Thursday, August 3, 2023

Back to Basics - Again

Leece's new and improved education system that he's flogging all over the place is keen on "Back to Basics" rhetoric, despite it being an archaic mantra. Conservatives love that old-school shit. Besides maybe a few people for whom it's a dog whistle indicating their anti-CRT side is winning, people have myriad ways of hating it:

  • It implies that teachers are currently not teaching any reading or math, offending all the teachers and many parents who support them.
  • It suggests removing "extras" like art, music, and phys ed. 
  • It could mean some way of taking out any form of critical thinking or questioning of authority or any education around discrimination, implicit bias, or sex education so we create a society of automatons who will do as they're told instead of provoking thinking, caring adults.
  • It's a way to get parents rooting for this alpha display of control just before they see how diminished educational funding really affects schools come fall.
Because what else does "new measures that will better refocus school boards on academic achievement and the development of life and job skills" even mean??? What are those measures besides make sure to teach what you've already been teaching for years. 

The creepy part is this: "reforms include the new authority for our government to set binding priorities on school boards," which implies taking over control of boards. 

Here's the thing about that: As a teacher, I barely noticed the school board's existence. If it's well run, we shouldn't notice it. In the classroom, new school board policies that cause a ruckus are barely acknowledged, or only briefly. For a while, it was a really big deal that we had to put the specific curriculum outcomes for each lesson on the board. Some teachers put up posters of all their curricular outcomes so they could just point to them. I went the other way and ignored it until everyone forgot about it. That works too. And AER, which seemed like a huge change, wasn't really a big deal once we all found ways around it - using their wording - so we could largely do what we had already been doing.

The board immediately affects the classroom when they do something silly, like insist that students should be allowed to watch the Olympics during class time. 

Or that time when we went into the OG lockdown, and they insisted marks couldn't be lowered after March Break for any reason to lower stress levels, indicating to students that school was all but over, forgetting that some of us (Civics and Careers teachers) were just getting a new ½ term class of kids, many of whom refused to do any work because the board told them they didn't have to. 

The province already has total control over the curriculum for subjects, and remember when they tried to get rid of sex ed?? So they tried to change things there and failed. 

Beyond that, control over the board means no money. They can make things so tight that there's no funding for any special ed programs, no new equipment for music, art, drama, or gym, and nothing for extra-curriculars. And then watch more ads for private schools popping up with all the fancy extras!  

Then there's this really stupid bit:

Lecce's demanding to know the agenda of PA days two weeks in advance, which I believe they already do -- I mean, most of the time teachers know the agenda that early and sometimes have choices even. It's a way to pretend that the agendas were previously a secret! It suggests he has a measure of control over those days, as if he'll wipe out any "woke" topics from the agenda. That's just a display of power that he doesn't really have. Letting parents know about it is his way of appeasing the tiny group of parents who want full control over everything teachers do in schools. That's a display of hopeful power that they don't really have either. 

If teachers want to talk about trans or race issues and an admin dares to shut that down, teachers will just talk among themselves, educating one another in their field as the professionals they are. There's no stopping the drive of teachers wanting to know more in order to do their best work! 

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