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Monthly Archives: July 2013

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

The recent record of teachers’ high absenteeism, including many 3-day weekends, demonstrates serious irresponsibility.

The generous terms of their employment – high salaries, big pensions, generous benefits, 6-hour days, and 8-month years – aren’t enough for them.

And when a teacher is absent for no good reason, the public is required to pay two salaries each day.

During labor negotiations we always hear the teachers’ special-interest plea about kids’ education needs, but teachers behaving this way really care about kids, don’t they? Or for that matter, care about anyone else?

Of course, the real problem is, and always has been, that teachers pretty much answer to no one once they are hired into a school.

And the problem is made worse by the fact that the entire system – from principals and superintendents to directors – is run by teachers, actually teachers who’ve left the class room and don’t want to teach any more.

And what is the genuine competence of the average teacher with his or her general BA and a few months at an academically-meaningless teachers’ college? Not much.

If the public doesn’t demand more for public education, we’ll never get it. Remember – setting aside former-Premier McGuinty’s years of empty rhetoric – Ontario in no way stands out in the world of education.

And now we have another premier, a former teacher as it happens, who will give and give and demand nothing in return – a formula for labor peace and political advantage but having nothing to do with genuine education.

We need an entirely new way of hiring and training teachers if we are to have reform.

Any motivated university graduate with an academic major or at least two minors or any motivated middle-aged professional should be able to spend two years in the class room as a substitute under supervision.

Eliminate the academically-meaningless teachers’ colleges.

And forget the overblown and inaccurate notion of teaching as a profession.

It is not, it is an avocation, an art, a skill, and sadly not enough of our current teachers, despite the formal qualification of teachers’ college, possess it.

And you must have something you know thoroughly – music, math, English – in order to teach effectively, which is not the case for so many general BAs. Indeed teachers’ colleges promote the fatuous notion of teachers as some kind of vaguely-defined facilitators who needn’t be expert in the subjects they teach.

Making teachers’ college a 2-year proposition – as our McGuintyesque Premier Wynne has done – is a guaranteed waste of resources and no route to improving education.

And we badly need real management of our schools – people who understand the effective management of human and physical resources – not the money-wasting system of boards and principles we have now.
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From a reader:
“Those who can, TEACH. Those who can’t, CRITICIZE. (I’m neither a teacher nor a critic of teachers.)”

You’ve got the quote wrong, and your error is revealing.

Shaw said:

“Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

A criticism of teachers from a wry, inveterate critic.

A world without serious critics would be an impoverished one indeed.

Some of the greats included Shaw, Voltaire, Johnson, Orwell, and Swift.

People like this writer want the same tired band to march in the same tired parade, playing the same tired tunes.

So, according to this writer, we don’t want critics, but hacks like the last director of TDSB are okay? He managed to weasel through a system which has no effective protections and no competent management. Indeed that fact is the most important lesson that should have been learned by those shameful events.

The “managers” at TDSB clearly never checked into his background. I am aware that he was a failure in Hamilton and, most importantly, a very big and wasteful spender, but none of Toronto’s “experts” were aware of the facts nor did they recognize serial plagiarism when they saw it.

JOHN CHUCKMAN

AN EXTENSION OF COMMENTS POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

I am not a Conservative, but already it is apparent that Kathleen Wynne, the new Liberal leader, is a disaster as premier.

She has exactly Dalton McGuinty’s smarmy instincts and political ethics.

One of the only worthwhile things done in his decade as the most irresponsible and inept premier in memory was his reminding the teachers of the fact that they are employees of the public at a time of fiscal difficulty.

This woman has wiped out the effort entirely.

And just look at her other acts over so brief a time as premier.

The investigation she launched into the cancer-drug scandal was genuinely McGuintyesque, a way to delay and put-off while appearing to do something. Any good private investigator could have got to the bottom of the matter in 3 days.

Her recent initiative on wind farms represents virtually no change from McGuinty’s high-handed ways. In Britain, for example, the government is giving local municipalities a veto over them.

Wynne has done nothing of substance about McGuinty’s several scandals of mismanagement.

No changes at e-Health beyond McGuinty’s last appointment resigning and getting a Golden Handshake for solving nothing at the troubled agency.

No changes in our forgotten air-ambulance scandal.

Her recent change in teacher education requirements are leftover initiatives of McGuinty.

The cutting of places in education colleges was something which should have been done years ago. It’s just basic housekeeping never kept up with, not reform.

The new two-year requirement for graduates is backward. Many other jurisdictions have realized that “teachers’ colleges” are ineffective. Putting well-educated and motivated young people – or indeed, not-so-young – into class rooms is what we need. Learn-by-doing under, say, two years of mentoring by experienced teachers is the reform we need.

Teachers’ colleges are staffed by teachers who dropped out of the classroom, who promote unscientific, and even plainly silly, theories about how things are done, and who use language which calls a spade a manually-operated excavating machine. Any intelligent young person will learn how their skills best serve teaching during a couple of years practicing, not the 80 days now proposed for teachers’ colleges and certainly not the present standard of 40 days.

Hasn’t our government learned anything about education? The previous director of TDSB was hired by people who clearly did not know what they were doing. He was likely awarded his doctorate by an education faculty who also did not know what it was doing.

Ontario schools are by no measure outstanding. Our public education is a leader in nothing. We don’t even compare to the world’s most successful systems. The computer hasn’t yet been integrated with many teachers unable to use them and our schools not supplying them to all students, a longstanding practice in a number of jurisdictions.

But this government can tell young people if they just spend more time in education faculties and waste more resources, adding costs and debt, they’ll be able to do a better job. Nonsense.

If “found money” – money supposedly suddenly discovered in declining enrollments – went anywhere, except applied to the deficit where it genuinely belonged, it should have gone towards obtaining computers for our students, but then we still have many teachers who cannot use a computer. Many jurisdictions put lap-tops into each student’s hands, but not Ontario, bastion of teachers’ union interests and second-rate education.

I’m going to vote Conservative for the first time in my life at the next provincial election, and I’m not even attracted to the leader, Mr. Hudak. A decade of McGuinty was enough, and Wynne shows every promise of being even worse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

This is an important discovery for students of the period.

But I take exception to the Globe’s characterizing Rosenberg as a powerful figure.

He was not, indeed he was a quack, even by NAZI standards.

He held a position resembling that of some cardinal in the Vatican whose job it is to codify official doctrine.

He wrote stuff no one actually read and was regarded as a bit of a joke by the real players in NAZI Germany.

The real players all were men who lusted after power and influence, and many of them had little use for a good deal of NAZI doctrine.

Still, he heard a good deal of insider information, and he undoubtedly made some important observations.
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“I, for one, look forward to reading more about this discovery.
“Possibly the most shocking book I have read to date (actually I had to stop reading it, so graphic was it!) was a book I got at the Public Library and which is also available from booksellers:
The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders [Hardcover] Ernst Klee (Editor), Willi Dressen (Editor), Volker Reiss (Editor)
“Having also visited Dachau and the beaches of Normandy (twice), I believe we must never forget such atrocity and each of us has a responsibility to condemn racism in its many repugnant forms. Having lived as a stranger in a strange land, I cherish our rights and freedoms.”

Yes, but there was not just one atrocity.

Hitler was largely responsible for a war that killed more than 50 million people and destroyed the lives of countless millions of others.

The invasion of Russia was the most terrifying event in all of recorded human history with 27 million Russians being killed as well as millions of Germans.

The totality of destruction was like nothing seen before, or indeed since.

Its impact included decades of Soviet domination in Europe and the creation of Israel, which itself has been a trail of tears for millions.

The Holocaust itself was only launched using the chaos and massive brutality of the invasion of Russia as a cover.

Even Hitler didn’t dare such an undertaking without the being able to bury it, as it were, in an even greater horror.

And we should always remember that Hitler and World War War II were the result of the terrible business of World War I, a meaningless war in which 2 branches of a royal house fought for supremacy on the continent of Europe and managed to kill 20 million people.

The Treaty afterward was far too harsh on Germany, especially when the Great Depression rolled in, and the resulting set of conditions and the uncompromising acts of many statesmen gave us Hitler and another war.

Germany after WWI had a very liberal government with many enlightened views, but the West gave it no help and support in its many difficulties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TORONTO STAR

I believe we have Mayor Miller largely to blame for the Rob Ford farce.

Miller was an incompetent mayor and a blowhard talker.

He did a poor job of looking after basics – garbage, potholes, and the Gardiner’s maintenance – yet he chased after silly objectives tirelessly, as with his Don Quixote, anti-Island Airport campaign, all the while raising taxes regularly.

Ford is a form of Montezuma’s Revenge.

A lot of ordinary people like Ford’s inarticulate, shady, and rule-breaking ways, and they don’t care whether he’s an embarrassment to the city, which he most certainly is. He’s at least not blowhard Miller.

Readers may enjoy: http://chuckmancartoons.blogspot.ca/

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TORONTO STAR

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that reason won the day.

Harper’s position – a pathetic echo of vicious American policy – was ridiculous.

There is not an ounce of proof that Syria has used chemical weapons, although there is clear evidence that the rag-tag Free Syrian Army used a small amount of Sarin nerve gas in a couple of instances.

How did they get that horrible stuff? Supplied either by Israel or the US – both have stockpiles – to create an event excusing further intrusion into the affairs of others. Likely it was sent via one of America’s silent partners in Mideast mayhem, Saudi Arabia or Turkey.

Harper – in addition to his un-statesmanlike bullying of Russia – simply lied when he said that only Russia was against intervention. The Germans are also opposed, and others of the G-8 sit on the fence. Only the cowardly post-Blair British government eagerly wags its tail every time America looks their way.

Thank God, American efforts to create a “Gulf of Tonkin” incident for Syria failed, but still its destructive, underhanded efforts, and those of Israel with Turkish and Saudi cooperation, keep the Syrian people in misery.

A dirty shame, just like our prime minister, who incidentally also failed on trade talks with the EU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Red, white, and blue?

Of course.

Harper is, and always has been, an American wannabe.

In almost every policy and utterance, he takes his lead from right-wing Americans.

In everything from secret slush funds and dishonest campaign techniques to his insanely unbalanced statements about the Middle East, Harper is the American Establishment’s man north of the border.

So, it’s only fitting that he use red, white, and blue – even if the blue a tad different to that of America’s red, white, and blue.

The new paint does perhaps have the advantage of offering some protection on trips abroad, protection against being instantly shot down by trigger-happy American thugs at the controls of drones and fighters and missile batteries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE TORONTO STAR

Nice to know that the PMO spends time and resources on rubbish like sending out compilations of photostats about Justin Trudeau’s past, paid speaking engagements for charities to local newspapers in hopes of generating some bad press.

I genuinely believe Harper is the worst bully we have ever had in high office -indeed, he’s the only one, truly in a class by himself.

Harper’s repeated low-life attack ads didn’t work against the attractive Trudeau, so he tried another avenue of attack, that of sending out press kits to local newspapers about a matter which doesn’t even qualify as a tempest in a teapot.

It is perfectly normal for people with big names to speak for fees – it happens thousands of times a year. Tony Blair and his wife have cleared millions that way. So has Bill Clinton.

And did anyone notice Harper’s shabby bullying behavior at the G-8? All but calling Putin, the only real statesman in the bunch, names? That’s what bullies do when they don’t get their way.

I suggest our public schools put together a new curriculum on bullying, one that features Stephan Harper as an example of how not to behave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

I’m glad Prince Harry has done one worthwhile thing in his life in speaking up for a bullied soldier in his unit in Alberta.

It’s nice for change.

Prince Harry has a long record of thoughtless and graceless and even nasty behavior.

See: http://chuckmangrotesques.blogspot.ca/2013/01/harry-is-prince-mad-he-does-have.html

I happen to believe Harry got the worst part of his mother’s genes, the late Princess being attractive and charming in public but privately suffering from serious mental conditions, something of which her family has a history.
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“We knew Harry had been in Afghanistan, but he was made to go to Alberta, too? Is there a reason why he is being punished?”

Harry was not made to go to Afghanistan.

He insisted, to the point of threatening to resign his commission, on being sent there for some “action.” All quite shameful actually.

The high command had decided that it was too risky to send him when he asked, but after his whining and threatening to quit his commission, he was sent for one brief tour which was mainly an extended photo-op of the Prince and the machine gun, something which might just as well have been done on a sound stage.

He insisted and was sent again, managing to kill someone and spent a good deal of time back home bragging about it.

This is a bored, not-too-bright young man with an apparent thirst for brutality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Paul Cellucci likely qualifies as the most ignorant and rude American ambassador ever appointed to Canada.

He criss-crossed the country saying things ambassadors are never supposed to say, negative things about our national policies, as for instance berating us about our military expenditures and internal affairs.

And he had no grace in the way he barked out his inappropriate comments.

He should have been declared persona non grata as an ambassador – and he would have been thus treated by many countries.

But our governments were timorous and afraid of the dangerously vindictive police state emerging south of the border in the wake of 9/11., and they just let this unpleasant man spread his diplomatic poison.

You are not supposed to say unpleasant things about a person who has died, but this man never did much in Canada that was not unpleasant.

His loss will go un-mourned in this country, except by the likes of John Baird and the other uninformed loudmouths of Harper’s American-wannabe government.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

 

RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY TONY BURMAN IN THE TORONTO STAR

“more hero than traitor”

Sorry, I have a problem with that wording.

In my view, the word “traitor” has no application to Edward Snowden whatever.

Of course, one expects it to be on the lips of the usual gang of blood-thirsty America-firsters – people like John McCain or Dick Cheney or Condoleezza Rice – but then almost everything those people say is unthinking lies.

The victorious Allies hung men, high-ranking men indeed, after WWII for “just following orders.”

It is no different in the intelligence field than in the military: when an order or an assignment violates the very basic precepts of a society, the traitors, if the word has any application at all, are the ones who blindly follow.

Edward Snowden rises above run-of-the-mill heroes, too: he has risked just about everything – home, career, and his life – to reveal secret government acts violating the ethical and legal precepts of free society and threatening the futures of everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED COMMENTS TO AN ARTICLE IN THE TORONTO STAR

Frank Gehry swings between being a decent, but not great, architect (AGO renovations) and being a silly showman who produces giant stunts or monumental sculptures having no relationship to their surroundings and little relationship to their intended use (Bilbao Museum, Disney Concert Hall).

The model for King Street is a perfect example of his latter tendencies. It is simply terrible urban design, and I’m surprised Chris Hume is sucked into paying homage to a concept that does not deserve to see the light of day. A case of the emperor’s new clothes?
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In response to another reader comment:

Well, there is an awfully large range of possibilities between another glass box and this pile of crinkled strapping tape. We do have a terrible lot of crappy glass box condos in Toronto, thanks to a gold rush of development and a government which exercises no genuine standards on developers.

These places do not make a worthy urban space, and many have no good environmental aspects or aesthetic appeal. The city has, to a considerable degree, built a modern urban wasteland on the old rail lands.
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Imagination in this case is just another word for silly on a monumental scale.

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I have a suggestion for the project. You may be familiar with the St Hubert Chicken delivery cars in Montreal: they feature large, lighted plastic chickens on their roofs.

How about a huge lighted turkey on the roof of these condos? It would serve at least two purposes: recalling the annual giveaway gesture of Ed Mirvish (thousands of Thanksgiving turkeys) while characterizing in dramatic fashion the nature of these proposed buildings.
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“Quintessential Toronto building,” Mr Hume? Curls of wide strapping tape dangling from a cardboard tube?