a focus on dynamic standards and staff development:
http://valkilbey.blogspot.ca/
http://pgp4cbirk.blogspot.ca/

4. Factors affecting staff motivation:
http://vodpod.com/watch/3461870-rsa-animate-drive
http://iel.immix.ca/storage/6/1307461574/seven-claims-about-successful-school-leadership.pdf (see claims 4-6)

New Expectations
The BCED plan highlights innovation, accountability, collaboration, flexibility, and use of technology. BCPSEA, the government's negotiator, aims to give more oversight for these things to administrators, so teachers are naturally wondering what this look like and whether their administrators will lead with something creative, accountable, collaborative, flexible, and digitally adept. At the same time, the current contract mediation raises issues of where the locus of control resides on job suitability, professional autonomy, and class/composition issues. Staff are looking for some concise and thoughtful reflections on how their administrators will approach these issues in their school context. Will these items come up at your next staff meeting? How important is the "reassurance" factor? What kind of meeting do you envision when the status quo has been dissociated? What are your other staff meeting issues or goals? How do you plan to take them on, either as leaders or as a whole? If you have the time -- administrators, teachers, or others -- I'm interested in your responses; please leave a comment below.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hunger Games Experiment

My school's teacher-librarian and I were discussing the popularity of Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and came up with an idea to get more students reading. Ms. Jandric, our T-L, has been getting many requests (and fights!) for the book; her two library copies are in constant demand. Students also gravitate to the library and librarian to discuss their thoughts about the trilogy and predictions about the movie. This is a pattern I love to see, ever shifting as new books trend among teenagers. As she does with any popular book or book-based movie release, a themed display goes up, the book is pushed out, conversations started (impromptu book clubs gathered around the circulation desk), and sometimes a special event is planned for the library. Our "learning commons" is a dynamic place, the best of research-driven library practice combined with caring, personalized attention to students through conversation, literacy, and digital media. The library has become a place that students naturally associate with discourse, support for their aspirations and challenges to their thinking. It is one of the few places where multi-age, cross-curricular learning takes place without being staged or contrived. Wrote about that already.

So here's our idea.  Our librarian bought five copies last night, and she has affixed a sticker to the front that reads: "This is a travelling book. Read quick. Pass it on. Tweet your thoughts with hashtag #hgdpts. Return to DPTS library by June 11, 2012."

What will happen? These books do not have barcodes, and may or may not come back, so it will be interesting to see how the honour system works. How many students will get involved, how many times will these books be read between now and June? What (if anything) will they have to say about it on twitter? We've had some great school-wide discussions about twitter recently, so this might be one of those things that gets students thinking about positive uses of social media. Anyone else have cool ideas about leveraging social media for literacy? Could this work with an ebook? The principal predicts that none will come back, the librarian predicts 3 (but will be happy with 2), I'm going with 4, yet we're all interested to see how this $45 experiment will turn out.

Please let us know here with a comment, by email, or in person, if other teacher-librarians try something like this with Hunger Games or any other book.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tsunami before and after

source: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/
The Big Picture has posted another amazing photo essay -- before and after pictures from the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11th, 2011 (a year ago today!).  Click on the pics to compare then and now. Link: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2012/03/japan_tsunami_pictures_before.html

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Bill 22 Q&A


Some interesting debate occurs among union members, some of it subject to my response. I’m posting a selection of my responses here as they extend the thinking in my my earlier post on Bill 22.
Statement: We only have one option - illegal job action until Bill 22 is defeated and a just contract is negotiated.  
Response: Disagree - there are many options. Extended illegal job action is not likely to convince the Liberals to repeal legislation, and would bankrupt the union and many of its members within days. Working to contract would be an option.  Court challenges would be an option. Passive resistance in the workplace would be an option. Suggesting system-wide changes that could give us a raise under net-zero would be an option. Voting for someone other than BCLiberals in the next election would be an option. Pressuring that “someone else” would introduce corrective legislation would be an option. We could also ask the BCTF to address (at least) three areas of concern to BCPSEA (teacher evaluation, direction on pro-d, and selection based on suitability) with compromise positions. I disagree with BCPSEA's bargaining position (or "contract insistence"), but they have definitely found some weak spots in our profession. We do an erratic job self-regulating in these areas, and so it is logical that they wish to fill the vacuum by giving more control to management. We often complain about how unqualified and unimaginative our administration are in providing educational leadership, but we struggle to provide it for ourselves. While I would consider an illegal strike for other reasons (like the right to bargain, the conditions of mediation, and a better formula for composition issues), I wouldn't do it to defend our current approach to self-regulation. This is not quite the same as loss to professional autonomy (which is a feature of Bill 22), this is about accountability for reasonable expectations.
Statement: All other tacts [sic] will lead to the destruction of our union, our profession, and one of the best education systems in the world.
Response: The union and profession no doubt faces a shift in its role if the Bill passes, but "destruction" is hyperbolical. The problems that exist in our education system will still remain regardless of Bill 22, as will much of the excellence. Nonetheless, I will support my union leadership's decisions as to what happens next. I have certainly appreciated our local union leadership's insight into Bill 22 and their proficient organization of Phase 1 and the current Phase 2 of our job action.
Statement: We will gain respect for ourselves and from the people of our province. Canadians love and respect the courageous, not whining victims.
Response: There is often something in terms of historical respect to be gained from civil disobedience, but I think the part of the public that has kids in school will not think us courageous, but rather whiners who are causing them daycare hassles. The reason we are an essential service is that we warehouse kids during working hours. This is one of the reasons why the parts of the BCED plan that call for students to escape "brick-and-mortar" schools will be a tough sell with parents.
Statement: The actions you propose [alternatives to illegal job action] will not change Bill 22.
Response: I agree. I believe Bill 22 will pass regardless of what we do over the next two weeks.  I think the chance of Bill 22 being rescinded in the current session are slim. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try and do something about it, but there must also be a plan for what we do after it passes. I think that's why so many letters to trustees and union statements are directed towards the mediation constraints. Perhaps enough pressure would convince Abbott to amend Bill 22 on mediation.  
This reminds me of the mountain pine beetle epidemic. Before it got really bad, the "beetle boss" Bob Clarke told the MoF, industry, and the public that we should start planning for "life after pine" in B.C. Many in the MoF thought it was premature, that the epidemic could be stayed, but Bob suggested the focus on should be on what wood supply, markets, and silviculture should look like after the Central Interior loses 75-80% of it's lodgepole pine. He then quit because his work in "prevention" was done -- all this before the epidemic had even hit full swing.  
I'm not sure if we've reached the tipping point for the potential impacts of Bill 22, but I do believe we should focus our efforts on how our teaching practices, messages to parents, communication with administration, approach to the BCED plan, contributions to school culture, etc. need to change. Personally, I would like to see more self-sufficiency and interdependence in these areas, less dependence on the management hierarchy to define who we are in our vocation. I realize this sounds ironic given that Bill 22 gives more rights to management, but I'm talking more about the "self" who teaches rather than the job that is laid out for me by SD57 or the Min of Ed. The struggle to reconcile those modalities is, for me, an important place to dwell. Midst Bill 22 and what we all be experiencing a year from now is still largely up to us to define and explore (as individuals, school groups, networks, and a union), so I do think present efforts to reject, protest, frame, reshape or limit Bill 22 are not wasted -- this is an important part of carving out that space. Perhaps the collective agreement pine beetles can still be stopped or their impact mitigated. This may require both the immediate actions that you and others are contemplating, and the other options that are available (like court challenges) and conduct more up my alley (like institutional iconoclasm and Neil Postman-styled subversive commentary).
Statement: What do you mean when you say "working to contract?"
Response: I've attempted working to contract for a few years, trying to replace time put in for admin and extracurricular with time put in for self, family, friends, colleagues, professional & staff development, and being an activist stakeholder in public education. The students get just about the right amount of time from me -- classtime, occasionally help at lunch or after school, digital support ("blended learning"), supervision (if I remember), marking and formal/informal prep time. That fills at least 45 hours a week and is mostly what I'm paid for, so if my employer wants more of that they can pay for it. I can be more relaxed about working to contract than others though; I have not coached since our work-to-rule in 2002, or put the hours of after school time into students like others do with comprehensive programs like film & drama.


Monday, March 05, 2012

Bill 22 blues

I'm still trying to sort out exactly what Bill 22 means to me as a teacher, and with how it will impact my teaching practice and my profession in general. This is important to me because I want to enter the forthcoming three-day strike with sense that I know why I'm out there. 

Bill 22 proceeds with a contract solution via mediation, and the mediator's hands are tied with both the net zero mandate and a long list of preconditions. Add to this the abrogation of democratic rights to bargain and create fair conditions for employment, the proposed contract strips, and the return to larger and more complicated class sizes, and I can see why this should be a fight rather than an inconvenience. Nonetheless, I've read though the bill a few times and I'm left with questions. I'm trying to understand the history of legislation better; a couple of hours on the internet and I still can't figure it out.

Bill 22 - look at amendments to the School Act Section 27 (1) to (7) http://www.leg.bc.ca/39th4th/1st_read/gov22-1.htm#sections8to23
and look at Existing School Act Section 27 http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/LOC/freeside/--%20S%20--/School%20Act%20RSBC%201996%20c.%20412/00_Act/96412_03.xml#section27

The only difference is that the amendment proposes 27 (7) Subsection (3) (d) to (j) is repealed on June 30, 2013.

So this tells me that in 2002, the employer had control of professional autonomy, class size, ratios, teacher loads, etc. and will have it again until August 2013. After that, all aspects of our working conditions are back up for debate. Legislation in between 2002 and now (all the stuff that came out of the 2005 and 2006 struggles?) gave us back some class size limits, etc. which we have enjoyed until now. If that's correct, the contract strips resulting from the amendments to the School Act are not unprecedented, they are a return to what we had in 2002. It was lousy in 2002, and it is lousy now, but I just want to be clear that it is not something new we are facing.

So what are new issues, ones that might justify escalating job action or even civil disobedience? The terms of reference for the mediator in Bill 22 Part 1, number 6 (1) to (5) may result in further contract strips (like evaluation process, direction on pro-d, and selection based on suitability) until August 2013, and likely beyond (a new round of bargaining almost always involves extending collective agreements. The net-zero mandate means we make no gains on salary or benefits, we thus fall behind inflation and cost of living increases. The imposition of preconditions hampers our democratic right to bargain, and the fines seem unfair. Removing caps (or returning to 2002 standards) on everything from class sizes to librarian ratios will be a recipe for funding cuts. I have no doubt my class sizes will increase to help pay for other areas in my school that are currently underfunded. The issue of bound mediation is also troubling. A free and democratic society that stands by its Charter should look cynically on an attempt to hamstring bargaining as a precondition for settlement. The starting point for mediation is that government gets everything it is asking for, and will not put a dime towards fixing known problems and wage disparities. No doubt parts of Bill 22 will end up as valid Charter challenges and we will be back to this point again.

What part of Bill 22 is valid? There is some redress for the Supreme Court decision stating that the BC Gov't unconstitutionally imposed working conditions that should have been negotiated.  It even appear that I could be compensated for teaching more than 30 students at a time, but I have a feeling it won't actually work out that way because the fund is so small and net zero will kill anything additional. Maybe they'll pay me in lieu time, or pencils. I do think it is fair to point out that evaluation process, direction on pro-d, and selection based on suitability are all valid issues for the employer to seek change, but (again) these should be negotiated, not legislated.

This won't be a popular position, but these three areas (evaluation, pro-d, and suitability) were well picked by the government as potential contract strips -- these are weak spots for the BCTF.

1) Evaluation: The union protects our interests very well, and is able to prevent many injustices against teachers, but this sometimes involves protecting some truly incompetent teachers. We need a mechanism to expeditiously identify those few teachers who are a "poor fit" and use a respectful process for transitioning teachers into some other profession or getting them the help they need to sort out their practice. There needs to be some kind of "in-between" evaluation that is not aimed at termination but rather at growth and renewal. If the BCTF took this seriously, teacher evaluations (especially of this kind) would be teacher-initiated.  We should voluntarily submit to cycles of peer accountability that result in improvement. I have not really been able to get this from the BCTF and definitely not from my employer -- that is why I have co-formed and joined a consortium of similarly-minded teachers with our own mutual accountability model. If you want it done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself.

2) Professional development: It is used wisely by most, but I get frustrated by the small but conspicuous minority of teachers who have no clue what to do for pro-d and are content to ignore pro-d time and opportunities. Why shouldn't the employer insist we use pro-d time wisely? An argument would be that the employer often has no clue, either, as to what good pro-d should look like, just as some of them also blow off the idea of pro-d for themselves. We don't need Bill 22 for the employer to peek in on our professional trajectory -- they can do that now but rarely take the opportunity. I remember my first month at D.P. Todd (2003) when the principal Garry Hartley stopped by and took an interest in what I was doing, asked questions, discerned my philosophy, engaged my thinking, and encouraged me with specific ideas relevant to my classroom practice. That was the first time I had ever had a principal do that, outside of a cursory teacher evaluation in my first year (1996). Maybe other districts are different, but our management are so consumed by "management" that they don't have a lot of time or organizational leeway for key aspects of educational leadership. These limits are also limits on what Bill 22 can achieve, because the ed reforms sought from the teacher contract needs to be matched with ed reforms in the leadership structures in our province. I've written earlier that the barriers to change are usually outside the teacher's contract, and I think this pro-d issue is a good example. Will Bill 22 actually motivate teachers (or principals, for that matter) to improve their use of pro-d opportunities throughout the year? Will administration all of a sudden start offering on-going, targeted pro-d for teachers, and without adding costs? I don't get how pro-d will change. If this is a "growth plan" issue then big deal... most teachers will start filling in generic templates and saying they're up to something good. That's basically how our School Plans for Student Success work. Now, I'm proud of my growth plan and I think everyone should have one, teachers and principals, but I don't see growth plans transforming the culture. If you want system-wide change you actually have to seek system-wide reforms, not just a backstep on the teacher contract. For example, if BCSPEA wants more responsibility for management, it needs to develop educational leadership standards, guidelines, and expectations for management. I would argue that It would also help if the ed reform agenda could be made plain and laid bare, far more so than can be discerned from the BCED plan -- let us know where you want to end up, and don't be afraid to be honest.

3) Suitability: I have no problem with teachers receiving placements based on demonstrated ability. Seniority is great, but it does not guarantee excellence. Again, when this is placed with management we have no assurance of improvement, because the conditions of suitability are unclear. We've all seen examples where there is shock at a job placement among teachers or administration... "what were they thinking?" Suitability needs to be the subject of mutual agreement and ongoing negotiation case by case at the local level. Figuring this out is crucial if we want to take mentorship, job satisfaction and efficacy seriously.

So, why would I mention these sore spots? I'm stating that these three areas are reasonable places to have discussions between BCTF and BCPSEA. Bill 22 forces this discussion, imposes a solution (involving management control), but it is nonetheless a discussion that needs to take place. I really wish our union would not have been so stubborn on these -- the BCTF should have started out with plans on how we would have improved peer evaluation, responsibility mechanisms for pro-d (including growth plans), and an objective suitability flow-chart. I'd even write these plans for them!

Any other lingering concerns?  If the government were interested in breaking the union and dismantling public education, Bill 22 would be a necessary first step. Will we see our public system replaced with a two-tiered system involving privatization or corporate intervention, and trading real schools for virtual ones? I doubt the intentions run that deep, although these themes were clear to find in Gordon Campbell's blueprint for education, sponsored by corporate players and written by a roundtable that was virtually bereft of regular practicing teachers (maybe all these kinds of plans are?). The new BCED plan buries (or alters?) some of these intentions with "21st Century Learning" jargon, so it is hard to say what is meant when "brick and mortar" schools and "teachers as content experts" are considered a thing of the past. I'm not afraid of 21st Century Learning" because I'm already doing it, but I wish its advocates could step away from the clich├ęs more often. The last bit that gnaws at me is that once contract concessions occur (like class composition limits or a trend towards more management rights) they don't tend to come back. Come June 2013, I doubt either a Liberal or NDP government will be willing to budge from the financially and directionally advantageous position Bill 22 gives them. It's like taxes, they don't tend to disappear. Income tax was brought in during WWI as a temporary measure, and set at 3%! Last I checked, I'm paying closer to 30% now (and I'd pay a bit more to support a social democracy that places more value on education).

So, if anyone with more legislative insight than me to would like to comment on my reasoning, please be my guest. I've had a few emails and tweets about it, but I'd like more feedback. I want to be clear about what parts of Bill 22 are new or not, what parts are offensive, and what parts may serve a useful function.