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The campaign’s first candidate controversy

With the sudden start of the election campaign having forced scrambles to fill nominations, it was only a matter of time until some poorly-vetted candidate embarrassed his or her party. And on Saturday, we got our first such story.

In what must have been a fairly easy bit of opposition research, the provincial Tories dug up some rather unfortunate Facebook post by Jack Uppal – the newly-minted Liberal candidate in the Ottawa-area riding of Nepean-Carleton –  riffing on the differences  between the brainpower of men and women. Among other insights, it offered that while women are better than men at learning languages and at detecting lies, they can’t “find solutions to problems” and don’t have the capacity to read maps.

Mr. Uppal is a classic example of the sort of candidate who tends to cause grief for a party. Not only is he running in a riding where the Liberals don’t have much chance of winning, meaning their candidate search was probably a bit haphazard to begin with; per the Ottawa Citizen’s David Reevely, he had to step in last minute under unusual circumstances.

This little episode is hardly likely to rank among the campaign’s big stories. As a general rule, candidate eruptions tend to only do real damage when they reinforce some negative perception of the party they’re running for. And whatever the other knocks on Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals, sexism isn’t usually one of them.

That might explain why the Liberals are aiming to just brush it off. Their official line seems to be that the post in question (which was actually a re-post of someone else’s words) came before he was a candidate and he’s now taken it down and apologized, so it’s case closed.

Still, it’s a little surprising they haven’t moved to replace Mr. Uppal with someone else, if only because they’re personally offended by what he posted. And if nothing else, that would make it easier for them to make hay when a candidate from another party inevitably gets into hot water for something or other.

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Poll findings shed light on public pressure facing education dispute negotiators

In an opinion poll conducted the weekend before the tentative settlement was reached between teachers and government, Insights West learned some things that demonstrate the mood in the province after so many weeks of a work stoppage. Mario Canseco from the polling firm summarized these findings in a series of tweets last night:

More can be found at the Insights West website

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Reaction from both sides about tentative B.C. teachers’ contract

FROM BCTF NEWS CONFERENCE:

FROM GOVERNMENT NEWS CONFERENCE:

 


 

British Columbians will be hearing from both sides of the B.C. public education labour dispute today. Government leaders Christy Clark and Peter Fassbender are up at 2 p.m., then Jim Iker of the BCTF will speak at 4:30 p.m. From a government media advisory:

Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Peter Fassbender will address the tentative agreement with the BCTF from the Premier’s Vancouver Office.

And a memo from the teachers’ side said this:

BCTF President Jim Iker will speak to media today, September 16, at 4:30 p.m. at the BCTF Building, 550 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver. His remarks will be live streamed at https://new.livestream.com/BCTF/Sept162014.

Stay tuned for developments from these media availabilities.

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Tentative deal reached in B.C. teachers’ strike

UPDATE, 1:12 p.m.

Sources close to the negotiations have told The Globe and Mail that teachers will be asked to vote on a six-year deal that includes total wage hikes of 7.25 per cent, which is similar to the offer that the government’s negotiators put on the table in June, and they will not collect the $1,200 signing bonus that was on the table at that time – that offer expired on June 30.

However the government is putting roughly $100-million into a fund that the union can distribute to its members to address the grievances from the 2002 law that stripped the contract of language on class size and composition.

The main victory for the union is that the government is creating a new education fund that will be used exclusively for members of the BCTF to address issues of class size and composition – the number of special needs students in each classroom. The government had offered to put more money into special needs supports, but had initially planned to share that investment with other educators such as educational assistants who are not part of the BCTF.


 

Veteran mediator Vince Ready, who emerged from the Richmond, B.C., hotel early Tuesday morning after another marathon negotiation session, had this to say: “After all these hours I’m very pleased to announced the parties have reached a tentative agreement. I’m not at liberty to release any of the details, nor are the parties. The parties are going to meet later this morning and finalize a few of the outstanding details, but generally speaking there has been a tentative agreement initialed by the parties.”

A ratification vote is expected on Thursday, according to BCTF spokeswoman Nancy Knickerbocker.

So when might schools officially open again?  Vancouver School Board chair Patti Bacchus predicts it will take several days — after the vote — for things to get back to normal: “There is a lot of work and classroom/timetable organization that normally would have started at the end of June and been completed by now,” she said in an email.

“I know principals and VPs have being doing as much of that as they can and I understand the expectation is that we would open within a day or two of an agreement being in place (may require ratification etc). That could be part of the ongoing negotiations as well.

“However it unfolds, it will certainly take several days to get things settled to the point they would normally be at this time of year.”

Here’s our latest news story with developments in the deal to end the strike.

Government-appointed negotiator Peter Cameron takes a walk during a break from negotiations at the Delta Vancouver Airport in Richmond, B.C., on Monday night. (Ben Nelms for The Globe and Mail)

Government-appointed negotiator Peter Cameron takes a walk during a break from negotiations at the Delta Vancouver Airport in Richmond, B.C., on Monday night. (Ben Nelms for The Globe and Mail)

With a report from Justine Hunter in Victoria

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Social media roundup: Tuesday morning photos reflect optimism as tentative deal announced

Pictures shared on social media this morning tell the story: People are excited about a probable end to the teachers strike.

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Worth reading: Pondering the best way to execute change in the education system

A B.C. blogger who has been a District Parent Advisory Council president, among other education-related roles, published a post Sunday on the difficulties of making change in the education system. Heidi Hass Gable‘s thesis in the post is that transformational change, if done using a “start fresh” approach, could jeopardize the future of a cohort of students, and that no child’s future is expendable in this way. She finds herself concerned with the aims of both sides in the teachers’ labour dispute:

Simply moving to smaller class sizes or hiring more specialist teachers won’t suddenly make our school system truly inclusive – it won’t necessarily meet the needs of our most complex and vulnerable learners. That’s the part of the BCTF’s approach that worries me the most – it lacks strategy and, I fear, threatens to entrench our system further into dysfunctional paradigms. More of what we used to have isn’t necessarily what we need now.

We need to see both an investment in education AND we need thoughtful, focused strategies for using that money to meet the needs of all students! How would we do that?

We need a clear focus and commitment (or we need to demand this) from government on a transition that doesn’t “throw away” kids who need more help in the meantime. We need leadership in setting our “direction” as inclusive (first and foremost) AND personalized/relevant – and the planning/funding to match.

Read the rest of her argument via the link below.

I was thinking…

I’ve been pondering change in education quite a lot – for many years. I’ve been a parent of three wonderful (and non-neurotypical) kids in the public system for twelve years now. I was DPAC president for almost six years. I’ve been on Ministry and District advisory committees.

 

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