Notre profession à l’horizon 2018 sur la scène nationale

Par H. Mark Ramsankar

En juillet 2017, je suis devenu le président de la Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants (FCE). J’ai trouvé mes premiers mois dans ce poste essoufflants et éprouvants par moments, mais aussi passionnants et globalement très satisfaisants. Il s’est passé tellement de choses en si peu de temps! Surtout, je suis stupéfait de voir à quel point le temps a passé vite. Six mois, cela peut paraître beaucoup et, pourtant, une autre année s’est déjà terminée et une nouvelle commence. En cette période charnière, j’ai pris le temps de réfléchir à ce que j’ai appris dans mon nouveau rôle et à ce qui se profile à l’horizon 2018.

En 2017, notre Forum canadien sur l’éducation publique, juste avant l’AGA de la FCE, a eu pour thème le bien-être dans nos écoles. Deux ans auparavant, en 2015, la santé mentale des jeunes a été le leitmotiv de notre campagne en prévision des élections fédérales. Ces thèmes restent des priorités tandis que nous poursuivons notre action politique pour avoir dans tout le Canada des écoles sécuritaires et bienveillantes. Pour les enseignantes et enseignants de notre pays, la question de la santé mentale et du bien-être des élèves et des membres de la profession est un sujet primordial de préoccupation. Étant donné l’incroyable diversité qui caractérise les classes et les écoles canadiennes, il est absolument essentiel de fournir le soutien et les services nécessaires aux élèves ayant des besoins particuliers ou aux prises avec un problème de santé mentale. Malheureusement, en cette période d’austérité, les ressources et le soutien continuent de manquer.

À la Conférence nationale sur la négociation collective de juin 2017, nos organisations Membres ont signalé une augmentation du nombre d’incidents violents dans les classes. L’éducation est un milieu dynamique dans toutes les provinces et tous les territoires. Les influences externes sur les classes sont très réelles et échappent généralement au contrôle ou à l’influence du personnel enseignant.

Le grave manque de soutien et de ressources pour les élèves ayant des problèmes sérieux de comportement a mené à une augmentation des incidents violents qui mettent en danger les élèves et leurs enseignantes et enseignants. Nos écoles ont besoin d’un meilleur financement et de ressources accrues pour l’éducation de l’enfance en difficulté, d’une stratégie globale de soutien en matière de santé mentale des enfants, ainsi que de formation sur la santé et la sécurité, et des mesures de protection correspondantes à l’intention de tout le personnel scolaire. Les résultats de sondages menés par l’Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association et la Fédération des enseignantes et des enseignants de l’élémentaire de l’Ontario sont là pour en témoigner! L’évolution démographique que connaît la clientèle scolaire, les changements qui surviennent dans la taille des classes et leur structure, l’augmentation des incidents violents dans les classes, les exigences grandissantes d’évaluation et de communication des progrès des élèves, l’accès au personnel enseignant 24 heures sur 24, 7 jours sur 7, et l’intensification sans précédent de l’intrusion des entreprises commerciales dans l’éducation font que, dans l’ensemble du Canada, les milieux de l’enseignement et de l’apprentissage sont mis à rude épreuve.

Les organisations Membres nous ont aussi avertis que le nombre d’incidents violents signalés est en fait bien en deçà de la réalité avec laquelle le personnel enseignant doit composer jour après jour à l’école. L’écart s’explique peut-être par la stigmatisation qui suit parfois le signalement d’actes violents survenus dans la classe. Le personnel enseignant peut hésiter à faire ce signalement parce qu’il a le sentiment que cela risque de mettre en cause sa compétence aux yeux des autres. Nous devons continuer de faire pression pour que les écoles disposent des ressources et du soutien dont le personnel enseignant a besoin pour poursuivre son travail comme il l’entend, de manière à répondre aux besoins des élèves et réduire le stress qui se vit quotidiennement dans la salle de classe.

La FCE est préoccupée à juste titre par le projet de loi d’initiative parlementaire S-206, actuellement en deuxième lecture au Sénat. Si ce projet de loi qui, dans les faits, propose l’abrogation de l’article 43 du Code criminel du Canada est adopté, l’approche malavisée qu’il suggère aura une incidence sur la sécurité des élèves et la capacité du personnel enseignant de travailler directement avec eux. L’article 43 constitue la seule mesure de protection dont dispose le personnel enseignant contre d’éventuelles poursuites rattachées à leur exercice de la profession dans le contexte compliqué et imprévisible des écoles d’aujourd’hui.

En avril 2017, la sénatrice Céline Hervieux-Payette a pris la parole devant le Conseil d’administration de la FCE au sujet du projet de loi S-206, qu’elle a elle-même présenté au Sénat et que le sénateur Murray Sinclair parraine maintenant à son tour. Les membres du Conseil ont profité de l’occasion pour l’informer des répercussions négatives que l’abrogation de l’article 43 risquait d’avoir sur la sécurité des élèves et le personnel des écoles. La FCE est fondamentalement opposée au châtiment corporel sous toutes ses formes, mais reconnaît que le personnel enseignant doit pouvoir avoir un contact physique avec les élèves et même parfois exercer une contrainte physique sur les élèves pour leur sécurité et celle des autres. La FCE et ses organisations Membres pensent que la sénatrice a entendu leur message. Celle-ci a promis qu’elle allait réexaminer le projet de loi avec le ministère de la Justice à la lumière des préoccupations du corps enseignant. En 2018, la FCE continuera de surveiller de près l’évolution de ce dossier. Le 7 décembre 2017, le débat sur le projet de loi S-206 a été ajourné.

Le dossier des droits d’auteur en éducation en est un autre qui continuera d’orienter notre action politique en 2018. La loi actuelle du Canada est perçue sur la scène internationale comme un modèle à suivre, mais l’industrie de l’édition a une fois de plus réussi, en clamant ses préoccupations, à ramener ce dossier sous les feux des projecteurs. Le gouvernement fédéral travaille actuellement à l’examen de la loi et les créatrices et créateurs de contenu, avec l’industrie, multiplient les pressions pour amener le gouvernement à modifier la loi. Membre d’une coalition qui représente l’éducation, la FCE a fait connaître son opposition aux changements proposés et prône le maintien des dispositions relatives à l’utilisation équitable établies par la Cour suprême du Canada en 2012. Si les créateurs et créatrices obtiennent gain de cause, on peut s’attendre à une augmentation des droits d’auteur qui viendra détourner au profit des maisons d’édition des fonds qui normalement iraient aux élèves et aux écoles. Ce détournement des fonds minera gravement la capacité du personnel enseignant d’accéder aux ressources dont il a besoin et de l’utiliser dans ses classes.

J’invite toutes les organisations Membres de la FCE et les membres du corps enseignant canadien à faire pression sur leurs représentantes et représentants gouvernementaux au cours des prochains mois afin que le gouvernement maintienne les dispositions sur l’utilisation équitable par notre système d’éducation. Il est important que nous saisissions toutes les occasions de faire entendre notre voix. Notre action politique trouve toute sa force dans l’appui des quelque 250 000 personnes qui composent la profession enseignante et dans notre voix collective. Vous, les chefs de file de la profession, êtes, par la voie de vos organisations professionnelles, les moteurs de la FCE. C’est par notre action que nous continuerons de renforcer le système d’éducation publique de classe mondiale que le Canada offre à ses citoyens.

Les enseignantes et enseignants en salle de classe sont bien placés pour dire ce qui se passe dans les écoles du Canada en 2018 et doivent le faire. Ils doivent faire connaître les réalités de l’éducation aujourd’hui et montrer les effets du manque de soutien, alors qu’ils composent avec l’inclusion scolaire et la création de classes inclusives, sur le contexte et les possibilités d’apprentissage pour les élèves du Canada. Les enseignantes et enseignants savent bien que l’apprentissage repose sur la relation entre eux et leurs élèves. En 2018, la FCE axera ses efforts sur la préservation et le développement de cette relation et des milieux d’apprentissage sûrs et sains.

(H. Mark Ramsankar est le président de la Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants.)

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Looking ahead to 2018 — nationally and professionally

By H. Mark Ramsankar

I became the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) President in July 2017. These first few months have been exciting, fast paced, trying yet fulfilling. So much has happened in such a short period of time. What is of interest is the speed at which time has travelled. Six months seems like a long time yet here we are; closing out another year and heading into a new one. So, what have I learned in this new role and what might be ahead as we travel into 2018?

In 2017, the well-being of our schools was the theme of CTF’s pre-AGM Canadian Forum on Public Education, and youth mental health was the focus of our 2015 federal election campaign. These remain our focal priorities as we continue to advocate for safe and caring schools across Canada. A key issue of concern for Canadian teachers is the mental health and well-being of our students and teachers. Given the incredible diversity of Canadian classrooms and schools; providing the necessary supports and services for students identified with special academic needs and facing mental health challenges are absolutely critical. Sadly, resources and supports continue to lag in this age of austerity.

Our national collective bargaining conference in June 2017 found our Member organizations indicating and reporting an increase in the number of incidences concerning violence in Canadian classrooms. Education is a dynamic sector in all our provinces and territories. Outside influences on Canadian classrooms are very real and generally beyond a teacher’s influence or control.

The critical lack of supports and resources for children with serious behavioral issues has led to a rise in violent outbursts placing students and teachers at risk. Our schools need stronger funding bases and resources for special education, a comprehensive approach to supporting children’s mental health as well as health and safety protection and training for all school personnel. Teacher survey reports released by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario speak clearly to this issue.

The change in student demographics, class size and structure, the rise in violent incidents in our classrooms, the growing demands for recording and reporting student progress, 24-7 access to teachers along with the unprecedented growth of corporate intrusion/interests are straining our teaching and learning environments across Canada.

Member organizations also said the number of episodes reported does not come close to the reality of violence teachers face regularly at school. This may be due to a stigma to reporting acts of violence in the classroom. The result is that teachers can be reluctant to report because they perceive it may reflect poorly on their worth as an educator. We need to continue advocating for resources and the support necessary so teachers can teach the way they want to teach to continue meeting the needs of their students and to reduce the day-to-day stress of the classroom.

CTF is justifiably concerned with Bill S-206, a private member’s bill which is currently at second reading in the Senate, effectively calling for the repeal of Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada. If passed, this wrong-headed approach will impact students’ safety and the teacher’s ability to work directly with students. Section 43 is the only protection teachers have against prosecution when they are carrying out their duties in the complicated, unpredictable climate of today’s schools.

In April 2017, Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette spoke to the CTF Board of Directors about Bill S-206, the bill she introduced in the Senate which has since been taken over by Senator Murray Sinclair. Board members took the opportunity to inform the Senator of the negative impact the repeal could have on the safety and security of all students and personnel in schools. CTF is fundamentally opposed to any form of corporal punishment but recognizes the need for physical contact with students and, at times, the need for physical restraint to ensure their safety and the safety of others. We believe and hope she heard our message. Senator Hervieux-Payette promised to reexamine the bill with the Justice department in order to address the concerns of teachers. 2018 has CTF continuing to closely monitor Bill S-206. Debate was adjourned on December 7, 2017.

Copyright in Schools is currently another focus of our advocacy work which will continue in 2018. The current legislation is viewed as an international example to model yet concerns by the publishing industry have once again brought it forward as an issue. As the federal government is currently reviewing the copyright legislation, content creators and the industry sector have been busy lobbying the federal government for changes. CTF as part of the Education coalition has been lobbying against the proposed changes but for maintaining the fair use/fair dealing provisions established by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2012. If creators succeed in a revised federal legislation in their favour, we can all expect to see increased copyright fees that will siphon education funds away from students and schools and into the pockets of publishers. This will seriously harm teachers’ ability to access and use resource materials in Canadian classrooms.

I invite all CTF Members organizations and Canadian teachers to pressure their federal representatives throughout the coming months to maintain the fair use/fair dealing provisions in our education system. It’s important to have our voices heard at every opportunity.

The power of close to a quarter of a million voices and the collective voice of our profession are what drive our advocacy efforts. You as teacher leaders are the drivers of CTF through your professional organization. Through this work, we can continue to strengthen our world class public education system.

As classroom teachers, we must tell the story of today’s Canadian classrooms in 2018. What are the realities we face and how does lack of support combined with inclusion and the creation of inclusive classrooms impact learning environments and Canadian students’ opportunities to learn? Teachers understand the essence of learning is founded in the relationships between teachers and students. Support for nurturing and developing these meaningful relationships and maintaining safe and healthy learning environments is the work ahead in 2018.

(H. Mark Ramsankar is the President of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation)

“Made in Canada” education privatization

By H. Mark Ramsankar

Edu-business is a term used to describe the multi-trillion dollar education market. According to Edudemic, a pro-tech in education website, the industry is “not only huge; it’s also undergoing more changes recently than it has at possibly any other point in history. Startups are sprouting to fill in gaps and create new technologies to service this increasingly lucrative field.”

The door for privatization was opened wide by GERM, the Global Education Reform Movement, the nice folks that promote charter schools, voucher programs, increased competition between schools, test-based accountability and the narrowing of curriculum.

Continue reading (Perspectives web magazine): http://perspectives.ctf-fce.ca/en/article/3144/

H. Mark Ramsankar is the President of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation from July 2017 to July 2019.

La privatisation de l’éducation « fabriquée au Canada »

Par H. Mark Ramsankar

L’éducation représente un marché de plusieurs billions de dollars. D’après Edudemic, un site Web qui fait la promotion des technologies en éducation, ce marché n’est [traduction libre] « pas seulement énorme; il a récemment connu plus de changements que jamais auparavant. De jeunes entreprises poussent pour combler des lacunes et créer de nouvelles technologies au service de ce secteur de plus en plus lucratif. »

La porte de la privatisation a été largement ouverte par les adeptes du mouvement mondial de réforme de l’éducation ou GERM (l’acronyme anglais de Global Education Reform Movement), ces charmantes personnes qui font la promotion des écoles à charte, des programmes de bons d’études, de la concurrence accrue entre les écoles, de la responsabilisation par les tests et du resserrement du programme d’études.

Continuez la lecture (magazine Web Perspectives) http://perspectives.ctf-fce.ca/fr/article/3144/

H. Mark Ramsankar est le président de la Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants pour la période de juillet 2017 à juillet 2019.

Big data in education: Servant or master?

by Bernie Froese-Germain

The We The Educators (WTE) project, a partnership of Education International, the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), was launched in May 2017 at Education International’s ‘Unite for Quality Education and Leadership’ Conference in Rotterdam.  The Canadian launch of WTE took place at CTF’s Canadian Forum on Public Education held in Ottawa in July.

In the broad context of global education reform, as the literature review states, WTE “examines the handshake between educational technology and the datafication of learning, and how these forces can influence the depersonalisation of learning and the deprofessionalisation of teaching.”

The literature review also acknowledges that

Educational technology and the associated production of data hold great potential in terms of supporting individual learner needs.  But the relationship between educational technology, data, personalisation, privatisation and standardisation needs to be considered with care; the potential for harm must not be overshadowed by the hype, and the broader purpose of education must not be lost. [emphasis added]
https://wetheeducators.com/

Writing in the Summer issue of the ATA Magazine (on the theme of “Assessment in the Era of Big Data”), Sam Sellar observes that, “Datafication is one of the most significant developments in schools around the world today.  Data in various forms – from attendance and behaviour records to grades and standardized test results – now shape the work of policymakers, administrators and teachers in the classroom.”  Sellar uses the metaphor of nested dolls to explain how data are being used in schools:

We can think about schools as sitting within a series of increasingly larger units that shape their work.  A school is like the smallest matryoshka doll in a set.  In Canada, for example, a school sits within a school board, which sits within a provincial education system and, in turn, a national approach to education.  The largest doll is the global space in which we now think about education.  For example, international organizations such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) increasingly shape the work of schools through tests like the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).  Data flow between each of these different nested scales and it is important to understand how this occurs and how it affects public education.
https://www.teachers.ab.ca/Publications/ATA%20Magazine/Volume-97-2016-17/Number-4/Pages/Navigating-the-Flow-of-Datafication.aspx

Pasi Sahlberg in another article reminds us that “big data is a good servant but a bad master.”  He outlines a number of reasons for this:

  1. A fundamental purpose of big data is to have enough information and process it fast enough to predict what is likely to happen next.  This is called predictive analytics and is the great promise of big data.  This may be worthwhile in meteorology or a corporation’s strategic planning, but it certainly may lead to odd situations in health care or education if not handled sensibly.
  2. When masses of data are collected in school by sensors, such as motion detectors, cameras and microphones capturing every child’s facial expression, social interaction and gestures every day, all year round, decisions made by smart machines may lead to unethical experimentation on students or even Orwellian surveillance of individuals’ privacy.
  3. Big data is also emerging through digital testing platforms and adaptive learning analytics systems (digital tutors); as masses of student testing data grow, so does the desire to harvest it for patterns.
  4. Big data normally reveals only correlation between events, not causation.  Correlation is important in understanding these relationships, but it doesn’t mean that one thing would cause the other.

Sahlberg proposes that we place a greater focus on what he calls “small data” which “emerges from the notion that in a world that is increasingly governed by binary digits and cold statistics, we need information that helps us to understand better those aspects of teaching and learning that are invisible or not easily measurable.”  At its core, small data speaks to the relational nature of teaching and learning, and how these important relationships can provide teachers with the knowledge they need to help their students to learn:

Teachers know the importance of human observations, face-to-face conversations and critical reflections in making sense of what goes on in classrooms.  Standardized tests or opinion surveys may help to identify some general trends, but they are not able to reveal deeper secrets of pedagogy.  Therefore, small data can be a good tool to find out what works best and why in schools.
https://www.teachers.ab.ca/Publications/ATA%20Magazine/Volume-97-2016-17/Number-4/Pages/Small-Data-for-Big-Change.aspx

The essence of the “small data” idea is captured succinctly in this quote by Alberta teacher and blogger, Joe Bower (who passed away in 2016), highlighted in the We The Educators videos: “Want to collect data on how children are learning?  Know them.  Watch them.  Listen to them.  Talk with them.  Sit with them.  Be with them.”

Bernie Froese-Germain is a Researcher with the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.

Les mégadonnées en éducation : utiles ou nuisibles?

par Bernie Froese-Germain

Le projet We the Educators/Nous, Éducateurs et Éducatrices, fruit d’un partenariat entre l’Internationale de l’Éducation (IE), l’Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) et la Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants (FCE), a été lancé en mai 2017 à la Conférence Uni(e)s pour une éducation et un leadership de qualité de l’IE, à Rotterdam. Le lancement canadien de ce projet a eu lieu au Forum canadien sur l’éducation publique de la FCE, qui s’est tenu en juillet à Ottawa.

Dans le vaste contexte de la réforme mondiale de l’éducation, le projet We the Educators examine, comme l’indique la revue de la littérature réalisée sur le sujet, « le lien étroit entre la technologie éducationnelle et la mise en données de l’apprentissage, ainsi que la manière dont ces forces peuvent influencer la dépersonnalisation de l’apprentissage et la déprofessionnalisation de l’enseignement ».

Cette revue de la littérature reconnaît également que

[l]a technologie éducationnelle et la production connexe de données présentent des possibilités de contribuer très utilement au soutien des élèves en répondant à leurs besoins particuliers, mais il faut faire preuve de prudence quand on considère la relation entre la technologie éducationnelle, les données, la personnalisation, la privatisation et la standardisation. Tout le tapage publicitaire ne doit pas nous faire perdre de vue les dangers et nous devons garder à l’esprit la mission profonde de l’éducation. [C’est nous qui soulignons.]

https://wetheeducators.com/tagged/français

Dans un article publié dans le numéro d’été de l’ATA Magazine (sur le thème de l’évaluation à l’ère des mégadonnées), Sam Sellar fait observer que [traduction libre] « la mise en données est aujourd’hui l’une des plus importantes nouveautés dans les écoles du monde entier. Les données, qui prennent différentes formes — allant des registres de présence et de comportement aux résultats des tests standardisés en passant par les notes des élèves — façonnent maintenant le travail des responsables des politiques, des administrateurs et administratrices, et des enseignantes et enseignants en classe. » Sam Sellar se sert de l’image des poupées gigognes pour expliquer comment les données sont utilisées dans les écoles :

[Traduction libre]

Nous pouvons penser aux écoles comme des unités se trouvant à l’intérieur d’une série d’unités de plus en plus grandes qui orientent leur travail. L’école représente la plus petite matriochka de la série. Au Canada, par exemple, l’école se trouve dans un conseil scolaire qui, lui, fait partie d’un système d’éducation provincial, lequel s’emboîte à son tour dans une vision nationale de l’éducation. La plus grande poupée correspond à l’espace mondial dans lequel nous pensons maintenant l’éducation. Par exemple, des organisations internationales comme l’Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques (OCDE) influencent de plus en plus le travail des écoles au moyen de tests comme ceux du Programme international pour le suivi des acquis des élèves (PISA). Les données passent d’une poupée à l’autre, ou d’un échelon à l’autre, et il est important de comprendre comment cela se produit et ce que cela signifie pour l’éducation publique.

https://www.teachers.ab.ca/Publications/ATA%20Magazine/Volume-97-2016-17/Number-4/Pages/Navigating-the-Flow-of-Datafication.aspx (en anglais)

Dans un autre article, Pasi Sahlberg nous rappelle que les mégadonnées font de bonnes servantes, mais de bien mauvaises maîtresses. Il nous dit pourquoi :

[Traduction libre]

  1. L’un des objectifs fondamentaux des mégadonnées consiste à obtenir suffisamment d’information et à traiter celle-ci assez rapidement pour prédire la suite probable des évènements. C’est ce qu’on appelle l’analyse prédictive, et c’est la grande promesse des mégadonnées. Si cette forme d’analyse peut être utile en météorologie ou pour la planification stratégique d’une entreprise, elle peut certainement mener à des situations étranges dans les domaines des soins de santé ou de l’éducation si elle n’est pas effectuée judicieusement;

  2. Quand des masses de données sont recueillies dans les écoles par des capteurs comme des détecteurs de mouvements, des caméras et des microphones qui saisissent les expressions faciales, les interactions sociales et les gestes de chaque enfant, tous les jours, pendant toute l’année, les décisions prises par des machines intelligentes peuvent mener à des expériences contraires à l’éthique sur les élèves ou même à une surveillance orwellienne de la vie privée;

  3. Des mégadonnées sont aussi produites par les plateformes de testage numérique et les systèmes d’analyse de l’apprentissage adaptatif (tuteurs numériques). Tandis que les tests multiplient les données recueillies sur les élèves, l’intérêt pour ces données afin d’en dégager les tendances va en augmentant;

  4. Les mégadonnées ne révèlent normalement que la corrélation entre des évènements, et non la causalité. La corrélation est importante pour comprendre ces relations, mais elle ne signifie pas que telle chose causerait telle autre chose.

Pasi Sahlberg suggère que nous mettions davantage l’accent sur ce qu’il appelle les « petites données », qui [traduction libre] « découlent de l’idée voulant que, dans un monde de plus en plus gouverné par les chiffres binaires et de froides statistiques, nous avons besoin d’information qui nous aide à mieux comprendre les aspects de l’enseignement et de l’apprentissage qui sont invisibles ou difficilement mesurables ». Les petites données concernent fondamentalement la nature relationnelle de l’enseignement et de l’apprentissage, et la manière dont ces relations importantes peuvent fournir aux enseignantes et enseignants les connaissances dont ils ont besoin pour aider leurs élèves à apprendre :

[Traduction libre]

Les enseignantes et enseignants sont bien conscients de l’importance des observations humaines, des conversations personnelles et des réflexions critiques pour comprendre ce qui se passe en classe. Les tests standardisés ou les sondages d’opinion peuvent contribuer à dégager des tendances générales, mais ils ne peuvent pas révéler les secrets plus profonds de la pédagogie. Par conséquent, les petites données peuvent être utiles pour savoir ce qui fonctionne le mieux dans les écoles et comprendre pourquoi c’est ainsi.

https://www.teachers.ab.ca/Publications/ATA%20Magazine/Volume-97-2016-17/Number-4/Pages/Small-Data-for-Big-Change.aspx (en anglais)

Le concept des « petites données » est bien résumé dans la citation suivante de Joe Bower, enseignant et blogueur albertain (décédé en 2016), mise en évidence dans les vidéos du site « We The Educators » : « Vous voulez recueillir des données sur la manière d’apprendre des enfants? Alors apprenez à les connaître. Observez-les. Écoutez-les. Parlez avec eux. Asseyez-vous avec eux. Passez du temps avec eux. »

Now, more than ever, the need to protect public education in the era of Trump

By Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
Keynote remarks at the CTF Canadian Forum on Public Education,  July 10, 2017 in Ottawa.

Values, democracy

Like many of you, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since our election. Donald Trump ran as a populist but governs for the elite and the wealthy. He exploited the deep distrust and anxiety in America, people’s frustration with an economy and political system rigged against them. He hijacked the rhetoric of our movement to get elected. He promised jobs to out-of-work factory workers and coal miners. He promised an end to Obamacare and a much better replacement. He hasn’t delivered. Indeed, his actions to date have been to take things away from people—the push to strip people of health care, of voting rights, labor rights, reproductive rights, travel rights, among other things. And in the process, he has disrespected the dignity of the office of the president.

As polarized as our country now seems, when you really listen to people throughout America,  you still hear similar hopes and aspirations, regardless of geography or demography or politics.

I’ve traveled a great deal since the November election, visited hundreds of schools and talked with educators, parents, community leaders and others in big cities and in small rural towns; to Democrats as well as folks who voted for Trump. This is what I hear:

  • People want good jobs that pay a living wage and a voice at work.
  • They want a secure retirement with dignity.
  • They want affordable, accessible healthcare coverage so they’re not one illness away from bankruptcy.
  • And they want public schools that are safe, welcoming, and give kids a ladder of opportunity. And people want affordable higher education that doesn’t leave them with a mountain of debt.

What we know is that none of this happens without a strong and vibrant democracy that’s inclusive, respects the will of the people, and protects the civil rights of all.

So in some ways, the biggest challenge in America, and frankly around the world, is the dangerous attacks on pluralism and freedom. In the U.S., it looks like blatant voter suppression, gerrymandering of districts to hurt minorities and Democrats; attacks on the media and the judiciary, and blaming immigrants, Muslims, even transgender students, for all the problems of a world in transition.

I have been carrying a book that a Yale history professor, Dr.  Tim Snyder, has written, called “On Tyranny: 20 Lessons from the 20th Century.” It essentially instructs us that history, while it doesn’t repeat, can instruct and can warn…  and if we are going to take on the fight for these values… who better than do that than the world‘s educators.

Labor unions and public education

The AFT and the CTF represent two institutions vital to opportunity and democracy: labor unions and public education. That is why we are in the crosshairs, maybe right now more in the United States than Canada. But I know education privatization is creeping across the border in at least three Canadian provinces.

Public education and labor unions are the gateways to the middle class. They are the foundations of a just society and a vibrant democracy. And they provide paths to counter the lack of economic security and opportunity that is tearing at the fabric of our society.

(From left to right: CTF President H. Mark Ramsankar, CTF VP Francine Leblanc-Lebel, former CTF President Heather Smith, CTF VP James Dinn, AFT President Randi Weingarten and former CTF VP Shelley Morse.)

Trump-DeVos agenda

President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are committed to two things: They treat education as a commodity, not as a public good. And they promote and incentivize privatizing schools while defunding, destabilizing and ultimately destroying public education by slashing education dollars and diverting them elsewhere, including for private school tuition.

DeVos couches her education vision with the argument that every parent deserves the right to send their child to a school of their choice. Sounds good, right? But what she doesn’t say is that she wants to make it impossible for public schools to be a viable option. She wants to drain money from public schools and hand it over to privatizers.

Her cruel, callous, catastrophic education budget would zero out more than $9 billion in funding for programs that help lift up low-income public school students. And we have real evidence that these programs have been very effective – like after-school enrichment programs, community schools with wraparound services, smaller class sizes and college tuition assistance. Yet, she wants to use $20 billion over the next several years for private school vouchers and other privatization.

She is using the Swedish playbook, to our children’s detriment. Sweden’s students were once among the world’s top-performers. Then Sweden moved to a privatization model, student outcomes plummeted, and Sweden’s ranking plunged. If a strategy isn’t moving the needle anywhere in the world, why in the world would we use it?

And it’s not just in Sweden. In the United States, we have seen similar results with unaccountable privatization:

  • Voucher programs in Louisiana, Indiana and Washington D.C. have had negligible or negative effects on their students. There has been no credible study in the 30 years of vouchers in the United States that concludes those students do better than their public school peers.
  • And the for-profit charter schools that DeVos pushed in Michigan had poor student outcomes along with gross mismanagement and corruption. In 2003, Michigan ranked 28th in fourth-grade reading. By 2015, the state was ranked 41st. In fourth-grade math, the state went from 27th to 42nd.

Visits to Canadian, Van Wert schools

There are great public schools in Canada and the United States. I have visited some in Ottawa that I would rank among the world’s best. We also have lots of excellent public schools in the U.S. that are using “what works” to be schools where parents want to send their kids, teachers want to teach and where there’s joy in learning and kids get engaging instruction. And we have taken delegations to see great schools.

In fact, I took DeVos to a great school system in a rural, small city in Ohio that went overwhelmingly for Trump in November. Van Wert, Ohio, public schools have a robust early childhood program, a nationally recognized robotics team and a community school that helps at-risk students graduate. And it’s clear that teachers and school leaders collaborate and respect each other. But just weeks after that visit, she submitted her budget proposal that would cut federal funding for these programs. It’s truly incomprehensible.

We need to lift up public schools that work and the programs that make them work.

But what happens when they are not working for kids?  What happens when we continue to under-resource schools? 23 states still spend less on K-12 education than before the Great Recession.

If schools aren’t safe enough or are otherwise struggling, the solution isn’t to throw the baby out with the bath water. It’s not to dismantle public education in favor of an ideology and an agenda that have no evidence of working.

It’s to do what I call the four pillars—the strategies that will help create and maintain successful schools: focusing on children’s well-being, powerful learning, teacher capacity and collaboration.

Children’s well being

Education starts with meeting children where they are—emotionally, socially, physically and academically. Every child needs to feel safe and valued. We also need to confront poverty because we know that poverty’s consequences seriously affect how kids do in school. One way is with community schools, which are neighborhood schools that meet students’ needs by coordinating with partners for resources. These include in-school health and dental clinics, social workers, guidance counselors, food pantries, parent resource centers. And at these schools, we’ve seen large gains in student attendance, parental involvement and academic progress.

Powerful learning

The path to accomplishing the goals of developing students academically, for work and civic life lies on powerful learning—learning that engages students; encourages them to investigate, strategize and work in teams. Testing and test prep won’t get them there. An example is what we saw in Van Wert, Ohio, a rigorous project-based approach that starts in elementary school and goes through high school. Career and technical education can also deeply engage students and develop skills and knowledge that they will use in the world of work.

Building teacher capacity

We’ve seen for too long and in far too many schools the routine of basically throwing the keys to a teacher and telling them to ‘just do it and do it well.’ No one would accept that if it involved pilots or soldiers. But teachers? Becoming an accomplished teacher takes time, support and an intentional focus – like teacher residency programs that pair a prospective teacher with accomplished educators … and opportunities for new and veteran teachers to share experiences with colleagues. Also, teacher evaluations should be about teacher development to support teacher growth and student learning. Teacher evaluations shouldn’t be solely based on test scores and used as a hammer to sanction and punish teachers.

Fostering school and community collaboration

The glue that holds all of this together is educators, parents and community partners working together. What doesn’t work for a struggling school is taking the “disruption” approach—mass firings, school closures, and district or state takeovers. What is effective is working together and bringing in the programs and services that will lift up our schools, not tear them down. Like speech therapy, Socratic seminars, science fairs, chess clubs, mentors for students.

We are in the fight of our lives. On the one hand, we have as our education secretary the most ideological, anti-public education person to ever hold the title. She is someone who has never seen a privatization program she disliked or a public school she liked. On the other side, there are those of us who believe that every child has a right to dream their dreams and achieve them. That only happens with a system of public education.

Conclusion

And even though most days it feels like an uphill battle, there is a real appetite in the United States to fight back, and we are doing just that.

At the end of the day, parents want to feel confident in their public schools, know that they have a safe and welcoming environment where kids find joy in learning. They want education to enable opportunity and they want their public schools to live up to their potential as the great equalizers in our society.

In the United States, now is not the time to lower our defenses or sit on the sidelines. With an increasingly erratic president and members of his party who refuse to act as a check and balance, we have to hold them accountable and empower people to take action to preserve, protect, strengthen and improve public education.

There’s no sugar coating it—Americans are facing an existential threat to our rights and our public education system. There is a path forward focused on resistance and persistence around the values and aspirations that bind all of us.

In the end, it’s a question of what kind of country we want. Should we settle for some children getting the education they need and deserve, but not all? Do we want a country where income determines whether people will have access to the healthcare they need, or the higher education they want, or a retirement with dignity?

We, the people, have to be the check and balance on the threats to our democracy. It is we, the people, who must reclaim the promise of public education. This work can’t be outsourced. It takes all of us.

Sweep of educational apps finds some fall short on privacy

By the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

GATINEAU, QC, October 24, 2017 – A sweep of a number of popular online applications used in Canadian classrooms has found that many service providers are carefully considering the needs of younger users when it comes to privacy, but others are falling short.

“We were pleased to find that many of the apps we looked at are taking important steps to protect the privacy of children and youth, for example, by offering kid-friendly explanations about why personal information is being collected,” says Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien.

“Unfortunately, we also found cases where educational apps need to do better. We were concerned to find cases where websites encouraged students to provide more personal information than was actually necessary.”

Continue Readinghttps://www.priv.gc.ca/en/opc-news/news-and-announcements/2017/nr-c_171024/

Le ratissage d’applications éducatives révèle certaines failles en matière de protection de la vie privée

Par le Commissariat à la protection de la vie privée du Canada (CPVP)

GATINEAU (Québec), le 24 octobre 2017 — Le ratissage de certaines applications en ligne fréquemment utilisées dans les salles de classe au Canada a démontré que de nombreux fournisseurs de services tiennent compte des besoins des jeunes utilisateurs en matière de protection de la vie privée; toutefois, d’autres affichent certaines lacunes.

« Nous constatons avec satisfaction que bon nombre des concepteurs d’applications que nous avons étudiées prennent les mesures nécessaires pour protéger la vie privée des enfants et des jeunes, en offrant, par exemple, des explications adaptées aux enfants afin qu’ils comprennent pourquoi des renseignements personnels sont recueillis », affirme Daniel Therrien, commissaire à la protection de la vie privée du Canada.

« Malheureusement, nous avons relevé des cas d’applications éducatives qui doivent faire mieux. Nous sommes préoccupés de constater l’existence de sites Web qui encouragent les élèves à fournir plus de renseignements personnels que nécessaire. »

Continuez la lecturehttps://www.priv.gc.ca/fr/nouvelles-du-commissariat/nouvelles-et-annonces/2017/nr-c_171024/

CTF’s new president talks family, presidency, and Bob Marley

By Candide Uyanze

If given the chance, H. Mark Ramsankar says he would engage in a one-hour conversation with an unlikely inspiration: Bob Marley.

H. Mark Ramsankar

Unlikely because, initially, one probably wouldn’t expect the new president of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) to draw inspiration from the late Jamaican artist. Ramsankar, however, believes Marley’s personal values transcend career differences.

“When you look at who he was, and what he meant to music, in the Caribbean, specifically Jamaica, he took insurmountable odds and took it to a global scale.”

Particularly, Ramsankar is impressed by Marley’s ability to turn a musical genre housed in a single island into a world movement. He believes this ability, when applied to the Federation, could help with carrying on an international stage the voices of the 232,000+ teachers CTF represents, and helping those teachers recognize the value of their collective voice.

H. Mark Ramsankar (bottom row, far left) poses here with CTF’s 2012-2013 Executive Committee at CTF’s 2012 Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Ramsankar knows especially well the importance of this. The father of two, former vice-principal and union leader first heard about teachers’ unions as a young Albertan educator in the late 80s. A presentation on having active involvement in one’s professional organisation led Ramsankar to conduct further research and get involved with his teachers’ association at the local, provincial, and, subsequently, national levels. In 2012, when he was vice-president of The Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA), Ramsankar was elected to the CTF Executive Committee. The following year, he was elected president to the ATA a position he held until 2017. In 2016, he was elected CTF president-designate, a transitional role to prepare for his presidency in 2017.

CTF President H. Mark Ramsankar (left) and Past President Heather Smith (right) at the CTF’s 2017 AGM. Ramsankar is signing the changeover documents.

In terms of preparation for his new role, Ramsankar says he has been taking advice indirectly from past CTF presidents over the years by observing their actions and words. They have also encouraged him to be who he is and carry his voice with passion and integrity. He also draws inspiration from leaders with different characteristics, believing there is no singular, right or wrong way to do things.

Ramsankar acknowledges the strong leadership CTF has had over the years. “Will I be able to hold up my end, so to speak? I’m working towards that. I really hope I can. There are areas I continue to work on.”

“But I guess the number one thing I’ll miss about Alberta is my family. It’s going to be tough, but it’s a hurdle that we’re going to work to overcome.”

When asked what he looks forward to the most in his two-year position, the new president cites growing as an individual, representing the country and teaching profession, as well as tackling topics and issues affecting Canadian teachers and public education.

In terms of the next steps in his new role, Ramsankar says he must learn more about the inner-workings of CTF, know about all the responsibilities and commitments the position will entail, determine the most pressing issues that were highlighted during CTF’s annual Forum and AGM, and think about how to set up better coordinated communication between Member organizations among themselves and with CTF.

Finally, throughout his three decades of experience in schools and teachers’ associations, Ramsankar believes the skills that shine through in each of his leadership positions are bringing people together under a common goal as well as working for and serving the people he represents.

“Those are some of the things that I’m prepared to do and bring to CTF.”

H. Mark Ramsankar (center-right) stands with his Member organization, ATA, at CTF’s 2016 AGM.

(Candide Uyanze worked as a CTF communications assistant during the summer of 2017)