Dig deep

Mar. 22nd, 2019 05:43 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Here is another story for you.

One of the first things Drug Fraud cut was funding to rape crisis shelters. Because of course he did.

This is someone I know IRL. She is not making this up. She would not make something like this up—I don't think anyone could.

She was fundraising for the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape when she ran into Doug Ford. She approached him and said, "Hey, I'm collecting money for the rape crisis centre, want to donate?" He gave her a look, asked, "You sure?" She said, "yup, our funding got cut, I can send you the info, I'm an honest gal."

He dug deep and gave her a crumpled $5 bill. If you click on that link, you can even see a picture of it! 

The campaign is almost at its goal! You can match the government's contribution for the cost of a fancy coffee, or even, like, triple it.

Just in case you were wondering if he is any less of a horrible person when he is not at work—he is. Or why I'm against the idea of philanthropy or charity filling the role of public services.

OH NOES

Mar. 22nd, 2019 05:09 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Ford said not to protest a decision that would lead to the firing of 10,000 education workers.

Whatever shall we do????? Certainly, if a lying, sticker-licking, hash-slinging bumblefuck who can't math serious political leader tells you not to protest, it means you can't.

P.S. 50% of Grade 6 students are not failing math. The provincial standard is approximately 75%.

Horsies

Mar. 22nd, 2019 06:59 am
sabotabby: (furiosa)
No money for education. That's too expensive. We all need to make painful sacrifices, starting with the most vulnerable.

$10 million a year for horsies.

Screen Shot 2019-03-22 at 7.02.24 AM

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Poll #21632 A poll, for science
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 37


I loved group work in high school and I learned a lot from it.

View Answers

Yes
2 (5.4%)

No
35 (94.6%)

I wish there had been more students in my classes when I was in high school

View Answers

Yes
1 (2.8%)

No
35 (97.2%)

I wish I'd had fewer choices in courses (e.g., arts, music, technology, languages) when I was in high school

View Answers

Yes, there were way too many choices
0 (0.0%)

No, there was not enough choice
36 (100.0%)

Children learn best if there aren't enough chairs for them in a class

View Answers

Yes
0 (0.0%)

No
36 (100.0%)

Teenagers build resiliency through suffering

View Answers

No, are you joking?
15 (40.5%)

BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD, SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
22 (59.5%)

Which is hardest?

View Answers

Running the Ministry of Education
0 (0.0%)

Running a goat farm
2 (5.4%)

Running a class of 40 teenagers with diverse learning needs
35 (94.6%)

<input ... >

Larger class sizes will make high school students more resilient, according to Education Minister Lisa Thompson, in the least coherent interview ever given.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
 Fiction

1. An Enchantment of Ravens, Margaret Rogerson
2. The Fuller Memorandum, Charles Stross
3. The Apocalypse Codex, Charles Stross
4. The Rhesus Chart, Charles Stross
5. Go Tell It On the Mountain, James Baldwin
6. How Long 'til Black Future Month, N.K. Jemisin
7. Trail Of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse
8. Summerland, Hannu Rajaniemi
9. A People's Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers, Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams (eds.)
10. Angel of Darkness, Caleb Carr
11. The Test, Sylvain Nuevel
12. Equoid, Charles Stross
13. The Annihilation Score, Charles Stross

Non-Fiction

1. Digital Citizenship In Action: Empowering Students To Engage In Online Communities, Kristen Mattson
2. Willing Slaves of Capital: Spinoza and Marx on Desire, Frédéric Lordon
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
 Obviously, things are pretty bad for me right now. And things are pretty bad for most people I know. Hardly anyone seems to be all, "yay, having an awesome time right now."

One of the things I do when I'm depressed is listen to podcasts and go on long walks. It's preoccupying enough that I have something to distract me, but not quite so preoccupying that I can't get errands done. So I thought I'd share some, in case they are helpful to you as well.

Métis In Space
Two Métis mega-nerds, Molly Swain and Chelsea Vowel, drink a bottle of red wine and watch TV and films with indigenous content of some sort. Needless to say, the things that they watch are very bad. And their commentary is exceedingly funny. But beyond the funny, it's an excellent, insightful entry point into decolonial pop-culture analysis. (primarily) Canadian settler-indigenous relations, and indigenous futurism. Also, there are bears. So many bears.

No One Receiving
This is a fiction podcast, and it's very short, so you can binge through it in two days like I did. Aliens destroy the Earth because they can't stand our pop music, and music snob Beth Kane steals a spaceship (complete with an intelligent computer named Bobby) and escapes just in time. Yes, it is an allegory for climate change. It's particularly funny if you're into the Toronto indie music scene but I think it's pretty accessible regardless. Full disclosure: Maggie MacDonald, who wrote and directed it and plays Captain Kane, was one of the first people I befriended when I moved to Toronto, and is a rad multitalented artist and you should check out all of her projects.

Commie Show and Tell
This is a brand new one! Also involving one of my friends. Nepotism pays off on this blog. Big No No and Red Diaper Mama talk about current issues, as well as dating, parenting, and the horrors of having to go to New Jersey. There are only three episodes so far but I have it on good authority that the fourth one is in production. Listening to it feels like those late night, rambling conversations you used to have with your snarky, hilarious friends before work completely took over your life. Okay, at least for me it does. The latest episode includes a section called "How We Fucked Up This Week and Why We Shouldn't Kill Ourselves" which I really appreciate and hope they make a regular feature.
sabotabby: (doom doom doom)
There are worse things happening in the world. So many worse things. And worse things happening to friends and loved ones.

But I am selfish, and the announcement a few minutes ago that dooms my school and possibly my career is the only thing spinning over in my head.

My school will close. We won't be able to staff it with the loss of one or two staff members enough to run courses.

Thousands and thousands of teachers will be unemployed. I am hoping I'm far enough up the seniority list not to be, but I don't think I am. As I predicted, the Goatfucker decided to attack high school rather than elementary, because no one gives a shit about high school kids, or teachers, and in particular no one cares about kids like the ones I teach.

But at least the cute kindergarteners are safe. At least this year.
sabotabby: (teacher lady)
Let's check in with our friends, the Drug Fraud Regime.

Looks like they've changed tactics a little! They are now making an announcement a day, leading up to Friday's no-doubt devastating blow that will destroy public education in the province. They've also made the announcement via the Toronto SUN rather than Twitter or in person, probably because not even the Catholic teachers will let them do photo ops anymore.

After Monday's "we're maintaining funding that already existed and replacing qualified therapists with teachers who've had an afternoon of PD as we dump autistic kids into mainstream classrooms with no extra adults in the room" announcement and yesterday's "we're calling it a cell phone ban but it's completely unenforceable and it's exactly the same policy currently in place" announcement failed to be met with the requisite bowing and scraping, they've decided to tackle maths, which is always popular because parents don't really understand how to help their kids with it. This is particularly funny from a government that did not release a costed budget platform during the election and apparently thinks that it can slash 4% of public spending without any job loss.

53539899_2265782546969062_731964080524361728_o
Just a reminder. It's likely, though, that he doesn't include anyone outside of the 1% as a "person"

Given the SUN's position as Royal Fluffer, let's unpack the math in the maths announcement, shall we? Right-wing governments like to talk about maths education, not because they are any good at maths (see above) but because it's quantifiable. Except...not so much.

“Discovery Math is gone, it has failed our children,” a senior government source said.

Good thing the announcement wasn't about grammar.

Instead of Discovery Math, a system proponents say “turns traditional math on its head,” schools in Ontario will return to tried and true methods.

Yes, rote learning will be part of it which means students memorizing the times tables once again, but the new math curriculum will also be aimed at helping students gain the skills they need for life.

So what is it? A return to rote drills (which I strongly suspect didn't go away; then again, I learned via that method and I wouldn't say my maths skills are particularly strong) or a new curriculum that emphasizes computer coding?

In 2010, 61% of students in Grade 6 met the provincial standard. By 2014, that number was down to 54% before falling to today’s pitiful 49%.

In Grade 3, the numbers look a little better with 61% meeting the provincial standard in the most recent round of testing. But back in 2010, test results showed 71% met the provincial standard.

A few things to consider here:

The "provincial standard" is approximately 75%, which the article doesn't mention. The actual number required to meet the provincial standard shifts from year to year, and is kept secret by the EQAO, the company that runs the test. The reason for this is that politically, the test must not appear to be too easy, but must demonstrate continuous improvement.

New teachers will receive a certain amount of math training and must pass a test by the spring of 2020. The plan also calls for existing teachers to get extra training.

OH GOODIE MORE AFTERNOON PD.

After more than a decade of chasing fads and trendy curriculum ideas, Ontario’s students will now get a math program that is tried and true.

Time will tell if it has the desired effect[...]

But if it's tried and true—why should I expect coherent logic from either this government or its tame press?

The province will allocate at least $4 million to offer incentives to teachers to gain “additional qualification” courses in math. These funds would be aimed at teachers leading classes in Grades 6, 7 and 8.

Under the Ford government’s plan, teachers would receive a subsidy of between 55%-75% for the cost of their additional math courses.

Who wants to see Sabs attempt some maths? Hold on to your hats; this is going to get embarrassing.

Cost of an AQ course: $750
Minimum government subsidy per each course: $412.50
Maximum government subsidy per each course: $562.50

Number of full-time elementary school teachers in Ontario: 83,742.24
Minimum cost for subsidizing one AQ for each elementary school teacher: $34,534,674
Maximum cost for subsidizing one AQ for each elementary school teacher: $47,105,010

If they do the minimum, it's under budget, but not if they do the maximum, or if they're talking about more than one course. Granted not every elementary school teacher is a 6-8 teacher, but anyone can be shuffled around to a different grade, so if the implementation is to be done properly, it'd have to include every elementary school teacher (at least the ones willing to give up their summer, potential summer school pay, and a substantial chunk of money per course). And this is not even accounting for the cost of instructors and curriculum development.

While many already have a math specialist designation, the contract most teachers operate under would provide an additional incentive to gain the accreditation. Teachers operate on an 11-step salary grid and the additional qualification would allow them to advance up the pay scale faster.

This also costs the government money. Lots. That $4 million is not going to stretch very far. The pay grid is public record; you can look that up yourself, and I leave calculating the cost of every elementary teacher in the province moving up the grid at once as an exercise for the alert reader.

In addition (hah, see what I did there?), some students are exempt from the EQAO, often for reasons of disability or being newcomers. As we know, there are an increasing number of students who fall into this category. I'm not 100% positive about this (I'm not very good at maths, as I've said!) but I believe they count as 0 when calculating the scores. So more newcomers (test deferred) or students with disabilities (test exempt) = lower scores, but for a very good reason—the very inclusion that this regime says that it wants because it's cheaper.

But most importantly, the $4 million is going to come from somewhere, and I doubt Friday's announcement is going to be a budget increase

Unsafe

Mar. 12th, 2019 11:08 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Just came back from the premiere of Sook-Yin Lee’s Unsafe. It’s one of those pieces, I think, that benefits from not knowing much about it, but I can tell you that I thought it was really amazing and is in many ways the nuanced take on censorship and free speech that I didn’t know I wanted. It’s kind of cool that 40-year-old me and 12-year-old me agree that Sook-Yin Lee is awesome for entirely different reasons.

Also, it will make you very angry at the CBC. If you weren’t already. I mean the basis of Canadian identity is being vaguely angry at the CBC, is it not?


sabotabby: (teacher lady)
 I'm now given to understand that you shouldn't be afraid of the Monday morning announcements, as those are likely to fly well with the public; it's the Friday afternoon ones that the Drug Fraud Regime would like to slide under the table.

The Goatfucker's announcement this morning was confusing, so I'll clear some things up to the best of my ability.

What it sounds like: The Benevolent Leaders have heard the cries of parents of autistic kids who lost funding for treatment. It is responding by increasing funding to all the autistic kids it's now dumped into the mainstream education system without any supports. It will also provide mandatory training on how to deal with these oh-so-difficult autistic kids for every teacher.

Translation into real-life terms: As far as I can tell, this is the funding that a kid with any sort of exceptionality would get upon entering the school system. So essentially the government is proclaiming its generosity and expecting parents and teachers to lick its boots for continuing funding that already existed, even after it has slashed the extra funding that families used to get.

The training thing is even weirder. It looks like in-school aides are history and classroom teachers are now expected to do the work of specialized support workers with likely minimal training. And given that they're likely abolishing class caps, we'll be expected to be educational assistants for autistic kids in a class of 45 or whatever. I imagine the training will be some kind of compliance video or afternoon PD workshop. I asked the opinions of some autistic folks I know and they seemed to feel that the organization in charge is okay but not great, and certainly not led by autistic people. "Training" could mean anything from expecting us all to implement ABA and basically abuse the kids in our care to just simply useless videos where people read PowerPoints to us very slowly and then we do a multiple choice quiz, but it certainly isn't going to look anything like effective supports in small classes that centre the needs and voices of autistic people.

I imagine Friday's announcement will be lifting of class caps, followed by layoffs and spending cuts to balance out today's magnanimity.
sabotabby: (teacher lady)
 ACAB and all that, but Brad Blair, deputy OPP commissioner, did do a very ethical thing in blowing the whistle on Drug Fraud's appointment of his completely unqualified buddy to the top cop job in the province.

So Ford fired him.

I'd appreciate that these dudes don't even bother hiding the appearance of corruption. They just sneer, "whatcha gonna do about it?" Except that there is very little any of us can do about it, short of measures most citizens are not willing to take.

Meanwhile, the rats continue to leave the sinking ship. I continue to boggle that Trudeau, who must have had the slickest road to power of any leader who was not born into a literal hereditary monarchy, managed to fuck up so spectacularly in such a short time. It's truly incredible.

And I read stories like this one, about a BC teacher who was fired from a publicly funded Christian school for moving in with her boyfriend, and think that it's the future of my profession. If I even still have a job after the budget comes down. I don't think the fear has even properly hit me yet.

They can do anything to us. Anything at all.
sabotabby: (coffee)
Critical support for oat milk.

Pros: Lowest carbon footprint, best texture
Cons: They only had the vanilla kind, which tastes good but I think I'd prefer no flavour in my coffee other than coffee
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
I don't know if there's a term for the phenomenon where a well-intentioned, even effective, action gets taken up or co-opted by groups or institutions in a way that either waters it down and renders it purely symbolic, or distorts it beyond its original meaning, but for lack of a better term, I'll call it Franchise Activism.

Some examples:
  • Occupy in New York was an effective tactic. It was meant to disrupt business as usual, and it reframed class war in a way that could be easily discussed by people without a grounding in Marxism (which I actually think is useful, even though I'm a Marxist). Other cities took up the slogans. By the time it hit Toronto, it became about camping and using the People's Mic, even though the camp was not in a place that caused any disruption, and the People's Mic was unnecessary, since we don't have the sorts of bylaws here against amplified sound, and to be honest the number of people in the camp was so low by that point that you could just talk normally and everyone could hear you.
  •  

  • The Yellow Vests is about...something??? in France, but I guess one of the demands involves fuel access, so it was immediately coopted by astroturf-funded far-right groups to be about supporting the oil pipelines, opposing any sort of environmental regulation, and kicking out immigrants.
  •  

  • Free the Children harnessed the momentum of the anti-sweatshop movement and tamed it to render it completely ineffective. It took activists smuggling hidden cameras into maquiladoras and culture-jamming Nike billboards and created large binders that could be ordered by every school in Ontario, with a list of approved activities (bake sales!) to raise funds to send rich kids to dig wells in developing countries and "be the change." It holds annual slick events at the Air Canada Centre and rakes in a considerable profit, none of which is ever seen by the 14-year-old girl who makes your clothing in Bangladesh.

Today's ironic example of Franchise Activism is this incredible tweet by—who else?—the Ontario Tory government. For those of you who aren't Canuckistanians, Pink Shirt Day came about because a child was being bullied by homophobes for wearing a pink shirt, and other kids came to his aid and wore pink shirts in solidarity. This is the kind of relatively non-threatening activism that schools adore, so Pink Shirt Day was born. Now, do I always wear a pink shirt on Pink Shirt Day? I do. But I make it clear that it's about homophobia and transphobia specifically, not bullying in general. In some schools, the climate is still so bigoted that you can't name homophobia and transphobia out loud, but everyone is anti-bullying, so the meaning becomes diluted.

It goes without saying that our provincial government is composed entirely of bullies, all of them homophobic and transphobic. They created massive disruption and cost taxpayers a ridiculous amount of money to change a recently updated Health and Physical Education curriculum out of fear that young children would discover that it's okay to be queer and/or trans. You will note that the tweet does not mention queer or trans people or name homophobia or transphobia. But they perform the ritual anyway, as it's expected.

The Ontario government—which doesn't want anyone to talk about queer sexualities and gender diversity—tweeting about Pink Shirt Day without mentioning homophobia is exactly what I can't stand about Pink Shirt Day.

sabotabby: (teacher lady)
 Ford has advised a hiring freeze for school boards (link goes to Reddit, sorry! But the Star article is behind a paywall), despite claiming that nurses and teachers were exempt from the hiring freeze back in the summer. I for one am shocked—shocked, I say—that he would lie about this. Meanwhile, one hospital has already cut jobs, which as we all know is a great way to reduce hallway medicine by ensuring that hospitals are dangerous staph infection vectors and patients choose to die at home, if they're lucky enough to have one. Otherwise, I'm sure clothing donation bins will do nicely.

Meanwhile, the Ontario College of Teachers, which as far as I know does nothing for the fees they extract from every teacher in the province beyond releasing a glossy waste of trees, wrapped in plastic, that publishes educator misbehaviour and otherwise sits on top of everyone's toilets, is now officially an arm of the Ford government. So not only are we paying taxes for off-the-books RVs, teachers pay an extra fee to be screwed harder.

And the Charter challenge against the Tories was dismissed, with an interesting legal argument: There was nothing that prevented teachers from talking about consent, gender and sexuality, and so on. This, despite Ford's threat to punish teachers who did so.

So this morning is going great, thanks for asking.
sabotabby: swift wind from she-ra (swift wind)
It is happening

It is really happening


happiness

I am so nervous. What if I can't internet from there? What if my snark fails me? But also, I am so excited. My entire life, perhaps all of human history, has led to this moment and I am blessed to be alive and in Toronto.

P.S. I hope they both lose.

Teflon

Feb. 28th, 2019 07:02 am
sabotabby: swift wind from she-ra (swift wind)
 All of this SNC-Lavalin stuff has got me thinking. Caveat: I am, if it's in any way unclear, not a supporter of either the federal or provincial Liberals. The NDP are a bit too right-wing for me. I strongly believe that Trudeau needs to have his Haida tattoo sandpapered off, slowly.

This said; the scandal will probably take down Trudeau's government and install Andrew Scheer, who looks like he hasn't finished baking yet and pals around with literal Nazis. At the same time, we're watching scandal after scandal hit the provincial Tories, who have only been in power a few months, and solid proof that Trump committed criminal acts, including treason.

I am reminded of the 2010 mayoral election, where soft-left Adam Giambrone was forced to withdraw after possibly cheating on his partner, while Rob Ford, who beat his wife, drove drunk, smoked crack and possibly had someone killed to cover it up, only grew more popular as his term went on. No fan of Giambrone either, but why the double-standard?

Why do Liberal (and Democrat) governments fall to scandal while Conservatives (and Republicans) are untouchable, even when they commit far worse acts? What would happen if the centre-left behaved the same way and just...ignored scandals? Would they be punished electorally?
sabotabby: (furiosa)
Rule of political jargon: Whenever a thing is called a SmartThing or a SuperThing, you are being sold a bill of goods, and guaranteed it will be neither Super nor Smart.

This will no doubt be true about the new Ontario Health super-agency, because this government has not yet met a thing it could not royally fuck up.

I suspect it will consist largely of people being tossed out of hospitals in favour of "community care," which will involve relying on the low-wage labour of women of colour if you're rich, already overworked family members if you're middle class, and the heat from the sidewalk grate if you're poor. Though the Beaverton's suggestion that it will lead to the replacement of hallway medicine with open concept medicine is a likely possibility too.

Greater than zero people I know are dealing with serious to life-threatening medical conditions right now and I am worried that this will be the year where I end up saying goodbye to a lot of friends. All this so Drug Fraud can get his off-the-books RV. Hope you like dying American-style, Ontario!
sabotabby: (furiosa)
Mods to the premier's sweet-ass RV that he tried to bribe the OPP to not tell anyone about were apparently going to cost $50K, and there is a picture, and you owe it to yourself to click the link.

This excellent use of taxpayers' money in an age of austerity, where marginalized schoolchildren, broke-ass university students, disabled people, and folks on social assistance, are expected to tighten their belts for the sake of lowering the deficit, was to include a 32-inch television with a Blu-ray player, reclining leather sofa and a mini-fridge. Well worth it, I say! Walter White never got a mini-fridge. Maybe if he did, he'd have been a bit more chill and wouldn't blown up so many people. 

The purpose of this sick ride was ostensibly to provide a security detail for Ford, which sounds reasonable to Americans until you realize that generally speaking, an entire security detail really isn't that common for premiers (usually one cop; I think Wynne might have gotten more after all the death threats, and apparently Harris got some after he retired, but in fairness, he murdered some people and their families might have wanted revenge). I guess Ford is similarly paranoid that someone is genuinely out to get him, maybe the parents of autistic children, but why he felt like the OPP also needed to shag while on duty is beyond me.
sabotabby: (furiosa)
 Hot take: Caroline Mulroney is worse than her father. Given that I grew up in the 80s, that's saying a lot. But she is really and truly the scum of the earth—perhaps, if it is possible, an ambulatory slime mold worse than Drug Fraud himself.

Case in point: The Ford government has cut or frozen funding to rape crisis centres, the Child Advocate's Office, the College of Midwives, and the free childcare spaces for toddlers that the Liberals promised. It cancelled minimum wage increases, the basic income pilot project, and has proposed cancelling rent control. All of these cuts—and the many more that are no doubt to come—attack the threadbare structures that support low-income women. It is, in fact, a war against women* and in particular makes the lives of poor women attempting to escape domestic abuse even more of a living hell than it already is.

Caroline Mulroney, as Attorney General, has the power to stand up to Ford. She could even vote against him! Imagine that. She could compel the so-called adults in the room to act in response to a premier who is out of control, who governs by tweet, who appoints his cronies to plush positions at the expense of citizens of this province. She could come to the aid of the very women his policies are laser-guided to attack.

Instead, she sends little cosmetics boxes to women in shelters and pats herself on the back for being a do-gooder.

It is less insulting to do nothing at all then to pretend that these tiny, pathetic acts of charity do anything but make Caroline Mulroney feel better about herself, even as she no doubt looks in the mirror every morning and hears, in the back of her tiny, tiny brain, her smothered conscience croaking out the truth of her mendacity. She and her government are condemning women to misery and death, she is not only complicit but an active participant in doing so, and no amount of lipstick will disguise the blood on her hands.

Related: A proposal to ban the children of politicians from entering politics themselves. Sure, we lose Mike Layton, but we save ourselves the formation of a new inbred, spineless monarchy.


* It's a war against everyone but the rich, but women are hit particularly hard.

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