Digital surveillance detrimental to learning, expert says

Digital monitoring of students’ and teachers’ online activities is having a negative effect on learning in Canadian classrooms.

That was one of the messages conveyed during a one-day workshop entitled Privacy Implications in the Networked Classroom, which took place at Barnett House on Thursday, Jan. 26.

Among the lineup of expert speakers was Valerie Steeves, a University of Ottawa researcher who specializes in human rights and technology issues.

“The super surveillance that students experience in the networked classroom is bad for learning, precisely because the ability to retreat and to enjoy privacy from the teacher and from peers is an essential part of the learning process,” Steeves said.

Continue Reading (ATA News, The Alberta Teachers’ Association):
https://www.teachers.ab.ca/Publications/ATA%20News/Volume-51-2016-17/Number-10/Pages/Digital-surveillance-detrimental-to-learning,-expert-says.aspx

By Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor

OP-ED: We need to work together to improve our education system

nstu_colourDecember 7, 2016

I just want to take this opportunity to thank Nova Scotians for the outpouring of support teachers have received this past week. At rallies across the province, inside and outside of schools and on-line, the many kind and thoughtful words expressed have been heartening to the NSTU’s 9,300 public school members.

Monday was a difficult day for students and their families, and it was a sad day for teachers. All teachers are committed to providing a safe and healthy learning environment, and the government’s decision to lock out students created an unnecessary burden for parents.

It was because of the thousands who spoke up for teachers, that government reversed course, and allowed students to go back to school.

Teachers want better learning conditions, safer schools and more time to spend helping students instead of doing paperwork. We also have a right to a fair collective bargaining process, something we have been denied by the current government.

It’s for these reasons that earlier this fall 96% of our members voted in support of job action, and it’s why we are currently working-to-rule.

It’s going to take everyone working together to make our education system the best it can be. It’s going to take a lot of change – big and small – to make Nova Scotia’s future strong. We want to talk. We want to listen. But if it takes working-to-rule to accomplish needed investments, we’ve demonstrated we are willing to take that step.

We also want the ability to negotiate for better classroom conditions at the bargaining table. Our children’s future is too important to be wagered on political commitments. Teachers want to see positive measures enshrined so they can’t be taken away with the strike of a pen from the government.

Right now our primary objective is to get back to the bargaining table in order to reach a new agreement that is fair to students, teachers and families. We have been frustrated by the government’s lack of willingness to bargain in good faith, as I’m sure you are frustrated by the lack of a resolution to this situation.

Ultimately, teachers are taking this stand for a better education system. Hopefully soon, the government will come to the table willing to negotiate and not dictate so an agreement can be reached.

Liette Doucet

-30-

For more information, contact:

Angela Murray, PR coordinator, Nova Scotia Teachers Union
902- 479-4708, 902-497-0194 (cell)
amurray@nstu.ca @NSTeachersUnion

Download PDF version (298 KB)

PM and First Ministers urged to focus on child and youth mental health

In a December 1st letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation urged him and the Premiers to focus on child and youth mental health at their First Ministers’ Meeting on December 9, 2016, in Ottawa. Child and youth mental health has been identified as a top priority by Canadian teachers from across Canada.

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December 1, 2016

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Langevin Block
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister,

As you prepare for the upcoming First Ministers’ meeting and the rich dialogue at this important gathering, I am writing on behalf of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) to urge a focus on child and youth mental health. In 2014, CTF surveyed over 5000 Canadian teachers regarding their top priorities; 95% of respondents rated child and youth mental health as their top concern. This is a staggering, yet all too believable, response that should not be ignored.

When you meet the First Ministers, CTF asks you, on behalf of the 231,000 teachers we represent and the millions of students they teach, to provide for adequate mental health care for children and youth in a renewed Health Accord. At the present time, despite Canada’s relative international prosperity and progressive values, many Canadian communities lack adequate resources to provide the preventative and interceptive resources needed to support child and youth mental health and well-being. In isolated communities and for minority populations, the challenges are often further exacerbated by distance, linguistic barriers, and lack of understanding about culture or group.

CTF and its provincial and territorial Member organizations would welcome the opportunity to participate with governments at all levels in discussions about improvements to mental health services for children and youth. Children and youth in Canada have a right to health care and that must include readily accessible mental health care.

In 2012, in collaboration with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, CTF explored the issue of mental health and well-being in schools through a pan-Canadian survey. Over 3,900 teachers responded to the survey including 2,324 elementary school teachers and 1,603 secondary school teachers. The purpose of the survey was to gain a better understanding of the classroom teacher perspective on issues related to student mental health and well-being in Canadian schools, including factors that act as potential barriers to the provision of mental health services for students in their schools (such as stigma for example).

Barriers identified in the 2012 CTF survey included the following:

  • 85% of teachers agreed that a lack of funding for school-based mental health services was a potential barrier, including 59% who “strongly” agreed;
  • 78% of teachers agreed that an insufficient number of community-based mental health professionals was a potential barrier, including 45% who “strongly” agreed;
  • Three quarters of teachers (75%) agreed that a lack of coordinated services between the school and community was a potential barrier, including 38% who “strongly” agreed;
  • Two thirds of teachers (67%) agreed that a lack of referral options in the community was a potential barrier, including 34% who “strongly” agreed.

One teacher respondent summed up the situation we know too well:

  • It is sad when you know there is a concern, or the student tells you there is a concern, you’ve followed the proper protocols, and for whatever reason (lack of services, family declines services for child, fear of stigma, etc.) the student does not get the help they need.

CTF and its 17 Member organizations in each province and territory would welcome opportunities for further dialogue and collaboration to help all Canadian children and youth lead healthy lives in order to achieve their full potential. We wish you a very successful First Ministers’ Meeting and sincerely hope that the mental health and well-being of Canadian children and youth will feature prominently in your deliberations and, ultimately, in a new Health Accord.

Yours sincerely,

Heather Smith
President, Canadian Teachers’ Federation

Cc Provincial and Territorial Premiers
CTF Board of Directors

Justin Trudeau et ses homologues des provinces et des territoires sont pressés d’accorder une attention prioritaire à la santé mentale des enfants et des jeunes

Dans une lettre envoyée le 1er décembre au premier ministre Justin Trudeau, la Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants les a pressés, lui et ses homologues des provinces et des territoires, d’accorder au dossier de la santé mentale des enfants et des jeunes une place centrale dans leurs discussions à la réunion des premiers ministres le 9 décembre 2016, à Ottawa. Les enseignantes et enseignants des quatre coins du Canada ont souligné le besoin de faire de la santé mentale des enfants et des jeunes une grande priorité.

Télécharger la version PDF (240 Ko)

Le 1er décembre 2016

Le très honorable Justin Trudeau, C. P., député
Premier ministre du Canada
Édifice Langevin
Ottawa (Ontario)
K1A 0A2

Monsieur le Premier Ministre,

Tandis que vous vous préparez pour la prochaine réunion des premiers ministres des provinces et des territoires et le riche et important échange qu’elle promet, je vous écris au nom de la Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants (FCE) pour vous demander d’accorder une place centrale au dossier de la santé mentale chez les enfants et les jeunes. En 2014, la FCE a mené un sondage auprès de plus de 5 000 membres du corps enseignant au Canada pour connaître leurs priorités. Au total, 95 % d’entre eux ont indiqué que la santé mentale des enfants et des jeunes était au sommet de leurs préoccupations. Sans équivoque, cette réponse n’a malheureusement rien d’étonnant et ne doit pas être ignorée.

Quand vous rencontrerez les premiers ministres des provinces et des territoires, la FCE vous demande, au nom des 231 000 enseignantes et enseignants qu’elle représente et des millions d’élèves dont ils s’occupent, de vous engager, dans un accord renouvelé sur la santé, à offrir des soins de santé mentale adéquats aux enfants et aux jeunes. À l’heure actuelle, malgré la relative prospérité du Canada sur la scène internationale et ses valeurs progressistes, de nombreuses communautés au pays ne disposent pas des ressources qui leur permettent de mettre en place les mesures de prévention et d’intervention dont les enfants et les jeunes ont besoin pour leur bien-être et leur bonne santé mentale. Dans les communautés isolées et chez les populations minoritaires, les difficultés sont en plus exacerbées par la distance, les barrières linguistiques et une incompréhension de leur culture ou de leur groupe.

La FCE et ses organisations Membres provinciales et territoriales seraient enchantées de participer avec tous les ordres de gouvernement aux discussions pour améliorer les services de santé mentale à l’intention des enfants et des jeunes. Ces derniers ont droit à des services de santé et cela doit comprendre des services de santé mentale facilement accessibles.

En 2012, en collaboration avec la Commission de la santé mentale du Canada, la FCE a exploré les questions liées à la santé mentale et au bien-être des élèves dans les écoles au moyen d’un sondage pancanadien. Plus de 3 900 membres du personnel enseignant ont répondu au sondage, dont 2 324 enseignantes et enseignants de l’élémentaire et 1 603 du secondaire. Le sondage avait pour but de mieux faire comprendre les points de vue du personnel enseignant en salle de classe sur la question de la santé mentale et du bien-être des élèves, y compris les facteurs qui constituent des obstacles potentiels à la prestation de services de santé mentale aux élèves de leur école (p. ex. la stigmatisation).

Parmi les obstacles signalés figuraient les suivants :

  • Au total, 85 % des répondants et répondantes étaient d’accord pour dire que le manque de financement pour les services de santé mentale offerts à l’école constituait un obstacle potentiel, y compris 59 % qui étaient « fortement » d’accord;
  • En tout, 78 % des enseignantes et enseignants étaient d’accord pour dire que le nombre insuffisant de professionnelles et professionnels de la santé mentale dans la communauté constituait un obstacle potentiel, y compris 45 % qui étaient « fortement » d’accord;
  • Les trois quarts des sujets interrogés (75 %) étaient d’accord pour dire que le manque de coordination des services entre l’école et la communauté constituait un obstacle potentiel et, parmi eux, 38 % étaient « fortement » d’accord;
  • Les deux tiers des enseignantes et enseignants (67 %) étaient d’accord pour dire que le manque de possibilités de renvoi à des services dans la communauté constituait un obstacle potentiel, y compris 34 % qui étaient « fortement » d’accord.

Une enseignante a résumé la situation très clairement :

  • C’est triste de savoir qu’il y a un problème ou de l’apprendre de la bouche d’un élève, de suivre le protocole mis en place et de découvrir que, pour une raison ou une autre (manque de services, refus des services par la famille, peur de la stigmatisation, etc.), l’élève ne reçoit pas l’aide dont il a besoin.

La FCE et ses 17 organisations Membres de chacune des provinces et chacun des territoires seraient heureuses de poursuivre le dialogue et la collaboration afin que tous les enfants et les jeunes du Canada puissent mener des vies saines et atteindre leur plein potentiel. Pour finir, nous vous souhaitons une réunion très fructueuse avec les autres premiers ministres et espérons sincèrement que le dossier des services de santé mentale pour les enfants et les jeunes recevra toute l’attention qu’il mérite dans vos délibérations et un éventuel accord renouvelé sur la santé.

Je vous prie d’agréer, Monsieur le Premier Ministre, l’assurance de ma considération distinguée.

La présidente de la Fédération canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants,
Heather Smith

c.c. Premiers ministres des provinces et des territoires
Membres du Conseil d’administration de la FCE

PISA, strong on equity, but weak on positive teacher policy

By Education International

Education unions worldwide have acknowledged that the latest results of the Programme for International Student Assessment contain a range of strong and positive proposals on equity, tackling disadvantage and on the promotion of science teaching, but fail to adopt a coherent narrative on positive teacher policy.

Education International (EI), the global confederation of 401 national education unions and organisations in 172 countries, representing 32.5 million individual members, has commented on the outcomes of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) published today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“There is much in the latest PISA from the OECD which affirms just how important it is for countries to have strong thriving public education systems,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “Many of its proposals for improving equity are vital for the future of all young people.”

The EI General Secretary welcomed the proposals for targeting additional support for children of immigrants and disadvantaged backgrounds, and urge all governments to support them. The report’s condemnation of gender stereotyping in Science rightly highlights how society’s attitudes towards girls and Science can limit ambition, he said. Boys from lower socio economic backgrounds were also more likely to repeat years of schooling.

Students in advantaged schools have access to better materials and resources whereas students in disadvantaged schools have less teaching time and are more likely to be required to repeat grades, the report says, also emphasising that targeted additional resources will make a positive difference for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Positive policies towards supporting the learning of young people from immigrant backgrounds can lead to major increases in students’ learning, although the majority of students from immigrant families have lower levels of achievement.

However, Van Leeuwen admitted his disappointment with the report’s conclusions and tone around the use of resources for schools. “Higher public expenditure on education has not always delivered better results. This directly contradicts the need for sufficient resources. The best experts on resources are teachers themselves,” he said, adding that their voice is largely silent in this edition of PISA. Leaders are referred to again and again, but the teachers survey has barely been used. This is a missed opportunity.

Many school systems are still seriously underfunded, he deplored, stressing that it is to teachers themselves that governments should turn if they want to know what resources schools need and how to spend them wisely.

Education International strongly believes that the OECD must be very careful not to promote a false dichotomy between ensuring sufficient resources for schools and quality education. This contradicts OECD’s own proposals for targeted resources for immigrant students, education in the early years and disadvantaged students and equity in resource allocation. For EI, sufficient resources enable teachers to do their jobs, and a wise use of resources comes both from engaging the teaching profession and their unions in evidence informed policy development and evaluating the effects of education reforms.

The OECD urges that the priority must be to “attract and retain qualified teachers, and ensure that they continue to learn throughout their careers,” yet the OECD seem more confused than ever about the relationship between class size, teacher qualification and student achievement. Again, this goes against their own data where it unequivocally says, “in schools with smaller classes, students report that teachers can dedicate greater attention to individual students’ needs and knowledge, provide individual help to struggling students, and change the structure of the lesson if students find it difficult to follow”. Education International also regrets that the OECD has a narrow view of education systems, e.g. when it investigates the results of Shanghai students or Singapore’s students.

Education International clearly supports the focus on equity, disadvantaged students and the fact that the teachers in the public sector are for the first time acknowledged as the best in the world, gaining better results than their private counterparts when socioeconomic data is accounted for. However, the writing team has failed to take a nuanced view of the impact of qualified teachers, small classes and adequate resourcing on the development of quality education.

Education International is organising a post publication webinar for affiliates whose countries have participated in PISA 2015 on 14 December 2016 from 1:30 – 3:00 pm (GMT). The purpose of the webinar is to brief affiliates on key messages from PISA 2015 and enable affiliates to discuss its outcomes. PISA Senior Manager Peter Adams and PISA Senior Advisor Michael Stevenson from the OECD PISA Team will to take part and present key findings from PISA 2015.


Contact:

John Bangs, Education International: email: John.Bangs@ei-ie.org or tel: +447879480056 or +32473840732

Education International is the largest global teacher organisation representing over 30 million teachers in more than 170 countries and territories.

Executive Report – PISA 2015: brace for impact

What is the PISA standardized test?

PISA stands for Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and is a two-hour standardized test that attempts to assess the competencies of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science in 72 different countries. The PISA test was first administered in the year 2000 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and is conducted every three years in Alberta, with PISA 2012 being the fifth international ranking.

The PISA assessment is a mixture of open-ended and multiple-choice questions organized in groups based on a passage setting of a real-life situation. Students take various combinations of different tests and are asked (along with their school principals) to answer questionnaires on their backgrounds, schools and learning experiences and about the broader education system and learning environment.

he PISA test in the year 2015 covered the domains of science, reading and mathematics, with a focus on scientific literacy. In the year 2012 the spotlight was on mathematics, with reading and science assessed as minor domains, and in 2009 the PISA test focused primarily on 15-year-olds’ reading abilities.

When examining the perceived winners and losers in the past PISA 2012 rankings, it is important to note that the top five education systems have always done extremely well in international standardized tests, especially in math, primarily because they are so test-centric and hyper-focused on mathematics. One of the lesser examined aspects of PISA 2012 was how the test correlated with the rise of a shadow education industry (private tutoring) around the world.

Why should I care?

The PISA ideology accepts that economic imperatives, growth and competitiveness are the primary aims of schooling, and assures that student achievement in math and science are used as the key indicators of the future economic health for a region or society. It fails to recognize that the role of education is much broader and includes (among a host of other responsibilities) the nurturing of social cohesion in rapidly changing complex societies, passing on our diverse cultural heritage and the promotion of civic engagement and citizenship.

Continue Reading (The Alberta Teachers’ Association):
https://www.teachers.ab.ca/Publications/ATA%20News/Volume-51-2016-17/Number-7/Pages/PISA-2015.aspx

By Phil McRae, ATA Executive Staff Officer

APEC schools’ model undermines education quality

Teachers’ unions call for greater funding of public education, not private

studentsbeforeprofit-philippines_small

Amid an educational system “overburdened and underresourced,” the Affordable Private Education Center (APEC) Schools, a joint venture of international education company Pearson and Philippine business giant Ayala Corporation, seek to provide for-profit secondary education through an edu-business model approved by the Department of Education (DepEd) raising questions on quality and teachers’ rights.

With over 10,000 students in Grades 7 to 9 and Grade 11, the education chain now operates schools in 29 sites in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. APEC aims to establish 500 schools in 10 years enrolling up to 250,000 students.

Through an agreement signed in 2013, DepEd has in effect waived its existing regulations for private schools in basic education in favor of APEC and its “market-based solutions in order to grow more private schooling …, instead of building more government schools.”

apec-003APEC has been renting unused office spaces in commercial buildings instead of constructing school facilities on purchased land, a practice which would have been in violation of DepEd regulations on size, location and accessibility of school buildings, Riep’s research revealed. Other facilities such as science laboratories, libraries, and gymnasiums are either inexistent, not fully equipped, or shared among APEC schools.

Riep’s study also found that up to 70 percent of APEC’s teachers are not licensed. The teachers are then paid low wages and asked to stick to standardized lesson plans.

In an earlier statement, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) called on DepEd to repeal its agreement with APEC and for the government to divert to the public education system the P12 billion fund now being allocated to vouchers, which are given to students to attend private schools like APEC.

“P12 billion could have built around 30,000 classrooms and could have catered to more than one million students. Solving the problems of public education is not through privatization schemes. The voucher system is designed to shift money away from public schools and to private schools including for-profit schools such as APEC, making education highly profitable in the Philippines,” said Raymond Basilio, ACT national secretary-general.

He added that APEC’s non-compliance with DepEd requirements for private schools shows how APEC values profiting from students and the voucher system, putting profit before the well-being of Filipino youth.

In the DepEd budget hearing at the House of Representatives on September 2, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that APEC’s agreement with the department has not been renewed for the present school year and is under review.

Other previous research by EI and Riep has also expressed concern over the growth in countries such as Kenya and Uganda of private for-profit school chains employing unqualified teachers, providing scripted lessons and using unsuitable environments for learning to drive down costs.

Riep’s study titled “Corporatised Education in the Philippines: Pearson, Ayala Corporation, and the emergence of Affordable Private Education Centers (APEC)” can be accessed here.

Media contact:
Raymond Basilio, ACT Teachers: +63 917 638 9151
Curtis Riep, University of Alberta: riep@ualberta.ca

Unite for Quality Education

As a a long-standing member of Education International (EI), CTF has actively participated in EI’s Unite for Quality Education and Global Response campaigns. The purpose is to advocate for governments to act in the public interest with adequate funding, resources and policy to ensure quality inclusive public education and to stop edu-business from profiting at the expense of access for all to free quality publicly-funded public education. What follows is an excellent op-ed by Susan Hopgood, EI President and Fred van Leeuwen, EI’s General Secretary: http://tinyurl.com/unite4ed

UN offers a new educational resource to fight hunger worldwide

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has developed a valuable educational resource in the form of a power point presentation designed to inform schools across Canada about both global hunger and the commitment of world leaders to eradicate it (#Zero Hunger) by 2030. This resource is ideally suited to Grades 5 and 6 and would be a great resource through the upper grades and high school.

It is an every-green resource and could be used throughout the year but would have particular relevance to World Food Day, October 16, 2016.

This informative power point has 14 pictures and 4 embedded videos that serve to promote knowledge and understanding of global hunger from a hope-filled perspective. It could be used to build cross curricular competencies, such as problem-solving, student discussion, research, and debate. It could be incorporated into Math (statistics/ a hunger map rates worldwide hunger), Social (Citizenship/social responsibility), Health (Nutrition), Science, and Language Arts curricula.

This timely resource explains why people are hungry, where the hungry live, and what students can do to help. This package includes everyone’s favorite Freerice – the educational game that donates 10 grains of rice for every correct answer! Students and teachers would also be interested to learn of the impressive role Canada, itself, has played in helping combat global hunger!

Also, a live Skype interview is available to teachers to present the resource to students and answer questions about WFP’s work.

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. In emergencies, we get food to where it is needed, saving the lives of victims of war, civil conflict and natural disasters. After the cause of an emergency has passed, we use food to help communities rebuild their shattered lives.

You can download the English version here and the French version here.

For more information or to answer any questions please contact:

Julie Marshall
Canadian Spokesperson
World Food Programme
905 818 2664

julie.marshall@wfp.org

Un nouvel outil pédagogique de l’ONU pour la lutte contre la faim dans le monde

Le Programme alimentaire mondial des Nations Unies a mis au point un outil pédagogique intéressant, sous la forme d’une présentation power point, destinée à informer les écoles à la fois au sujet de la faim dans le monde et l’engagement pris par les dirigeants du monde afin de l’éradiquer. Cet outil est idéal aux élèves à partir de l’âge de 10 ans et jusqu’au lycée.

Cet outil opportun explique pourquoi les populations ont faim, où vivent les personnes souffrant de la faim et ce que les élèves peuvent faire pour aider. Les élèves et les enseignants seraient également contents d’apprendre le rôle impressionnant que le Canada joue dans la lutte contre la faim dans le monde !

Une interview en direct, par Skype, est possible pour faire une présentation via l’outil pour les élèves et répondre à leurs questions sur les activités du PAM.

Vous pouvez télécharger la version anglaise ici et la version française ici.