Opening Statement

Friday 31 August 2012

Miami Beach Diary!

[Teacher news links continue in blog below...]

Sunday August 26

Janet and I are in Miami Beach for our anniversary. We landed yesterday descending shakily from the very turbulent sky, down through the dark clouds to the tarmac below. Miami airport was deserted. The streets empty except for workers boarding up the storefronts. At our hotel, the Newport Beach Resort, the lobby was full of visitors, all packed up and ready to go, only all further Air Canada flights had been cancelled.

The rain falls sideways. The palms wave furiously to and fro in the 60 to 70 mph winds. The huge white wave crests are popular with surfers, but the riptide makes it far too dangerous to go for a swim. Not much sun either. Still, it's very hot.

We took a shuttle bus to Sawgrass Outlet Mall  this morning.  It closed early. The wind was so loud you couldn't hear yourself think, and that was inside the mall. It's the same in our room.  The locals are very nonchalant, sort of like us up in Canada when we hear a bad snowstorm is on the way. When the eye of the tropical storm brushed Key West before heading out into the Gulf, nobody seemed too surprised. Perhaps one develops a six sense after awhile.

Tonight, as I look outside our window, all I can see is a wall of rain. Yes, it's blowing sideways. I don't think we could walk outside anymore without getting blown off our feet. Sometimes it's eerily calm and silent like it's over. Then the wind and rain return with a mad vengeance. Disappointing perhaps, but very exciting! Together, inside our suite with nothing we have to do, nowhere we have to go, is very romantic too. Love being with Janet and escaping the mad storm that rages around us. Very fitting, for our anniversary.

Monday August 27

It's sunny today in Miami, with strong winds and dark clouds suddenly blowing over every so often creating  quite severe monsoon like bursts of rain, followed by flooding. I suspect the biggest storm of all though, is the fierce legislative winds and dark clouds gathering back home over Queen's Park! We have intermittent internet in our room, so it never seems be too far away, as I track it through the week, while Janet watches the satellite t.v.shows flick on and off.

The Newport Beach hotel and resort is quite moderately priced this time of year. Wonder why? Ha.
We were upgraded to a spacious two room suite with a kitchenette upon our arrival. The complimentary buffet is the morning is quite good, not merely continental fare, but with bacon, eggs, home fries, as well as the fresh kitchen made pastries and breads. The lobby is wide, spacious, with huge bird cages, overhead fans, and a comfy open bar, lounge area. The back windows look outside past the pool to the madly swaying palms and loud crashing surf on the storm tossed white sand beach.

The tropical storm broadsided Key West and spun back out into the gulf, the forecasts estimate it's headed for New Orleans. The fear is quite palpable. The t.v. coverage is gloomy at best as it picks up strength into a level one hurricane packing quite a punch and a lot more rain. The forecast for Miami is better. There's an eighty percent chance of continued strong winds here tomorrow. Janet and I spend another day indoors at Sawgrass Mall. It's huge, at least three times the size of our own Vaughan Mall north of Toronto. Tomorrow we plan to venture outside, hopefully along the beach, which is still off limits to the guests.

Tuesday August 28  The sun is beating down us on us full force. The winds are dieing down. Miami cleans up the downage and flooding messes, huge tractors combing the beach. We go for a refreshing walk in the white sand for quite a stretch. There's a great panorama of post modern condo and hotel towers, each with a very an art deco edge. They are lined up along the white sand beach and the turquoise ocean waters for as far as I can see. The waves today are great fun to leap into or body surf. No diving possible this trip but the reclining beach lounge chairs are back out. We work on our tan between frequent dips in the Atlantic, as the  crowds return. A fabulous day at the beach! Finally!

Wednesday August 29

The beach is back to normal, the resort in full swing. It's day two for Janet and I to swim and just lie on the lounge chairs reading our books. I feel like the man from Ipenema with my sunglasses on as the girls in their bikini's saunter by, but a comfortable married middle aged one at that. My only regret is that we missed the protest rally at Queen's Park. Janet and I are old[er] politicos. For us that can be fun and very exciting too. Ah, the stories I could tell. Oh well, enough of the old man act.

Last night we had a nice stroll along the Sunny Isle Collins Avenue strip where we are located. The Republican Convention was making for some very scary t.v. Angry leaders bust blood vessels shouting they will work with the teachers, and not their unions, who are apparantly responsible for destroying the US education system. Rabid, cheering crowds madly pumped their fists in the air, screaming their consent. Wow.

We will go to the Adventura Mall later today and plan to have dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Our flight back to Toronto is tomorrow, but we can sleep in during the morning. There's less than a week of summer left. I am truly enjoying every last minute of it, feeling relaxed and great. There will without doubt be many big challenges ahead this fall. I'm ready, not riled up, even nonchalant. Let's go! Grrr. Ha.

Thursday August 30

Still some off and on black cloudy patches but mostly sunshine as we leave for our 2pm flight back to Toronto. Republican horror show reruns and rain drenched New Orleans footage dominate the t.v. news, as we turn off the set, and head downstairs with our bags. I started to get phone calls and texts regarding school and union biz back home again last night, after basically being incommunicado for the past few days.

At Miami International airport we meet Canadian travellers who have been stuck here since Monday! Our flight is on time and we fly home without incident. Janet packed us our own yummy snacks. We've got lots of happy anniversary memories. Nope. Being trapped together isn't necessarily a bad thing on your anniversary.  I fall sleep most of the flight back home looking out at the billowy white clouds. Toronto is sunny but somewhat cooler. For us it feels like an air conditioned world!

PS: When life tosses you lemons, make lemonade!

Sunday 26 August 2012

Ontario Politics: The Legislation Hits the Fan!

[More news links added for today Saturday Sept.1st!]

This promises to be a very interesting, perhaps even critical week in Ontario politics! The legislature resumes on Monday August 27 with a Liberal "anti-strike" or"Putting Students First Act", depending upon one's political perspective. Major over riding changes to the Ontario Labour Act are on the table, as the minority Liberal government goes toe to toe with the opposition Conservative and the NDP party, to try get enough votes to pass it into law, before classes resume on September 4th. I will continue to add news links here in this blog all week as events unfold.

Saturday Sept.1

Sneak preview of next ETFO Welcome Back Campaign Ad:

Province reaches deal with 3000 Education Assistants

This Canadian Civil Liberties Legislative Critique is about as succint as it gets:

Photo leaked: Top secret CUPE meeting with Premier! You bet! See:

K-W Record won't endorse Liberals in by-elections. See:

IMHO Thomas Walkom knocks one out of the ball park with this labour day piece. See if you agree:

Friday August 31

News Flash: Brotten announces last minute deal with 3000 educational assistants. Links to follow.

Education Minister remains committed to class size caps:

OECTA North Eastern preident slams Catholic Trustees, calls strike vote:

Help Wanted: A politico who can think. Party Stalwarts need not apply. See opinion piece:

Speculation K-W by-election could be a 3 way race. See:

McGuinty + Horwath campaign in K-W. See:

Review: ETFO Welcome Back Ad #1: Good primer for the converted + other labour types like us. Regretfully collective bargaining emphasis unlikely to resonate with public who could care less +/or have no idea what it means. Nice try tho. Next? See:

Thursday August 30

From ETFO, a sneak preview of their Welcome Back Media Campaign:

Canadian Civil Rights Association squares off with MOE over constitutionality of new legislation. Includes responses from the opposition parties

See video of the press conference:

Ontario Nurses support teachers at Queen's Park. See their video

NDP introduces bill to ban bonuses for public sector executives and managers. Fair is fair:

Windsor Essex interim supervisor signs MOU:

OCSTA Catholic trustees put on a smiley face for Christ! PS: Actions speak louder than words.

AEFO Press release on ratification of MOU:

OECTA posts excellent fact sheet explaining new fair hire and transparency language in OECTA MOU. Now, let's hear OCSTA sing holy songs about why we don't need this:

Wednesday August 29

News Flash: Canadian Civil Liberties Association News Conference to comment on legislation concerns tomorrow:

Here's a good scoop:

Read McGuinty's letter to Hudak:

The Queen's Park Education Rally:

The Star reports on the Rally:

So does the Globe

Hamilton Spectator evokes the Harris years:

Hamilton link to photos and video of the protest:

City News reports:

ETFO takes centre stage at Queen's Park

ETFO Summary and photos/ videos of Rally:

ETFO reports teachers from across Canada joined protest:

ETFO members knows how to message using Youtube:

ETFO President Sam Hammond delivers a barn burner of a speech:

ETFO Durham at Queen's Park:

In other legislative news:

Star columnist Reg Cohn argues McGuinty has come full circle back to the Harris years with PDT/ legislative political gambit:

And back at the OECTA office:

NB!!! Please know Past President James Ryan as well as Local OECTA unit exec and teachers from Toronto, York, Halton. Windsor, Huron Perth,Dufferin Peel and more attended, I should think on their own accord, as no official members notice was sent out that most/ any of us are aware ofKudos for the leadership and principled stand!! 

Back to the Catholic school boards. They doth protest too loudly? Plenty o' disingenuity? You bet! For a litany of sins see:

OECTA rebukes Catholic schools boards and opposition party on teacher professionalism and assessment. Well done! See:

Know Thy Enemy: The Toronto Sun

Article seems pretty straightforward but note key word emphasis. They are rubbing their hands in glee:

Christina Blizzard knows the Sun bent but can be a worthwhile read. Sometimes yes, sometimes no:

The venom starts to ooze:

Meanwhile at Windsor Essex Catholic:

Press release as omsbudsman Norbert Hartman steps in to investigate Windsor Essex Catholic:

Thomas Walkom considers politics of the takeover and draws analogy between now and the NDP in the 1990's:

Other worthwhile reads:

Colin MacKay from the Belleville Intelligencer discusses broader implications of new legislation:

What next? See:

More below! More to come!

Tuesday August 28

Late Breaking News!!! Ministry of Education Appoints Supervisor to Manage Finances of Windsor Catholic Board. See:

Meanwhile back at Queen's Park:

CBC overview of the situation:

Ditto the Globe:

The Star provides overview on seemingly Liberal Conservative accord to pass legislation:

Liberal MPP breaks ranks. Joins protesters out front Queen's Park:

The Sun reports. Will Hudak

Top Educators point out Tim Hudak's plain wrong "facts":

Hudak is demanding concessions so that "management rights" will be preserved. Fair Hire Language and Teacher professional assessment clauses will be removed for public school unions so education system does not go to ruin. If you believe this maybe I can interest you in buying some private property in Cuba?!? Catholic trustees and principals, V.Ps expecting same break, but no such luck. By the way, in the "good fight" pick your allies carefully. There are a lot of wolves out there in sheep's clothing cheering along with us in the anti legislation fight:

ETFO press release seems to suggest these terms are not necessary with public boards. Maybe so, I wouldn't know, but see my previous blogs on Catholic trustees, Principals, and Vice Principals. These MOU terms are a very good start for many of our OECTA units dealing with the God awful problems that we have often had over the years with our Catholic boards, however one might elsewhere feel about the OECTA PDT MOU:

Six busloads of protesters head from London to Queen's Park Education Rally. In another aside, early reports suggest 5000 teachers showed up. Some OECTA teachers from Toronto and York attend, including Thanks for showing leadership in taking a principled stand on the legislation for us James!:

ETFO sees unwarranted legislation and disrespect for teachers are driving many away from the teaching profession in Ontario:

Sudbury unions hold own anti-legislation rally:

Today's Queen's Park Education Protest Photo Gallery:

Rally sign of our legislature times. Please take heed! See:

Rally photo posted on Twitter:

Ditto. More:

Ditto. Ditto.

McGuinty's Liberals get a report card. Got to love this one:

Really nice shot from Queen's Park balcony. Estimate now says 5-7000 protesters. Truth usually lies somewhere inbetween:

Nice close up:

Count them for yourself ;-)

Looks like a very well organized rally to me:

Putting bullies first?

Hey! What's this? An OECTA flag too?!? Oh Oh! Somebody is in trouble now!!! :-)

Meanwhile Back on the By-election Front: 

Here's a video link to the Kitchener Waterloo By election Forum:

Nanos Poll shows provincial Liberal and Conservative in dead heat, with NDP slipping 6 points. Party leaders recent positions and performance also find find Andrea Horwath falling behind. Remember, not everyone will see the current teacher legislative debate the same as we do. Far from it it! We need to be aware of this at all times, as the war of words fly :

And in other news....

Interesting article on how unions get blamed for economic woes, and why this is patently wrong:

Meanwhile back int he USA, Republican spin control on Canadian politics changes direction. "Spin control" refers to what is referred to and why in reporting an event. Few, if any public relations campaigns ignore this basic strategy, including those by both good guys and bad alike, to create "convenient truths" for public consumption. Certainly more nefarious for the Romney Republicans though. Seems Canada is suddenly redeemed in Republican US election eyes:

More links coming! More links below!

Monday August 27

New Media Approach to Organizing Protest Against the Legislation:

ETFO full page ad "Queens Park Rally For Education" appeared in today's newspapers:

ETFO's bus and car pooling info for rides to Toronto was posted today on Twitter:

ETFO used it's Facebook Page to help organize for Tuesday's Rally reminds me of the ENO [Education Network of Ontario during the Harris Protests. Past OECTA James Ryan is listed as going:

Reeves Report seems to  be promising live Tweets from Queens Park.

A Twitter connection to a Photobucket Protest sign that could be used at the Rally:

Leslie Wolf posts a brief sick days lesson for information purposes: is circling a petition on Twitter for Education Minister Laurel Broten to apologize or resign:

If I can find anything from official OECTA I will post it here too! An unofficial salute to all our union brothers and sisters in ETFO, OSSTF and CUPE, from my blogsite, that I am sure is shared by many of our teachers!

In The News:

A Canada Press summary of the news too date, includes a quote from Tim Hudak lamenting that the Liberal's have "handed the keys to our schoolhouse to union leaders" to the teachers. Watch for him to rally to the defence of the trustees and COCP's "administrative rights concerns". Bizarre!:

The Morning Post Exchange reviews Hudak's about faces and warns he will be out for a "mandatory wage freeze for all public servant" Great shades of the Harris Years from Mike's right hand man [boy?]:

OSSTF Press release promises all strike votes across province will be postponed, except with the units
facing conciliation:

Orillia Packet opinion piece dispels a lot of teacher disinformation that's often being taken for "fact" these days:

Toronto Star columnist consider the Liberal-NDP-Conservative minority government dalliances:

Follow Up: OECTA TSU President Jansen's membership letter on how he "voted not to endorse" MOU at COP, as posted on :

More news links coming! More below!

Sunday August 26th

OSSTF invites all ETFO and CUPE members to come to a protest rally at Queens Park from 12-1:30 on Tuesday August 28th:

ETT [Elementary Teachers of Ontario] notifies it's members. For a map, more info, and to hear the telephone message their President sent all the members go to:

So far, OECTA is conspicuous by it's silence.....

Two different opinion pieces on the political machinations of the Liberal Legislation, can be found at:

The Belleville Intelligencer

The Toronto Star:

The plot thickens: Meanwhile in Tim Hudak's [s]Tory land, the Conservatives make it known they will support the legislation but will want some important changes made:

A bloggin' "Just an Ordinary FSL Teacher!" posts a "Letter to Mr. McGuinty!" that's a well worth read:

Storms, storms, everywhere storms: in Ontario Politics, in Miami Beach.....

More news links coming! More news links below!

Friday 24 August 2012

An OECTA Provincial + TSU/TECT Meeting Report

[Saturday news links below. Keep scrolling, but you might want to read this too...]

How odd to meet over an educational crisis during the summer holidays! However our OECTA TSU [Toronto Secondary Unit] and TECT [Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers] membership did just that on August 22. Meeting with us starting at 1:45 in Toronto's Roy Thompson were OECTA President Kevin O'Dwyer, and Provincial CB [Collective Bargaining] Staff Officer David Church. Also TSU and TECT President's Rene Jansen and Mario Bernardo. The meeting was chaired by Doug McCarthy. Doug did an excellent job of using Robert's Rules of Order, to ensure that everybody had a chance to speak and to be heard in an orderly manner. I'm sure all of us who were there are grateful for a very interesting, informative and thought provoking meeting, regardless of how we might each feel about many of the OECTA PDT MOU [Ontario English Catholic Teachers Professional Discussion Table Memo of Understanding] issues discussed!

You should find the official OECTA reports on the meeting, soon I would hope, at one or all of these sites:

OECTA Provincial:

In the meantime, I will provide a few supplementary notes and personal observations from the meeting that you might find of interest. These are by no means official or complete. Be sure to visit the other websites above to learn a lot more about the OECTA PDT MOU terms and process, questions and explanations, etc. etc. etc. from the meeting reports. Here is what I saw, felt and heard:

Our TSU-TECT questions and concerns mostly focused on the PDT decision making and ratification process. I understand the members at the Sault Ste. Marie meeting last month focused more on the PDT terms, details and what they meant. Our members were certainly concerned about that too, but the questions were often more individual member orientated than general PDT term or process specific. At any rate the bigger picture will be of more general interest for our purposes here.

President O'Dwyer's and David Church's reviewed the PDT processes in detail to explain them to our members. Suffice to say here that it was acknowledged provincial will be reviewing the OECTA PDT decision making, ratification and communication process used in 2008 and 2012 on a go forward basis.

OECTA Provincial has decided to endorse the NDP candidate Ms. Fife in the Kitchener Waterloo by-election, along with the OSSTF, ETFO, + AEFO. The local Waterloo Catholic unit is remaining neutral in the race. No decision has been made yet on OECTA's possible involvement in Vaughan.

TSU President Rene Jansen and TECT President Mario Bernardo are both on record as having voted against the MOU at the COP [Council of Presidents]. Provincial will not reveal the complete list of how all the various local presidents voted until the first weekend of November. At that time the minutes from the COP meet will be approved, and the information released.

President Jansen invited our members who would like to get involved in changing the procedures to  apply for our TSU legislation committee, with an eye towards submitting motions to that effect at the Spring 2013 Provincial AGM. There are still openings on the committee, so if interested I'd suggest calling the TSU office asap!

The TCDSB got a great deal out of the OECTA PDT MOU since it removes our sick day bank and retirement gratuity, a long term TCDSB goal. Although the trustees voted on approving the MOU nothing has actually been received in writing yet by OECTA to make it official. Hmmm.

The OCSTA [Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association] drew a line just short of the Principals and VP's receiving 3 unpaid PD days, like the teachers, to help eliminate the grid freeze. Otherwise they were intransigent and walked out of the OECTA PDT meeting on July 4th before the MOU was signed. They insisted upon class size caps being removed, mandatory stay after school extracurricular and school PD meetings, and a claw back in benefits, among other demands. They were apposed to fair hire language and teacher professional assessment concessions as an unacceptable violation of their management rights. Wow! Imagine that! And it's all been confirmed!

As an interesting side note, the 3 unpaid PD days are days off. Call them Dalton Days or whatever. Even the Principals and VP's won't be paid for those days, and have no right to tell you to be at school. The 3 days will fall before Thanksgiving, Christmas, and March Break during the 2013-14 school year.

OECTA has asked our lawyer Paul Cavalluzo to review rough drafts of the Liberal "Putting Student's First" legislation due to very serious, unanticipated concerns. The Liberal government is now removing our basic labour rights by tampering with the Ontario Labour Act. OECTA will then carefully consider our next move, after hearing back from Paul.

Should the legislation not pass, it's unlikely anybody will be getting a 5.5% raise. It's unclear if our OECTA members will get back the concessions made in our PDT deal, as per the terms of our last contract, or even whether the MOU then perhaps becomes null and void. Legal minds are looking the ramifications over very carefully, and nothing is certain yet. We'll have to wait to hear more from OECTA Provincial.

MOU ratification process at the meeting. Fair enough. We don't get to vote on it as the procedures stand, so it is in effect a done deal. However, it also seemed to me that a lot of our members were unaware of another very important issue. PDT agreements are now very much a question of provincial verses local collective bargaining. That is a very big picture often missed in trying to contextualize our concerns. It's changing everything!

Since our Catholic trustees surrendered the right to local taxation during the Harris Years, despite an OECTA constitutional challenge, the provincial government is now our defacto paymaster. We must also recognize that OECTA agreed last December at COP to empower our table team to follow our 2008 PDT process for this round of talks. It had worked quite well before. However, the change in the Liberal PDT process, and government demands were suddenly changed on us this spring.

While it is easy to vilify others, everyone was caught by surprise with the Liberals about turn in their previous consultative and co-operative relationship with our teacher unions. It has been very challenging for OECTA to keep up with all the changes, and no matter how one feels, nothing is black and white. The issues are just not that clear cut or easy.

Although a lot of serious questions do have to be asked, please don't expect any easy answers, nor expect simple finger pointing to suffice. We face a lot of very crucial  challenges now, and in the years ahead. Everything, politically and contract wise has suddenly become a WHOLE lot more complicated, and nothing is certain anymore.

In discussions after the meeting, it was very clear to me that a lot of us seriously doubt that the Liberals consider teacher support necessary anymore for their election success. This is a pretty big gamble on their part. Perhaps the soft conservative vote will shift over to the Liberal side with their "Hudak light" version of teacher union bashing. However, so far the polling is anything but certain.

Many members seemed to agree that we need to remind the Liberals we are here, in no uncertain terms. As always OECTA supports the most educational friendly political candidates. Of course, that does not mean now, just like before, that we always support the Liberals. There was even speculation that, as when Conservative Education Minister Don Johnson targeted teachers during the Harris years, it is imperative we strike back. Hence the increasing calls for a combined union effort against the Minister Education in her riding of Etobicoke Lakeshore during the next provincial election.

 If the general consensus is that the PDT MOU deal was made with a gun to our head, in disregard of our many efforts to help Laurel Broten and the Liberal party in years past, then perhaps the decision will be that it is not wise to let the Liberals think they can just write us off and treat us with such blatant disregard. It will be very interesting to see how this about face in our support for Ms. Broten and the party unfolds in the high stake political gamble the minority Liberal government are taking.

Of course it's a dangerous gamble for us to take too. Should Tim Hudak's Conservatives form the next government, we may very well just have "cut off our nose to spite our face", as the saying goes. Possibly the Liberals are even thinking that as they plan their moves, and are squeezing us between a "rock and a hard place?" A lot more hard political discussion and thought will have to go into whatever we do next politically, that's for sure, but in the words of Bob Dylan, "the times they are a changing". Pardon all the phrases, but allow me one last one here. It's certainly a lot of "food for thought."

Provincial seemed to be acknowledged that the OECTA PDT communications with our members since last June requires a complete review. I don't believe the virtual news blackout worked for the best, unless one wants the raucous, inchoate anger often witnessed at Wednesday's meeting. I've often lamented the lack of information from OECTA over the course of my summer blogs. I strongly believe it's resulted in a lot of suspicion and confusion.

I once again encourage you, dear reader, to avail yourself of the news links you find here on my blog and elsewhere, including of course the info on the official OECTA websites. As members we need to educate ourselves about all the many underlining PDT, structural, procedural, political, economic, labour and various union issues at play to try to really understand at any great depth what has/is/will be happening. We are professionals. We can and will think for ourselves.

There has been a very interesting, complex debate raging this summer about all the different PDT issues, coming from a wide variety of different points of view. OECTA has not been very pro-active outside of the small handful of documents that were made available to us on our provincial website private member's only area. Everything else that's been written and said can't just be considered rubbish or manipulation! The larger debate and our member feelings of confidence and empowerment will and are developing in any number of directions with or without our little handful of OECTA provincial info pieces. One remains silent at their own peril!

Both OECTA provincial and our TSU communication plans remain of great interest to me on a go forward basis. There is a new media reality that has been creeping up on us and is now even threatening to overtake our old tried and true methods of communicating with our members like in years past.

I  have always advocated for the new technology of media, be it by Twitter or this blog, as excellent methods to communicate with you, the member's who I represent as your TSU 3rd VP. I believe they help me to be accountable and transparent in communicating with you, much more so than was possible before. Of course, more blogs and Tweets alone are not going to solve all our problems. However, I'm certain that if our unit was less resistant, cautious, control orientated and often downright unaccepting of these new mediums, rather than let's say relying on monthly or bi-monthly hard copy Highlight's newsletters, official office only emails, notices, and little attended public meetings, my blog would never have been of as much interest, nor taken off like it has since a year ago last April.

I welcome the 10,000 new reader visits to my blogsite this summer. I am honoured to be able to provide you with quick, easy access to info about what's been going on, in face of an otherwise near OECTA void on the information front, even if my blog is unofficial in nature. I hope that rather than uselessly try to condemn, or ban these type of useful tools for sharing publicly available information and materials, which are all over the place anyways, we can begin to accept and use them more widely, as a part of our communication plans. Otherwise history will not be on our side, as far as the new communication's revolution is concerned. In maybe other ways too!

Anyway, I begin to ramble. Please keep checking the official OECTA sites. I will posting news links that I hope you find valuable to be aware and wise about all the PDT MOU talk swirling about us. Some new links follow below:

In the News:

OSSTF invite to Queen's Park protest Tusday August 28 12:00 to 1:30:

Hudak confirms Conservatives will help Liberal's pass legislation:

Liberals ask for promise in writing:

Huron Superior Catholic board agrees to MOU:

OSSTF President denounces "anti-worker" legislation:

Legal firm of Hicks-Morley reports on new legislation and consequences for school boards:

An excellent polling study and party prospectus for Kitchener-Waterloo By-Election:

More news links added below and to follow! Be in the know!

Wednesday 22 August 2012

A Note to My Readers

[Many more news links now added to this blog....].

Welcome new readers, and those of you returning from summer holidays! It was great that you could show up today for OECTA's PDT MOU [Professional Discussion Table Memo of Understanding] presentation. On my blogsite you will find PDT related news and document links going back quite a ways to this spring. The ones of most immediate interest will probably be those from July to August. At the bottom of this centre blog column you will find a Blog Archive where they can all be found. For starters might I suggest:

July 14th: OECTA PDT Study Guide [includes the complete PDT text and the OECTA info pack]
August 18th: OECTA Roadmap and the Putting Students First Act [the new legislation]
August 21st: OLP Recalls Legislature Aug. 27 [ditto]

Today's meeting was rather raucous at times, some of the questions inchoate. Without doubt emotions on the PDT issue run high, and those sentiments are quite understandable. However, consider your knowledge of the PDT issue like a student and their homework. This September you will need to be prepared for class in more ways than one!

On this site I have posted a wide variety of relevant documents and news links to help you become best informed on the PDT issue, especially if you have been away. The comments and views are my own. I also always try to present a wide variety of source documents and articles with different points of view to be as objective as possible.

As teachers, of course, you can read these over and decide for yourself what you think. The lack of information from our union over the summer is quite disappointing. It might well be causing confusion, and a lot of suspicion, as we saw at today's meeting. As you learn more, you may or may not find the confusion and suspicions are legitimate, or you  may decide they are unwarranted. My links here will hopefully assist you get up to speed on what is really going on.

It's been said we live in interesting times. Well, this fall will certainly be a case in point. I hope my blogs can be of some small help to you, as a member, in making sense of our OECTA PDT MOU.

You will find a Cuban Schools Project report below. Scroll below and you will find a whole bunch of PDT news links. Please share the link to my blogsite to any other teachers who might find it a worthwhile read.
Away we go.......................

Also, to get the ball rolling, here are some recent news links for your perusal:

Take Action:

Online poll: Is the province taking the right approach to teacher talks? Let's vote now at:

ETFO plans Queen's Park Rally Aug. 28 12-1:30pm. For details + flyer see:

Queen's Park Order and Notices agenda for August 27 available now:

In the News:

OSSTF/ETFO/CUPE plan court challenge to legislation:

Link to video of OSSTF/ETFO/CUPE press conference available at:

OSSTF/ETFO/CUPE to comment on legislation today [Thursday, Aug. 23]. Stay tuned:

Liberal Finance Minister Duncan believes legislation could withstand court challenge. Liberal/ NDP by election campaigns square off in K-W:

Toronto Star article comes out in support of legislation:

National Post article suggests Hudak's  Conservatives will support legislation with a nasty proviso:

Forum poll shows Conservatives would win slim majority if provincial election called today. 55% of public support public service wage freeze. See:

York Board signs onto OECTA PDT MOU agreement. Articles includes NDP response to Conservative support:

Brant-Haldimand Norfolk Catholic agrees to MOU too:

OECTA President O'Dwyer accuses Windsor-Essex Catholic board of provoking teacher unrest:

Dufferin-Peel Catholic teachers hold strike vote:

OSSTF President discusses legislation on CFRB talk radio:

Ditto. This time with the CBC:

Teacher unions says work actions possible after school starts, and explain their position. The Education Minister reacts:

Hudak comments on wage freeze first step in supporting legislation on CBC. Remember, the Conservatives have been insisting on a grid freeze:

Catholic, public and french school boards lobby MPP's in letter explaining why they are opposed to Fair Hire and OECTA MOU:

Some views on important need for Fair Hire Language clause in our MOU:

Blogger speculates on need to recognize teachers professional leadership:

A worthwhile opinion piece to read on teacher's as a target of a union busting campaign:

A very interesting opinion piece on the politics of legislating the MOU

McGuinty Liberal Satire. From NDP my guess. Pretty funny:

More to follow, more below................

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Santiago de Cuba School Diary [2012]

[My PDT news links continue below this blog. It was time for a bit of editing, so you will find all the entries for my Cuban School Project trip to Santiago de Cuba here.]

Monday August 13: A blistering 40 degrees in the shade as we arrive in Santiago de Cuba. Settling in and visiting my teacher colleagues and friends at home in the city centre near Cespedes Park, the Cathedral, Casagranda Terrace, the Casa de Trova etc.etc.etc. It's been a year. Everyone welcomes my sister like a new family member. You can't beat the Cubans for genuineness and hospitality!

Tuesday August 14: Another day day spent in the Santiago de Cuba city centre visiting friends and experiencing the downtown sights. Excellent traditional Cuban music along Heredia Calle. The Casa de Trova/ House of Music has two stages and an upstairs dance floor now! Dropped by the Toronto Friendship English School, where all is well. I need to get up early for tomorrow's 8am class.

Wednesday August 15: Visited beginning students and their teacher at Toronto Friendship English School. Student numbers up to 150 for this fall when day round classes resume. All ages. Only 1 teacher though. Teachers earn 500 to 1000 local pesos a month in Cuba now. 24 pesos are worth 1 Canadian dollar. Do the math! Ouch! Afterwards we had lunch with my teacher colleagues from the pedagogical institute to discuss plans for the made in Cuba"Ingles Para Ti" workbook we have been developing. Uses local Cuban references, stories,and examples instead of America, British or Canadian ones. Will develop three more levels in hard print for the English schools, and of course, the interactive DVD version for at the university. I will definitely need to do a lot more Cuban School Project fund raising in Canada when I get back to make it work. Still the progress to date is quite extraordinary, definitely a community labour of love by the teachers.

Thursday August 16:  50 degrees Centigrade! Too hot to do much of anything in Santiago de Cuba today. Invited the teachers to the hotel pool. We stood in the water up to our necks talking school plans, had a good swim, then worked on our tans in the sun. It's of course summer holidays here too. Am baked golden brown. Making plans to go snorkeling down the coast this weekend before we leave.

Friday August 17: Visited Moro Castillo, the towering 15th centre Spanish fortress built at the entrance to the bay. Protected Santiago from pirates, invaders from 16 to 19th century until they let the US navy in. Santiago is the 7th settlement in the new world, and the original capital of Cuba. Also birthplace of the 1959 revolution. Teachers have asked us out to dinner tonight at a friend's casa/ home. A youth dance troupe came over to make a presentation for some educational aid. Those kids sure could dance! Sill talking school business despite the overwhelming heat. Everything always moves in slow motion here. Surreal. Go with the flow. Just too hot to do otherwise....

Saturday August 18: Day spent finishing Cuban School Project business in meeting at hotel. Will try to get teachers a good computer in Canada with software, printer and burner, so they can better continue developing our English-Cuban workbook, basic through advanced editions. Laptop probably easiest to bring into the country. Maybe go Apple? Provided current donations for the Toronto Friendship school and the university professors to continue work on the project for next school year. We'll probably just go sit and relax with my colleagues at Cespedes Park in the city centro tonight. A typical everyday Cuban night out for the locals. An orchestra, minstrels, lively discussions and all sorts of other entertainment, a real carnival of Cuban life! Then Sunday to the beach!

Sunday August 19: My sister and I snorkeled in the grotto at the Buccaneero Hotel outside Santiago, while the staff from the Toronto Friendship School enjoyed the all you can drink-all/ you can drink amenities. It was a windy if not hot day and the water was very choppy with big swells. The grotto is like a huge natural tropical fish and coral aquarium. Lots of Brain and Long Horn coral. Schools of Blue Tang. Swimming out along the coast we got caught in a strong current but swam safely back to the grotto and finished our snorkeling adventure there. Big iguanas all over the rocks, came up to our table at the BBQ/bar looking for scraps. All in all a great day, driving there, and back in a 1955 Chevy for $25 a day.

Monday August 20: Departed the hotel for the airport by lunch after much hugs and kisses for our send off. Riding in a 1957 Ford which kept breaking down, couldn't make it over the steep foothills outside town. Pretty funny actually but we were running late for our 2 o'clock flight. When my sister went to get out the door handle fell off in her hand! Fortunately got rescued by a jeep which raced us there fast. Only one flight out of Santiago today, ours, so not much of a line up, to say the least. Sad to see the city and the mountain tops disappear below the clouds as we flew out back to Toronto.

Also see last year's Cuban School Santiago Diary in my August 2011 Blog Archives below. Possible sources for education aid donations for the Cuban Schools also being sought. Please write if you can help. Cheers!

OLP Recall Legislature Aug. 27!

More Links added.....

The OLP [Ontario Liberal Party] has recalled the provincial legislature at Queen's Park for an August 27 vote on their "Putting Students 1st Act" aka the "anti strike legislation". Depending on your POV [point of view] it's either a self serving politically motivated anti democratic attack on our labour act, or a decisive move to finally enforce their April MOU [memo of understanding] deadline in time for school to go back on September 4th, after months of unsuccessful attempts at negotiations.

Just to briefly summarize, the OECTA [Ontario English catholic Teacher's Association] and AEFO [the french language school teacher's association] have MOU's in place for when our last contract expires on August 31. OSSTF [Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation] and ETFO [Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario], while agreeing to a wage freeze remain strongly opposed to any of the other clauses forward in the MOE [Ministry of Education] original terms and those negotiated in the  OECTA-AEFO MOU's.

ETFO and OSSTF have strike votes pending for late August and September. ETFO could stage a one day protest strike if the legislation is passed, but otherwise both claim that any workplace actions would not interrupt the beginning of the school year. The OLP remains adamant that the anti strike clauses in it's legislation are to "put students first", in case of any disruptions this fall, and if the legislation is passed, for a 2 year period afterwards, between now and our next contract in 2014. Both the pro and con sides remain locked in a war of words about possible legal challenges to the new legislation and what the outcome would be.

For their part the OCSTA [Ontario Catholic School Trustee Association], OPSTA, their public school counterparts, and the provinces principals and vice principals association oppose the MOU's, in regards to fair hire, teacher profession assessment's, and in the AEFO case, teacher on call clauses. Both the Ontario NDP [New Democratic Party] and Conservative parties ostensibly remain opposed to the legislation, the first for it's alleged attack on labour rights, the later because it's not harsh enough and doesn't include a grid freeze too. Both remain non committal on how they will vote.

The OLP one seat minority government faces two by-elections on September 6th in Kitchener Waterloo and Vaughan. This has become the battleground for all sides to make their case in the ongoing  battle of ideas and words that has raged all summer long. A two seat win would give the OLP a majority in the legislature, in which case neither NDP or Conservative support would ostensibly not be needed after that.

Whew! I know it's dangerous to over simply, but I hope this helps put the current crisis in some reasonable perspective for any of our teacher's who may just be trickling back home from summer vacation and are in need of an update on the situation.

My previous blog or two provide many further news links for the events as of late. You will find many other going back man months. All my blogs are listed in the Blog Archive below this centre column on my site,and so on and on and on..............

And so, here's the latest news links on the OLP announcement of a date for the Legislature's summer recall:

Here's the Government House leaders press release:

The Toronto Star reports:

The Windsor Star reports:

The Canada Press reports:

The Toronto Sun reports:

OCSTA Catholic trustees and their public and french schools counterparts oppose OECTA-AEFO MOE:

NDP press statement, including reference to OCSTA:

OECTA President Kevin Dwyer warns of school board's intentions in opposing OECTA MOU:

ETFO's press release claims legislature recall is OLP political gambit:

Here''s an "Education Law Alert" report by the BLG law firm, more of an overview really, but worth a read:

An interesting blogger analysis

OECTA TSU and TECT have sent out notices to our members that:

OECTA Provincial's Kevin Dwyer and David Church will be explaining the OECTA MOU and answering questions at Wednesday August 22nd's TSU TECT membership meeting, tomorrow at Roy Thompson Hall Toronto, commencing at 1pm to 4pm.. Hope to see you there. I also plan to post a blog report for my readers.

More news links to be added. More below.......

Saturday 18 August 2012

The OECTA Road Map + Putting Students 1st Act!

Here are the two documents handed out at the Minister of Education's press meet to announce detail of the new legislation on Aug.16:

See one:

See the other:

The following article from "People for Education" is a very useful summary of the new Liberal Legislation that bears a complete re-print here, for your careful consideration.  Updated news links continue to be added, as usual, in my previous ongoing update blog. Scroll down for more info.

New education legislation proposed
August 17, 2012
What rights will the new Act give the province?
The proposed legislation gives the government legal rights it did not have before – to impose contracts, ban strikes and lock-outs (and even the threat of strikes) and restrict interference by the Labour Relations Board and the courts. The new Act establishes a so-called restraint period. The restraint period lasts for two years, beginning September 1st 2012, but the new law would also give the government the right to extend that period for at lease one more year without going back to the legislature.
The Act states that:
  • All contracts between school boards and their employees – including both unionized and non-unionized employees (e.g. principals) – must meet the requirements laid out by the province.
  • Boards are not allowed to make separate deals with employees that would make up for some of the funding they lose as a result of the new law.
  • The law will apply retroactively – so that in the time before the legislation is passed and before contracts are actually signed and approved by the province (as they all must now be), the law is in effect.
  • Strikes and lock-outs during the two-year “restraint” period are banned, and deemed unlawful.
  • The province can force employees to pay back any money they receive that contravenes the Act.
  • The Labour Relations Board and any other arbitrators are prohibited from either inquiring into or making decisions about the constitutionality of the Act or whether the Act is in conflict with the Human Rights Code.
  • The province can use the Labour Relations Act to enforce the new law, but the Labour Relations Act doesn’t apply if it conflicts with the new law.
  • The courts are not allowed to be used to question or review any of the terms conditions in the Act.
What are the terms?
    • Teachers who have less than 10 years teaching experience will continue to receive salary increase based on the “salary grid” – but those increases will not start until December of 2012.
    • No other employee will be paid more than they would have been paid on August 31, 2012.
    • Teachers are entitled to 10 sick days per year, and if they need more they will go through an adjudication process.
    • All teachers, vice-principals and principals must take three unpaid days off in 2013-2014.
    • No employees can “bank” sick days obtained after September 1st. (up to now, teachers had been able to bank some of their sick days so that when they retired they were able to receive as much as $45,000.)
    • School boards must release a list of the assessment tools they want teachers to use, but teachers can pick the ones they want to use, which students they use them with and how often they use them.
    • Principals will hire long-term occasional supply teachers based first on seniority and then on their additional qualifications (as defined by theCollegeofTeachers).
  • No arbitration can over-ride any terms of the province’s stipulations for the contracts.
  • Every board must provide the Minister with a copy of its collective agreements and they must be approved by the Minister.
  • If boards are unable to settle with their employees, the new Act gives the government the right to impose new contracts.
  • The new Act also gives the government the right to prohibit employees from going on strike, or even from calling for a strike, or “encouraging” any employees from going on strike.
The province is not freezing salaries for new teachers, so where will the money come from?
Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the province will continue to pay increases to newer teachers moving up the salary grid. This will cost, over two years, approximately $270 million. The money to cover those costs comes from savings garnered through mandatory unpaid days off, a reduction in the number of new Student Success teachers, a reduction in funding for sick days and banked sick days and an elimination of funding for elementary teacher professional development.

<<<PS: Nobody still seems to have the actual wording of the act. I will provide it asap.>>>

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!