sabotabby: (teacher lady)
DeVos is the actual worst. It's as though everything I hate in the world took a massive shit and then someone made a shit golem out of it and appointed it Secretary of Education.

Still, I ought to point out that both sides of the Billionaire Party had a hand in this one. It's not like Arne Duncan didn't thoroughly gut public education, and the Democrats love their charter schools, standardized testing, and industry disruptors as much as the Republicans.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (candle salad)
It's a rare day—and especially in the middle of some acrimonious contract negotiations with my union—that I'll say something nice about the Ontario Liberal government. But here it is: They updated the antediluvian Grade 1-8 sex ed curriculum and it's pretty good. It needed to be done and the changes are thoughtful and vital, including information about LGBTQ sexuality and affirmative consent. So, yay government on this one particular specific issue! You done good! You are terrible and corrupt when it comes to mostly everything else, but I can rest assured that you are sensible when it comes to the health education of young children, and I genuinely do appreciate that.

If you are interested and have enough time on your hands that you want to read really dull Ministry curriculum documents, you can read it here. It's not very interesting unless you're a teacher or a parent but there you go—it's totally public information and you can read it for free.

You know who didn't read it, though? Most people with an opinion about it.

Naturally, when I Googled "ontario sex education curriculum," the curriculum itself was not the first search result. Or the second, or the third. It's at least halfway down the page. The top hits are about protests—very sympathetically covered by the media, in contrast to how left-wing protests are covered—and misinformation by the likes of extremist anti-abortion and right-wing hate groups. This thing has been incredibly controversial, with said hate groups appearing on mainstream media with absurd claims that the new curriculum teaches seven-year-olds how to buttsex. (Spoiler: No it doesn't.)

One thing that would probably seem weird to an outsider is the support that the Tories (and make no mistake—these are not grassroots concern groups coming out of nowhere with no political agenda out of concern for THE CHILDRENS) have amongst marginalized and immigrant communities. I mean, you would think that a party of almost exclusively rich white men who hate people of colour, restrict immigration, have actual ties to white supremacist groups in some cases, and starve poor communities would not be well-liked by the people they make a living disparaging. But they do! And this is by design.

I'm reading Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper's assault on your right to know, by Mark Bourrie, and there is a fascinating chapter as to why this is the case. Harper has a famous mistrust of journalists and believes that the mainstream media is a Liberal conspiracy that's out to get him, and one of the things he's been able to do in his tenure is to craft his message mainly towards the ethnic language media. So he will say one thing to Tamil language media, and another thing to Chinese language media, and so on, depending on whose votes he wants to win, and these are all tiny publications and stations that are basically just excited to get exclusive interviews with major politicians, so they softball interviews and don't have the budget to fact-check. It's completely brilliant and lets the Tories pander to various communities while actually enacting policies that directly harm them.

So when I see stories about how Ontario parents are staging a "strike" over the new sex-ed curriculum, I don't think I'm particularly conspiracy-minded to suspect a greater manipulation at work. I mean, let's be honest; it's pretty impressive if parents of young children can organize a bake sale to raise a few hundred dollars for their child's school, let alone a province-wide movement. Someone is out there, spreading lies and misinformation and playing the fears of parents to score electoral points. And it's working, because our mainstream media is not, in fact, a well-oiled Liberal machine and is actually an uncritical, bare-bones, defunded dinosaur gasping for its last breath as the meteors strike.

Who loses in this? Ontario, because this is all in service of eventually electing a Tory government that will be even worse than the abominable Liberal government. And most of all, the very children that these poor dupes want to protect. Every study ever done points to poor sex education as a major factor in teen pregnancy and the spread of STDs. And even more dramatically, I think this curriculum, properly implemented, is a crucial step in building a culture of positive consent that will pay off when these kids are teenagers and experimenting with sex for the first time. Teaching young kids that "yes means yes" means a future where not as many boys will think they're entitled to girls' bodies, and not as many girls will think it's their fault because he bought them dinner. Not as many queer and trans kids will grow up thinking that they're abnormal. This is a net gain for everyone, except for the backwards reactionaries.

Which is maybe why we need to reframe the debate. Instead of "concerned parents," let's focus on the manipulators behind the scenes and their pro-rape, homophobic, transphobic agenda. While sex ed is always a controversial thing, the butthurt of a few uptight pearl-clutchers has never made quite so many headlines in modern Canada, so follow the money. Who is really holding the kids hostage to make a political point?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat flaming death)
If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know I have serious issues with Free the Children and its corporate wing, Me to We. I have issues with them because they take jobs away from the very communities they claim to help, because they appropriate the language and form of activism to guide impressionable children through meaningless activities designed to make them feel like they're "raising awareness" rather than self-organizing, because they are a for-profit company allowed to set up franchises in publicly funded schools, and because the smug faces of the Kielburger brothers are the very reason why the Germans coined the term backpfeifengesicht.

But you know me, I'm an extremist of the loony left, so of course I'd have issues with liberals. However, this organization is so perfidious even liberals should have problems with it. Case in point: They are litigious bastards who quash every critical media piece published about them. Seriously, try Googling "free the children + controversy" and see what happens. No supposed charity is free from controversy—except this one. Reason being that they are very good at getting criticism of themselves scrubbed, up to and including pulping a Toronto Life exposé about their corruption.

Now they've managed to get a CBC documentary about voluntourism, Volunteers Unleashed, yanked. The very excellent Canadaland has the scoop, including the two clips that the Kielburgers don't want you to see.

Just a little reminder that censorship doesn't need to look like jackboots and burning books to effectively silence dissent. Go watch them before Canadaland gets sued too!

:)

Jan. 12th, 2015 02:55 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (socialism with a human face)
Today has not been utter shit! This is gr8 because I expected utter shit.

Most important is that things are looking up for our hospitalized kid. He is stable and they were going to try to get him off life support today. So, fingers crossed.

It remains a tragic situation. The family is cash-strapped; we are taking up a collection for them. Both parents work and the mother isn't even getting any time off. I can't even imagine.

In less life-or-death news, my film class continued to be pants. Tomorrow is their last chance to demonstrate to me that they can actually use a fucking camera, so hopefully they'll get their shit together.

On the plus side, a good many of the kids in other classes are in proper panic mode and actually getting work done. So. Yay?

I did nothing all weekend except solder a thing. I fuckered my legs and spine running up and down the stairs, and fuckered my brain worrying about my kids. Bah. At least I'm in proper panic mode and finally getting things done.

I just really hope I don't need to flunk more than half of my film kids.

Pens

Nov. 21st, 2014 07:28 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (cat teacher)
Normally, the Ontario Teachers' group is dull as shit, depressing, and/or rage-inducing, but I'm trying to take my mind off of furnaces and so I was perusing it.

Some teacher, in all earnestness, posted that he kept losing his red marking pen, i.e., the kids keep stealing it. Which is a thing. You need to nail down all your stationary supplies or they go missing, though tbh the supply teachers are far worse than the kids. Pens and pencils in classrooms are like cigarettes in prison. It's a thing.

After some equally earnest helpful advice, the thread immediately devolved into, let's just say, really bizarre advice, followed by protestations of everyone involved being Serious Teachers Who Do Serious Teaching, and increasingly strange ways in which teachers protect their writing utensils from light-fingered children.

I may have won the thread with the suggestion that he buy this and ensure that no one will steal it because they are too terrified.



...so how bad is it that a) I kind of want one, and b) was stupid enough to go to ThinkGeek and see what their pens look like?*

(I mean, I barely ever use pens anymore. I need a pencil for marking down attendance on the scan sheets, but all of my feedback is online, which has resulted in 99% less angrily crumpled assignments stuffed into desks and behind computers.)

ETA: It's now the morning after and the pen discussion is still going on and has descended into Dada pranksterism, with helpful advice involving Scottie attack dogs, sticky tack, and keeping a tampon in with your pens. Teachers, man.

WAH! Want! Don't need!
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
So if you've been out of school for awhile (or maybe it doesn't happen in other countries like it does in North America), you may not know that dress codes are a big thing. As soon as the weather turns, the harassment starts. Girls (and while the odd boy gets coded over a pot leaf graphic or baggy pants, it's girls 90% of the time) get sent up to the office, get phone calls home, get sent home in some cases, over what they're wearing. Teachers are ordered to scrutinize every item covering each teenage body to determine if skirts and tops are long enough, if necklines are too low, if bra straps are too prominent. For teachers like me, who have zero interest in looking at teenage bodies and were raised to be polite and look at people's faces and not their asses, it's a situation that can range from awkward to my feminist principles are in conflict with my job.

By the way, the heteronormative, cisnormative, misogynist, victim-blaming thing where administrators tell young girls that their clothing is distracting the boys happens in pretty much every school as far as I know. I don't know if they teach that in principal school or what, but it's not an aberration. You'd think, because we are supposed to teach responsibility, the emphasis would be on the boys (or, hey, maybe girls are attracted to other girls, or not everyone identifies as one or the other, and by the way to teenagers everything is distracting and it doesn't actually matter what you wear) to keep their eyes in their own heads, but it's always the slut-shaming. Always.

(If you're wondering, I don't enforce a dress code. I do tell the boys to take off their hats, because it is an obviously visible thing if an admin walks in, and also because baseball caps are fugly. And if I can see a kid's entire ass, I will tell him to pull up his pants. But I do not feel comfortable telling a girl that her bra strap shouldn't show, because I feel like my bra strap shows a lot of the time and it's no biggie.)

There have been a bunch of good articles lately about dress codes in schools, but this is my favourite thus far:

It really bothers me how schools insist that girls wear bras (this starts at, like, age 8-14 when girls start budding. Many girls and/or their moms have embarrassing stories of female teachers quietly pulling them aside, and delicately suggesting that she get a training bra), but then simultaneously decree that bra straps are inappropriate. This is like insisting all boys must wear socks, but the tops of socks sticking out of the shoes are inappropriate.  It’s just… so arbitrary.
...

It’s yet another reminder, and reinforcement, that a girl’s appearance is more important, and demands more attention, than her other, non-visible qualities. You know, qualities like intelligence, perseverance, athletic ability, tenacity, creativity, a hard work ethic… attention to those attributes seem fade away rather quickly once an inch of skin is exposed.

Instead, it teaches her to view herself in a sexualized gaze, from an outsider’s point of view. At an increasingly young age, getting dressed in the morning turns from “does teal clash with yellow?” to “is this too much shoulder? Can someone see down this shirt? Would someone be able to look up this skirt on the stairs? What happens when I sit or bend over? I should test that.”

Anyway, the whole thing is worth a read, as is the link to Impression, which is an excellent photo essay about the impressions that clothes leave on women's bodies. I'm sort of tired of the argument where I work. Weirdly, Colleague Who Shall Not Be Named, not known for his progressive views in general, actually said some of the things I was thinking at the last staff meeting, which is that the adult obsession with teenage bodies is fucking creepy.

This is our culture, though. This is how we're raising young people to think—that girls are objects to be viewed, scrutinized, judged, that boys are the ones doing the watching, and if one doesn't see the connection to more violent forms of misogyny, one isn't paying enough attention.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (commiebot)
Little A.: "I'm going to build a police car that has jaws full of spikes and it will chew up criminals and leave nothing but. One. Bleeding. Arm."

I am so very grateful for people like [livejournal.com profile] misslynx and Little A. who come over with Hrithik Roshan DVDs and do robot dances to cheer me up.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (cat teacher)
I taught my kids about the Tab key and how to quickly format documents in Word using styles.

It was an interesting experience. I did a poll. Most of them considered themselves proficient in Word. Exactly zero of them had ever had a single lesson about how to use Word. They were just sort of expected to pick it up.

In my day, we had keyboarding classes, not that I ever took any of them. Anyway, it's probably one of the more useful things I've taught lately.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (porn!dalek)
It's that time of year again when some stick-up-the-ass prude tries to make Pride Toronto, the biggest tourist event of the year, not happen because dudes rubbing dicks together makes them feel funny in their pants. This year, it's all quiet on the Queers Against Israeli Apartheid front, so it's back to the usual bugbear of the pearl-clutching set—Totally Naked Toronto Men, a.k.a. TNT!Men, a.k.a. the naked old dudes with wrinkly scrotes.

God, I love those guys. Seriously, if it wasn't for them, Pride would suck, and not in the fun way. It's not that I have a thing for wrinkled scrote (I don't) but if TNT!Men weren't letting it all hang out, Pride would be 100% co-opted by banks. Not that it isn't 99.99% co-opted, but the presence of these excellently freaky gentlemen is a reminder that Pride used to be a controversial protest. Plus, they are super-nice (I've marched behind them before) and always willing to help out when Pride is threatened by someone's stupid manufactured controversy, even if it doesn't affect them personally. Good folks.

Today's moral panic is courtesy of some boneheaded TDSB trustees, who want City Hall to guarantee that their the children's delicate sensibilities will not be offended by the presence of a bum or, god forbid, an actual peen. Because it's a family event and they have a float there.

Um.

To illustrate the sheer douchebaggery at play here, allow me to present an allegory. Let's say you throw a birthday party every year. It used to be you and a couple of your buddies, but word got around that you throw a great party and there's plenty of sweet cake and great cocktails there, so people you didn't know very well started showing up. Cool! The more the merrier. The invite's open, as long as no one's actively planning to trash your house.

Then, one of the acquaintances you invite says she'll show up. But, she says, you can't serve alcohol.

"But it's my birthday!" you protest. "You don't need to drink if you don't want to, but lots of people who come really like cocktails."

"I'm bringing my kids," your guest replies. "And it's inappropriate for them to be around drinking."

You don't remember inviting her kids, but fine. "That's your call," you say, politely. "I'd love to have you, and your kids there, but I'm a grown-up and it's kind of a grown-up party. So if you bring them, it's your job as a good parent to supervise them and explain to them that sometimes grown-ups like to drink, but they shouldn't drink until they're older."

"You'd better not serve alcohol at your party," your guest shrieks. "Or I'm calling the cops! Also I am gluten-free and my kids are allergic to peanuts and make sure the cake is vegan."

You see my issue here. Fortunately, like all initiatives aimed at destroying Pride, this one will flop, as Pride is a massive juggernaut and teh gays have disposable income. But the fact that it's my employer being ridiculous makes me extra angry.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (cat teacher)
Never attempt to draw an LED on the chalkboard in front of a class of 14-year-old boys.

If you find yourself having done so, do not under any circumstances add rays coming out of the top to show that it's lit up, or, God forbid, shading.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (yay)
Last day of school today, which is actually going to involve a lot of work for me and possibly a sugar high.

Then it's off to Pennsylvania first thing tomorrow to kill zombies and spread Communism.

I think a "YAY!" is in order.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (pwned!)
In a just world, I'd be able to slip a copy of Nick Mamatas' Love Is the Law into the hands of any number of disaffected teenagers, or at least have it lurking on my classroom bookshelf for them to stumble upon. But of course—as in the world portrayed so vividly in the book—there ain't no justice.

It's 1989. Communism is crumbling in Europe. Dawn Seliger, a teenage punk, Communist, and aspiring black magician in the tradition of Aleister Crowley, hangs out with nothing much to do on Long Island, living with her senile grandmother after her father takes up a crack habit—until her mentor/lover in politics and the occult is found dead, seemingly a suicide. True to the detective trope, Dawn knows better, and takes it upon herself to solve the murder. Then it gets really weird.

Let's be honest here, there was practically no way I wasn't going to love a noirish bildungsroman about punk, Trotsky, and the occult. You could get more up my alley, but it'd be a challenge. Never mind wanting to be a bad influence by loaning it out to my kids; I wanted to build a time machine and hand it to myself in 1997. Without getting too personal, Dawn reminds me very much of my teenage self*, but more significantly, is just a spectacular protagonist—broken, self-aware, uncompromising, and a savage deconstruction of the Strong Female CharacterTM that pervades genre fiction. It's just that the coming-of-age novels I was forced to read at that age weren't about kids like me (or like anyone I knew, for the most part) and this, well? This is.

I'm actually not sure if it's supposed to be YA; certainly, [livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid never condescends to his audience the way most YA, and especially political YA, tends to do. Dawn isn't an audience surrogate to whom other characters stop and explain the complexities of Marxism or Crowley; she's living it, keep up. Anyone who's ever been involved in left-wing activism in the Western world is going to be nodding along while reading—there's a specificity to the depiction of fringe politics and the personalities that get attracted to it that just rings true.

Love Is the Law is a bleak, hilarious, clever little** novel and to say more would ruin some of the more excellent twists. (Please do not ask "why Communism and Satanism; aren't they kind of the opposite?" Because the answer is cool.) I'll just leave off with my favourite bit that seems to be everyone else's favourite bit:

“'By the dawn of the new millennium,' Bernstein told me, 'fucking Ayn Rand will be considered a serious philosopher. Democrats will be pulling off shit that Ronny Ray-gun wets the bed dreaming of – slave labour for welfare mothers, permanent military bases all over the Middle East, torture chambers deep underground, bugs in every phone and office fax machine, computer chips in everything else, and robotic stealth bombers doing all the dirty work. And that will be the liberalism of the epoch.'”


Read it. I'm tempted to buy another copy to loan to people.

* Minus all the blowjobs. I wasn't that kind of girl.

** I don't mean that in a patronizing way. I mean it literally fit in my coat pocket.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (sleep of reason/goya/wouldprefernot2)
I was assigned to teach Grade 12 Applied English. I had 50 students in my class. The assigned novel study for the year was Atlas Shrugged.

I was dismayed at first, then realized that I could make the curriculum subversive by deconstructing the text. But then I remembered that the book was a million pages long, and you had to pretty much read novels aloud to get Applied kids to read them, and the kids would never sit still long enough to participate in a critical analysis.
sabotabby: (teacher lady)
Did you know that I work for an actual fanatical Marxist school board that teaches kids horrible things like class warfare, anti-racism, and not beating up hookers?

Oh, SUN News, you are precious.

TDSB day of significance : Prime time : SunNews Video Gallery

The answer, as always, is "scrap public education and give the money back to the parents."

Meanwhile, Crackgate continues, with the Honourable Wife-Beater still refusing to comment (I watched almost the entire City Hall proceedings yesterday, where he appeared hungover but not inebriated and did not answer any questions about crack). Jon Stewart's take is, of course, great.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Behemoth (Master&Margarita))
S5 was interesting. I need a hug because of 5x08, but other than that, I didn't find it as emotionally gripping as the previous two. The homeless serial killer thing could have actually been an amazing storyline, highlighting the fact that the deaths only became a tragedy when they were given a narrative, and Stupid Eyebrows would have made a great final season Big Bad instead of being a conflicted antihero. But. It just didn't work. And I didn't care much about the journalists. The other storylines were fabulous, though.

(Let's face it, my ideal ending would be Omar lighting a cigarette on top of a pile of corpses, but the show is way too realistic for that.)

Overall, awesome show, and the fourth season has to be one of the most brilliant things I've seen on TV ever. You are now free to stop sitting on your hands and toss up all of your spoilerific Wire appreciation in the comments.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (learn2grammar)
I'm very much on the go today (and all weekend, argh) so here are two rantlets with accompanying links that have little in common beyond being about phrases I hate.

Broken homes

In the midst of an otherwise quite good "don't pick on teachers" editorial, Peter Mansbridge says:
We send teachers children from broken homes, from abusive homes, from negligent homes. We send teachers children from homes where both parents work, or where the only parent works, or where no parent works.

Which reminds me that I don't think I've ever ranted about how much I hate the term "broken home."

I was one of those pitiable children who came from a broken home—and, as a bonus, a home in which the only parent worked. (A trifecta, even; I have some memories of coming home from school when said parent worked late, making me—at least according to the media, a "latchkey kid, raised by the television." Woe is me!) In fairness, up until I was a certain age, one could conceivably call my home "broken." I'd argue that my parents' separation and later divorce fixed that rather handily, however; my home was certainly a better place to be with a single parent than it was with a traditional nuclear family.

The divorce rate in Canada is approximately 41%, and presumably many of them have children. For the sake of argument, let's say four in ten students I teach come from families where the parents are divorced. I'd bet you anything that those four aren't the ones causing trouble. As much wailing and moaning as there is about absent fathers and such*, of the children I've taught who experience some form of abuse that I know about (i.e., Children's Aid was involved in some way), all but two experienced that abuse at the hands of a father or step-father. So—whose homes are "broken" again?

Can we have a moratorium on "broken home" and "single-parent family" being shorthand for "troubled kid"? It's sexist and heterocentric (after all, it assumes the supremacy of the nuclear family) and obscures the very real problems of high unemployment, poverty, ableism, and marginalization that are typically behind the failure of kids to thrive in school.

Creative class

Looks like this one's been dealt the death blow by the man who coined it in the first place, Richard Florida. The article has its problems (the author is way too gleeful, for one thing, though that's not surprising given what a douchenozzle Florida is), and stops well short of proposing workable solutions. But it's nice to finally see an admission of the failure of what's basically polite class warfare.

So beyond the obvious—an influx of artsy young professionals with no kids does not a thriving urban centre make—let's examine the assumptions inherent in the term itself. Are working class people not creative? Are there significant numbers of people who can earn a living through "creativity" without either being supported by their upper class parents or working as a barista at Starbucks? Is the separation of this group of people into a single city or neighbourhood a desirable outcome?

It's dumb enough that Florida said it in the first place, and even dumber that it's spawned a culture of TED Talks and institutional conferences that take the existence of something called a "creative class" as a given. I should hope that this foolishness will stop now that he's admitted it's bunk.

* This usually comes with a big helping of coded racism as well: If black fathers would only stick around, black boys wouldn't join gangs or something.
sabotabby: (teacher lady)
It looks as though we'll be holding a wildcat strike on Wednesday. Ex-premier (ex? I dunno; dude is still talking for some reason) Dalton McGuinty is threatening to slap us all with $2000 fines, which was not even done during the dreaded Harris years. All together now: "Christ, what an asshole."

Is a strike still illegal if the contract itself is illegal? I guess we'll see. Also, is a guy who prorogued Parliament, essentially deciding that politicians should be getting paid to not work, really in a position to criticize anyone else for walking off the job?

Anyway, dear friends, your presence on the picket lines (don't know where they will be yet), letters, and other gestures of support are vastly appreciated.

I am enjoying some schadenfreude at the moment, as TDSB director Chris Spence (responsible for—oh, all kinds of stupid shit; want a list) resigned today after it turned out he'd plagiarized several opinion pieces. I am also enjoying watching my kids react to the scandal—as you might imagine, they're finding it completely hilarious.

Interesting times, to be sure.
sabotabby: (teacher lady)
So there's been some movement in our ongoing labour dispute. Some OSSTF branches reached tentative agreements with their boards, which were approved by Her Satanic Majesty Laurel Broten. Sounds good, except that the details of said agreements were not released to the public or the rank-and-file of other branches.

We figured this all meant that the agreements sucked. And yep! They suck. They're basically the same as the shitty deal accepted by the Catholic unions in a pathetic attempt to save their separate school system. Obviously if they were any good, Broten wouldn't have approved them.

The big issue is that if we reach any deal with any board under Bill 115, we've basically lost. Not just teachers lose, but all workers are potentially screwed over by this. It sets a precedent whereby the government can use legislation to take away collective bargaining rights. And rights, once stripped away, are very hard to gain back. As you know, Bob, when unionized workers suffer, all workers suffer in a race to the bottom. Hell, in our case, even management suffers, seeing as our administration get reamed under Bill 115 as well.

The OSSTF exec, I'm sorry to say, does not want to hear any criticism of its bargaining. A critical tweet sent by ETFO (the elementary teachers' union) was reposted to the OSSTF Facebook page and promptly removed as it "undermined negotiations."

We ended up getting wind of the deals anyway, and naturally they're identical to or worse than what Broten wanted. Ten sick days that aren't bankable, unpaid days off that amount to wage rollbacks, two-year wage freezes, and worst where I'm concerned, reductions to the benefit plans and an adjudication process for short-term disability that allows the employing boards access to personal details about teachers' medical information.

Some of the unions are voting on the agreements tonight and it looks like York and Niagara have rejected the deals. Which is a tremendous victory for the rank-and-file, as much as we're all tired and want this to end.

Under the cut is a longer analysis written by a friend of mine. It's worth reading if you are a worker in Ontario. We are the canaries in the coal mine; we're a powerful force in provincial politics and if they're able to screw us over, they're coming for the rest of you next.

Not to mention that it's a terrible deal for students too! Increased class sizes have never helped anyone, and EAs play a vital role in supporting special needs students. And, of course, sick teachers who can't take days off to recover mean sicker students.

it's long though )

On a happier note, have a Ford countdown.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (cat teacher)
So here's what I did this morning:

Got on Elluminate and joined a web conference with teachers, social workers, and students from Bonaire, Uruguay, Kenya, Egypt, Uganda, Brazil, and the U.S. Teams of students in the first four countries are collaborating on a film about domestic violence, and were pitching the idea to the rest of us. They wrote a story about a girl whose boyfriend is abusing her, repeating the pattern set by her parents' abusive marriage. Their concept is that they'll film the whole story, using the same storyboard, in each country (obviously with different actors playing the same characters) and put it together in editing so that it switches between the different settings.

It was very cool. The Bonaire team ran into difficulties with their internet connection and had to go to a friend's house to get into the conference, and we could barely hear the Kenya team (and they had a hard time understanding the woman from Uruguay who only spoke Spanish), but the kids did an awesome job of getting their ideas across and everyone was very excited and enthusiastic about the project. I think we gave them some good critique as well.

What is really staggering to me, because I'm old, is that I can instantaneously, and for free, get on the computer and speak to someone in Africa. I remember the days of land lines and long distance calls and being jealous that, one town south of me, you could call Toronto for free but our town couldn't. Here I am, now able to have a conference call (it could have been video if not for the lag and confusion), toss scripts around, and dick around on paint-chat with people on the other side of the world.

elluminate chat silliness
This is what the interface looks like, with kid-doodles. At least I think these are kid-doodles. They may be adult-doodles, come to think of it.

Not to be all "golly gee, isn't technology awesome?" but this is seriously some Star Trek shit right here. Sometimes my job is really cool.

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