Opening Statement

Sunday 3 May 2015

Teacher Free Speech May News + Views!

Hey ho! April showers bring May flowers: Lots coming up this month, from the grassroots up! See the categories belowUpdates are later included in large type. My Blogsite Acronym Guide is @ Here! 

Teacher free speech: rebuilding from the grassroots back up!

Pertinent MOE, board + OSSTF, ETFO + OECTA strike news links are provided in the "Teacher + Union" sections of my monthly all affiliate Teacher Free Speech News and Views blogs @ Jan @ Feb @ March @ April


Back to work legislation, supported by the OLP and PC's and opposed by the NDP, passes into law on a 64 to 18 vote. Interesting how a lot of MPP's didn't vote! @ CBC

OSSTF condemns the imposition of back to work legislation, and notes the CB process is spinning out of control on all fronts. Ordering teachers back to work will not fix the problems @ OSSTF 

Sandals pretends the province's teachers are onside with her, arguing she plans on a "cooling off period" because the OSSTF "union executive" is "probably upset." Gee thanks Liz! Always interesting when folks in the government and media continue to ignore that many of us are usually angry with the "leadership" for not standing up against the BS forcefully enough! Negotiations will now probably drag on through the summer with major labour disruptions expected this fall. The NDP's Andrea Horwath is quick to criticize the OLP's "heavy- handed, ham-fisted" approach in legislating teachers back to work rather than engaging in more constructive negotiations @ Star

Bill 115: the Sequel: NDP MPP Jennifer French denounces government for underfunding education at midnight sitting to pass back to work legislation. Calls for MOE Sandals to resign for the "perplexing" mess she has created @ Redux

Tensions rise as Bill 103 is expected to pass at QP tomorrow, Thursday May 28!!! The Wynne government is not wasting anytime kicking teacher butt. However, NDP leader Andre Horwath accuses her of "throwing fuel on the fire". The PC's claim it's like "putting your finger in a dam" to stop a flood of strike actions come next September @ QP Also, see the Horwath video @ CTV

OLRB declares the OSSTF strikes illegal, gives the teachers affiliate a 2 weeks moratorium to "cleanse" the strikes of central issues apparently unrelated to local bargaining @ AM980

Here is the text of the OLRB ruling @ 0378-15-U

ETFO to raise the WTR ante with their phase 2 strategy commencing June 1st. MOE Sandals, meanwhile, claims she plans to continue negotiations through the summer @ ETFO

ETFO teachers will refuse extracurriculars and in-services, including those for the new Sex Ed program being rolled out this fall @ ETFO

ETFO Phase 2 will include not booking school trips for next year. Also a boycott of transition meetings, Gr 8 transition reports, year end OSR tasks and various MOE paperwork for funding and grants@ CTV

OSSTF plans to resume the strikes June 10th after necessary changes madeMedia Release

Meanwhile MOE Sandals says the government will go ahead with back to work legislation so students can finish the school year @ June 10?

OSSTF claims provincial negotiations have stalled again, despite mediation. The "employer" [MOE/ Trustees] are still focused upon attacking teachers and contract stripping @ CB

CUPE's Fred Hahn "visits" Wynne's office May 8th! Yay Fred!

CUPE denounces OLRB decision in light of the stalled negotiation talks @ CUPE

CUPE annual convention rallies around the timely theme of "ramping up the fight against austerity". The focus is on the OLP's neo liberal austerity agenda. For a prime example of it's implementation, look no further than QP this month @ CUPE

Classes resume in Durham, Sudbury, and Peel on Wednesday, May 27th, the day after Fishbein's OLRB ruling @ Star

Bill 103: the "Protecting the School Year" Act will legislate teachers back to work should they return June 10th. MOE Sandals claims the situation is unacceptable @ Bill

OECTA James Ryan denounces back to work legislation a breach of the province's teachers' right to strike. In effect, it allows the government to circumvent it's own bargaining legislation to stick it to the teachers @ OECTA

Premier Wynne confirms she is waiting for the OLRB and ERC rulings to legislate teachers back to work @ CP24

Teacher CB is proceeding at a glacial speed. Now you might be about to be told you can't strike @ Legislate?

OLRB Judge Fishbein says not to expect a ruling on the OSSTF strike case before the middle of next week @ Star

AEFO to hold provincial strike vote as negotiations slowly proceed nowhere in a hurry AEFO

Coming full circle: the obscure ERC [Education Relations Committee], last used by the Harris/ Eves Tories in 2002, will this week decide if the province's teacher strikes place students in "final Jeopardy"; that is, are they in risk of losing their school year. If so, the Wynne government might evoke "back to work" legislation. Interesting: Judge Fishbein, who is also hearing the OSSTF OLRB case is a member of the ERC tooEd Relations Comm

Fishbein has warned board lawyer Mike Hines that the legislation for the new CB process does not seem to specify when teachers can strike over local verses provincial contract issues. Note that he has also voluntarily stepped aside from the ERCFishbein

New CB law unclear on strikes @ Bill 122

Board lawyer Michael Hines wants OLRB Judge Fishbein to clarify what the act says. However, we must question whether that is his job? More below! Story @ Star

OSSTF resumes provincial bargaining talks on May 21st. President Elliott wants to see class size negotiated locally and not at the provincial table @ OSSTF CB

OSSTF President stresses that teachers did not start the strike fight but are going to finish it during his speech on stage at the May 14 QP rally. ETFO and CUPE got up to express their solidarity and support. No mention of OECTA. Story Star

OLRB's Bernard Fishbein: Lotsa water on tap, but what else?

After refusing to negotiate, the Durham, Peel and Sudbury boards have now taken OSSTF to the OLRB to try to force them back to work. The "Button Man" aka lawyer Mike Hines is once again representing the trustees, just like during the hung 2012-13 OLRB hearings in which he argued for mandatory EC's. [Buttons!] [Buttons!] A ruling is expected as early as this week @ Lotsa Hot Buttons!

OSSTF Magnificent 7 teachers in Ottawa Carleton and Halton have begun an administrative WTR. Meanwhile at the OLRB, the school boards are arguing that the OSSTF local strikes are a part of the union's strategy to put pressure on the government to reach an agreement at the central bargaining table, when they shouldn't be under the OLP's confusing, new, 2 tiered CB system. What a mess! Also note that most of the boards' case seems to rest upon the signage used on the picket lines @ WTR

The controversial EQAO tests scheduled for May 25 are on hold in the province's public elementary schools as a result of ETFO's WTR strike for the first time since the Harris Years @ EQAO

Breaking Bad: just goes to show what can happen when ....

Those who can, teach @ Peter Mansbridge

Wynne's new 2 tiered CB model is a dismal failure that threatens to undo all the good work her government once accomplished with the province's teachers for political reasons @ Wynne/Lose!

Do larger Neo Liberal political-economic forces doom our teacher protest movement unless we take much more wider, radical measures? This blog dates back to the 2013 protests but remains one of my favourites. Also read Elle's response to my comments @ Big Picture

To achieve our goals, teacher unions need to become a key part of a larger grassroots, social movement for educational justice. That means more of an emphasize on broader social justice issues rather than just bread and butter ones like pay increases and class size. Our Ontario unions caught onto this a long time ago, unlike in the US where the debate is still ongoing. However, as this article points out, in Wisconsin, the local units are reclaiming their unions from control by the executive specialist elites, the reverse of what we seem to be seeing here, for example with the continuous controversies over the OECTA secretariat, which run the teacher union more like an oligarchy.  I would like to address this a lot further in the future, as it really seems key to a lot of the dilemmas facing the Ontario teacher union movement today @ Social Justice!

ETFO advises members that "central strike actions" begin Monday May 11 at 32 Ontario boards @ ETFO

42,000 students effected by the Peel OSSTF strike, 67,000 in total across the province. Vote in the Toronto Sun Poll: should the province pass legislation to ensure teachers do not go on strike? So far the Yes side is winning by about 2 to 1 @ Toronto Sun

Toronto Sun Poll, and accompanying article ratchets up the dirty fight to get teaching declared an essential service, removing our right to strike. "Yes" side now leads 3 to 1 in no doubt stacked vote @ More Sun

Wynne set to "light fire" in negotiations! Guess this means she plans to burn us some more?!? Reactions @ Scorched!

OLP fiddles about as Ontario's education system burns @ Toasted!

Everything you wanted to know about the teacher strikes [but were afraid to ask] @ CITY TV

OSSTF Peel Teachers strike!

OSSTF D19 Peel joins the "Magnificent 7" strike. Frustration grows over two tiered local + provincial negotiations @ Globe

OSSTF notes it's "disappointment" in issuing the strike notice for Peel @ OSSTF

OSSTF explains the local issues at stake in the D19 Peel strike. Board chair worries parents might consider transferring students to the Catholic schools, which remain open @ Peel 

OSSTF provincial negotiations with the OPSBA and MOE have ground to a halt as Peel strikes. OSSTF is receptive to resuming the talks @ Halt!

CUPE 2544 workers express solidarity with striking OSSTF teachers, stating "Our working conditions are students' learning conditions" CUPE

1997 Revisited? Move over Mike! Here comes Kathleen!

Harris, Eves, McGuinty and now Wynne: A handy overview of Ontario teacher strikes going back to 1987 @ Star

ONABSE [Ontario Alliance of Black School Educators] claims racism still runs deep in our Ontario schools with many of us in denial about the very real problems our colleagues daily face on the job in many subtle and not so subtle ways @ OABSE

Safe School Charade? TCDSB releases its report on the murder of 2 students across the street from Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School in west Toronto. Much to do, hand wringing and lamenting over the students' "no snitching culture" is made. However, why weren't the kids in class like they were supposed to be in the first place? One of the victims was from James Cardinal McGuigan CSS in Downsview. I taught there for decades. Skips were chronic with up to at least a third of the students sometimes on the lam, coming and going like they were in a subway station, even thought the teachers repeatedly reported them and tried to follow up on their own. Some we rarily saw, the so called "Ghost Students". Oooops! Overlooked that one? IMHO until you nail down attendance, this is mostly BS @ Safe Schools?

Teacher strikes and Parent "Sex Ed" protests rock Wynne OLP government @ Ooops!

The third OSSTF lighthouse unit; D19 Peel is set to strike Monday morning @ OSSTF

Class size issue and stalled provincial bargaining talks cited in Monday OSSTF D19 Peel strike @ Peel

OSSTF Sudbury President Harvey Bischof explains the teacher strike @ CBC

OSSTF information on "pink slips" for student teachers completing practicums during the strikes is OSSTF

Keep track of the mounting number of OSSTF boards being sanctioned with strike actions @ OSSTF

Peel board promises parents info and updates on negotiations and an OSSTF strike Monday @ Peel

ETFO launches it's "Building Better Schools" province wide ad campaign @ ETFO

ETFO's petition for class size caps is Building Better Schools

ETFO President Sam Hammond stresses that the main issues are not primarily about a pay raise. Also, work to rule, rather than pickets seem increasingly likely, as the ETFO May 10th strike deadline approaches @ WTR

Real special? HCDSB Halton Catholic Director Dawson pays back the mystery salary over payment that she didn't report until after an indie panel investigation uncovered the true story. But will she be disciplined like any other employee as per the board rules? Penalties include dismissal and a reprimand. More @ HCDSB News

London Catholic board is hoping to pay off it's $4.2 million deficit in part on the back of it's CUPE school secretaries, who face a whirlwind of pink slips, and by re designating former union jobs. There are 1000 CUPE workers at the board @ Bust! and @ CUPE

Thousands of students were kept home from school in the first day of a parent strike against MOE's new Sex Ed Curriculum. In Toronto, 1350 students were absent at Thorncliffe Public School, 400 at Gateway public and 590 at Valley Park Middle School. More @ Sex Ed?

Parent strikes are scheduled for Monday through Friday to protest the MOE's new Sex Ed Curriculum. A "parent strike"?!? Seems a lot of parents plan to withdraw their kids from class. Will be interesting to see what happens! More @ Globe

For much more info and updates, see my Teacher Free Speech Ontario New Sex Ed Curriculum Guide @ Here!

GSA's: Ottawa Gr 6 BFF's rock the Ottawa Catholic Board!

Two grade 6 students have started Canada's first GSA in a Catholic Elementary school but the going remains pretty rough, and the board continues to stall @ Ottawa Catholic Board

Province washes hands of Avon Maitland boards refusal to allow an ETFO teacher a leave to take his elderly Vet father to the 70th anniversary end of WW2 memorial celebrations in the Netherlands. Teacher takes him anyway. Canadian forces were key in liberating the counties from Nazi occupation @ For Shame!!!

Here's a complaint that Canadian black history is not being thoroughly taught in Chatham schools. It's an intriguing chapter that's apparently M.I.A. @ Black History

Durham board digs in for the long haul? Students are being encouraged to do their homework online using a resource bank. Teachers are, of course, not involved. The site is poorly designed, and the work won't be marked @ CITY TV

BC teachers in solidarity w/ Ontario teacher strikes! 

BC teacher appeal of contract bargaining strips joins others at Supreme Court of Canada [remember Bill 115?!?] after BC court rules in province's favour @ Globe

Leading Canadian human rights champion Stephen Lewis calls CUPE BC workers an "exemplary force for social justice" @ Lewis

Trouble ahead! In a bizarre twist of events a student in France has been sent home for wearing a long dress to school. The dress has been deemed an "ostentatious display" of her Muslim faith. Just goes to show why a welcoming, inclusive multicultural environment is important in our Ontario Canada schools. Let me see if I got this straight: the right to draw cartoons of the prophet Mohammad is fiercely protected, but don't you dare wear a long dress .....?!? @ Oooh La La/ No La La!

Are we doing students a disservice when we don't let them fail? Welcome to the real world, where we learn from our mistakes, not by denying or covering them up, so everyone feels good @ Failing 2 Fail


A QP update on the three party questions and debates on the mounting Ontario teacher strikes is @ ETFO

Patrick Brown w/ Mike Harris y Doug Ford: Meet Ontario's new neo con errand boy!

Tory dark horse Patrick Brown stirs up the province's social conservatives with his anti Sex Ed support, and signs up enough supporters to win the PC leadership race! The Ontario PC party establishment once again watches as their party is hijacked. Now they've got a very nondescript ex-Federal neo con telling them what to do. Brown is a virtual blank slate as far as policy goes. Nor do we know whom his backroom movers and shakers are. Meanwhile, Brown promises a more moderate approach, including better labour relations, for what that's worth, coming from a good buddy of such neo con stalwarts as Mike Harris and Doug Ford. This Star columnist expects him to recreate himself now that he is officially party leader. But into who? For whom?! Proceed watching the PC antics with extreme caution. Worst case scenario: the Ontario PC's shoot themselves in the foot again from the far right, helping cement an OLP dynasty for the years to come. Sigh! Alas! A lose/lose proposition? @ Brown

Excerpts + news bits from the Brown win @ Star

Former PC leadership contender Monte McNaughton criticizes Christine Elliott's "Little Pink Tent" because she supports the new sex education curriculum. Truth be told, the PC party officially supports the policy, but not McNaughton, nor Patrick Brown whom he endorsed when he dropped out. Toronto Sun leaves that last part out. Brown has no Comment. More @ Pink Tent?!? 

Voting begins to choose the next Ontario PC Party leader after a long series of duds. One wonders what Patrick Brown's role is in the Parent Sex Ed Strikes during the same week as the vote?!? More on the PC leadership vote @ PC's

McNaughty + Brown light social conservatives fires by sparking Parent Sex Ed Strike during vote for the PC leadership race in desperate last ditch effort to swing party back to the far right. Look hard; it's buried deep in the news story @ Star

PC "Pink Protest" grows at QP, where the party officially supports Wynne's new Sex Ed Bill, but has the damage all ready been done, for Christine Elliot's chances as party leader? More @ McNaughtie!

Meet Ontario's next PC party leader, Patrick Brown, if he wins this months partly leadership race. It's interesting to note how he has been flaming the fires of the Sex Ed debate in the run up to the vote, to secure the provinces social conservative vote. But have the PC's painted themselves into a right wing corner with the rest of the Ontario electorate? @ Browner

The director for a TVO documentary on Premier Wynne quits, putting the show on hold, seemingly over issues of editorial control @ TVO


Francis: "No! No! Jesus dies, NOT the 12 apostles!!!" Raul: "Hmm. You sure .... !?"

Has Cuban Bad Boy President Raul Castro seen the light?!? Praise Jesus? Get this: Raul recently stopped by Rome to thank Pope Francis for his support in getting the US to ease it's 50 year economic embargo against Cuba for going socialist. He told reporters he was so impressed with Francis that he might even start attending church again, during his visit to Cuba in September! What impressed Raul the most? He praises Pope Francis for making the "defence of the poor a major plank of his papacy"

Pope Francis' frequent messages on the twin threats of capitalism and consumerism run amok are rarely reported on extensively in the North American press where they no doubt raise an "inconvenient truth" we'd best not hear lest we get uppity. Interesting: both Castro brothers' attended a Jesuit school in Santiago de Cuba as young lads. Makes sense! Think of their argumentative style, or for that matter the mythology behind the Cuban Revolution. Originally there was Fidel y the 12 revolutionary heroes. However, the Catholic imagery is then turned upside down: unlike in the bible, the 12 apostles die instead, leaving the leader to explain all, tell folks what they would've wanted everyone to do, had they lived .... Oh to be a fly on the wall during Francis y Raul's late night Tet e tetes this fall! 

How much has the US embargo cost Cuba in damages? 116.8 billion! A Cuban lawsuit is pending @ Granma

Talks on opening embassies and re-establishing diplomatic relations resume in Washington on May 21st @ Cuba and Statement

One supposes there won't be any more 1996 style "Christmas In Cuba" [Here] debacles. Otherwise, what's Raul got to say about the pace of the new economic changes in Cuba, as it moves to a mixed economy? Notes the Cuban President, "We don't want any shock measures. We don't want anyone left on the streets". 

Contrary to misleading US media reports Fidel Castro is still alive and doing relatively well, for an octogenarian. He now writes a regular Cuban news column on world issues, like in this piece on how he interprets the US change of attitude to Cuba, from as long ago as last year @ Granma  

See my blog on "Cuba: What do they think?" [Link]. The news story is @ Comrade Francis?

US 60's peace activist and retired senator Tom Hayden suffers a stroke @ Cuba

Tom Hayden explains how "shifting immigration tides" led the US to want to normalize relations with Cuba. Today's immigrant isn't necessarily anti Castro. They come to the US to work but plan to return often @ "Economic Refugees"

Bravo: A toast to Rachel + the Alta NDP!

Orange crush sweeps once staunchly conservative province of Alberta as Rachel Notley's NDP sweeps to a huge majority win promising to raise corporate tax rate @ NDP win!

NDP landslide ends 44 year Tory dynasty in Alberta, Canada's oil rich province as economy sputters @ Kaput!

Neo conster's grit teeth and begin manufacturing consent from the get go to discredit Notley and the NDP win, throwing at them everything they can Sun News

Polling now puts the 3 federal parties in a dead heat, with the NDP enjoying a bump in the polls, for now at least, from the Notley landslide @ Forum

Federal Conservatives will be royally p'o'ed about the lefty upset in their home base despite the Harper smiley face @ Alta Omen?

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau might be reading the tea leaves of the NDP demolition work too PET Son

Federal Liberals outline their concerns with Bill C-51, Canada's new terrorist act. Apparently their strategy is to fight for these changes in the upcoming election. Remember, they did not vote against it like the NDP even though it violates many of our Charter Rights and is based upon a very questionable threat. However, many Canadians have been lead by the Harper PC's into believing otherwise, as the election nears Garneau

Worry not! PC Finance Minster Oliver stands on guard for thee!

It's supposed to be about the budget stupid! Federal Conservative Finance Minister Joe Oliver uses the word "strong" 194 times and "terrorism" 25 times in his spring 2015 budget speech. Seems he's got a knack for crudish WW2 style propaganda tirades about Canada's war against world evil. But what about our tanked dollar, unemployment and the pensions gone kaput here on the not so cartoonish home front Joe?!? @ Budget Bomb!

Prime Minster Harper's Conservative government is digging deep into the public purse to finance partisan ads in the run up to this fall's federal election on the public dime. So did the Ontario Harris Eve PC's back in the day. The neo cons love to lament third party union advertising but at least it's done with our own money. The other difference? It never looks good on them @ $!$!

Harper on democracy in Canada!

How does he do it?!? Harper has shown a blatant disregard for our Canadian democratic traditions and procedures since becoming Prime Minister in 2006! See the list and weep @ Star


Read my May 5th report on my latest trip to the Cuban Schools, including a visit to the "Santiago de Cuba Rock Cafe": "Cuba: What Do They Think?" @ Cuba Si!

See my May 21st travel blog from our trip to St. Maarten @ Caribbean Sea! Watch the Youtube Video: Best of the landing + take offs at Princess Juliana International Airport @ Whoa!

No justice -No peace: Now that Cuba has been welcomed for us by the US back into the "America's" [no it's not all "America"!!!] fold can we also expect a little much needed rad-prog thrust to our protest movements against point bank capitalism tyranny and exploitation at home and abroad?!? Nathalie Cardone's "Commandante Che: Hast Siempre" shows what can happen when John Lennon style "Power to the People" and "Giving Peace A Chance" falls too long on deaf ears. Some trez kool imagery here, a breath of fresh air @ Youtube

Back to basics: Peter Tosh's acoustic demo of the Wailer klassik says it all @ Get Up! Stand Up!

This trez kool song y video goes out to all our provinces striking teachers this month. True it's kitsch: so bad it's good. Pretty tame by today's standards, the girls look like they are doing gymnastics moreso than a dance. But listen to the lyrics y dig those "go go" boots. Nancy Sinatra "These Boots Were Made For Walking" @ Youtube

Alright boots! Let's walk!


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