Categories

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

mark a rayner: Did I Miss Anything?

Question frequently asked by students after missing a class by Tom Wayman The Astonishing Weight of the Dead. Vancouver: Polestar, 1994. Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here we sat with our hands folded on our desks in silence, for the full two hours Everything. I gave an exam worth 40 per cent of the . . . → Read More: mark a rayner: Did I Miss Anything?

Left Over: SuperCrusty and the Lazy Opposition Don’t Come to Blows

B.C. teachers’ strike: Union rejects premier’s demand to suspend strike Union says government remains entrenched, inflexibile and unwilling to bargain.

CBC News Posted: Sep 03, 2014 10:51 AM PT Last Updated: Sep 04, 2014 7:58 AM PT

All of you 5 cent a comment Liberal trolls can say and think what you . . . → Read More: Left Over: SuperCrusty and the Lazy Opposition Don’t Come to Blows

Melissa Fong: The BC education system is broken

I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to go to a school where there wasn’t a regular community of teachers who knew each other and watched me […]

Canadian Political Viewpoints: We Also Accept First-Born Children

Source: CBC News: Saskatchewan Tuition Increase Highest in CanadaSource: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: Paul Gingrich: After the Freeze: Restoring University Affordability in Saskatchewan Source: Macleans OnCampus: Sask. NDP Commit to Tuition FreezeSource: Macleans OnCampus: Saskatchewan Party Pledges Affordability Source: News Talk 650: Wall Reacts to NDP Post Secondary PlatformSource: Saskatoon Homepage: UofS Salaries Questioned . . . → Read More: Canadian Political Viewpoints: We Also Accept First-Born Children

Canadian Political Viewpoints: We Also Accept First-Born Children

Source: CBC News: Saskatchewan Tuition Increase Highest in Canada
Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: Paul Gingrich: After the Freeze: Restoring University Affordability in Saskatchewan
Source: Macleans OnCampus: Sask. NDP Commit to Tuition Freeze
Source: Macleans OnCampus: Saskatchewan Party Pledges Affordability
Source: News Talk 650: Wall Reacts to NDP Post Secondary Platform
Source: Saskatoon Homepage: UofS Salaries Questioned Ahead of Projected Deficit 

In a continuing trend for the government of Brad Wall, Saskatchewan’s tuition rates soared higher than a NASA based program for this academic year. Since removing the tuition freeze when first coming to power, the news of Saskatchewan’s higher learning facilities raising tuition rates has been as regular as morning breath.

It seems with each passing academic year, the universities find themselves in need of raising tuition levels. It feels a bit like the Weimar Republic; just keep printing money and devaluing the currency until we sort the mess out. Only instead of deflating, we’re inflating the cost of higher education.

But Saskatchewan’s increasing tuition rates were national news this time around, as our province  had the single largest increase of 4.7%. This even outpaces the standard increase levels of 3.4% noted by sociologist Paul Gingrich; you can read Paul’s full paper on the subject by checking out our sources at the top.

So, we’re outpacing ourselves it would seem on the race to the bottom.

We also managed to make programs for graduate students more expense (4.9% more expensive) and programs for international students more expense (6.7%). This has also taken Saskatchewan’s tuition for an undergraduate student to the SECOND HIGHEST in Canada; with an average of $6,394.

Let’s do the math on that.

So, a 4 year undergraduate degree for tuition costs: $25,576 in tuition alone. Add on to that the monumental cost of textbooks (Rarely do you find a textbook under $100, and some classes require you to purchase between 2 – 5 books, which you will sometimes rarely use), the cost of housing, the cost of food, recreational expenses (include alcohol for the party-hardy crowd), and we’re probably look at between $35,000 (on the low ball) and $50,000 (high ball) for a four year degree.

 And to date, what has the Wall Government done to help students out?

Let’s start with the good, as there’s only one thing to talk about there. The Wall Government expanded the Graduate Retention Program; by allowing students who stayed in Saskatchewan to receive up to $20,000 of their tuition back over a four year period.

The problem with the Retention Program, and as an habitually unemployed graduate I can speak with some authority here, is that it will rarely be used by the student to pay down their debt load. If a graduate is staying in Saskatchewan, but continually can’t find employment, that rebate money is going towards food in their belly and a roof over their head…Not paying down their student loan debt.

It’s sort of like the infamous ‘beer and popcorn’ complaint about the Child Tax Credit idea. Sure, we want our graduates to spend that money on getting out of debt, but there are other expenses that jump to the front of the queue, especially expenses that involve staying alive.

So, let’s move on to the bad.

In 2007, the epitome of Wall’s post-secondary education program was to give all high school graduates $2,000 over four years to knock $500 of their yearly tuition. So, looking at the average, Premier Wall gives new students an average tuition of $5,894 a year…And only if they’re coming directly from high school to university.

Though, Wall apparently does understand post-secondary education to a degree. After all, in 2011, when responding to the NDP’s platform of reinstating a tuition freeze, Wall had this to say:

“We’ve seen huge increases when freezes inevitably come off.”

Well, he’s certainly living up to that expected vision of what happens when a tuition freeze disappears. Wall also warned that tuition freezes place a university in trouble if a government doesn’t live up to it’s funding commitments under a freeze.

Were we not paying attention when he was making these comments? He basically laid out, par for the course, what was going to happen to post-secondary education. A untrustworthy government backing out of financial commitments to the universities, and huge increases to tuition in a post-freeze era.

Does this mean every time Wall rings a warning bell about something, we should be nailing down the hatches and waiting for when his government brings that exact scenario to fruition?

After all, Wall’s 2011 election platform talked about increased funding to post-secondary institutions; yet we’ve heard for the last two years, if not more, how the government is not providing adequate funding. After all, the UofS is currently looking for ways to shave 10% of its current budget to avoid a potential $40 million dollar shortfall by 2016; and they’re doing so by looking for people to layoff.

I need to have a side note here, just for a moment. Wall’s underfunding of post-secondary institutions is only part of the problem. The other part is the administration of these post-secondary institutions. Ilene Busch-Vishniac, President of the University of Saskatchewan, made waves when she announced that hers (and other key administrators) salaries, benefits, and bonuses were not on the chopping block.

In addition to her $400,000 a year salary, Busch-Vishniac also receives the following perks:

  • $12,000 per year allowance for a vehicle
  • $7,500 per year allowance on financial and tax assistance, 
  • 6 weeks of paid vacation a year
  • 1 Rent-free home (though, technically, it’s a mansion and it’s located on Campus)
  • $253.49 a month for health and dental insurance plan

Then there’s the other senior administrators who have similar perks. The UofS has defended this move by saying that top administrators amount to just 0.36% of the overall budget; and then tacks on the standard line about needing perks and top pay to ‘attract and retain’ professionals.

Am I the only who thinks that attracting and retaining professionals is good when that it tacks onto actual professors?  I think most people would be fine with recruiting and paying a world-class researcher or expert in their field to teach at the University; but we start to run into issues when we apply this designation to administrators behind the scenes.

Yes, we want competent people running the administration of the school; there’s no debate about that. But do we really need $400,000 + perks of competence? When Peter MacKinnon started his term as President, his yearly wage was $200,000. And over less than a decade, it has doubled for his predecessor.

And given the perks included, especially a rent-free house, there’s very little room to argue for ‘living expenses’ here. An administrator could survive EASILY on $200,000 a year. Hell, an administrator can survive COMFORTABLY on $100,000.

Ultimately, when students talk about where to go, they don’t discuss the Administration. They discuss the programs, the faculty, the atmosphere, and the tuition. The current administration at the UofS is putting the horse before the cart; you shouldn’t be talking about attracting and retaining exceptional administrators, but rather attracting exceptional students.

The point of education is to educate; not fatten the school’s purse and dole out the largesse to administrators. If that’s a university’s goal, here’s a suggestion to potential students, DON’T GO THERE.

Now that we’ve shared equal blame with the universities, let’s get back to Brad Wall.

His government has talked about funding post-secondary institutions, but consistently missed the mark on actually providing this funding. It’s a good soundbite during an election, of course, but quickly forgotten once in government. After all, there’s more important things, like banjo playing, to be done.

If Wall is going to continue to allow tuition raise to rise (Ontario is still ahead of us, maybe when he talks about Saskatchewan being number one, this was on his hit list of items), then he at least needs to follow through on funding promises to the universities that will allow them to reduce tuition.

There’s a lot more I could say about this issue, but I’ll wrap it up with this thought.

Education is not a privilege, it is a right. The fact that we educate our children up to grade twelve on the taxpayer dollar (another education sector this government is currently failing) supports this argument. Education doesn’t just enrich the person who undergoes it, but their entire community by creating skilled individuals who can contribute their knowledge back.

When you make education impossible to access, you are condemning a generation. Not just economically, but personally. Education enriches, its one of the few things in life that rarely does harm to a person. Denying education creates problems; while providing education creates solutions.

And that’s a message we can all support.

. . . → Read More: Canadian Political Viewpoints: We Also Accept First-Born Children

The Canadian Progressive: 16 Schools Across Canada to Leave Canadian Federation of Students

16 colleges and universities across Canada, including the University of Toronto, have petitioned to leave the national student lobby group, Canadian Federation of Students.

The post 16 Schools Across Canada to Leave Canadian Federation of Students appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

The Canadian Progressive: Canadian Medical Students Condemn Conservatives’ Refugee Health Cuts

The Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) and the Fédération médicale étudiante du Québec (FMEQ), condemn the federal government’s cuts to essential health services for refugees.

This press release:

OTTAWA, June 17, 2013 – On June 17th, 2013, National Day of Action Against Refugee Health Cuts, the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) and . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Canadian Medical Students Condemn Conservatives’ Refugee Health Cuts

Left Over: Still Squeezing the Poor…Into Inadequate Housing

Bad landlords face licensing crackdown

With multiple tenants crammed into decrepit properties, one London borough is taking direct action

Lisa Bachelor The Guardian, Friday 14 June 2013 14.46 BST

Here in British Columbia, Canada, especially in Vancouver (and I suspect, any other major city in the country) such criminally sub-standard crowding exists alongside single . . . → Read More: Left Over: Still Squeezing the Poor…Into Inadequate Housing

elementalpresent: Who’s Driving? A Response to 4Front Atlantic’s GPS for Atlantic Canada

What we are all looking for…is the readymade, competent man [sic]; the man whom some one else has trained. It is only when we fully realize that our duty, as well as our opportunity, lies in systematically cooperating to train and to make this competent man, instead of in hunting for a man whom . . . → Read More: elementalpresent: Who’s Driving? A Response to 4Front Atlantic’s GPS for Atlantic Canada

The Canadian Progressive: Harper Conservatives Nuked More Than 15,000 Public Service Jobs in 2012

By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive: A report tabled in the House of Commons last Friday reveals that the Harper Conservatives nuked more than 15,000 public service jobs last year, 8,000 of them fulltime positions. Strangely, the cuts seem to be waging a war against Canadian women and the future. 7,000 of the gutted . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Harper Conservatives Nuked More Than 15,000 Public Service Jobs in 2012

The Canadian Progressive: Rehtaeh Parsons: Anonymous Says It Has Rape Confession

By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive: Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year old Canadian teen, committed suicide last week after being gang-raped and shamed online. Anonymous says one of the three boys involved in the assault has confessed and is willing to name his alleged accomplices. The hactivist collective issued the following statement on Friday: FOR . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Rehtaeh Parsons: Anonymous Says It Has Rape Confession

The Canadian Progressive: Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario: Student group launches campus toolkit to fight sexual violence

“Colleges and universities must take a holistic approach to address violence against women” By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive: The Ontario chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students today launched a toolkit that will help Canadian and organization to address sexual violence at the province’s colleges and universities. The toolkit, a collection of best . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario: Student group launches campus toolkit to fight sexual violence

The Scott Ross: Who Is Responsible For Connecticut?

You are.

We’re all responsible for Connecticut.

All the causes that led up to the tragedy yesterday were known before from other horrible events but we did nothing to prevent them.

Days of rational discussion have passed since a gun man shot up a theatre in Colorado, countless debates have occurred since US Representative Gabrielle . . . → Read More: The Scott Ross: Who Is Responsible For Connecticut?

elementalpresent: ‘Hipster’ is not a real job. Neither is not having a job.

Last week, the CCPA released a report (authored by yours truly) about youth un- and underemployment in Canada. It showed that, while youth unemployment in Canada is not insubstantial – 14.1% in 2011, up from 12.9% in 2006 – it’s still “low” compared to other OECD countries. In Greece, for example, the rate was 44.4% . . . → Read More: elementalpresent: ‘Hipster’ is not a real job. Neither is not having a job.

elementalpresent: Let’s not get carried away with Helicopter Parents

University and college classes start today for one of the most cash-strapped, debt-burdened, under-employed cohorts of post-secondary students this country has ever seen.[1] But that’s not the story. Instead, on the radio, in the newspaper, online and among many university instructors, the focus is on “entitled” students, “coddled” first-years, and “helicopter parents.” I’m especially ashamed . . . → Read More: elementalpresent: Let’s not get carried away with Helicopter Parents

The Liberal Scarf: "Students putting students first" – Ontario Student Trustees’ Association calls Putting Students First Act "a fair deal", but will the NDP and Catherine Fife listen?

The NDP and Catherine Fife have already come out against the Putting Students First Act, but will they listen to the students of Ontario themselves or their big union money interests?

Here’s what the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association says about the Liberal government moving to make sure students are in class from day one of . . . → Read More: The Liberal Scarf: "Students putting students first" – Ontario Student Trustees’ Association calls Putting Students First Act "a fair deal", but will the NDP and Catherine Fife listen?

The Liberal Scarf: With education on the line, will Tim Hudak flip-flop on a wage freeze like he did on full day kindergarten?

We know Tim Hudak’s position on full day kindergarten for Ontario families has gone from this:

To this

“Tim Hudak…condemned the program, which is to be fully rolled out by 2014″

with Hudak’s double flip-flop backed by Kitchener-Waterloo Progressive Conservative candidate Tracey Weiler:

“Weiler said that she “supports the leader’s position” on halting the rollout of . . . → Read More: The Liberal Scarf: With education on the line, will Tim Hudak flip-flop on a wage freeze like he did on full day kindergarten?

CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE WORLD: A CLASSE act for Quebec’s next provincial election

Should an election be called, the more militant group of the Quebec student protest movement will mobilze students against ideology and neo-liberal politics. That’s according to CLASSE’s new manifesto, recently launched by Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (pictured), the organization’s spokesman. The manifesto focuses on four core themes: democracy, feminism, social justice and ecology.

RELATED: Quebec Student Protest . . . → Read More: CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE WORLD: A CLASSE act for Quebec’s next provincial election

elementalpresent: How to Eliminate Tuition Fees (and do it right)

Quebec student group CLASSE has come forward with an offer of what it would take to end their almost four-month strike: the elimination of tuition fees by 2016. The plan is based on taxing banks, starting at 0.14 per cent per cent this year, and rising to 0.7 per cent over the next four. According . . . → Read More: elementalpresent: How to Eliminate Tuition Fees (and do it right)

Left Over: The Little School Board that Could….

Okay, kids, gather around, and I’ll tell you a tale of courage and honesty that you will be sure to think is fiction, but, no, it really happened, once upon a time..it’s really true.

In the wilds of the kingdom of Canada, in the little valley of Cowichan, far, far away from the dread fortress . . . → Read More: Left Over: The Little School Board that Could….

Tattered Sleeve: Paint It, Red

But the sound wasn’t sad!Why, this sound sounded merry!It couldn’t be so!But it WAS merry! VERY!

Reports are the casserole protests continued tonight. Thousands marching up St-Laurent Blvd earlier this fine evening. Good for them. “That’s the spirit,” as my eight-year-old son likes to say.

You know, for months I was reluctant to . . . → Read More: Tattered Sleeve: Paint It, Red

Tattered Sleeve: Paint It, Red

But the sound wasn’t sad!
Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so!
But it WAS merry! VERY!

Reports are the casserole protests continued tonight. Thousands marching up St-Laurent Blvd earlier this fine evening. Good for them. “That’s the spirit,” as my eight-year-old son likes to say.

You know, for months I was reluctant to get behind this particular student-led movement. It really left a bad taste in my mouth every time I heard about “striking” students thwarting others from attending classes. And like many others I spoke with, “strike” (or its french equivalent, “grève”, rhymes with Bev) seemed a misnomer. If anything, these guys were boycotting their classes, or at the very least, “protesting”. But calling it a strike seemed disingenuous.

I am however, a tolerant Canadian, so I did not quibble with them throwing bricks on subway tracks to get attention when the hardline Quebec Liberal government of Jean Charest refused to even meet with them and hear their grievances. It was not very becoming of Charest, but then again, he is a pompous ass, and when you knowingly elect a pompous ass, you have to expect to live with that devil you knew and know. He was, after all, merely a young pup when learning the tricks of the trade within Mulroney’s cabinet.

But once he had had enough of these unwavering protesters, his pomposity grew to such outbound proportions with his Bill 78 that I knew in a heartbeat that rather than making a Swift, Decisive, Strong Leader decision, he had instead impetuously shat the provincial bed.

I look on it now as my Grinch moment. It awakened me.

There I was, hand cocked to ear, sitting atop Mount Crumpet with all the self-righteousness of the many people like me, feeling unlawfully hindered from wending our little ways through the workings of life to get to our woefully underpaid jobs. I was fully (gosh, naively) expecting to hear the mea culpas from CLASSE spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and the others. And like all those who’d poo-pooed the movement and quietly categorized them as uber-brats, I had expected them to back down and accept that they were about to be firmly screwed again. The way I got screwed. The way we all have been getting screwed by the untenable but nonetheless well-embraced mantra of neo-liberalism that doesn’t know anything other than sucking every ounce of life from the 99.9% to feed the self-important point-0-one.

But this generation of students? Nuh-uh. They wouldn’t – and won’t – have any of it, even though Bill 78 meant these students had just had their whole semesters scuppered.

But just like the Whos in Whoville who had been robbed of all their worldly possessions, the “entitled” young buggers came right back out into the commons anyway. They came out in numbers much greater than what wept for Maurice Richard’s passing, and they sang their protest song on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012. Over a hundred thousand people marched in bold defiance of a law that so obviously contravenes our utmost rights (bestowed by the people to those that rule us, remember, not the other way around), even the dimmest of voters could not help but see it.

We all heard them; me from the 8th floor office on de Maisonneuve Blvd where I earn subsistence wages for an American company that constantly insists none of us may take a sick day without later furnishing a Doctor’s note, never mind that it’s against Quebec law to ask for that for absences of less than three days.

I went down to the street on my break and watched the marchers head down Peel Street. They were joyously defiant. They had all the violence of a John Lennon or Ghandi.

They were on the right side of history, I figured.

For what I had heretofore failed to see was that the tuition increase wasn’t all they were protesting. The increase, or “Hausse” was more like the straw that broke the camel’s back – the camel that the mass media was always looking beyond because it figured nobody cared so much about camels as about Kardashians. And if it’s sad that they are right in that assumption, it’s also true that they had a big hand in making it so.

I guess I didn’t relate because my own experience in university was that tuition kept going up each year, but my parents (what foresight!) had been saving for me and my sister since we were tots to make sure we had money to get a degree. And they had expected it to be a lot more expensive than it turned out to be.

My first year at Concordia University was also the last year of a long-standing tuition fee freeze (1988), and my contract for a full year’s study, including extra administrative costs, was all of $750. After that, there was books and living expenses of course. And I did my bit. I toiled unrewarded as a volunteer student journalist; I paid my way and switched to studying part-time once the $350-a-year increases kicked-in in 1989, working minimum wage at McDonald’s – a real Flaherty job if ever there was one.

Since graduation, I have found the market for my writing, my reporting, indeed the sum of my skills learned within the two departments of Journalism and Communications, to be drier than a James Bond martini. The jobs just haven’t been there, and when they were, I jumped at them, only to find myself jammed-up with numerous others, like the hammers of an old manual typewriter all struck at once, with none eventually hitting the ribbon, but left with no recourse save full retreat.

I am 43 years old, with two dependants and an ex-wife. I had to start over last year, grateful as hell to find employment that provides good family benefits and a measure of security (not maternity-leave replacement or fixed-term contract work, but permanent, full-time with vacation), despite the fact it pays less than I made twelve years ago as a McDonald’s manager.

So if the greater message is that this society is just not providing opportunity for the average Joe and Josephine, yeah, I get it.

And as someone who is squarely in the red, living in a tiny apartment with no money to go on vacations and unable to set aside anything for my kids’ education, let alone my own retirement (which I imagine won’t come before I am 70, if not 67 – unlike the tsk-tsk-ing well-heeled Boomer generation that is so disgusted by all this protesting), you bet I get it. Even Arcade Fire and Mick Jagger get it.

So I am with you. Sorry I wasn’t listening earlier. That’s what happens when you’re working for the clampdown. I always loved that song. Now I’ve lived it.

Not the way I’d hoped.

*Photo: thanks, Aly Neumann! . . . → Read More: Tattered Sleeve: Paint It, Red

elementalpresent: On Strike from Life as we Know it

The Quebec Government just announced a “special law” intended to bring an end to the 14-week student strike in that province. The law would postpone the rest of this semester and allow current students to finish it in August before starting school again in October. The announcement came on the heels of a particularly contentious . . . → Read More: elementalpresent: On Strike from Life as we Know it

Tattered Sleeve: Québec Students: You’re Coming Along

After school is over you’re playing in the parkDon’t be out too late, don’t let it get too darkThey tell you not to hang around and learn what life’s aboutAnd grow up just like them, won’t you let it work it out

As I type this, thousands of youth are out in the streets of . . . → Read More: Tattered Sleeve: Québec Students: You’re Coming Along

Tattered Sleeve: Québec Students: You’re Coming Along

After school is over you’re playing in the parkDon’t be out too late, don’t let it get too darkThey tell you not to hang around and learn what life’s aboutAnd grow up just like them, won’t you let it work it outAs I type this, thousands of youth are ou… . . . → Read More: Tattered Sleeve: Québec Students: You’re Coming Along