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Job action by the elementary school teacher’s union…

From the OCDSB site.


ETFO Work To Rule Strategy

Effective Monday, December 3, 2012, OCETF Members Will:

NOT participate in any school-based or system-level meetings including staff meetings, committee meetings, division meetings, Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings, and School Improvement Plan (SIP) meetings, student of concern meetings, team meetings, etc.;

NOT attend any board sponsored professional development workshops/activities/events;

NOT conduct any reading, writing, or mathematics diagnostic assessments i.e., CASI, ELOT, EDI, DRA etc., other than those that the teacher deems necessary;

NOT fulfill any administrative duties such as filing, sorting of documents for OSRs, completing or verifying attendance registers, data entry, computer site administrator; collecting of monies. (Note: collecting monies is permitted for activities initiated by the teacher);

NOT act as admin. designate or teacher in charge where the role is voluntary, i.e., without pay; this does not apply to the normal admin designates who receive a stipend for this role;

NOT participate in any EQAO related activities or testing;

NOT participate in any Ministry initiatives connected to the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat/Student Success/Learning to 18 (e.g., Schools In the Middle (SIM), Teacher Learning Critical Pathways (TLCP));

NOT participate in parent interviews outside the instructional day;

NOT participate in field trips, play days, or class excursions as of December 10, 2012;

NOT attend attendance management meetings;

NOT participate in voluntary/extra-curricular activities;

NOT distribute for management any board or ministry memos about the union’s work to rule or labour negotiations to students or parents.


OCETF members will:


CONTINUE to teach and provide extra help to students during the instructional day;

CONTINUE to take attendance;

CONTINUE to maintain contact with parents regarding students during the instructional day;

CONTINUE to provide scheduled supervisory duties.


Hey! Students who wailed away…

…on my bus this morning and on Twitter about schools needing to be closed today!

Listen up.

Legit reasons to close schools:

  • Power outage
  • Water outage
  • Major snowstorm / freezing rain event that puts staff and / or students at risk of physical harm
  • Earthquakes – big ones
  • Invasion by aliens
  • Invasion by the U.S. or other former superpower
  • Locusts – big ones

Not a legit reason:

  • Major storm 500 km away that may cause things to get a bit breezy in Ottawa


Back in MY day, we walked to school in raging snowstorms with -55F temps! That’s FAHRENHEIT, KIDS! AND WE WORE NEWSPAPER ON OUR FEET CUZ WE COULDN’T AFFORD BOOTS!

Sheesh. Kids these day…



Awesome motion passed by the OCDSB last night!

… especially point “C”.

It won’t make a hill of beans of a difference, but the Board said what needed saying.

Thanks to @nancy_akehurst for the pic.


OCDSB survey

You might remember that I wrote about this last year. Now the Ottawa public school board has some results to talk about. And they are for sure talking about it.

The big takeaway for them is the diversity of the student population. Now, anyone can see this for themselves by following a school bus around (not that I have done this) and watching who gets on. It doesn’t take a genius, or a survey, to observe that.

In fact, this is perhaps a more accurate way to judge the extent of diversity of students on our schools than the survey. Why? Because, exactly as I predicted, the response rates turned out to be too low in order to arrive at conclusions about the whole student body; either at the Board or the school level.

The OCDSB admits that the rate was lower than they had wanted… under 50% for elementary schools and mid-sixties for our high schools. The reason why these low rates are problematic is that when one applies the conclusions to the population and then uses this as information upon which to make Board and school level decisions, they might be using flawed data.

Why? We don’t know who didn’t reply to the survey. The demographic characteristics of non responders might be quite different from those who filled in the questionnaire. In survey parlance, this is called non response bias.

There are ways to adjust for this bias but given that there are no baseline data that one can use to assess the effect that the bias may have had, these adjustments are not possible.

Now, the Board could do something about this and hire a qualified consultant to randomly select a number of schools that represent different areas of the City. Then go into the schools and observe the actual profile of the population; then compare these data to the data obtained through the survey instrument. Then adjustments could be made if required. This is also called data confrontation.

But unless they do this, or something line it, these results aren’t very useful. Indeed, using them may do more harm than good!


Teachers and extracurricular activities

Teachers in many of Ontario’s School Boards have heeded their union’s advice to take a “pause” from coaching or otherwise being involved in extracurricular activities, such as sports team, in protest of the Ontario government’s recent legislation imposing salary freezes, etc. And, as is always the case in any type of labour disruption in the education sector, the students are the ones who feel it the most.

So what to do?

The teachers are well within their rights to hold back these unpaid services. They are paid to deliver a provincially-mandated curriculum to the students and anything outside this is unpaid labour. So I can’t argue with their frustration over having bargaining rights taken away and their reaction. This is the only legal tool they have.

So if teachers are – at least temporarily – out of the picture, who picks up the slack?


Maybe. But those parents who are active in the community and the likely suspects to step up and coach the Junior boys soccer team are already stretched for time. I know. I’m one of them. That is the case in my little corner of Ottawa and I suspect it the same elsewhere. There might be a bit of a community pool to draw from, but it would come nowhere near to filling the gap left by the teachers.

As well, there is the whole security issue around having parents lead these teams without some sort of oversight, as in police checks.

Trustee for zone 3, Donna Blackburn, said she has been inundated with phone calls from parents who were frustrated about the parameters of volunteering and the deadlines for getting involved.

Adams said all volunteer coaches and assistant coaches need to go through a process, including police checks.

“Our No. 1 priority is student safety,” Adams said.

The deadline for winter sports is Oct. 31, she said, and that the board will work with principals to get the information about volunteering out to parents and other interested members of the community.

So, for all practical purposes, parents and other members of the community might help, but only a bit.

A logical longterm solution might be to have the teachers play a supporting role only and hire professional coaches who could manage a few different sports. But that would cost money and neither the Boards nor the province have any dineros to spare these days… unless…. hmmm…

We DO have this wasteful and discriminatory duel education system in Ontario… I wonder if there could be adequate cost-savings realised by MERGING the public and seperate Boards? Hmmmm?

Of course we don’t know the extent of the cost savings because no government has had the balls to do an independent, unbiased analysis of our publicly funded education system. Even if the savings were only $20 or $30 million annually, that would hire a few hundred pro coaches at 60K a pop or so.

Just sayin’…



Friday miscellany…

Wanna know what climate change “looks like”?

Well, here you go:

Extreme weather events are textbook examples of an effect that an overall warming of the planet will have.

But since at least 1988, climate scientists have warned that climate change would bring, in general, increased heat waves, more droughts, more sudden downpours, more widespread wildfires and worsening storms. In the United States, those extremes are happening here and now.

So far this year, more than 2.1 million acres have burned in wildfires, more than 113 million people in the U.S. were in areas under extreme heat advisories last Friday, two-thirds of the country is experiencing drought, and earlier in June, deluges flooded Minnesota and Florida.

“This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level,” said Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona. “The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about.”

Of course, the far right believe that climate change is all a bunch of BS made up by lefties in some sort of vendetta against big business. And the far right is driving the government’s agenda right now with regard to environmental policies, so don’t expect any changes anytime soon.


Canadians are NOT becoming “more conservative”…

… in spite of the CPC’s best efforts to drive us in that direction.

Six years into the Harper era, Canadians are inching inexorably into the conservative, and Conservative, columns. Right? And though not all are pleased with this incremental, rightward shift, most — the so-called silent majority — tacitly accept it.

Well, no, actually. The latest data from pollster Ipsos Reid, part of a wide-ranging examination of popular sentiment for Postmedia News and Global Television, doesn’t suggest this at all. If anything the numbers indicate Canadians today are more solidly progressive than we have ever been. Perhaps we are a more complex and mature people than the received wisdom gives us credit for. And perhaps this means that our national political leaders, across the spectrum, don’t understand or reflect our views nearly as fully or as precisely as they might.

I think that most Canadians – with the possible exception of the majority of those in Alberta – are firmly wedded to the core principles of social justice and are by and large a progressive bunch. We are also a conservative gaggle from a financial perspective; we want our governments to be fiscally prudent.  The Harperites are failing on both fronts, and as soon as there is a viable progressive alternative, they are screwed.
Speaking of rodents, a squirrel followed me this morning for the full length of my walk to the bus stop (about 400 metres).

This one:


It hopped along  about 10 feet behind! Then it sat in front of me on the sidewalk at the bus stop… staring expectantly. It was very weird!


Again, speaking of rat-like critters, the slimy tentacles of the Koch bros. are everywhere it seems.

They are spending 100’s of millions to try to oust Obama, plus they have funneled a cool half mill to the CPC’s fave “think tank”.

Though “think” and Fraser Institute are two words that should seldom be used in the same sentence.



Speaking of anachronisms: Yay. Catholic school labour peace is upon us in Ontar-i-ar-i-ar-i-o. But wouldn’t it be even more efficient if there were only ONE teacher’s union representing educators from ONE school system in Ontario?

Wouldn’t it?


Learned a trick last night about Facebook. One can filter the number / type of updates that you get from specific friends. I’m already happy as hell about this as I don’t have to even so much as glance at some of the fluff that goes across my screen!

Thank you, Facebook!


Finally, it is sad to see OCDSB Trustee Cathy Curry say enough is enough and resign from her position on the Board. While I personally do not know her, I am told by those who do that she has been a tireless worker for the advancement of education in Ottawa – always putting sound principles and evidence-based thinking into her decisions… unlike some of her soon-to-be former colleagues…

Thanks for your service!



The job of a School Board Trustee must be frustrating indeed… what kind of fool would consider taking on such a task!

Oh. Yeah.

Thanks, Cathy. I reckon your experience will be missed – at least by some.

OTTAWA — Kanata public school trustee Cathy Curry says she’s so sick of the board’s dysfunction that she’s calling it quits.

But before she goes, Curry’s also calling on the Ministry of Education to introduce sweeping changes to the way public school trustees conduct business provincewide and to launch an investigation into how Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustees govern themselves.

In a letter to the board’s senior staff — and circulated to trustees Friday afternoon, Curry quotes one of the board’s former governance coaches, saying, “If you can’t change people, sometimes you have to change people.”


OCDSB Trustee

Pam FitzGerald is stepping aside
Given the current composition of the Board, I worry a bit about who will be selected to replace her and the process that will be used to do so.

Should be interesting, to say the least.

Thanks to the soon-to-be ex-Trustee for her service to her community.


New provincial school fundraising Guideline

The Province of Ontario has recently published the new rules, regs and best practices around how School Boards should police the ways a school raises money for school purposes.

For the most part, it is a pretty innocuous doc. But the two bullets in bold concern me.

III. Best Practices
Fundraising activities can benefit schools and their communities by fostering stronger community and school partnerships, increased student and community engagement and by providing support for student or charitable organizations. The contribution of the school community towards these benefits is of value to schools.
School boards should consider the following when developing board-wide fundraising policies:

What really worries me is that we will see a hit to fundraising totals if donors see that a portion of their generosity is being funnelled from the school to a central fund. It will also be hit if we are forced to cut back on events because of an arbitrary limit of the number that we are allowed to have.

The purpose of the central fund is to provide other – less affluent, I suppose… or maybe with an inactive parent community – schools to be able to access monies (that were generated through the efforts of others) to “level the playing field”. Or, as I like to call it “lower the bar”.

And what about fundraising efforts that are already underway? Will they be grandfathered?

The existing Board policy is not at all that detailed and will have to be re-written to deal with this new reality.

Lots of questions but no answers so far. I’ll be keeping tabs on this issue.




New school rankings!

The Fraser Institute school ranking have been released and Pleasant Park PS has moved up the scale considerably!


I am not a huge fan of these rankings (nor of the Fraser Institute.. in fact, everything else they publish outside of these rankings is little more than drivel), but I do think there is some real analytical value in the period over period trends.

Read a previous post I wrote on the value of these rankings.

You can find the Pleasant Park profile here

Here are the rankings for the OCDSB Elementary schools.

As a sidenote, I wonder how the FI determines the “trend”. In theory, PPPS should have an upward triangle beside it…

2010-11 Rank Rank in the most recent five years Trend School Name City 2010-11 Rating Rating in the most recent five years Schools found: 31
119/2695 288/2283 Mutchmor Ottawa 8.7 7.7 Add to compare
159/2695 332/2283 Trend up Hopewell Avenue Ottawa 8.5 7.6 Add to compare
281/2695 176/2283 Devonshire Ottawa 8.1 8.1 Add to compare
281/2695 374/2283 Trend up Adrienne Clarkson Ottawa 8.1 7.5 Add to compare
313/2695 249/2283 Broadview Ottawa 8.0 7.8 Add to compare
479/2695 83/2283 Woodroffe Avenue Ottawa 7.6 8.5 Add to compare
479/2695 249/2283 Elmdale Ottawa 7.6 7.8 Add to compare
479/2695 737/2283 Farley Mowat Ottawa 7.6 6.8 Add to compare
559/2695 249/2283 Trend down First Avenue Ottawa 7.4 7.8 Add to compare
606/2695 1124/2283 Pleasant Park Ottawa 7.3 6.2 Add to compare
780/2695 288/2283 Rockcliffe Park Ottawa 7.0 7.7 Add to compare
780/2695 864/2283 Trend up Lady Evelyn Alternative Ottawa 7.0 6.6 Add to compare
849/2695 737/2283 Churchill Alternative Ottawa 6.9 6.8 Add to compare
970/2695 621/2283 Fallingbrook Ottawa 6.7 7.0 Add to compare
1088/2695 925/2283 D. Roy Kennedy Ottawa 6.5 6.5 Add to compare
1088/2695 1488/2283 Trend up Alta Vista Ottawa 6.5 5.6 Add to compare
1150/2695 1540/2283 Robert Bateman Ottawa 6.4 5.5 Add to compare
1223/2695 1242/2283 Vincent Massey Ottawa 6.3 6.0 Add to compare
1370/2695 1750/2283 Trend up Manor Park Ottawa 6.1 5.0 Add to compare
1484/2695 796/2283 Dunlop Ottawa 5.9 6.7 Add to compare
1484/2695 1584/2283 Roberta Bondar Ottawa 5.9 5.4 Add to compare
1700/2695 1488/2283 Elgin Street Ottawa 5.5 5.6 Add to compare
1805/2695 1864/2283 Hawthorne Ottawa 5.3 4.7 Add to compare
2034/2695 1829/2283 Severn Avenue Ottawa 4.8 4.8 Add to compare
2544/2695 2120/2283 Trend down W.E. Gowling Ottawa 2.9 3.7 Add to compare
2551/2695 2138/2283 Trend down Charles H. Hulse Ottawa 2.8 3.6 Add to compare
2565/2695 2249/2283 Pinecrest Ottawa 2.7 2.3 Add to compare
2565/2695 n/a n/a Carleton Heights Ottawa 2.7 n/a Add to compare
2615/2695 2274/2283 Queen Mary Street Ottawa 2.0 1.5 Add to compare
2645/2695 2191/2283 Arch Street Ottawa 1.5 3.1 Add to compare
2661/2695 n/a n/a Centennial Ottawa 1.2 n/a Add to compare