Bullying is a horrible thing.

Read this teacher’s approach – it’s a pretty good strategy.

http://www.rd.com/advice/parenting/stop-bullying-strategy

In school, I was both a bully and a victim of bullying – I think this happens a lot.  I would do anything to take back my bullying. And I suspect it would be the same with those who picked on me.

Wouldn’t it be great if we found a way to speed this process up.  It *is* a process – so theoretically, it can be affected.

We need a focus on this in our Board.

Truly,

Steve

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School boards have to make budget choice, says Yves Bolduc

It makes for a good headline, I guess.

But let’s get real for a second here.  We have to “make budget choices”, says our Minister.

At what point do we say, sorry, but there are no more choices to make? We cannot do it?

Don’t we all wish we could say, “yes, let’s cut our family budget by 50%”, and miraculously, we could do so without absolutely destroying our capacity to live?

Come on – it’s enough of this.  You cut you cut and you cut.

Yes, our school board just spent a lot of money on travel.  And thank goodness you have a Council of Commissioners to oversee this – without us, this kind of thing would never even be known about.  And let’s hope that this trip pays for itself, and let’s hope that the Chair did not accept a free trip from a partner we just signed a large agreement with. I don’t have the details yet. But let’s hope.

But beyond all of that, let’s stop just saying, “cut it” when it comes to education, and expect that somehow some miracle money will descend from the heavens and we can simply maintain our cobbled together system that will continue to work.

Pay good people good money to deliver good work.  Require good work.  Invest in education.  Provide the tools.  Stop being so selfish and recognize that the future is what matters most.

Howzabout we do something right?

I’m in.

Truly,

Steve

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What’s the role of a school board for “unschoolers”?

As most of you probably know, I view Home Schooling as not only an absolutely legal alternative, but one that deserves support from the school board itself.  Our mandate given to us in the Education Act is very clear:

207.1. The mission of a school board is to organize, for the benefit of the persons who come under its jurisdiction, the educational services provided for by this Act and by the basic school regulations made by the Government.

The mission of a school board is also to promote and enhance the status of public education within its territory, to see to the quality of educational services and the success of students so that the population may attain a higher level of formal education and qualification, and to contribute, to the extent provided for by law, to the social, cultural and economic development of its region.

2008, c. 29, s. 23.

So – given that the very same education act specifically exempts students being home schooled from attending our schools, our role is simple: support the efforts of the home schooler such that those students too will attain qualifications and contribute to the social, cultural and economic development of our region.

Now, are we doing all we can do for this group? We’ve made progress, but…  we can do an awful lot more.

But what about unschoolers?  Read this recent article in The Gazette to learn more about unschoolers:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Unschooling+Quebec+classes+schedule+tests/10122656/story.html

Certainly the chosen title for the group “unschoolers” may send the wrong message. I don’t think any of these parents are interested in keeping their child ignorant in any way whatsoever. Their approach to education is quite different, and it may not be something you or I understand. But, if at the end of the day these people are developing happy, successful, interested and productive people? Maybe what we need to do is look again at what our role can be here.

How about working together, as a community, and ensuring every child has the tools they need to be successful. And how about allowing for a variety of definitions of the word “successful”.  Most home schoolers do an amazing job – just look at their results.  Unschoolers?  Let’s work together with them to define what success looks like to them.  And let’s focus on the big picture – let’s help our community learn, and each contribute in their own way to the social, cultural and economic development of our region. That’s our role.

Truly,

Steve

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Kids “building benches” against bullying.

I had read something on using a “Buddy Bench” as a means to help kids who are being bullied, and it seemed like a smart idea to me – any time you have a kid-led initiative like this, it’s at least something you need to explore, because it likely speaks very well to the actual need.

Here’s a short video of a young student describing her success with these in a TedX talk:

You can read about other student led initiatives using “buddy benches” with the following links:

http://www.theridgefieldpress.com/30779/buddy-benches-battle-bullying/

http://www.kptv.com/story/25643580/salem-school-using-buddy-bench-to-fight-bullying

Kids leading kids against bullying is a winning situation.

Truly,

Steve

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My Facebook reply to a discussion on bullying.

A couple of days ago, I posted a link to a Quebec Gov website consultation on bullying.  In response to a comment suggesting that our schools had the power and tools they need and that this was perhaps simply a distraction. I expanded greatly on why I think this is worth responding to and I spoke to some of the problems we face in dealing with the issue.

Here is my reply:

See, there’s more to it than just “the power and the tools”. Frankly, I am not at all sure that they have the tools either. Sure, we all know that we need to address bullying when we see it. And even the definition of bullying is fairly clear. But the  “always on” piece of it that we have today is not something a school is equipped to handle.

For that student who arrives at home to find 50 messages posted on whatever website, driving the point home that they are in fact worthless.  For that student who’s had a compromising picture taken and now finds it spread to friends and foes and everybody else. Neither of these things have occurred while in school. But the school, with funds cut year after year, the school is supposed to have the resources to be able to handle what is in fact a social problem that extends well beyond its walls. We demand more from our schools. And we give them less.

Move to the governance side of things. Two major problems in reporting right now.  An act of bullying that results in “a complaint” that is reported to the Principal of a given school becomes an individual issue that is to be reported to the Director General of the school board, along with a summary report on the incident and the follow-up measures taken.

So – what is a complaint?  When does something become a complaint?  How is a complaint defined from one school to another?  How is a complaint defined from one school board to another?

As parents, you and I will say that a complaint is the natural result of a bullying incident being recognized and dealt with within the school.  How many of these incidents do you think happen in a school in a given week?  StopaBully.ca reports that 64 percent of kids have been bullied at school.  13 percent report being bullied once or more times in a given week.

So – we have 13,500 students in our school board.  Let’s go with just the kids being bullied weekly.  That’s 1755 complaints that must be summarized, reported along with follow-up measures. And received by the Director General.  EVERY WEEK.  That’s only 43 incidents per hour based on a 40 hour week. Heck – she’s got more almost 90 seconds to deal with each one, if this is the absolute only thing she deals with bar anything else. Tell me – what in the world is that Director General supposed to do with that?

Now – let’s say school “A” reports that 13% of incidents.  School “B” reports 7%.  School “C” reports 20% and school “D” reports 3%.  Well obviously, school “D” is best.  Or maybe it’s definition is a little more narrow than school “C”’s definition.

Bring it a step further along.  Look at school boards.  How are they reporting?  What do we, as a board, do when the other school board in our territory reports 1% bullying.  We report 13%.  Holy cow! Put our school board in trusteeship, for God’s sake!  Something is horribly wrong!  Or there are no norms, no clear rules, no clear definitions and no clear directions to move in.

Bullying is a complicated issue. It’s a societal issue.  It exists in our schools and well beyond our schools.  It is insidious, often goes unrecognized and it deeply damages children – often for their entire lives.

Personally, I am glad that we at least recognize it and we’re trying to do something about it within the Education Act.  It’s a step in the right direction.  But do I think we have it covered?  Not by a long shot. And do I think the Education Act is the only place this needs to be addressed?  Not by a long shot. Are there enough resources being applied to the problem?  Not by a long shot.

So yes – the Quebec Government is keeping the issue alive. Talking about it. Asking people to think about it, to discuss it, and they are gathering information that will hopefully lead to greater understanding and better ways to recognize, deal with and report on incidents of bullying.

I don’t think that this is a distraction at all.  I think it’s something we need to pay attention to. To be involved in.  To understand, to talk about and to maintain as a major priority in our society as a whole.

I am quick to point out when Government is wrong. In this case, I’m going to point to this and say that it is a step in the right direction. And every step counts.

Truly,

Steve

http://www.stopabully.ca/bullying-resources/bullying-statistics

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“My wife is a lazy-liar” post.

As we near the end of this K-11 school year, as a Commissioner, I would send out a special thanks along with this tidbit of humour.

I first saw this post on a friend’s FB timeline – she is a teacher and she posted it on her husband’s timeline. I found it to be very funny, but so much I know resonates.  My own wife has returned to early childhood education, and I get to say things at 9pm in the late evening like, “Oh – you’re cutting out walruses – it’s ‘W’ week already?  It seems like only yesterday we were cutting out butterflies!”

It’s a fun read, and it’s also a real glimpse into the reality of today’s teachers. They really do all of those ‘crazy’ things in there.

http://smithdeville.com/2014/06/06/my-wife-is-a-lazy-liar/

THANK YOU, and enjoy the next 3 months that you have off.  Or maybe just the same time-off that most people enjoy – teachers are in school long after the kids are off and they’re back long before they arrive. And teachers, by nature, will likely spend some summertime ‘leisure time’ reading books and papers that boils down to professional development.

Thank you,

Truly,

Steve

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Peel board’s “STAR” committee

Am I just being too cynical, or is this as silly a statement as it is sounding to me right now:

The committee is composed of trustees, senior administrators, communications staff and principals.

Their research has identified safety, uniforms, sports, academics, school proximity and busing, and values as key reasons for the enrolment migration or failure to attract students.

The StAR committee has developed recommendations intended to level the student recruitment and retention playing field.

I dunno. This seems fairly obvious, no? They needed a committee to figure this out?

Truly,

Steve

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