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A BCer in Toronto: Where does trustee Harout Manougian really stand on Gay Straight Alliances

Harout Manougian,who is running for re-election as Toronto District School Board trustee in Ward 17 (Don Valley East), is on the record claiming support for Gay Straight Alliances in Toronto schools.  However, troubling past statements by Manougian would seem to put lie to this claim. Less than 10 years ago, here’s what Manougian had to say . . . → Read More: A BCer in Toronto: Where does trustee Harout Manougian really stand on Gay Straight Alliances

Politics and its Discontents: Chris Spence’s ‘Performance: The Reviews Are In

I realize that the subject of Chris Spence is likely of little or no interest to readers of this blog outside of the immediate area, but I cannot apologize for writing what is now my tenth entry on the disgraced former Director of the Toronto District School Board. My anger at his betrayal of . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Chris Spence’s ‘Performance: The Reviews Are In

Politics and its Discontents: When Is Claiming To Take Full Responsibility Just A Platitude?

When it is proclaimed by Chris Spence, the disgraced former Director of the Toronto District School Board who lost his job earlier this year for extensive plagiarism.

In what the Toronto Star describes as a ‘far reaching interview,’ Spence says “there are no excuses for what I did; I didn’t give credit where credit . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: When Is Claiming To Take Full Responsibility Just A Platitude?

Politics and its Discontents: Did Someone Say ‘Byelection’?

I’m certainly glad that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is adhering to her commitment to a new way of doing politics.

I’m sure the Toronto District School Board also appreciates her integrity. Recommend this Post

the reeves report: Finding work a struggle for new teachers in Toronto

Flickr image by spDuchamp.

*** Note: this piece was originally published with OpenFile Toronto on Feb. 10, 2012, but is no longer available online since their website shut down. ***

When Deirdre Dimitroff started teachers college at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in September 2011, she knew the odds of . . . → Read More: the reeves report: Finding work a struggle for new teachers in Toronto

Politics and its Discontents: Why Chris Spence Must Be Fired

It is hardly an insight to observe that ours is a world that bears witness to institutional and organizational failures on a massive scale. Those bodies that should be there to promote and protect the public good have proven far more adept at promoting and protecting their own interests instead. Be they church, government, . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Why Chris Spence Must Be Fired

Politics and its Discontents: Finger-Pointing 2.0

Well, there can be little doubt that both The Toronto District School Board and the Ontario Ministry of Education have fully embraced the digital age. Finger-pointing abounds on both sides.

In the ongoing saga that I think could best be described as a clash between Jimmy Hazel’s union muscle (and please remember that . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Finger-Pointing 2.0

Politics and its Discontents: Jimmy Hazel and His Crew Prevail

As I have mentioned in this blog before, one of the many reasons I respect The Toronto Star is that it doesn’t let its adherence to The Atkinson Principles blind it to good stories, even when those stories may lead to some uncomfortable questions about the abuses that unions are sometimes guilty of. Their . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Jimmy Hazel and His Crew Prevail

Politics and its Discontents: Toronto District School Board Blinks

As I suspected, after yesterday’s Star story about the Toronto District School Board’s outrageous demand for $3.6 million to release work order information related to the costs incurred in their exclusive contract with Jimmy Hazel’s maintenance and construction skilled trades council, the board is singing a different tune today:

The Toronto District . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Toronto District School Board Blinks

Politics and its Discontents: TDSB To Star: It’s Gonna Cost You To See My Hand

The Toronto Star, after conducting an excoriating investigative series on the fiscal incompetence of the Toronto District School Board in its very costly arrangement with Jimmy Hazel’s Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council, has learned the price of getting the complete picture of that incompetence: $3.6 million.

That’s how much officials have . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: TDSB To Star: It’s Gonna Cost You To See My Hand

Politics and its Discontents: The Glacial Pace Of Change At The TDSB

Regarded by some as a master of platitudes, Toronto District School Board Director Chris Spence says that things are getting better.

As outlined in The Star’s investigative series, the board, in the thrall of Jimmy Hazel’s Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council, which forms the backbone of the TDSB’s facilities division, has . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: The Glacial Pace Of Change At The TDSB

Politics and its Discontents: Digital Exercise

With all of the finger-pointing ensuing from the Star’s latest installment on the Toronto District School Board’s questionable relationship with Jimmy Hazel and his Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council, I think it is safe to infer that all involved parties have truly entered the digital age. Recommend this Post . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Digital Exercise

Politics and its Discontents: The Toronto District School Board’s Political Response

While hardly surprising, the decision of TDSB chair, Chris Bolton, to have a facilities committee look into The Star’s embarrassing revelations about its inappropriate and very costly relationship with Jimmy Hazel’s Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council is wholly inadequate.

As today’s Star editorial tartly observes, It was exactly what taxpayers have . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: The Toronto District School Board’s Political Response

Politics and its Discontents: Prepare For The Revolution, A.K.A. Spin, Spin, And More Spin

What is the priority of organizations that are mired in embarrassing public revelations about fraudulent spending of taxpayers money? The development of a good PR plan.

At least that is what I gleaned from Part Three of The Star’s investigation of the Toronto District School Board and its relationship with the Maintenance . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Prepare For The Revolution, A.K.A. Spin, Spin, And More Spin

Politics and its Discontents: The Star Continues Its Investigation

Unless the Toronto District School Board is staffed by a raft of incompetents, it has to have known what is going on.

As I wrote in my blog post yesterday, an investigation by The Toronto Star has revealed theft on a massive scale in the form of grossly inflated charges to . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: The Star Continues Its Investigation

Politics and its Discontents: The Star Continues Its Stellar Work

One of the Atkinson Principles guiding The Toronto Star is to champion the rights of working people; to my ongoing delight and gratification, however, this tenet does not mean the paper gives a free ride to labour and unions.

Today’s edition is ample testament to that fact. Another of its excellent investigations . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: The Star Continues Its Stellar Work

Law is Cool: Islamophobia in Canada: A Primer

by Fathima Cader and Sumayya Kassamali

Ten years after September 11, 2001, the term “Islamophobia,” once largely obscure, has become all but inevitable when discussing contemporary politics. As Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden became household names, Western fear of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims has also grown. Canada has been no stranger to this phenomenon. . . . → Read More: Law is Cool: Islamophobia in Canada: A Primer

Andy Lehrer: Shepherd’s Grandaughter – new update

Back in March and again in April and June, I reported on efforts by Brian Henry, the B’nai Brith and Trustee Sheila Ward to have the Toronto District School Board ban the acclaimed children’s book’ The Shepherd’s Granddaughter because it tells the story of a Palestinian girl who suffers at the hands of Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

Officials of the TDSB reviewed the book and in April ruled that:

the Shepherd’s Granddaughter does not cross the line into literature promoting hate or animosity towards others. On the other hand, it has the potential to engage our Grade 7 and 8 students (a critical age for the development of social consciousness about human society) in understanding the complex issues of their world. The Shepherd’s Granddaughter contains several themes for creative discussions in our classrooms, such as multigenerational families and relationships, aging; experiencing loss; influences of religion and faith; gender roles, and gender stereotypes, effects of family separation through emigration, the value of education… As well, this book can certainly be used to explore issues of bias and prejudice, and that students can learn from such exploration… Having said that, we acknowledge that guidance from the teachers and teacher librarians is important in producing the desired outcomes described above.

 That decision was appealed and an 11 member committee reviewed the book and advised TDSB Director Chris Spence that the book met the Board’s criteria for approval.

Spence issued his decision last week and informed the complainant, Brian Henry, that after reviewing the committee’s report and reading the book himself (something Trustee Ward failed to do before vowing to “move heaven and earth” to ban the book) he agrees with the committee that the book “has the potential to engage our Grade 7 and 8 students . . . in understanding the complex issues of their world.”

You’d think that would be the end of it but school trustee James Pasternak is urging Henry to appeal to trustees to overturn Spence’s decision claiming that the book “has no place in our schools.” Pasternak asserts that “we’ll have enough votes to overturn the decision.”

This should be an election issue. Contact the school trustees at the email addresses below and tell them what you think. You can find out who your trustee is here or you can write all the trustees using the email addresses below:

irene.atkinson@tdsb.on.ca, nadia.bello@tdsb.on.ca, chris@chrisbolton.ca, john.campbell@tdsb.on.ca, sheila.cary-meagher@tdsb.on.ca, shaun.chen@tdsb.on.ca, michael.coteau@tdsb.on.ca, gary.crawford@tdsb.on.ca, cathy.dandy@tdsb.on.ca, bruce.davis@tdsb.on.ca, gerri.gershon@tdsb.on.ca, howard.goodman@tdsb.on.ca, scott.harrison@tdsb.on.ca, john.hastings@tdsb.on.ca, josh@joshmatlow.ca, james.pasternak@tdsb.on.ca, stephnie.payne@tdsb.on.ca, maria.rodrigues@tdsb.on.ca, mari.rutka@tdsb.on.ca, chris.tonks@tdsb.on.ca, sheila.ward@tdsb.on.ca, soo.wong@tdsb.on.ca, gorick.ng@tdsb.on.ca, fan.wu@tdsb.on.ca, david.tomczak@tdsb.on.ca . . . → Read More: Andy Lehrer: Shepherd’s Grandaughter – new update

Canadian Firebrand: Shepherd’s Grandaughter – new update

Back in March and again in April and June, I reported on efforts by Brian Henry, the B’nai Brith and Trustee Sheila Ward to have the Toronto District School Board ban the acclaimed children’s book’ The Shepherd’s Granddaughter because it tells the story of a Palestinian girl who suffers at the hands of Israeli . . . → Read More: Canadian Firebrand: Shepherd’s Grandaughter – new update

Andy Lehrer's Firebrand blog: Shepherd’s Grandaughter – new update

Back in March and again in April and June, I reported on efforts by Brian Henry, the B’nai Brith and Trustee Sheila Ward to have the Toronto District School Board ban the acclaimed children’s book’ The Shepherd’s Granddaughter because it tells the story of a Palestinian girl who suffers at the hands of Israeli . . . → Read More: Andy Lehrer’s Firebrand blog: Shepherd’s Grandaughter – new update

Canadian Firebrand: Shepherd’s Granddaughter Update

Book should stay, school board committee says Final decision rests with education director

A special review committee has recommended that a controversial novel about the Mideast conflict remain available to grades 7 and 8 students in Toronto’s public schools.

The 11-member committee was struck in April after a parent made a formal complaint to the . . . → Read More: Canadian Firebrand: Shepherd’s Granddaughter Update

Andy Lehrer's Firebrand blog: Shepherd’s Granddaughter Update

Book should stay, school board committee says Final decision rests with education director

A special review committee has recommended that a controversial novel about the Mideast conflict remain available to grades 7 and 8 students in Toronto’s public schools.

The 11-member committee was struck in April after a parent made a formal complaint to the . . . → Read More: Andy Lehrer’s Firebrand blog: Shepherd’s Granddaughter Update

Canadian Firebrand: Heaven and earth unmoved

Despite Sheila Ward’s promise to “move heaven and earth to have The Shepherd’s Granddaughter taken off the school library shelves” the Toronto District School Board announced yesterday that they have rejected the demand by Brian Henry and B’nai Brith that the book be withdrawn. According to TDSB official Lloyd McKell: We believe as staff, . . . → Read More: Canadian Firebrand: Heaven and earth unmoved

Andy Lehrer's Firebrand blog: Heaven and earth unmoved

Despite Sheila Ward’s promise to “move heaven and earth to have The Shepherd’s Granddaughter taken off the school library shelves” the Toronto District School Board announced yesterday that they have rejected the demand by Brian Henry and B’nai Brith that the book be withdrawn. According to TDSB official Lloyd McKell: We believe as staff, . . . → Read More: Andy Lehrer’s Firebrand blog: Heaven and earth unmoved

Canadian Firebrand: Trustee Sheila Ward wants to ban a book she hasn’t read

Toronto District School Board Trustee Sheila Ward (Toronto Centre) told the Jewish Tribune this week that she will “move heaven and earth to have The Shepherd’s Granddaughter taken off the school library shelves” in response to a demand by B’nai Brith Canada and parent Brian Henry that the book be removed from school reading . . . → Read More: Canadian Firebrand: Trustee Sheila Ward wants to ban a book she hasn’t read