velvetpage: (Default)
I stumbled across this on my brother's facebook.

Let's see, where to begin?

Or, in simpler terms, a stable marriage is a clear route to a better life, but society has steadily chipped away at respect for that very institution.

Actually, the truth is exactly the opposite. When people are able to get out of marriages that aren't working, the strength of the ones that ARE is increased. How is it "respecting the institution of marriage" to force abused women to stay with their abusers, for example? On the other side of the coin, how is it disrespecting that institution to allow anyone who wants to, to enter into it?

So, educated women get married, pick more reliable partners, and enjoy much better outcomes. That would seem to contradict the feminist notion that men are largely unnecessary appendages, required as sperm-providers but otherwise expendable once that duty has been performed. It would also run counter to the view of family courts that fathers are largely unnecessary in upbringing children, other than to provide financial support.

First, the "feminist notion" he's talking about is not the bulk of feminists, and it's been oversimplified here. Certainly some women are better off without their sperm donors, because the sperm donors were beating them and the kids, or otherwise causing more problems than they solved. Why not discuss the fact that college-educated women have more access to privileged men, including the privilege that raised them to see being an involved husband and father as a good thing? As for the family courts, did the National Post miss the fact that in Ontario, joint custody is the default, precisely because fathers are seen as valuable and having rights to their children? This is a Canadian newspaper and should be aware of things like that.

I'm certainly not denying that two-parent (or three-parent, but I don't think the NP is ready to acknowledge families like mine, more's the pity) families generally manage better by their kids. That's a simple fact borne out by numerous statistics. What I'm denying is that this is a simple choice on anyone's part. The state of marriage as a middle-class institution is both an effect and a cause of privilege.

The pot shot at abortion at the end is priceless. The middle-class women who do not have babies out of wedlock had more access to abortion and contraceptives when they were younger than did the poor women who had babies. They didn't have fewer abortions - in fact they probably had more.

Pouring money into social programs is not meant to pull people out of poverty (though perhaps it should be, if we focused more on supporting people to work.) It's meant to close some of the gaps between rich and poor so that they can pull themselves the rest of the way. As usual, the NP has misrepresented the goals of social justice movements.
velvetpage: (Default)
Canadians need to watch this and pass it on, especially if you live in Ontario.

velvetpage: (Default)
Seriously, I hope you guys do this. FPTP sucks and I'm hoping an NDP opposition will finally make that case in our Parliament.


velvetpage: (Default)
The federal election isn't the only one on the horizon. There's a provincial one too, and that one will hit very close to home for teachers. The Conservatives are laying low, attempting to slide in as the only choice in the face of dissatisfaction with the current Liberal government. The probability of labour unrest, the likelihood that we will lose gains made over the last number of years, the likelihood of increased testing and decreased teaching - all of it is strong with a Conservative government.

velvetpage: (Default)
Dear Governor Walker,

I have been following with interest the growing protests in your state
as you attempt to strip unions of their collective bargaining rights.
It's interesting in part because of the culture around it.

I regularly discuss education issues with teachers in the U.S. The
ones from Wisconsin are generally among the best-read, best-trained,
and best-supported. They offer a quality education to their students
which is unfortunately not the norm in the United States. Part of the
reason they can offer that education to their students is the support
of their union. It's interesting to note that the five states where
collective bargaining is illegal are also quite far down in the
rankings when it comes to the quality of their public education, while
the states with strong unions are near the top of the rankings.

When a workplace has good management, the purpose of the union is to
work smoothly to address issues the management, from their different
perspective, may not see the same way as the workers themselves. But
when management is uncaring, cavalier, or just plain incompetent, the
role of the union is vital to the ability of the workers to do their
jobs. They can focus on teaching because they know that if something
goes wrong, it's not them against the school board hierarchy. A
teacher's working conditions are a student's learning conditions; do
you really want your state's children taught by angry, disillusioned
people who are looking to retrain and change careers as soon as
possible?

I sympathise with your budget issues. Everyone has them. Perhaps
asking the people who have good jobs to pay a little bit more would
alleviate that, better than asking the people who are just barely
getting by to take a 10% pay cut.

You're not doing what's right. You're attacking educators because you
have an ideological beef with unions, and in the process you are
undermining the public education on which the children of your state
rely.

The world is watching. Take their (in my opinion, overly generous)
concessions and leave them the right to bargain collectively.

Sincerely,

Velvetpage
Teacher
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
velvetpage: (Default)
This short essay describes the negative and unlooked-for (but easy to predict) effects of attempting to marry measurement of results with paying people for achieving them. Someone needs to forward it to the U.S. Department of Education, and to a variety of state departments of education. It's a clear, concise explanation of why merit pay is an absolutely abysmal idea, guaranteed to result in poorer outcomes for the students most in need of better ones. It's in the context of the British health care system.
velvetpage: (punctuation saves lives)
An excellent article about the failings of the film "Waiting for Superman." I know I'm preaching to the choir, here, but have a link.

Politics

Oct. 26th, 2010 06:51 am
velvetpage: (Harper)
Toronto: the vote on the left was split several ways, while the vote on the right was concentrated on one right-wing ideologue who got the ear of the suburbs by promising an end to corruption and a drastic reduction in social services that the suburbs use less anyway. Want to know how it is that a country where most people lean to the left of centre manages to keep electing these clowns? Here's how: there are so many good ideas and decent people on the left that people can't settle on just one, and with a first-past-the-post system, it means the right-wing guy with less than a majority often comes up from beind.

All of which boils down to one thing: it's time for voter reform in this country. A ranked ballot would be an improvement, for example. Rob Ford did not - quite - have a majority of the votes.

Hamilton: Oh, puh-LEASE. Bob Bratina? Really, Hamilton? The a.m. talk radio personality from the eighties with a rep for a short temper and a thin skin during his seven years on council? Don't blame me if City Hall continues to get nothing done, while we continue to miss out on money and services from a provincial government fed up with trying to get us to make decisions. The best thing about Bratina is that his platform boiled down to, "Can't we all just recognize how much we have to offer each other?" I appreciate the "let's all just get along" message - I'd just rather see it coming from someone else.

I didn't really follow any other race closely. How'd it go in Ottawa? I know that race was being closely watched.
velvetpage: (Default)
A U.S. court upheld the expulsion of a counselling student who could not reconcile her religious belief that being gay was immoral with her ethical requirement to counsel anyone who needed her help. There's at least one similar case elsewhere in the country, and if it gets decided differently, the matter could very conceivably go to the Supreme Court.

Kudos to [livejournal.com profile] cereta for this one.
velvetpage: (Default)
Stolen from a new friend whose LJ handle I haven't quite sorted out in my head yet.


velvetpage: (Default)
Still from [livejournal.com profile] siobhan63, as was the last one.

Apparently, the Conservative government is quite happy to slash funding to pro-choice groups, including refusing to fund international initiatives of maternal health that include abortion, all while starting an initiative aimed at maternal health around the world. But they're prepared to give $800K to groups that are translating the Bible into various African dialects.

And they still manage to deny that the choices of which agencies to fund is more about ideology than their ability to run their agencies well.

Canadians

Jun. 20th, 2009 06:37 pm
velvetpage: (Canada rainbow)
Open the embassy in Tehran to injured protesters. It's a petition started by [livejournal.com profile] midnightsangel to get our embassy open. Injured protesters who went to hospitals have been disappearing, arrested by police, so many embassies started opening their doors to the injured. Canada's embassy didn't. This did not make me proud to be Canadian.
velvetpage: (Default)
Full-day kindergarten, learning hubs, and extended parental leave are all here, and I think the vision is fabulous.

Nevertheless I have some reservations.

First, I think combining Early Years centres with schools and kindergartens has the potential to be excellent for kids. I'll be waiting to see how my union responds to this, because so far, they've been against the idea of full-day kindergarten unless it's staffed by their own members. I can see why - ECE workers do not have the training in literacy and assessment that a certified teacher has in Ontario. The only reason the government would like to put ECE workers into that job is that they're an awful lot cheaper. In Ontario, ECE is a two-year community college course, versus teaching's average of five years university. As a result, ECE workers top out at about the salary where teachers start.

The second big problem is physical. Kindergarten and early years centres need classrooms with bathrooms and sinks and water fountains right in the room, and for the early years centres, probably an area that meets Department of Health regulations for preparing snacks. Even schools that have empty rooms don't have rooms that are set up like that. Expanding kindergarten from half-day to full-day requires us to double our space for kindergarten classes, and portables won't cut it. Even empty rooms in most schools will need significant modifications to meet criteria. The result is obvious to me: the schools that are going to get this first are the new schools, the ones that have been built with the knowledge that this was coming down the line and have the extra space with its amenities already accounted for. That means schools like ours - medium needs, small, old, and around the corner from a Catholic school that has all the amenities and has an Early Years centre already - are going to be at the bottom of the list for improvements. I'd be surprised if our school sees this before 2015, with the way the government is hemming and hawing about money.

The last thing I would like to see would be a change to parental leave to allow extended leaves to be taken half-time, rather than full-time as they are now (and as this report suggests.) I know a fair number of people who would be better off working half-time for a few years when their kids are small, rather than going back full-time the minute their leave runs out, but the option doesn't exist. What if that extra six monthe they're suggesting could be spread over a year of every-other-day or half-day work? I'm sure I wouldn't be the only parent thinking that would save my soul alive.

Though the report doesn't detail how, there's also a suggestion to make the early years centres and possibly early kindergarten a year-round thing. The biggest stumbling block to this is probably the teachers' contracts; the second-biggest stumbling block is, again, physical plant issues. Summer downtime is when maintenance is done on school buildings. I think they could probably make this work by using ECE workers for non-school days and certified teachers for the rest. But it will be both tricky and expensive.

Going Dutch

May. 6th, 2009 05:38 pm
velvetpage: (earth harmless)
This very good article describes an American ex-pat's experiences with the Dutch social system. A few points resonated with me in particular, since I live in a socialist system as well:

1) More social safety net does not translate to more laziness or less work for the vast, vast majority of people. On the contrary, it makes people more secure, which means they're able to pursue work they might not be able to afford if they were tied to a health insurance provider (for example.)

2) The roots of socialism in Canada, as in the Netherlands, are deeply religious. They grew out of the Reform Protestant movement to find the most efficient ways to help widows and orphans and anyone else who needed it. The difference is primarily in who we expect will pick up the tab. When times get tough, it gets harder to rely on voluntary charity, because people who lose their jobs tend to stop giving out of necessity. The government has much better resources at its disposal for tiding itself over the lean times. The other difference, of course, is that the non-religious or non-organized religious can buy into a social welfare system where they may not be willing to buy into an overtly religious one.

3) There's a sense of community in Canada, a feeling that if everyone is pulling along fairly well, we're all better for it. The individualism in the States puts a high value on charity being voluntary, theoretically as opposed to the forced charity of taxes. But voluntary charity is charity that can't be counted on to be there when you need it.

It's a good article, especially if your worldview leans towards a strict division between left and right politically.
velvetpage: (teacher)
Every conservative government I'm familiar with in North America occasionally brings up the issue of school choice - that is, the right of students and parents to choose the school that best fits their values and will give their kids the best education. The mantra usually includes several elements of a moral conservative and economic conservative standpoint: the problem of religious education; the idea that competition provides a motivation to improve; and that engagement increases with the level of choice.

Cut for length. )

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