Opening Statement

Monday 31 March 2014

Teacher Spring News + Views

Welcome to the Spring edition! I'm continuing my March edition here for now. My routine remains the same. I will keep adding stories under each header below. New stories are often first included in large type for your convenience, once we get going. My Teacher + Union Acronym Guide is Here!

"April Showers" or "Gone fishin'"


My teacher free speech blogsite has reached 350,000 reader visits! Please retweet my link in solidarity!

ETFO + OSSTF announcements about the Bill 115 Charter Challenge adjournment are @ Here! and @ Here!

A teachers study guide for Bill 122 is @ Here!

My spring session Queens Park report is @ Here!

Reader comments and reports on the March OECTA AGM + OSSTF AMPA have been posted below my different  related site blogs for this month!

Read Pamela Spearn's guest blog on "Democracy in OECTA? [Part 2]"! Have we gone from bad to worse? The Brock action directive was withdrawn + the Discipline Panel procedure motions were deferred at the March Break AGM! Join the open forum discussion! Read + see Comments @ LINK

Read John Cafferky's guest blog on "OECTA AGM: A Time For Sovereignty?" Has OECTA become a case of rule by + for the union elite? See Reader Comments! Read @ LINK

Whatever happened to union principles + member rights? Read the CCLA's [Canadian Civil Liberty Association] letter to OECTA Provincial on President Brock's dismissal by the Discipline Panel + his legal case! Reader Comments too @ LINK

Follow the Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Story as it unfolds going back a few years now with links @ Cracked!

Teacher + Union

Surprise OSSTF Grid freeze! MOU agreements? What MOU agreements? Hey, let's negotiate another one in "good faith" with the OLP?!? ..... OSSTF expects school boards to still respect the end of the agreed upon 2 year restraint period for salary grid increases on Sept 2014, despite the latest dodgy government funding announcement. More BS

Here's ETFO's media release on the educational funding announcement in question. Although ETFO notes it remains adamantly opposed to the imposed grid freeze it claims their members' salary grid will still be adjusted on September 1st 2014 to reflect the 2% catch up it received in the last contract. Hmmm. Meanwhile they are talking to their lawyers. Read @ Pleased but not so pleased?

Ontario Nurses [ONA] are being asked to take a 3% pay cut for those entering the grid as well as changes to the shift differential, in their deadlocked negotiations with the Ontario Hospital Association [OHA]. The hospitals have had their funding frozen for the past 2 years. President Haslam-Stroud claims the Wynne government is pulling the strings behind the scenes. Health Minster Deb Matthews has basically washed her hands of the ordeal. She claims this is between the ONA + OHA. Don't expect our teacher contract negotiations to be any love fest this year either @ Pay Cuts

Cuts! Cuts! + more cuts! Will our unions take a strong stand?

Here we go again? OPSEU has had its pension health benefits unilaterally stripped! Now AMAPCEO [Association of Management, Administrative, Professional Crown Employees of Ontario] has announced that the province has begun their contract talks with an "offensive long list of concessions" that they expect. Meanwhile our teacher talks are being held up by Bill 122, which seems very convenient to me, for the OLP, considering that we might be facing a spring election. Hope you didn't figure Tim Hudak was our only concern! Story @ CPO-ML Political Forum

Teacher contract negotiations? What teacher contract negotiations? See my teachers guide to Bill 122! It includes downloads of the full text of the Bill. Also the submissions from OECTA, OSSTF, ETFO, OPSBA, OCSTA and the latest news links @ Bill 122 Blog

The importance of a stable Ontario pension plan for homecare workers @ SEIU

89% of British Columbia teachers have voted in favour of a 3 day strike. Meantime, negotiations continue and no strike date has been set yet @ BC Teacher Strike! 

Why are BC teachers willing to strike? Read @ Strike!

OSSTF President Paul Elliot's speech to this year's AMPA annual general meeting is Link

March 7 was an unpaid day off work for most Ontario teachers under the terms of the MOU.

Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario teachers take second unpaid day off work @ MOU

Ontario elementary teachers are concerned that the roll out of full day Junior Kindergarten across the province will suffer from overcrowding and a lack of resources @ JK?

It's uncertain if classroom construction will be completed on time for this fall @ Woes

35% of English and 48% of French classroom seats in Northern Ontario schools are empty according to a 2012 report. The provincial average is 12% and 30% respectively. The MOE is encouraging boards to look at combining schools and sharing space. Story @ CBC

OECTA President James Ryan speaks out against the Tory "Math Agenda" @ OECTA

While technical job skills are the big educational mantra these days, the liberal arts degree has sadly fallen by the wayside. Here's why it should still command respect @ Missing in Action!

MIA? Respect for a Liberal Arts Degree

The "autism crisis" continues to grow without much leadership from the politicos about what we can do to help @ Autism programs?

See my blog series on teaching in an autism class @ Links

Heard about Educational International? OCSTA's Bill 122 demand for mandatory extracurriculars? Read James President's blog for the week of March 7 @ Blog

Info on making Catholic Education relevant in the 21st Century is @ 7 principles

OECTA OCSTA + the Catholic Archdiocese of Ontario produce a PDF answering questions on Catholic Education. A one school system motion at OSSTF AMPA this weekend should be a hot topic. PDF @ Download

Police to supervise TCBD trustee meetings to deal with threats + intimidating behaviour @ TDSB?!

Merit Pay: Next stop here?

US style Merit Pay issue again rises it's ugly head in Canada @ Globe + Mail video

Make no mistake! PC Hudak is still after your work rights! Your complete to Rights at Work, info, download, inservice dates etc etc etc is available from the OFL website @ Stand Up 4 Your rights!

Here's an Ontario Ministry of Labour link to the statutes covering your workplace rights as an employee in the province. Even though you have a teachers contract, these laws should still also be in effect and enforced, including the "Workplace Health + Safety Act". Are they, at your school? In your board? For teachers? Worth reading @ Workplace Law

OFL's guide for stopping Tim Hudak's anti worker laws is more like a battle plan, with cross Ontario meeting dates, leader kits, info sheets + flyer downloads. Basically it includes everything you need to get things going in your edge of the woods. Be prepared! Guide @ Here!

OFL's Sid Ryan explains that PC Hudak's "low wage agenda" is still firmly in place even though he has ostensibly backed off his Right 2 Work 4 Less attack against workers @ Op Piece

Know your enemy: Tory neo con "Working Canadian" lobby group launches it's latest attack on so called "privileged" unions. Also note the handy attached ad on how to fire employees @ Globe + Mail

Education Minister Sandals doggedly defends the value of standardized EQAO testing. But does it really provide valuable data to schools? About what? More standardized testing?! Story @ EQAO

"Thriving with autism?" I'ts an advocacy site with tips for parents + teachers Autism 101

Fight the Right! The union struggle is international in scope!

UK NUT [National Union of Teachers] teachers are poised for a March 26 strike! Why are they striking? See @ Video

A detailed explanation of why everybody should support the March 26th UK teacher strike. Multiple teacher unions in each schools complicates the strategy. Fairness and social justice are also issues like here in Canada @ in a NUT shell!

Watch a video explanation @ A teacher speaks out!

"Unions Together" supports the Labour Party in the UK @ Explained

"Academy Chains" are allowed to run state schools for the government in the UK. 14 have been closed due to fiscal mismanagement and poor standards @ Privatization fiasco

UK NUT + NASUWT strike March 26!

Teacher workload is a big issue in the UK like in Canada @ Survey Results

The UK Labour party doesn't want a "destructive market driven approach" to creating "free schools". These are like US style Charter Schools, a preferred option for our own Ontario Provincial Conservative party which has so far been blocked ... The UK Conservative government claims it's reforms are actually based upon Labour Party policies .... Hmmm. Very confusing for us as Canucks. Here's an insight into UK Education Politics @ BBC series 

Cyber cheating is becoming increasingly common and sophisticated as cellphones, Ipads and laptops flood our classrooms @ Tricks

South Korean teachers have an App that can lock their students cellphones on school grounds @ Handy

Here's a good progressive news site for teachers that's from south of our border. Read about the radical teacher "Education Uprising" @ Radical Education

Here's a handy, progressive ETFO guide to Canadian Aboriginal education studies @ 101 

The Wisconsin Legacy for unions? What our union brothers + sisters are learning in the US! Ontario take note! We could be next if Tim Hudak still gets his way Wisconsin

Adding insult to injury: Check out this video of a PD session our teacher colleagues recently attended in Chicago! Could it be any more demeaning?!? See @ Repeat after me ...

UNIFOR Caesar's Windsor Casino workers vote 97% in favour of strike action next month @ Casino strike!

Doorey's Law of Work blog explains how the laws about striking in Canada differ from those it the States. Unlike in the US you can't strike unless you are in a union. More @ Legal brief

"Workplace Mobbing" wherein groups of people will target an individual for bullying at work is growing problem @ Workplace bullying

12 things folks should never say to a teacher @ No No's!

Say what?!? Why don't I try to make my classes more fun????

Hey! They will say you are a glorified baby-sitter anyway!!! ETFO shows you how to turn it into a teachable moment @ Do the math!

Fact: Teachers perform the most unpaid overtime @ True!

Are you overpaid? What's the answer to the proverbial question of teacher salaries + job performance? Latest study shows one gets what you pay ... The best two career decisions in my life? The first was to get into teaching! The second was to get out! I have no regrets either way, as a recent retiree, but take my hat off to the new generation getting into it today. Report @ OECD

The NDP's Cheri DiNovo's "first responder bill" would help police, firefighters and paramedical workers claim benefits for post traumatic stress disorder. So far the bill has been moved forward for study by a unanimous vote in the legislature @ Post Stress Disorder Benefits

Raising the minimum wage to $16.60 could make Toronto a "living wage city" @ Canadian Centre 4 Policy Alternatives

Figuring out your taxes again? Better not miss a red cent or Canada Revenue will come after you because our economy will go to ruin eh? Sad but true: the major corporations often get away without even having to pay their taxes. Cameco and Apple provide a case in point @ Dodgy!

A grassroot blogger speaks out on union fundamentals for the everyday worker. Hooray  @ Drivers Provided Blog

Federal Conservative Treasurer Tony Clements claims about our overpaid public sector workers unravel @ Creating a crisis?

Party Politics

Follow the bouncing Forum Polls! The OLP + PC play political switcheroo again! OLP=35%/ PC=32% NDP=25% Greens=7% More @ Latest Poll

Timbo's education plan [so to speak]!

See the March 31 2014 "" weighted average of the different polls for Ontario, by scrolling down @ 308

The ongoing QP gas plant scandal continue to raise a stink! Doesn't seem to have hurt the Liberal polling numbers though. Latest @ Emails erased?

Hudak wants the Liberals to call an election over the latest gas plant scandal. Zzzzzzz @ Toronto Star

McGuinty comes to Wynne's rescue over the "computer wiping" allegations ... Wait! Is that a help?!? Story @ Dalton to the rescue!

IMHO NDP steals PC thunder over latest OLP scandal by walking out of legislature @ Toronto Star

Wynne OLP struggle to hold focus on an election over the spring budget @ Ottawa Citizen 

Here's a handy resource: the Queen's Park Daily Question Period Webcast live! Also the archives @ QP

March break: even the Queen's Park legislature was recessed. I will be visiting QP on Wed. March 19 for a first person report on question period and the Bill 122 Committee to try to catch the flavour for you. Meanwhile, you can check the following links for news from the week of March 7th: ETFO @ Link  + OSSTF on the 3 to 7th @ Link

March Break 2014!

"Safe Hands" is supposed to be a Political Transparency Bill to protect taxpayers from being on the hook for top priced government CEO's + the like who engage in the destruction of public documents etc. etc. etc. While we get penny pinched at school these guys regularly walk away with huge golden handshakes in severance pay, despite their questionable activities. This blogger is dubious at best about the bill @ You are now in Safe Hands?

The OLP will introduce a bill to freeze a MPP's salary until 2019 so they can "lead by example" .... does that mean there's going to be a teacher pay freeze too?! More @ Freezing

Here is a link to Bill 177: the MP Salary Freeze Act 2014 @ Download

The NDP + PC's are gunning for a 6% MPP pay raise by not supporting the Bill 177 salary freeze! Read more @ 6% MPP Raise!?!

Latest Forum Polls: PC=35% /OLP=32% /NDP=26% /Greens=6%
Seat projection PC=48 /OLP=42 /NDP=17 seats. More numbers @ Toronto Star

Timbo explains how he'd like to wring our necks! 

The polling numbers for how many folks in Ontarian approve of the Rand formula are not good! Of course it can depend on how the question is asked. Either way our unions still have a public education job ahead, whether Tim Hudak has renounced his Right 2 Work 4 Less plan or not. He's again insisting he has but ...... See @ Toronto Star

Are the OLP eyeing a June 17th provincial election? We have a municipal election this fall, a federal election in 2015, as well as the Pan Am games! When to roll the dice? The story isToronto Star

8 of the 107 MPP's at Queens Park have announced that they don't plan to run for re-election. Mostly they are PC's and OLP'ers. OLP John Milloy is the latest. More announcements are expected. Here's the list as of March 2 @ Out!

The OLP Ontario Pension Plan will be a key platform in the possible spring election @ Wynne

The Toronto OLP AGM this weekend is expected to be a pre election rally for the rank and file @ Election?

The NDP was the silent elephant inside the convention hall this weekend. While Wynne went after the Hudak PC's in her rally speech, she still hasn't seemed to figure out how to position the Liberals in regards to the NDP @ Globe + Mail

Kathleen Wynne + Jane pump up the party faithful but who's got her ear?

Wynne strategists are apparently concerned that her personal appeal and earlier activist agenda won't win the next election. They are trying to strategically rejig her odds with lowered expectations and by targeting NDP ridings in the GTA while holding onto other city seats across the province Big gamble?

CBC focuses on the Liberal efforts to stress stability @ CBC

Heeeey! Check out this Gandalf poll we found ...

At the convention, a widely touted "Gandalf" [?!] poll seemed to show the OLP gaining steam in a number of NDP held Toronto ridings. However the methodology sounds pretty rinky dink at bestPoll?

CUPE, OCAP + other protest groups march on the convention as a part of the "Raise the Rates" campaign to stop the war on the poor @ key points

The Liberals might also target corporate taxes in an about face in their economic platform @ National Post

Wynne talks tough on any upcoming budget deals. The resignation of Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffery could also result in a cabinet shuffle @ Shuffling the deck?

Want updates on the election fever? Bill 122? Check out my "Visit to Queens Park" blog @ Update

Seems even some Federal Conservatives are growing unhappy with the preferred Tory attack strategy of staging negative campaigns. I hope this trickles down provincially too! The Hudak PC's have created a very toxic political environment + mindset in our province and the Harper Fed's across Canada, which is very detrimental to the long term common good @ Negative Campaigns

The NDP's new centre left middle class focus is aimed at winning over disgruntled Liberal voters with pocketbook issues @ Dippers

Info on the Rural Ontario Summit being run by the Rural Ontario Institute and the Ontario Ministry of Rural Affairs is @ Beyond Toronto!

Northern Ontarians are asking Premier Wynne for protection from "radical environmental groups" according to the Financial Post @ Jobs + Investments?

Peter Kormos one year later ...

NDP MPP Peter Kormos remembered one year after his untimely death Peter Kormos

Ontario's "Greenbelt" policy of protecting farmland, the countryside and green space from urban sprawl is 9 years old this month @ Green

Twice the number of athletes attending Sochi are headed to Toronto next year for the Pan Am games. Ontario will be on the hook for any "cost overruns", which is often just another name for these sporting events.  Be prepared! The "blame game" is increasingly providing political fodder at QP. However, the latest Pan Am "gravy train" accusations could ironically end up in the lap of either the current PC or NDP if they are in power after the games. So far the Pan Am games are within budget despite all the outrage @ Pan Am Games!

In The News

A kinda kool + very Olivia photo from last time I saw her downtown.

Olivia Chow resigns her Federal MPP seat to enter the Toronto Mayoral race. Good news: Olivia is an astute, principled, left of centre, progressive candidate with excellent credentials, including at Toronto city hall. Bad news: Should John Tory + her split the centre vote Ford Nation could slip through to a win. News @ Olivia

Olivia promises to "pack up the tent on the circus at city hall" @ Rob Ford Klown?

For a good overview of the responses to her challenge see @ CBC

Olivia holds her own in this interview @ Youtube

Torontonians face some difficult election choices this year! 

Parody election signs are popping up across Toronto @ Here!

"No Ford Nation" website exposes Ford election lies @ Lotsa laffs!

Toronto 2014 municipal election heats up!

"Anybody but Rob Ford" election poster removed from Trinity Bellwoods Park! Video @ City News

Chow is against expansion of the Toronto Billy Bishop Island Airport. However, Rob Ford's hot to trot for his corporate buddies now that Porter Airlines apparently has a line on a new kind of "silent jets" [?!] and doesn't want to waste time on a study examining issues like, oh I dunno, the possible need to expand runways on public lands along the city lake shore. Read the news release @ Gravy Planes!

Freedom of choice!?

Rumour has it Olivia Chow will enter the Toronto Mayoral race during the week of March 17 @ Toronto Star

Olivia would be well advised to define or "brand" herself as the working class candidate in the Toronto mayoral race @ Chow

Will Torontonians exercise their "collective withdrawal from reality" by again voting in Ford as mayor this fall? More @ Problem, what problem?!?

Ford: just an average millionaire guy mayor?

Toronto Municipal Election Watch: Is Rob Ford just your average blue collar family guy like he claims? No. He's more of a $50,000,000 kind of dude with a major disconnect to the problems average people actually have to deal with every day!. Help the campaign raise enough funds to erect the billboard shown above @ Help cut the BS!

Looking for the  news updates on Toronto Mayor Fords latest hijinks? Follow my Ford Blog

Screaming headlines + troop mobilization: not good!

There are fears that the Russians are poised to invade the Ukraine as issues over it's inclusion in either the ECC or the Russian sphere of economic influence rage. Sounds very reminiscent of the Cold War to me. Screaming headlines @ Flash point Crimea?!

Photos of the Russian army moving into the Crimea @ Troop movement

Why has the crisis been centered in the Crimea? Read a backgrounder @ Russification?

Canada will not recognize the Crimean referendum to join Russia. The region was militarily occupied by Russian troops. Story No appeasement?

Russian President Putin pays a personal visit to the Crimea @ Ras"Putin"?

Having annexed the Crimea, the Russian army is amassing forces on the Ukraine's Eastern border @ NATO watch

Attention! The Canadian province of Saskatchewan will ban Russian vodka to protest their military + political incursions in the Ukraine! Oh wait! No it won't ...... Hmmm. @ Sober 2nd thought?

For more news on the Crimea Crisis also see my News Video Bar below this blog column! claims much of our North American news coverage about Venezuela is misinformed by the mass media for political reasons. Here's what the right wing protest might look like in Venezuela if you were a Venezuelan @ Venezuela?

Women's peace rally in Venezuela: are we getting the true story?

Warren Kinsella claims Toronto Mayoral candidate John Tory is getting nervous. He's got an apparent internal Tory campaign memo about John's past financial support for the Ford Brothers @ Who's Tory Now?!

Is it a coincidence that the Brampton courthouse shooting occurs right after this week's episode of a similar shocker in the "Good Wife"? Janet wonders if somebody was watching too much t.v.? Story @ Scary thought!

The race is on to find the black box from missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. It's battery only lasts for a month sending out electronic pings to help locate it. The search has moved way out over the Indian Ocean, but the question remains: How can anyone lose a modern commercial airliner in our high tech surveillance age?!? Lots doesn't seem to add up @  Lost!

The Lunar Orbiter has helped determine that a meteorite hits the moon every minute or two creating a dust halo from the impact Science Shot

It is perhaps rather ironic that the US is dependent on Russian Soyuz spacecraft for transportation to the International Space Station until 2017 as tensions heat up over the Crimea crisis. The US shuttle program was mothballed and a new commercially developed crew transport craft is still being developed, accounting for the gap @ Soyuz

View/ Counter View: No global warming, or is it a corporate propaganda piece? Decide for yourself @ ?!?

Kulture Kult Ink

An autographed copy of the Beatles "Sargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Cub Band" album sold for $175,698 on the auction block at the Rock + Roll Auctions in New Hampshire on January 15th 2014!

See the review of the 2014 US Beatles Album Box Set on my March 11 blog @ Beatles!

Lifestyles of the Rich + Bloodthirsty 2014: Woman shoots a "trophy giraffe" in a "staged hunt", then poses for a picture with her kill. Another huntress nails a lion hiding from her in a tree @ Wildlife

An interesting review of conceptual artist + Lennon widow Yoko Ono's art retrospective at the Guggenheim. It's described as a Whispering roar!

Beatles Universe keeps the baby boomer generation engaged with kool photos, facts, lyrics + quotes from the Fab Four. Very entertaining @ All You need Is Beatles? 

Watch clueless men go clothes shopping with that special woman in their lives! Don't try it guys! You can't win! Too big? Too small? Especially lingerie! Seriously! You are burnt toast! Personally I prefer the chair by the front door of the store where you can safely sit it out, though the change room area is much more interesting as long as you keep your mouth shut no matter what! Just try to smile nicely a lot ... See the video @ Good luck!

NASA Visualization Explorer ["Science Revealed"] app now available for free. Rocket Science = tres kool  @ NASA Apple Download

In space nobody cares if you are freezing your butt off! Ha! Here's some time lapse photography from a stationary satellite of the snow storms sweeping across Southern Ontario and the Eastern US during the past winter @ Winter 2014

Breathtaking33 beautiful "must see" places for before you die Wow!

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is off to the Academy Awards! Hmm. Is there a category for "Worst Mayoral Performance"?! Is there a "blue collar" seating section?!? @ Our Rob

Here's a complete list of ALL the Canuck Juno awards for this year; classical, jazz, children's, roots, aboriginal, blues, electronic etc. etc. etc. @ Junos

Canuck popstar Raghar is top of the pops in the UK, Middle East, and India but is largely unknown here at home outside of Toronto's large Southeastern Asia population. He sings in Hindu. Story @ Angel Eyes is #1

What do you call a funeral home selfie? A corpsie! No joke! Folks are posing for cell phone photos of themselves with the dearly departed.  Here's 10 helpful points on funeral parlour photography @ Corpsies?!?

I dunno about the Oscars. Years later they never seem to have been awarded to the movies I remember, let alone still like. Maybe this year Ellen Degeneres should've gotten one for her Wizard of Oz "good witch" garb? Or maybe not? Highlights @ Her Selfie

This month's final word: A quote from sci-fi author Ray Bradbury:

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them"


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!