Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Feb. 19: Well, it could have been a big story....

The lead headline is that lots of babies were born in Moncton Hospital on Valentine's Day. Now, what does this mean? How does it change our lives? Well, it could mean that 13 couples got together nine months ago, went through all the statistics and medical figures, and figured out exactly the right time to....to.....you know..to....

Or, since it happened at the anglo hospital, it could mean that English-speaking Monctonians have launched a revenge of the cradle, a drive to maintain dominance in the province by having more babies than the Acadians. And if so, this could turn into a mammoth struggle fought out hand to hand as it were on the beds of the province - with the possibility of a movie.

If it isn't one of those, I damned if I see why this is a front page headline.

The only other item of interest in the section, and the one that should have been the headline was a report that ex-premier Shawn Graham improperly handed over loans which left tax-payers on the hook for 75 million dollars. The loans went to a company his father was associated with. Obviously, he should have excused himself from the committee that made that decision.

He said he didn't know his father was still involved with the company. Hint - pick up phone, say, "hey, dad..." It must be highly unlikely this was a simple mistake. As well, if his father was with that company for many years, Shawn Graham might well have other friends in it.

We're in the hole for 75 mil. The punishment? A whacking $3,500 - less than the cost of the enquiry. Oh, and he's been asked to say he's sorry. I could get worse for failing to pay my ticket for overnight parking.
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I do, however, congratulate the TandT for carrying a story I thought it would ignore. First Nations children, from the late nineteenth century to 1990 were forcibly sent to residential schools. There, the death rate was so  high from disease, insanitary conditions, inadequate diet, fires, that well over 3000 children died. (Actually, the final figure is likely to be much higher.) The death rate was so high that schools were commonly supplied with graveyards when they were built.

The article does not mention the wide-scale sexual and physical abuse of the children which is part of the report this story is based on.

Gee. I wonder why First Nations people don't trust us.

The rest of NewsToday is a waste of time.
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Warning - read the editorial. I'm quite sure this is the opening shot of the war to take over our public schools. It's look gentle and innocent. These take-over attempts usually look that way. Big business wants to get our children. There's money in them. And I strongly suspect this editorial owes something to Jamie Irving, eminent authority on education, Chairman of New Brunswick Literacy Commission - and publisher of the Irving press.

As these things always do, the editorial sounds innocent. It suggests annual surveys of student opinion to assess the quality of teachers and programmes. (After all, that's the way it's done in business - sort of.)

Trouble is that the editor  (and whoever at head office told him to write this bilge) doesn't know what he's talking about.

In my early days of teaching, I was one of the minority of teachers who thought student evaluation of courses and teachers was a great idea. In my time, I was the subject of hundreds of such evaluations. And of those hundreds, only one was (deservedly) bad. Indeed, my course evaluations were almost always among the best. And it wasn't because of easy grades. In fact, my grading was generally considered pretty tough.

There are at least of couple of these evaluations, with student comments, on google. So you can check them out. (one is listed under rate  your prof.)

And, as I learned over the years, they don't matter a poop. They don't lead to any changes. They have virtually no impact on teaching quality or on curriculum.

Because:
Students have no idea of how to evaluate teachers or curricula. Sitting in a classroom  does not make one an authority on education. If it did, we'd all be experts. Most students (and almost all university teachers) have almost no idea of what education means.

I had an operation for appendicitis. I'm still alive. And that's nice. But I would have no idea how to evaluate that operation or that doctor.

It was always nice to get a good evaluation. But it had no effect on how I taught. That was always based on my own evaluation of what students needed to learn and how they could best learn it. Students were in no position to offer help on that.

Bad evaluations had no effect whatever on teachers who received them. They just confirmed their opinion that the students were immature little rotters. Those teachers who did well
were dismissed as just being popular for telling jokes in class and giving easy marks.

For educational purposes, the idea is useless. But for a big corporation looking for a gradual take-over, this opens the door - with business generously offering to conduct the surveys at no charge. We'll call it a partnership. Yeah, that's it. A  Public-Private-Partnership.... Keep your eye on your children and your hand on your wallet as you watch Jamie Irving of the Literacy Commission (funded by who?) slither across the editorial column.
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Norbert is ranting again. I just get so excited when his moustache wiggles with rage that I get pimply all over. This time, it's the cowardly 'anti-social' media. That means people like me, the Moncton Free Press, and the many bloggers organized and unorganized across the province.

The word ' cowardly' really strikes home, of course, coming as it does from a man who's never been afraid to stand right up to people like the Irvings and say, "I think I see a teeny big of dust on your jacket, Mr. Irving. May I pick it up?"

He says the "anti-social" media promotes a mindless herd mentality - unlike Norbert and the TandT which provides us with stimulating information and piercing insight.

Oh, yesm those awful 'anti-social' media often say that politicians are dishonest. (Not true, says Norbert.)

Norbert, this is an ignorant and illogical rant. However, I think it would be an excellent one to debate in public. I would be happy to take part in that debate. And it would give you a wonderful chance to show what a fool I am.

How about it, kid?

The loser gets to pick the lint off Mr. Irving's clothes.
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Alec Bruce has an interesting column about transit and Toronto. But it has meaning for Moncton, too.
Within a decade, Moncton transit will be a serious problem because of the city sprawl, the price of gas, and the very weak position of mass transit. Toronto's Mr. Ford is not the only mayor with his head stuck in the sand, leaving exposed "...another part of (his) body on which the sky tends to fall."

I apologize for the coarsely sexual language in the above paragraph. I was  quoting Mr. Bruce.__________________________________________________________________

Alan Cochrane's column is neither well written nor of any possibly interest or importance whatever. That seems to be a requirement to get a job at the TandT.

Louise Gilbert raises an interesting point about making immigrants, especially older ones, welcome to Moncton. Moncton seems a little weak on this, somethng that must make it difficult for immigrants in which they are a small minority in a city already small.

And a city in which the daily newspaper does not seem to recognize their existence, not even on its Faith page.





















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