Monthly Archives: September 2010

One reason that I like our DG

I think that we are lucky in our school board to have a wonderful Director General.

We receive a copy of what she calls The Lepage Express – a leadership communique that I very much appreciate reading.

The latest one included the following movie clip:

Heart of a Teacher

There’s so much news and talk about reforming education, and what is not working. It’s important to take a minute and reflect as well on what is the magic in education – great teachers, and a great DG who can deliver that message to our teachers.




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Bill Gates weighs in on charter schools

Last week’s Maclean’s mag has a good interview with Bill Gates, titled:

Bill Gates on what’s wrong with public schools

Obviously Gates is interested in charter schools; he is funding many of them with his foundation.

Interesting notes in the article for me were:

1) The volunteer effect. The issue is that charter schools will naturally have greater success because they attract motivated families. Of interest is the data that shows that those students who applied but did not win a lottery position, though they do in fact do better than those who never bothered to apply, they still achieve vastly lower grades.

2) Gates’ comment on the size of textbooks here relative to the size of textbooks in Asia; after all, Asian schools seem to outscore North American schools in math all the time. Their textbooks much be bigger and better? Well – yes, they are better. But they are half the size of ours. Greater focus, perhaps?

Just two snippets of information that intrigued me. Read the article yourself by clicking here.


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The periodic table

My son is working on memorizing the periodic table for school. It’s a decent job to do so. 🙂

Of course, my immediate thought was of Dr. Joe Schwarcz and his theme song on CJAD radio – here is what I have found on YouTube. 🙂

Happy science-ing! 🙂


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Rating Teachers; an interesting read in Time mag.

“Rating Teachers” remains a deeply divisive topic.  The LA Times took things a step further when it published ratings using value-added analysis.  This article in Time is a good read.


School of Thought

Rating Teachers: Why Value-Added Analysis is a Problem

Most people assume teachers are held accountable for student learning — seems obvious considering why we have teachers in the first place. In fact, until last year, five states had laws explicitly banning the use of student achievement data in teacher evaluations and only four states required that a teacher’s evaluation be based primarily on students’ test scores. But since the launch last summer of the federal “Race to the Top” program, in which states compete for grant money by implementing education reform, 12 states have passed legislation to improve their teacher evaluations, and all the data “firewalls” are gone.

But in a sign that the push to improve teacher evaluations is at once moving too fast and too slow, the Los Angeles Times last month published a searchable database of the “value-added” scores of 6,000 Los Angeles teachers, boiling down each educator’s effectiveness in the classroom into a single stat. Researchers, teachers’ unions, nonprofit advocates and even Secretary of Education Arne Duncan rushed to praise or condemn the landmark data dump. The numbers had been obtained via California’s Public Records Act and then crunched by a seasoned education analyst. But most parents were baffled — what does “value-added” mean, anyway?

Read more:,8599,2020867,00.html?xid=rss-topstories&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+time%2Ftopstories+%28TIME%3A+Top+Stories%29#ixzz10MLnKatN

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A post with a link to Oprah?

Yes, that’s what this is.

A commissioner friend called me yesterday to ask if I had seen Oprah the other day.

No, I hadn’t.  I hardly have time to blink, let alone to set aside time for Oprah?  Well, I kinda wish I had seen this one.

“The Shocking State of our Schools” was the subject – click here to read all about it.

Yes, this relates to American schools and our Canadian schools are very different.  But.  We do share many of the same woes.  And many of solutions will easily apply here too.

Of great interest to me these days is the success of “Charter Schools”, and if you’re interested in learning more about them and why so many people are excited about them, click here.  The Denver School of Science and Technology is profiled on this page – this is a school that I spent a day touring last November, and frankly, I could not believe just how great this place really seems to be.

Oprah – I would never have thought that I would be posting about Oprah.  🙂



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The Suburban says: Get over it!

In my post on bill 103 the other day, I wrote:

GET OVER IT.  This is yesterday’s argument.  It doesn’t belong in a modern Quebec society.  We are better than this.

I really mean that.  And it was very interesting for me to read this morning an op-ed from The Suburban, with pretty much the same message, but some more fun facts too.

This is just more of the politics of the big lie. But maybe it’s time to talk about a dirty little secret that’s been kept hidden under Quebec’s historical revisionism.

That secret is that since 1976 some 400,000 Francophones have voted with their feet and moved to Toronto. An almost equal number moved to south Florida. Their demographics are different, but their message is the same. Francophones who said “Ca suffit! It’s enough!”

And then, let’s focus for a second on what happens at the university level:

Today another such message is being heard and from the unlikeliest of places: Francophone universities. Students have had enough with being hindered in continental competition. They have had enough with the statist policies of paternalism and control. They know they can compete and they don’t want to be held back anymore. As of last year Montreal had more college and university students than Boston.

The message of young people is clear. Get real! Get with the program! Let us live our lives. The old battles are over. We are comfortable as francophones and as cosmopolitan North Americans. English is not a threat and we’d like to learn even more languages so that our career opportunities can be greater.

The argument against allowing educational choice for all Quebecers is obscene.  The language debate is over.  Only the dinosaurs believe otherwise.  It’s time to move on, and to use this waste of our collective energy to make our Quebec an even better place for all of us.



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Zero Footprint – an eco-challenge for our schools!

If you’re looking for a good way to get your students interested in and involved in the environment and our role in reducing our impact on it, the Zerofootprint Foundation is a great place to see!

The Zerofootprint challenge encourages students across the world to take climate change into their own hands by competing to reduce their school’s environmental impact. Join to measure your footprint, then challenge another school to a race to reduce!

Click here for more…

And thanks to SS for passing this on to me!  🙂



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