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  1. I just finished reading an article in The Washington Post which is rare in this U.S. divided climate. --> There are professionals in every organisation which always look for ideas to conversate with "the other side", instead of pointing the finger. The Question that they asked is: Can political opponents have a civilized conversation about education? --- by Jay Matthews Rage over education issues fills campaign speeches, op-ed pages and cable news shows, but are these outbursts making schools and teachers better? I have been looking for reasoned arguments between people on opposing sides that illuminate the best and most politically possible improvements we can make in teaching and learning. Not having found any so far, I tried creating my own. I contacted former Indiana Republican congressman Luke Messer, a partner in the law firm Bose McKinney & Evans. He is president of a nonprofit organization called Invest in Education, which lobbies for more school choice. I asked him if he would like to have an email discussion about how to make schools better. We are similar in some ways but at different places in the school debate. He is unfriendly to teacher unions. With the exception of some of their political ads, I am for them since I remember what they did for my mom, a lifelong substitute teacher. Messer and I both like public charter schools, but I regularly note that only 1 in 4 of them have better achievement rates than regular public schools. Messer promotes government grants to parents, often called vouchers, to pay for private schooling, while I think that reform won’t get us far. We agreed to hash out these issues and see where that took us. Here is what we know. Despite the push by school-choice advocates to get more kids into charter and private schools, more than 80 percent of American children remain in regular public schools. Some of the school boards that run them are under fire, but surveys show parents are mostly happy with what their children are learning there. That being the case, I asked Messer what he thinks of my view that raucous complaints by parents at school board meetings don’t do much good. Mothers and fathers have the right to speak out, but they have busy lives and usually lack the time to get involved enough to make a difference. Messer said his group is not focused on fighting teachers unions or electing politicians of any particular party. “Our goal is to expand school choice, all forms of school choice, to give families maximum freedom to choose the best educational environment for their own child,” he said. “Private choice enrollment — vouchers, tax credits, ESAs [education saving accounts] — have soared in the last decade,” he said. “In 2012-2013, there were about 246,000 kids in private school-choice programs. Today there are about 700,000. Thirty-one states plus D.C. now have some type of private school-choice support. Charter enrollment has grown by around 1 million kids over the last decade. Home schooling has also skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic.” He did not mention the fight over how or whether to teach issues of gender and race in schools. His organization does not get into that. I think that part of the education debate comes from political campaigns trying to make voters angry. It does nothing to improve reading, writing, math and other important classroom activities. Messer said expanding charters and private school-choice programs even more “would facilitate the systemic change in K-12 education that many of us have been fighting for.” That takes our discussion to the heart of the matter. He argues that a key to improving learning would be passage of the Education Choice for Children Act (ECCA), which would create federal tax credit scholarship for kids who want to move to private schools in all 50 states. I say it would take more than that to put significantly more children in classes where teachers are motivated to challenge students with deeper lessons and give them the individual attention they need. I think one reason the number of kids attending charters has grown more than the number using private school vouchers is that existing private schools have limited space for new applicants. Messer responded that there is plenty of room for more private school students with vouchers. “There are tens of thousands of empty and available Catholic school seats in New York City and Philadelphia alone,” he said. He estimated at least a million private school places are available across the country. The failure of teachers unions to stem rising enrollment in charters shows they are good at making Democratic Party campaign platforms more hostile to those kind of schools but don’t discourage parents who want to make a change. The most successful charter networks, such as KIPP, IDEA and Uncommon, have not only pleased parents but have had a marked influence on regular public schools. In the past two decades, those charters’ opening of college-level high school courses such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate to low-income children has helped inspire a growth in participation in AP, IB and Cambridge courses in regular neighborhood schools. Only 1 percent of high schools had at least half of their 11th- and 12th-graders in those courses in 1998. By 2019 that number had risen to 12 percent. Also, the anti-charter rhetoric of teachers unions appears to have had no effect on ambitious principals and teachers in regular schools who are making classes more challenging. Messer and I agree on that. He told me education reform “has occurred in red and blue communities with teachers of both parties.” Energetic principals and teachers may vote differently from each other on Election Day, but they share a willingness “to challenge the status quo, fight for kids and stand up to the teachers union establishment opposing reform,” he said. Messer makes an excellent point about the popularity of at least the concept of school choice. “Eighty percent of African American and Latinos" support choice, he said. Even higher percentages of independents and Republicans support school choice programs.” I think there is also an unrecognized form of increased school choice that may be the most important reason for rising average achievement in American schools over the past several decades. Parents are on average more affluent now than they were a half-century ago. That means they have more money to move to neighborhoods where the schools seem better to them. Messer and I agree it is important to support parents who want better schools. Bigger incomes help. So do more good charters and more good private schools with space for kids with tuition vouchers. But we both know that improving the schools takes more than just new federal laws. At the end of our discussion, Messer said, “Admittedly, none of this is a silver bullet. Nobody has found the magic formula to triple student achievement.” “What makes most schools, charter or not, successful are great leaders who hire great teachers,” he said. “Partisan politics plays almost no role.” I could not have said that better myself. Our schools were making progress before the pandemic. We have to count on the educators who made that happen to keep going as American schooling gets back into shape. A reasonable discussion of what reforms might help is what we need, not angry buzzwords.
  2. Originally on The Globe and Mail however under a paywall. This is from the website CP24 which can be copied and pasted. In The Globe and Mail article some legal experts were arguing that this bill is unprecedented. MPPs in Ontario are at Queen’s Park extra early this morning in an effort to push through anti-strike legislation that could stop Ontario’s 55,000 education workers from walking off the job on Friday. The legislature met at 5 a.m. today for the second reading of the “Keeping Students in Schools Act,” which aims to impose a four-year contract on education workers and bar them from striking. The provincial government is aiming to get this legislation passed before Friday’s planned strike. Lecce introduced the legislation Monday afternoon after an emergency mediated session the day before between CUPE, the province, a mediator and school board representatives failed to yield a deal. Despite the possible legislation, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents custodians, librarians, early childhood educators, education assistants, and administrative staff at Ontario’s English and French public and Catholic boards, says its members will still walk off the job on Friday for a one-day protest. Both the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board said they will be closed to in-person learning on Friday if the walkout goes ahead as planned. The English public and Catholic boards in Durham also plan to do the same. Ontario’s education workers have been without a collective agreement since Aug. 31 and despite several rounds of talks, a new one has yet to be negotiated. Among other things, CUPE wants a yearly wage increase of $3.25/hour (11.7 per cent), early childhood educators in every kindergarten class, five additional paid days before the start of the school year, 30 minutes of paid daily prep time, an increase in overtime pay, and a $100 million investment in new job creation. The Ford government’s latest offer, proposed at an emergency mediated session Sunday afternoon, is a four-year deal that includes a 2.5 per cent annual raise for workers who make under $43,000, and a 1.5 per cent yearly wage increase for those who make more. This is up from their initial offer of annual increases of a two per cent raise for workers who make less than $40,000 and a 1.25 per cent raise otherwise. In early October, CUPE announced its members had voted 96.5 per cent in favour of walking off the job if a contract agreement could not be reached with the provincial government. The union then asked the Ontario Ministry of Labour to grant what is known as a no-board report, which means that a board of conciliation will not be appointed. That go-ahead, which allowed the workers to legally walk off the job in 17 days (Nov. 3), was given on Oct. 17. Five days notice must be given before the union can go on strike. Last week, mediated negotiations began between the two sides, but broke down after just two days. All five of Ontario’s key education unions are currently in the midst of bargaining with the province after their contracts expired on Aug. 31. https://www.cp24.com/mobile/news/ontario-legislature-meeting-for-early-morning-anti-strike-legislation-debate-1.6133465
  3. After three months of distance learning that saw low student participation and put parents in the impossible position of teaching their kids while trying to work from home, the Province of Ontario is now proposing three options for September: return of all students to daily school with careful health hygiene, 100% distance learning, or a hybrid that divides all students into two cohorts that attend on alternate days/weeks. While it looks like 100% distance learning is off the table unless there's a big surge of Covid-19 cases or a local outbreak, the hybrid model seems to be the one being promoted by the Province. I believe this would be disastrous for both education and the economy. There's no way to get workplaces up and running on a full-time basis if parents cannot do their work without having to take care of their children at the same time. A part-time return to school would put working parents, including educators, in a very compromising position, having to either watch their children for half of the work week while trying to do their jobs or scramble to find daycare at the same time as thousands of other parents. Such a plan would not be safer than full-time school for students, as many of these children would be in daycares with students from multiple schools, presenting a greater health risk than having students attend one facility with the same children all week. The poorest families with the most precarious employment would be hardest hit by a part-time school schedule, having to pay for daycare or make the choice of risking losing their jobs in order to take care of their kids. We know that a learning model that is exclusively distance-learning from home is bad for student engagement, socialization, and education outcomes. We also know that having everyone return to school in a safe way than includes the necessary social distancing is a challenge without reducing class sizes and ensuring there is additional classroom space in schools. However, this can be done without substantial new hiring or budgetary increases. We need to accept a few conditions in order to make daily return to school possible. I propose, for staffing reasons, that non-classroom teachers (librarians, planning time teachers, French as a second language teachers, and a proportion of special education teaching staff) become regular classroom teachers throughout the remainder of the pandemic, so that class sizes can be reduced. While this may reduce the number of special education teachers available to provide segregated classes for special needs students, we were moving to a more inclusive special education model and classroom teachers will be better positioned to support special needs students with smaller class sizes. In order to have this kind of schedule, certain curriculum will have to be provided online, such as FSL. However, it would protect on-site learning for the core curricula of literacy, numeracy, science, and even geography and history (Social Studies). Phys. Ed would be taught within the classroom or outside where possible. This schedule requires that teachers take their planning time at home, as teachers would not be getting their own planning time coverage from non-classroom planning time teachers during the school day. The planning time and FSL teachers would teach regular classes. This schedule would shorten the school day, not only because of the planning time teachers would be taking at home, but also because this shorter school day eliminates the need for an afternoon recess, and for safety reasons, the lunch hour should be shortened, probably to 30 or 40 minutes. Unstructured periods like recess provide too much opportunity for breaking social distancing guidelines. Reducing recess time doesn’t impact instructional time. Shorter recesses could be taken in the regular classroom. Teachers could take their classes outside as long as classes don’t combine. Another sticking point for having all students in elementary schools at the same time is lack of space for social distancing, especially if class sizes are capped at an arbitrary number of, say, 15. If non-classroom teachers’ rooms are freed up (libraries, gyms, conference rooms, etc.), there will be additional spaces available for classes. There should not be an arbitrary class size cap, but rather a formula of students to square footage, so that social distancing is maintained no matter the class size. For example, a class of 28 students could easily be accommodated in a library or gym. Most elementary schools would be able to safely social distance all of their students if all of their available school spaces were used and non-classroom teachers took regular classes. In exceptional circumstances, some classes would have to be relocated to other schools, board-owned facilities, or leased facilities (adult-learning centres, high schools, banquet halls or sports facilities that cannot open until the final phase of reopening, etc.). School boards are able to implement such measures if they are given some basic criteria to follow, and they can do this without increasing budgets, as long as there is flexibility in allocations. If parents were shown such a plan and assured that social distancing and the necessary cleaning and safety measures will be taken, most students would return to school on a full-time basis, albeit with a shorter school day. It's also advisable for staffing purposes to get a short-term commitment from parents as to whether or not they intend to send their children to school, for a time frame of say 2-3 months at a time. That way schools will have a firm basis upon which to divide students and staff classes. It’s only fair to ask this commitment from parents for budgeting purposes. Such a plan would be sustainable if the pandemic continued for many months or even years. It could be flexible and adjusted for periods of distance learning if there are surges or local outbreaks of Covid-19. It's important to have a clear process for return to school that maximizes safety while returning as many students to school on a daily basis as possible, so that students are not robbed of opportunities and families are not put under unnecessary additional stress, financial or otherwise. Thoughts?
  4. Ontario is closing all public schools for two weeks following March break amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday. It came as the province announced 17 new confirmed cases - its biggest surge to date - bringing the total to 59. The decision to close schools from March 14 to April 5 is based on advice from Ontario's chief medical officer of health, Ford said in a joint statement with Health Minister Christine Elliott and Education Minister Stephen Lecce.
  5. All publicly-funded schools in Ontario will remain closed until at least May 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Education Minister Stephen Lecce has announced. Ontario schools were initially closed for two weeks following March Break in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. The government then extended the closure through at least May 4, though Premier Doug Ford later said that it was unrealistic to think that children would be able to return to classes by that point. Speaking at Queen’s Park on Sunday afternoon, Lecce said that the decision to extend the closure through the end of May was based on “expert advice” from public health officials. He said that “if there is a way to save some of the school year at the back end,” his government would consider it but not at the expense of safety. “The extension will provide the province more time, sufficient time to review the data and the modelling so that we can make the best decision based on the best medical advice and ensure that ultimately students remain safe and staff remain safe should they return to school at some point his year or at any point beyond,” he said. While a number of other provinces have announced the cancellation of in-person classes for the rest of the year, Ontario has so far refused to do the same though it has worked to ramp up its online learning program and has promised that students will receive final grades, regardless of whether schools reopen. On Sunday, Lecce said that he “appreciates full well” that parents, educators and students al want a “greater degree of certainty” and hopes to provide a “final update” with respect to this school year before May 31. He said that in the meantime the province will also provide “some greater” context with regards to the benchmarks that need to be hit to reopen schools when it releases its economic recovery plan sometime this week. “I think currently the advice from the chief medical officer of health is that we are not there today. We need more time we need to see a reduced risk to young people and we have accepted that advice as we always have and given ourselves another month of time,” he said. All remaining PA days cancelled Since ordering the closuring the closure of all schools last month, the province has worked to ramp up its online learning program and recently struck a deal with Apple to distribute thousands of iPads to students from low-income families. Lecce said that at this point there are no plans to extend the school year, as officials are confident that adequate instruction is being delivered through the online learning program. He did, however, say that all remaining professional activity (PA) days and examination days will be cancelled to maximize instruction time. The province is also working to introduce a more robust summer learning program to help interested students “mitigate from learning loss,” Lecce said. As for the eventual resumption of classes, whenever that may be, Lecce said that his government will take an open-mided approach to ensuring safety. “If students return at some point later this year my commitment is to come back here and communicate to you how I will ensure every parent in this province that we can ensure the safety of your child. If it involves changing how classrooms are structured or designed we will look at that. We have a duty and responsibility to be open to every idea to achieve safety,” he said. WATCH MY YOUTUBE VIDEO
  6. 2 Posterity, Higher Leadership Training​ By Exegesisme "We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." I never see other human articles put posterity in this way this importance, who in future from us are secured in the blessings of liberty, which in my faith is another name of god. The following growth of USA from the constitution has been secured in this expression of the word posterity, all other expressions in the same constitution need to be carried on by the being the word posterity means. The meaning of posterity in the constitution gains a vivid life in the real political living of USA, and becomes the most powerful driving force for the most developed education system and other enterprises. For children, the concept is the most commonly used in the speeches of politicians of USA. ​
  7. Which Party Should Be Elected?​ By Exegesisme In long run, the prosperity of Canada depends on science, technology, and education. If you vote for the long-term prosperity of Canada, you should ask yourself, which party provide the strongest leadership to promote the progress of science, technology, and education in Canada. However, the progress of science, technology, and education depends on the instructive creativity of the people. How does a political party play a role to promote the instructive creativity of the people? Instructive creativity is a new concept, which means personal creativity which plays instructive role in a group, a community, and/or the whole society. The instructive creativity depends on two factors. First, the freedom and rights are actually endowed in the core of a person through systematic education. Second, the society is well prepared to welcome the emergence of personal creativity. This is a creative culture stimulated by both the progress of politics as examples of USA and UK, and the invention of a deep philosophy as example of Germany. Now in Canada, in the political field, which party can play leadership to promote a sustainable political progress? I hope Canadian people can choose such a party. No matter which party is elected, I hope that party plays a strong leadership in political progress in long run.
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