Opening Statement

Saturday 31 December 2011

And A Happy New Year!

It's hard to believe this is the last day of 2011! Time flies, that's for sure. It seems my life used to drag on and on for years. My 20's were a write off. I mean I had a great time kicking around and all, then belatedly going to university, but I wasn't going anywhere in a hurry. My 30's and 40's were the years when I struggled getting where I wanted to go with my career, raising family, paying off the mortgage, putting in my time.

Since I've turned 50 I think I feel the most relaxed, and comfortable. I've pretty much paid my dues so it's not so much a struggle anymore. I know myself very well. For better or worse, I suspect the former, I don't suffer fools gladly and am not into putting up with a whole lot of guff anymore. The clock is ticking, I know I won't last forever, I can definitely sense my own mortality unlike when I was a lot younger. Maybe it's because my family and friends are growing older too, but thank God I sill have my health.  Nowadays there's lots of things I still want to do, as opposed to things I have to do, so I'm pretty upbeat. I swear if I could retire tomorrow and live to be a hundred I don't think I'd ever be bored. There's still just so much I want to dedicate my time to and experience.

Anyway, I`m ending the year on a very good upbeat mood. Christmas was pretty low key for Janet and I. We just relaxed at home. We did an early Christmas with my mom and sister up in Sudbury around the beginning of December. I wrote about that. Christmas day we went to Janet's brothers home for Christmas with my in-laws. Then there was the annual huge Fujiwara family gathering, this year at the Imperial Banquet Hall out in Scarborough. Other than that though, we lounged around the condo, went shopping and on outings. Had friends over and so on. No school. No union work. Janet has been off for the last week or so too, so it was a very nice, loving respite, a little breather, just us doing our own thing. I haven't written much lately, plenty of time for that in the year ahead.

What did I enjoy best about Christmas this year? Well I collect music, and I added plenty to my collection what with the sales. Got some good school clothes too. Janet and I each bought each other a carry on luggage bag for our trips. Nothing much. That's all materials stuff though.

Spiritually Christmas is always uplifting. We avoided a lot of the commercialism and hoopla, which was a real blessing. The big Christmas productions are for the kids. Our two sons and all the nephews and nieces have  pretty much grown up now and are either in university, starting up jobs and marriages etc. etc. etc. Not lots of babies yet, neither of us are grandparents anyway.

What I liked best was just the two of us sleeping in, lieing around in bed, or cuddled up on the couch, talking, relaxing, reading, watching t.v. movies and so on. With outings pretty much as they strike our fancy. Yup.

Today we have a few errands to run. Will pick up some Chinese food and come home to relax, just the two of us. No big deal but it's a big two thumbs up! A well earned rest.

I wish all my readers a very happy New Year, and many blessings in all your trials and tribulations during the year ahead. I really appreciate all of your reader visits, comments and insights, mostly just as I go about doing my everyday school and union thing here in Toronto. A special best wish must also go out to all my foreign readers. I`m glad you visit here a lot too.

I`m ending the year at 8550 reader visits, as of now. That`s since I began my blog in late March. Just under one quarter of you are from abroad, the rest here. I`m really glad if you like my blog and or it challenges and brings out the best in you. If it makes you mad, well you either probably don`t get it, or deserve it anyway. So there! ;-)

I will post some of my cellphone pictures from the holidays. Just some impromptu snapshots of our life in the big city at Christmas. I've got some interesting blogs still on the back burner. I think I've mentioned them or given you a hint before. So please do drop by and keep checking me out. I've got one more week of holidays. I most likely will post another blog or so. Then it's back to work with everything in full stride for the Winter Edition of my blogsite. Here`s to another great blog year ahead!


Friday 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Have a great Solstice. The Christmas Edition of my blog will continue after Christmas, or boxing day. Have a great holiday everybody! We sure earned it this year!

Schools out! Enough of that for now. Coming Soon: "Maya A Go-Go: The End Is Nigh?" at David Chiarelli -Christmas Edition. Also a Best of 2011 slide show from my personal archives, and your usual fun and games or whatever comes across the old scanner......

Sunday 18 December 2011

A December Update + Summary

Here it is a week before Christmas. I'm not too heavily into the festive spirit of it yet outside of maintaining the Christmas decorations and decorum at this site. Such is the teaching life. School and union have been keeping me mighty busy. Oh well, there will be plenty of time for Christmas during the holidays ahead. For the juicy stuff you can scroll down 5 paragraphs. Otherwise with one week of classes to go until our two week break, let me provide a more complete mid December teacher and union update for you:

The Social Media and Confidentiality Agreement issue has certainly been a long hard fight! As of Wednesday's staff rep meeting it seems official. We heard that the two are not one and the same. Likewise it seems clear the Social Media Protocol will be thoroughly researched and developed by due process using a wide variety of resources and input. A revised Confidentiality Agreement is now available for signing as I have pointed out.There no longer seems to be an impossible to enforce stipulation that you must sign it before you leave the office or else. This much better acknowledges our members existing sense of professionalism in these matters, and of course our basic right to read it over carefully, and ask questions at your leisure and satisfaction before it is signed. Since there is no apparent emergency requiring us to act otherwise, I still remain very uncomfortable with the frequent, hurried, and immediate executive demands for this to implemented without all these considerations being taken into careful consideration first, during the last month or two.

We know what can happen when hastily half thought out and produced political initiatives are rush pushed through TSU without careful thought and deliberation. See my blog on "In School Voting: A Pig in a Poke?" [May Blog Archives]* for a good example. I don't think that's the type of future leadership our members will be seeking come our TSU spring executive election this spring. I certainly hope not. Hopefully we can all learn from past mistakes and avoid the mis-steps and chaos that will inevitably follow any such supposed politically motivated "strategic" thinking.

I know my blogsite remains controversial among some readers and most certainly at our executive table. I respect that and have volunteered to be involved in helping develop our unit's new Social Media protocol since I know it will apply to me too and I want it to be reasonable and constructive, so it will work. I encourage others who are active and experienced in using the many new forms of electronic communication so commonly used today, outside of TSU anyway, to also get involved. I still firmly believe this is a freedom of information issue. Politically speaking it's just plain good, transparent and responsible executive representation and accountability as your duly elected third VP too. See my "Blogspot Manifesto Revisited" [Nov. Blog Archives]* for a more indepth explanation.

My blogspot readership has certainly seen a big increase this fall. There have been about 900 reader visits here over the past four weeks alone. Most of the response has been overwhelmingly positive, but I appreciate the constructive criticism, and in fact have often taken it into account to make modifications to this site as need be. I certainly don't plan on going away anytime soon. TSU is not some secret society of castles and kings, nor can it go back to being like that with so many new and exciting means of communicating with each other available these days. So phooey on censorship or any efforts to that effect.

A tip for you: watch carefully at our socials and other various meetings. There are always a few grinchy people working the crowd over, whispering nasty gossip and making up tall tales about myself and a few of the other executive members past and present. No big secret! Quite frankly, it's been going on for almost four years. There's a newbie jumping on board the campaign now too.

The word is I need to be "removed". I'm not sure if this was to be carried out now or during the spring election as a part of some sort of "palace" coup right out of the backwards looking "kings" and "castles" type mindset but no matter. Supposedly I was going to be forced by the president to sign the original confidentiality agreement under the old terms at the TSU office or else. Tsk! Tsk! I wrote about this in my last "Social Media" blog. Anyway, it's easy to figure out who the culprits are, and what's been really going on with all these secret rumblings. 

Listen carefully! Who complains the most about me and about this blog? That would be a double standard! Seems some folks can dish it out but they can't take it, for sure! 

Also consider this: I myself don't hide, back stab, nor do I make things up about others or cry "poor me". Look around and listen carefully. Who does?

Remember, there's a TSU Presidential and a TSU executive election this spring. There will be a lot of members running for office. They are taking sides, and lining up their ducks. What's happening then? Go connect the dots yourself. Very intriguing. 

I know this is kind of negative. Most everybody always says to just ignore them, but I've had enough. Is that really a good way to deal with a bully? Or two or three or.............

In my Blogspot Manifesto, one of the questions I said I'd want to address is:

Can we increase member involvement and more good, positive, pro-active and forward moving union executive renewal over the years ahead on our present course? If so how? If not, why not?

I remain an optimist. There are a still lot of great people on executive doing a lot of great things for our members this year, but nonetheless it seems an especially poignant question to ask.

Leadership? Representation? Or simply personal ambition and naked self interest? You our members will decide in this spring's TSU election. That's what will decide where we go from here. If the present nonsense continues, for me, to be silent would be remiss....'nuff said!

On a much more positive note, here's a brief wrap-up of the committee work I've been helping facilitate as your TSU 3rd VP Executive liaison this fall:

Our Beginning Teacher's Committee [BTC] had a great pub at the Madison in late November. Attention is now turning to OECTA Provincial's BT conference in February. BTC is also working on a few more upcoming events including, among other things, the annual TSU Volleyball tournament, and perhaps a wine country bus coach trip. BTC remains an open committee, which means any TSU teacher 5 years or less at our board can sign up anytime. You have been doing so, and a lot of our plans still remain fluid and open to your increasing involvement and input. Great. BTC rocks!

Our Religious Affairs Committee [RAC] has an ambitious program which we had to fight pretty hard to maintain funding for on budget night this year. See "My Budget Notes [Nov. Blog Archive]*. Many of you came out to take a stand. We stopped and even partially reversed efforts to essentially cut RAF funding to provide more cash for beer at other committee events! Mind boggling! Many thanks to all our TSU members and supporters who spoke out on budget night to resolutely remind everyone to keep the emphasis on Catholic in our Oecta English Catholic Teachers Association Toronto Secondary Unit [OECTA TSU].

With our funding safely in place we look forward to some great social, political and religious RAC events this winter and spring. RAC plans to continue our work with the Respect Life Week Committee [RFL] and Right to Life [RTL] Toronto. Look for news on the annual student leadership conference and the Ottawa pro-life march. I know our support remains controversial in some quarters even though RACs life issues are quite certainly in keeping with the teachings of the Catholic church. My support for RAC's Pro-Life activities and stand was a key platform of my TSU re-election platform last spring. Please see my blog on "Respect Life!" [April Blog Archive]. I look forward to facilitating our RAC goal of rallying increased teacher, student and board support for Respect Life Week in this spring. You can also look forward to a continuation of our RAC Newman lectures, with a few very interesting new tie-ins. The religious cards and some more desktop frames for the BT's are going out for when you return back to class in January. Some of us are volunteering a few hours over the holidays to get the job finished for you. Please contact myself or your RAC chair, Mark Sherlock, if you can help out!

The Ad Hoc Special Education Committee [AHSE] has enjoyed increasing interest and involvement from Special Education teachers and department heads across our board this fall. A survey of your interest and concerns was carried out on survey monkey and is being summarised and prepared for our executive, Collective Bargaining Team, and you our members as I write. The switch over to a series of ongoing "Survey Monkey" studies is becoming key to a number of our TSU committees as an integral part of the research process this year. Yes, there is a huge segment of our unit that "get" the new technology. We've had some delays as we switch gears, and broaden our efforts via Survey Monkey but I believe the effort will prove invaluable in the years ahead despite any growing pains we might be experiencing right now. Hooray for high tech social media!

We will be inviting the Special Education Superintendents to meet with our members after Christmas again to discuss your interests, concerns, and exchange information.This proved a very popular activity last year for both the school board and union members who joined in. More info to follow.

I'm sure we were all pleased to receive Safe Schools Superintendent Rory McGuckin's email announcement  about the new jointly developed TSU and TCDSB Discipline Incident Reporting forms. I also helped work previously on our Joint Safe Schools Committee for two years with the initiative. For more info, please see my blog "Our Joint Safe Schools and Joint Professional Development Committees Work For You" [May Blog Archives].* It did take time to nail down, and I'm glad this year's committee finally got the job done. It shows what can be accomplished when our teachers union and school board work together, as we do on our many joint committees such as Joint Professional Development [JPD], Joint Health and Safety [JHS] and Joint Work Related committees. TSU and the TCDSB are no doubt very leading edge in successfully developing these very important co-operative, consultation and implementation committee initiatives for the good of our students, our teachers and our schools. I know a lot of my foreign readers have taken interest in this. It is certainly another cause for celebration this Christmas season.

Friday night was our [JCM] James Cardinal McGuigan Catholic Secondary Schools staff Christmas party. Our Special Education department shared two tables. We laughed and partied throughout dinner and into the evening with our many school colleagues. It felt so good just to engage in lively chatter and joke around knowing Christmas is just around the corner at last. I am sure all our TSU teachers will share a great sigh of relief next Friday as we head home from a job well done on the teacher front lines.There is so much to do now at home! A nice week off after New Years should greatly compensate for the mad rush! I am sure we all look forward to more of the joy, satisfaction and challenges of teaching and union work once we've had some downtime to catch our breath. Whew!

PS: Sorry about writing the acronyms out in full if you know them all ready. They are necessary for all my readers to understand.

*= My blog archives link is located at the very end of this blog column for your perusal.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Our Social Media Protocols + Confidentiality Agreement

Here's what's new regarding the public discussions on our new TSU Confidentiality Agreement and Social Media Protocols at our Wednesday December 8th executive meeting. A revised Confidentiality Agreement has been prepared. All executive members were to sign it before they left the meeting. All committee members must sign it the next time they come to the TSU offices. This is effectively immediately.

We need some frank talk here. Of course I don't disclose info from our private executive sessions, as abhorrent as I sometimes might feel the very concept can be. There is a longstanding and clear ruling on this. Despite my discomfort with the frequency of these they often are quite necessary for very practical and necessary reasons. For example it would be wrong to share sensitive grievance information. Similarly info about our unit's Collective Bargaining strategy and the like.

Otherwise, I feel it is necessary, as your elected TSU 3rd VP to be able to discuss the important issues you want to know about; the teacher members whom I was elected to serve. Our monthly executive meetings are publicly open to you, just like the information we share and discuss there. It's the same with any other democratically elected body. Most of you can't attend in person during school hours but the info shared and discussed is, repeat is, publicly available for you to read and hear about. Likewise the revised Confidentiality Agreement is now available for you to sign.

You will recall, I wrote quite a few blogs last month about freedom of speech issues, especially in regards to the development and implementation of our new Social Media Protocols and Confidentiality Agreement initiatives. No need to repeat those here. You can review them in my November Blog Archives below this column. My "Blog Manifesto Revisited" might be of particular interest, or perhaps my "Weekend in Late November" blog or even some of the political satire in my "Just Supposin' - A Bloggers Christmas Tale", should you wish to revisit these on your own.

Anyhow, let me update you on what has since transpired. President Jansen assured me before the December 8th executive meeting that the Social Media Protocols and the Confidentiality Agreement are two separate, and not inclusive documents. As such, I would find neither particularly controversial  in and of themselves. For example, at the top of the TSU Confidentiality Agreement, which all members of executive and committees are now required to sign,  it states that the information covered refers to "confidential, private and sensitive data", such that;

TSU and OECTA maintain and handle confidential, private and sensitive data. In order to safeguard this information TSU restricts access to information to those who have a legitimate and approved need to access, it is required that all who have access acknowledge that information  will be accessed for legitimate business reasons on as-needed basis only.

Of course this has always been the case for a lot of TSU business when we are representing the member's private interests, be that with documents or "in camera" private committee discussions. Again consider the example of grievance and collective bargaining strategies and sensitive information. These have never been freely and publicly shared without very specific and necessary restraints. That's common practise for any large organisation such as our own.

If it's just a formality to codify this with a new "TSU Confidentiality Agreement", who could argue or complain? We are dealing with very specific "confidential" information that can't be justifiably shared and quite reasonably so. This is of course perfectly fine and acceptable. I'm not aware of this being a particularly pressing concern at TSU as of late, but if that is all it's about then so be it. But why then the dire, pressing need for every executive member to sign the new revised copy before the end of our last meeting? Likewise why require every TSU committee member to sign it, effective immediately, the next time they come in the office? Something seems out of proportion here.

At the executive meeting I explained to President Jansen, that I never would sign ANY document that was just handed to me without having ample chance to consider it thoroughly. This would apply to a commercial contract, a board form and now similarly a union agreement. As I prepared to leave the executive meeting I assured him that I would afterwards look it over, seek clarification if need be, and then if it was acceptable, hand it in at my earliest convenience. I got the impression he seemed to think this was perfectly reasonable, and the problem was solved. No more issue here I thought, or was there?

Unfortunately, the ugly gossip mill was going full tilt at Thursday night's Christmas Pub at the Crooked Cue. Most of us are above it but invariably there is always somebody or other going around from table to table badmouthing somebody else, usually for political reasons. Rather ironic I should think considering the issues at hand. The latest is that I was being called into Rene's office next day. I was going to be given an ultimatum. I must sign the confidentiality agreement before I left. Of course our members immediately came to ask me what this was all about as the story crept across the room. Sigh. Alas. Such is public life.

As a political figure, I expect this from time to time and was quite amenable to address the surprise story for anyone whom might ask. I must admit I was very disappointed that it was being shared in an unbecoming, backhanded, gossipy manner. The person in question never identified themselves to me, though of course everyone else told me who they were. I was somewhat surprised especially since she didn't even ask me first if it was true. But such is gossip. This isn't the first time, nor do I suspect it will be her last. Vague apologies and excuses quickly grow wearisome.

Please note; with my blog any "information" I share is upfront. It's not secret information that would even be covered by our new agreement. What raises my ire is unnecessary secrecy within our union affairs.I believe that should be challenged. Here it was now, in the whispered words and cold stares behind my back. Creepy or what? If I had been called into the office by Rene for a private talk on the alleged issue would such confidential information be covered by the agreement? Also consider, what purpose does such gossip serve? It's highly unethical and suspect at best. It does not provide good, useful, informed and honest service to the members who have elected us. So who is being served?  What's really going on?

Of course the gossip isn't true. At least I received no such request from the president, nor did I see him, or have any plans to meet with him next day. All of our discussions have been perfectly amicable, even when we disagree, as far as I am aware. I think so. So as I continue to be very suspicious about the kerfuffle over the need, haste and gossip mongering involved in the writing up and enforcing of our new Confidentiality Agreement, well now you know why.

Equally puzzling was the much heated public discussion at our Wednesday executive meeting about how to enforce the new Confidentiality Agreement. In fact, there are no provisions in place for disciplining members like myself or anyone else who chooses not to sign it upon demand.

Vice President Bruno seemed quite perturbed. He quite publicly exclaimed he might very well have to go to the school board to complain if our new TSU policies are not enforced. I am afraid this left me at an utter loss. My understanding is that the Social Media Protocol and the Confidentiality Agreement are not one and the same. In his comments he mentioned both, most specifically in the case of Social Media Protocols in direct reference to executive member blogs. Whose blog could that be? TSU's confidentiality issues in regards to the Confidentiality Agreement being discussed haven't been violated. Why then is this all back on the table again? Also as any teacher unionist should know, union issues are dealt with at the union level, and not through adverse reports about members or policies to board management. There are names for this but I won't repeat them here. It should be very interesting to see where this might all now lead from such a unionist perspective!

It's very interesting how Social Media actually figures into all of this. My understanding from the meeting and my talks with Rene is that Social Media, such as blogs, email, cellphones, Twitter and Facebook, will be covered separately by a new protocol our executive will develop for our unit. OECTA Provincial is currently developing a Social Media policy that we will certainly want to consider. I was quite satisfied earlier in our meeting, when it was made clear that a wide range of other existing materials on the subject could also be consulted and discussed. I've eagerly offered to contribute to the effort and abide, of course, by the new protocol. To the best of my knowledge I'm the only TSU member with a blog but if any of the rest of you have any particular knowledge or interest in the wide range of social media that is being used so much to communicate these days, I would certainly hope you are consulted in the process too.

You elected me to serve you. I will not violate TSU confidentiality, as I now understand it, but quite clearly a lot of clarification and debate will need to follow, especially I would think, as each of you on our committees, from Staff Rep, to Beginning Teachers and everyone inbetween, is told to sign our new Confidentiality Agreement, or perhaps even more so, as we develop our Social Media Protocols in the months ahead.

We have a lot to consider. Many if not most of us have a cellphone. Then there's Facebook, Twitter and at the very least you have email. The list of social media to consider goes on and on. Our younger teachers have grown up with it, our hardcore teckies of all ages live by it. It is everywhere, and like it or not it is how people increasingly communicate these days. For better or worse, it is not a genie we will be able to force back into a bottle, or contain by the old methods and rules.

The Supreme Court of Canada is currently bracing for a wave of appeals on the use of electronic media and challenges about how to make our old privacy laws fit the same modern day high tech scenarios. Quite clearly a TSU executive with  nine teacher members will not be able to do so on it's own, in private session, nor simply with our own immediate resources. The challenges can only be expected to increase and become more widespread and diverse in the years ahead. As Toronto lawyer Scott Hutchinson, grappling with the issue, recently lamented;

"Rules made back when we talked about kings and castles do not work when we are talking about mobile devices and information technology"
Clearly Social Media Protocols and Confidentiality Agreements are not something that can be created in secrecy, or enforced with a similar old school approach to rules. The future is very divergent by nature. You need to be in the know, and we need your help. Let's see if we can rise to the challenge wide eyed and aware within our TSU teacher's union!

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Holding Hands

Sunday night in Sudbury sitting in the dark back seat of my sister's car. I'm with mom, heading to the airport to catch a flight back to Toronto. She is 80 now and her memory is going. Some days are better than others. We will drop her off at the nursing home along the way. She seems confused. The later in the day it gets, the more confused she becomes.

Every few minutes she asks the same thing,

"Where's you father?"

"He's dead mom."

"When did that happen?"

"Almost 4 years ago."


A minute or two later she will ask the same question and I will answer her again, the same way, as I always do. She holds on to my hand. Her's is old, thin, with a slight tremble. I squeeze her hand in mine, fingers intertwined.

"Well, at least I got you and your sister", she says."

"Yes mom. Don't worry. You do."

She seems somewhat relieved but doesn't let go, and so we drive through the dark, just holding hands. Hers in mine. She holds on tight.

I use to explain at length dad's death.Sometimes in her more lucid moments she says that perhaps it's just too sad to remember. I sometimes would try to help her, but she always forgets. 

Flashback: It's the middle of the night. Mom runs to our room. Dad is having a heart attack! Our family gathers around him. We are all grown up now. Our children too. Mom holds his hand. As I look into his eyes, he dies. The end?

We were all brought up Catholic. Dad very much so. I believe too, but perhaps in a more contemporary way. I really don't know what if anything happens next. No one can, but you have faith.

As we leave the nursing home and are getting back in the car my sister says she thinks maybe we lost mom the same time we lost dad. Married fifty years. Always together. They were set to downsize the family homestead, it had been sold, and the move was to take place later on the same week. So in a couple of days mom lost her husband, her home, and now her memory is going too. 

If she wasn't so nervous worrying about things all the time, perhaps it would be okay. She is comfortably set up in a nice nursing home with family near by. A phone. A nice room mate. Otherwise? 

She out lived everyone. I suppose the rest of our family and all her friends would have been grateful if they could have lasted as long as she has, but they didn't. Small consolation. Not necessarily a happy surprise. Not necessarily a good topic to broach. At least she doesn't seem depressed anymore.

Driving through the blackness of the night again, to catch our plane. It's cold, rainy, the treetops and smokestacks of Sudbury half buried in the fog. I open and close my now empty hand. For a moment I slip back, way back in my seat. Remember: I am a young boy again. I'm crying. I don't know what to do. There's mom. Young. Happy. Understanding. She takes my small little hand. I can feel it in hers.

"Don't worry," she says.

We begin life holding hands. We can end it that way too, if we are lucky. There's really not much more to say. As a little boy I was holding tight, and now mom is too. We come full circle. Life goes on.

Thursday 1 December 2011

Our Ad Hoc Special Education Survey

It's December! A little snow arrived here in Toronto yesterday. It melted in a few hours, but was a fitting way to end November. The snow is rather late this year. Fine by me. Now Christmas holidays are just around the corner!

Ad Hoc Special Education [AHSE]: Our survey went out to the Department Heads today. It's in the form of an internet link to Survey Monkey so it can be filled out quickly and conveniently on line. It was sent by the main office to all of our secondary school Special Education Department Heads.We are asking the heads to please share the Survey Monkey link with the Special Education teachers at their school. It basically just asks you to prioritize a Special Education [SPED] list of the issues that are most important to you in your departments and within the classroom.

I am the executive liaison for the committee again this year. This blog is not an official union communique but I'd like to share some public  information with you because the work of the committee is so leading edge.We got off to a good start last year. Our Special Education teachers and Department heads seemed to find our meetings with the board superintendents here at the union office a good chance to directly and informally talk and share information we all need to know. The meetings were set up and run according to Robert's Rules of Order to maintain a sense of decorum. They seemed to go over very well. The dialogue was very interesting, informative and constructive. The superintendents seemed to find it useful too, and will be invited back, if possible, for more meetings, between January and the end of the school year.

These are the official terms of the AHSE committee:

To gather classroom and Special Education teacher input on trends and concerns in Spec Ed. 
To outline developing trends, patterns and issues/concerns from TSU members in the field. 
To determine implications for classroom and special education teachers of Ministry direction and policy in Special Education. 
To determine implications for classroom and special education teachers of TCDSB direction and policy in Special Education.

To create an  Issues, Trends + Concerns paper on Special Education with recommendations for TSU executive and our membership.
We have not had a union special education review now for some time. There have certainly been a lot of changes, with the new policies and directives from the Ministry of Education and the school board increasing our current activities far beyond the Special Education services we were providing our students even a few years ago. My foreign readers may not know this but in Canada, all our students are entitled to a free elementary and secondary school education. This includes all of our exceptional students, regardless of their exceptionality. Our committee will be reporting back to the executive, our Collective Bargaining Team and our members, on the grassroot concerns of our Special Education teachers and Department Heads. After we survey your issues, trends and concerns we will make a number of important recommendations.
I would really like to see  a Joint Special Education Committee put in place between our teachers union and the board in the next contract. We have them for Safe Schools, Professional Development. Why not Special Education? It could help us better co-ordinate and implement our programs to best help our students. Well, I am just the facilitator  of this process. The committee, the union executive and our teacher members will decide which way they want to go with the summaries from our research, but it's certainly something do-able, timely and constructive to consider.
The first step of our research for the 2011-12 school year has been sent out to your schools now. It is due by 4pm next Thursday December 8th. If you don't get it in your email please ask your department head. The more we get back, the more reliable our summary can be. More in depth surveys and other forms of research will soon follow. Please get involved. Fill the survey out today.

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!
See below ...

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?
A careful analytical study!

Help! I Have No Arms!

Help! I Have No Arms!
Please scratch my back.

I can't find my underwear!.

I can't find my underwear!.
Have you seen them!

Weee! I can fly!

Weee! I can fly!
Look! I can crawl thru walls!

I have a headache!

I have a headache!
And a broken nose.

I have a square hole in my bum!

I have a square hole in my bum!

Here try this, it's very good!

Here try this, it's very good!
No. You have a bird face.

I have an ugly baby!

I have an ugly baby!
No I'm not!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!
OK but I need a new hand too!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

You don't look well.

You don't look well.
No. My head hurts +I have a sore chest.

Would you like a bun?

Would you like a bun?

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!
The Temple of Kukulkan!

Gotta love it!

Gotta love it!
Truly amazing!

Under Reconstruction!

Under Reconstruction!

Temples + Snakes!

Temples + Snakes!

The Snake!

The Snake!
It runs the length of the ball field!