Judge TS Ellis reluctantly sentences drug dealer to 40 yrs last week

Conservative, Reagan appointed judge TS Ellis, really struggles with long mandatory sentences, as was evident two weeks ago in his deliberations about a drug dealer, when the judge said;

“This situation presents me with something I have no discretion to change and the only thing I can do is express my displeasure,” Ellis said last week as he sentenced Frederick Turner, 37, to a mandatory minimum of 40 years in prison for dealing methamphetamine. “I chafe a bit at that, but I follow the law. If I thought it was blatantly immoral, I’d have to resign. It’s wrong, but not immoral.”

40 years –  mandatory minimum!

This is  the judge who just sentenced Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to less than four years for colluding with foreign entities and cheating the American people of over thirty million dollars. The “recommended” sentence was 19 -24 years. I guess he made up for the “wrong but not immoral” sentence of the drug dealer

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A Snapshot Comparison of CampbellTax Cuts and Horgan’s Early Initiatives.

Who benefitted from the policies of our last Provincial Government’s tax cuts  ,and who is benefitting from the targeted policies of the  current bunch?

Below is a comparison of benefit based on a  Surrey family earning less than 45K per year. That salary/wage level was chosen because that’s the level below which 2001 tax cuts actually cost British Columbians money.

Admittedly, it’s a cherry picked thumbnail sketch – not a  comprehensive analysis. It does, however, clearly show how  flat tax cuts, constantly touted as a fiscal stimulant, merely re-distributes money upward, while programmes targeted at reducing financial burdens on the working /middle class  can make a big difference in their purchasing power.






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 Capital Punishment is Dead

Capital punishment in Canada is dead.  Like the dead parrot in the Monty Python sketch, it’s passed on and shuffled off this mortal coil. If Angus Reid hadn’t tried to revive it with a misleading poll, it’d be pushing up the daisies.

The poll to which I refer is a recent Angus Reid poll, onto which my string ‘em up colleague and the Toronto Star have gleefully glommed, hoping that it portends a return of the death penalty. The Star sums up the poll with the headline “63% of Canadians favour a return to the death penalty… “

Upon closer reading, the cited 63% support was in response to whether capital punishment “might sometimes be appropriate.”

“Might sometimes be appropriate?”  Asked that way, the question immediately turns one’s thoughts to Karla Homolka, Clifford Robert Olson, and Robert Picton. I’m surprised support wasn’t much higher, as even the staunchest opponents of the death penalty might say “hmmm” before saying no to that question.

The survey admits that when offered a choice between the death penalty and life imprisonment, 50% of Canadians favour life imprisonment, confirming Stats Can’s figures which show support for the death penalty in Canada has dropped from 66% when it was first abolished in 1978 to 50% today, “depending on the wording of the poll.”

Canada’s parliament abolished the death penalty on the basis of facts, not incendiary polls.

Contrary to popular belief, the death penalty is more expensive than life imprisonment. According to the L.A. Times, California would save 114 million per year if they stopped expensive, convoluted deliberations surrounding death penalty cases.

Capital punishment is not a deterrent.  U.S., states without the death penalty have a 63% lower murder rate than those with the death penalty, and in Canada, since we stopped executing people, our murder rate has dropped from 3.0 to 1.78 per 100,000 people.

Famous Canadian “murderers” Steven Truscott (1959), David Milgard (1970) and at least 22 other convicted murderers were later exonerated. The death penalty inevitably risks killing innocent people.

All but one civilized western country abolished the death penalty long ago. Since 2009, no one in the western hemisphere was executed – except in the U.S.

The death penalty is a remnant of a barbaric past.

Like Monty Python’s dead parrot, it’s an ex-policy.



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Remembrance Day – Thanks to Public Schools

Beyond teaching measurable information, one of myriad contributions of our public schools, is to help define Canadianism for a diverse group of young Canadians.

Our observance of Remembrance Day is a concrete example of this function.

Thanks to our public schools, Canadians have been taught to “observe” Remembrance Day rather than “celebrate” it. Our observance is solemn and respectful. Military contribution is respectfully remembered, but is welded to anti –war sentiment.

We all learned in 13 Remembrance Day assemblies, to not cheerlead or romanticize war; to not use Remembrance Day as a recruitment vehicle; to not encourage our young people to seek the opportunity to die for their country.

We appreciate but bemoan that a generation of young Canadians were forced to make that horrific decision.

This solemnity is a tribute to our public schools, the architects of Canadian Remembrance Day observance.

Remembrance Day assembly planning committees struggle each year to balance honouring military contribution while denouncing the horrors of war.

Sometimes, (often in high schools) the anti-war sentiment wins out and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “Imagine” dominates the ceremony.

Sometimes, vignettes of life in the trenches and of suffering families of those who didn’t return are emphasized in sometimes maudlin readings and mini plays.

But in toto , Canadians leave public schools with a well-rounded , personal relationship with Remembrance Day, one which informs their respectful observance(s) each Nov. 11th.

But how will Canadians observe Remembrance Day in the future?
Will it remain a solemn observance or will it morph into a celebration of military service in general?

Now that there are fewer and fewer survivors of WW II to attend, address, and support school Remembrance Day  and cenotaph ceremonies, will we just  begin to substitute “Afhganistan” and “various, U.S led police actions ”  for  Vimy Ridge, Ypres, Juno Beach and Caen ?

Will we, in our zeal to “remember”, begin to glorify and romanticize the idea of dying for one’s country in un- justifiable wars or will we continue to focus our “Remembrance” on the tragic circumstances that morally required Canadians to fight against world-wide fascism?

Will we now slip into rhapsodizing about military service, genuflecting to the troops who “fight for our freedom”; marching them at football games after a Snow Birds “fly past”?

Now that face to face, uniform wearing, declared war is a thing of the past, are Canadian Remembrance Days now similarly passe?

I hope we Canadians continue to differentiate between the awful, “one off” imperative faced by young Canadians in the World Wars, and the military as a career choice made by young people today.

As it has been  for decades, it will fall to our public schools to form how Canadians observe future Remembrance Days.

We owe our solemn respect to those Canadians who were forced to fight in the two awful World Wars.

We owe our thanks to our public schools for so deftly sculpting the respectful Canadian observance of Remembrance Day.

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Six Ways to Resurrect Schools in B.C.

The only way to resurrect our public schools, is the same way we attacked them – incrementally and with firm purpose. If there ever was a time when “just throwing money at the problem doesn’t work” is true, it’s now.
It’s like watering a parched lawn – you can’t just water it for 24 hours and expect the damage of a two month drought to be immediately reversed. It takes time and commitment & a constant reminder that we’re trying to overcome a decade and a half of cuts and cruelty to our schools, students,and teachers.

So; What do we do?

1) Increase funding incrementally, 2% above the cost of living each year for 10 years.Toss out “per pupil” funding and come up with an equitable formula which recognizes local needs  like demographics,special needs, and remoteness.Vancouver may need less per capita for transportation  than does Fort St. John. Howe Sound likely spends more money per capita on outdoor education than does Burnaby.

2) Increase hiring and maintenance budgets.
Lower the SER at least one student per class per year – province wide, to allow for smooth assimilation rather than keeping the status quo and adding frills because of difficult organization.
Hire more specialty teachers  and learning assistants/ aides.
Increase  maintenance budgets to reinstate programmes to make schools look less slovenly, unweeded and un-painted. Any Principal will tell you that a dilapidated school is one in which it’s hard to have pride and confidence.

3) Minimize the number of “strings” attached to funding
As budgets are increased, trust educators in the assignation of funds. Principals and teachers are professionals. You’d be amazed at what they can do. After all,they’ve made do with less each year ever since provincial bargaining was instituted in 1984 (NDP gov’t) They know more about running schools and helping kids learn than we do. Increase budgets generally,rather than targeting a million dollars for crossing guards in every school.

4) Raise Teacher salaries.
But while we’re not just “throwing money” at schools, it is time we gave teachers a significant raise. Teachers have been trading salary increases for working conditions & education funding for 30 years.
Whipsawing them using other gov’t settlements as a benchmark won’t do this time. We  should use firefighters, police, civic workers,and other teachers salaries in Canada as comparative benchmarks,rather than non professional gov’t employees.
Competative teacher salaries will help mitigate the teacher shortage we’re in as well as express our support for and confidence in public school teachers.

5) Resurrect respect for teachers as professionals again.
When negotiating, call them “teachers” not the “BCTF”. It’s teachers with whom we’re negotiating, not what we’re eager to impune as an evil, undemocratic union. When we choose to heap scorn on the “BCTF”,we must also accept that we’re heaping scorn on good old Mrs MicGillicuddy and our child’s teacher(s). indeed all the teachers at your local school.

When our neighbours hysterically attack teachers as lazy, entitled, socialist brainwashers, we should do what John McCain once did – firmly say something like;

“No ma’am, they aren’t. They are honest professional people, working hard to help educate our children.”
The individual,developmental  challenges we faced in school, or those faced by our own children shouldn’t be used to indict teachers in general.

Be sure that provincial curriculum is planned by teachers, not Ministry personnel, or
other non professional stakeholders.

Demand local accountability, not provincial. Make the FSA exams a periodic random sampling, to be used to inform system wide decision making and to remove them as tools used to rank schools/districts/ teachers/students.

6) Address private school funding.
Two tiered education promotes a class system in society and is something from which we staunchly defend public health care but are blasé about accepting in schooling our children.
Ending funding for private schools is political dynamite, but it’s the right thing to do.

Our schools are damaged. They need to be repaired, physically, educationally, and politically. It will take a long time, money, and a lot of political courage.
I’m not sure we have the commitment required.

I’m prepared for the Fraser Institute report on schools which will be used to help those who don’t know much about schools to conclude that our students aren’t doing any better since the new government’s funding and hiring ,being nice approach , so what was so bad about what’s  happened in our schools?

It’ll take ten years at least, maybe fifteen, but if we did these six things , our schools could be repaired, our kids school experience would get better each year.

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The Vice Principal Chronicles – #1 ” Sideways, Not Head On”

The Vice Principal casually approached the herd of faux rebels who were in daily slouch outside the cafeteria.He knew to approach teenagers, especially these teenagers, sideways, not head on.

They were the only identifiable group in the school that cultivated a  “too cool for school” attitude. Slightly rebellious , but more entitled than truly problematic.

They were of various heights, weights, sizes, hair length. They were also in various stages of teendom, some full in the throes of allergy towards parents and authority, some just nibbling around the syndrome’s edges.

Most wore some part of a uniform – the accepted brand of jeans, acceptable footwear or a t-shirt of a band thought shockingly off colour, controversial or sufficiently grungy. They were experimenting with hairstyles, which feigned indifference but likely took hours daily to coif. None was indifferent to his indifference; each stringently conforming to non-conformity.

Some of them were cheerful, some a bit mono syllabic, but their consensus leader was downright snide – in look and speech.


Jason was the identifiable leader of this posse. He was no James Dean (google it)., but he was the group’s Big Kahuna, (google “Cliff Robertson, Big Kahuna”) Jason was the one who epitomized teenaged angst and who passed judgment and doled out acceptance or disapproval to group members.

The group, although there were a few constant members, was itinerant – some went from being Boy Scout- like at home to slouching at lunch time with the group, except on Tuesdays and Thursdays (soccer practice). There was no hubcap stealing or “turf” or rumbles on friday night, it was just a day group with whom to share the burdens of teen aged disillusionment and oppression.

But for Jason and one or two followers, it was more than that.

Jason was a bright but unwilling student. Teachers complained about him regularly:

“ Jason won’t do anything in class, he just sits there…”

“ Never does any homework. Jason thinks he’s special…well I’ve got news for him…!”

The Vice Principal had successfully spent  time fostering relationships with  other members of the group but Jason remained aloof and defensive, unreachable, despite many deft approaches by the Vice Principal.

The Vice Principal  knew the other kids respected him, that they thought him sensitive and empathetic – that they could generally trust him to be fair and supportive. No one was spray bombing his name on the back of the school.

But he hadn’t reached Jason and he knew Jason was in trouble. He had seen the signs before. He would end up not being able to hide his contempt and would run afoul of one of the “more structured” teachers; or he’d get in trouble with the police.

Jason couldn’t make it through two more years of high school wearing contempt and anger on his sleeve – and he couldn’t be happy being merely the leader of a rebellion that was going nowhere. He was the negative leader, sought for anointing by other kids who slunk in and out of the rebellious group as it suited them. But Jason as the spiritual leader , was stuck.

The Vice Principal had  tried talking with Jason matter of factly, about other kids, his family,, local sports teams, the cafeteria food. Nothing but grunting acknowledgement followed by determined disengagement.

He’d tried asking Jason if he would help Mrs. Switz move a couple of things to her car. Mrs. Switz was a popular young teacher who had agreed to allow the Vice Principal to try this appeal to Jason’s adult, chivalrous nature. He performed the task, grumbling, but put upon.

The Vice Principal had learned from experience that contacting Jason’s parents was not helpful. They were unwilling to accept what they saw as a non-problem and were openly critical of the public school system. In addition, Jason very much resented his parents being contacted when he “hadn’t done nothin’ ”

The Vice Principal had  tried offering Jason a job, receiving and stamping textbooks for a week in the summer .

“Good money – Jack and Steve are gonna help too.”


Practised in engaging teenagers, the Vice Principal approached them from the side, not head on, knowing the stupidity and peril of open confrontation with authority testing teenagers.

So this day, the Vice Principal casually approached the herd of faux rebels.

“Hey guys, how’s it going? .”

The Vice Principal approached the group . Very matter of fact, being sure not to look at Jason, he casually bent over and, as he picked up an empty potato chip bag from the floor, he said.”

“Hey Jason, “I’ll pick up this potato chip bag if you’ll pick up that empty Pepsi can on the floor over there for us – thanks a lot. ” Without looking back, the Vice Principal deposited the chip bag in the trash and continued down the hallway, still not looking at Jason.

The clump of sixteen-year-old boys loitered less aimlessly. The rebel leader had been challenged to help the Vice Principal – in a matter of fact way. No overt instruction had been given. Come at them sideways, not head on. The group waited to see if Jason would pick up the Pepsi can, fascinated with his  dilemma.

Jason stood unresponsive, and seeing the Vice Principal had progressed ten yards down the hall, he sneered at the Pepsi can, dismissing it from his focus.

Twenty yards down the hall, the Vice Principal slowly turned and looked back at the group. He waited until conversation had stopped and they were all looking at him. He stared at Jason, down at the distant Pepsi can and, in a loud, gymnasium baritone yelled.

“Jason, I asked you to pick up that Pepsi can, now pick it up! ”

There was no doubting his anger.

The entire hallway was quiet for what seemed like minutes. The rebel group stood motionless. Slowly, oozing contempt, Jason picked up the Pepsi can and deposited it in the recycling box beside the garbage can, with the disdain of someone who had just changed the diaper of a child not their own.

The Vice Principal, his will be done, huffed away around the corner, leaving an astonished group to mitigate Jason’s compliance.

“ Wow, I’ve never seen him that mad before.”
“He looked like he wanted to pound you!”
“Whatever”, said Jason, his snide quickly back intact.

Jason left the group and walked outside seeking solitude. He was confused.

The next day, Jason was noticeably absent from the group outside the cafeteria.
The pop can incident, forgotten by the other flighty group members, wasn’t forgotten by Jason.

An hour or so before dismissal for the day , the Vice Principal sent for Jason in Math class.

Trudging towards the office, Jason prepared himself for battle. He hadn’t looked for it, but here it was. He hoped his imminent martyrdom would be painless and quick. He rehearsed a few lines to express his objection to being picked on.

“Come in Jason”, said the Vice Principal, Jason did.
“Sit down “, said the Vice Principal. Jason did.

The Vice Principal stood, his back to Jason, looking out the window, as if contemplating what he was going to say. He turned.

He looked Jason in the eye. Jason looked away. The Vice Principal continued to look directly at Jason, who finally had to look at the Vice Principal or otherwise appear cowed.

“Jason… I owe you an apology” , the Vice Principal finally spat out in a pained voice.

“ Huh,”? Said Jason.

“ That’s right. I lost my temper yesterday and yelled at you in front of your friends”.

The Vice Principal walked back over to the window, put both hands on the sill and looked down at the floor.

“Jason, I’m an adult and I embarrassed you in front of your friends. It was inexcusable and I know better.”

“Whaaat” ? said Jason ,eyes wide.

The Vice Principal turned around and looked at Jason.

“ I hope you will accept my apology .I was not respectful and it wasn’t professional –I know better.”

The Vice Principal paused, looked at Jason and asked.

“ Will you accept my apology, Jason” ?

“ Huh, well, sure, I guess so, but …”

“ Thanks Jase.”. The Vice Principal sighed, relieved.

He wasn’t done yet.

“ Jason, I promise that I will never publicly embarrass you again as long as you are at this school .

“ I feel a lot better than I did yesterday. I felt bad all evening. To me, treating people with respect is the most important thing we learn in life, and when it’s difficult, it’s even more important. ”

“ I guess so”, said Jason, not quite knowing how to respond.

“By the way, Jason, I’m going to come to the cafeteria tomorrow and extend my personal apology to you again in front of your group.”

“ You don’t have to do that, sir” said Jason, slightly horrified.

“Jason, I do have to. My job is to help students at this school, not treat them disrespectfully. Don’t worry, I’ll make it quick and painless for you.“

The Vice Principal did go to the cafeteria the next day, and he did make it quick and painless. He stressed the importance of treating others with respect and that just because he got angry with something “someone” did didn’t excuse his responding by being disrespectful and losing his temper.

“ Right Jason”?

“Uh ,yes, uh… sir”, I guess so.

“Good. I also want to promise all you guys that I won’t disrespect any of you in public. If I am concerned about something you do, I’ll ask to talk to you privately about it.
If I’m disrespectful to any of you in any way, I’ll expect to hear from you… privately.

O.K. guys”?

Silence “O.K. guys “ ?

“Sure”, “OK”, “Yeah” murmured the bewildered group.

In the days and weeks after the apology, Jason didn’t become a stellar student and he didn’t put on a charm offensive. But he graduated on time, without major incident. He  even excelled in Physics 12.

Within a month of the “incident” another aggrieved rebel took over the leadership of the cafeteria loiterers, mostly because of  the vacuum left by Jason’s growing indifference to leadership.

Liberated, Jason happily became a peripheral member of the less rebellious (admittedly older) rebel group, until his grade 12 year, when he joined an intramural ultimate frisbee team at noon on Thursdays and Fridays and spent a lot of time with a very straight –laced girlfriend.

After graduation, Jason started his own home renovations business.
It soon thrived, much to the Vice Principal’s delight, because, reports say, of Jason’s assiduous attention to customer relations and respect for his employees.

Always  come at them sideways, never head on.


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Trudeau is Right About Citizenship Guide

Justin Trudeau Is Right.

Trudeau doesn’t think that our Canadian Citizenship Guide should use the word “barbaric” to describe “honour killings, female genital mutilations, forced marriages, and other gender based violence.” I agree with him.

Trudeau abhors these cultural practices as do we all; that isn’t the point. His point is that official Canadian government communication should not use value-laden, subjective rhetoric to describe the political or cultural practices of other countries.

Trudeau has been vilified, forced to equivocate by a political media which more and more seeks a Trump- like, name- calling approach to international discourse.

For the Canadian Citizenship Guide to delineate the cultural practices and beliefs we Canadians embrace is appropriate, but to rhetorically denounce other cultures, erodes long-standing, respected, Canadian moral authority.

Canada’s action in not joining the U.S. “coalition of the willing” in Iraq was an exquisite, strong statement of Canadian moral perspective, accomplished without a subjective denunciation of American foreign policy or other tempting but disrespectful rhetoric. The point was made more strongly by principled action rather than by editorial condemnation. Canada remained above the fray.

If we describe the cultural practices of other countries as “barbaric” in documents we present to the world, what might we next include as barbaric, cruel, or racist?

I humbly suggest the following for inclusion in Canada’s Citzenship Guide:

“Canada’s openness and generosity does not extend to people from countries which allow the barbaric practice of encouraging its citizenry to carry assault, automatic, and concealed weapons wherever they go, or from countries which continually and amorally prop up dictatorial regimes around the world for their own gain, or from countries which allow the immoral practice of capital punishment or encourage the brutal practice of bull fighting. “

Are these generally accepted Canadian judgements? Yes. Are they appropriate for inclusion in an official Canadian document? No.

Justin Trudeau is right. We should not use subjective, value- laden rhetoric in official government communication with the world. Nor should we reduce ourselves to the level of some leaders and politicians, who routinely and publicly use pejorative terms such as “axes of evil”, “madman”, “exporters of terrorism” , or “murderous thugs.”

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Should Remembrance Day be a Canadian Holiday?

My “let’s have a parade” colleague wants to make Remembrance Day a national holiday. He suspects that bigger, more overt displays on Remembrance Day might intensify our appreciation of the sacrifices made by those who went before.

But would it? A national Remembrance Day holiday might actually diminish our appreciation, or worse, change it.

To justify a national holiday we would need more and bigger national ceremonies. We’d need more fly pasts, more flags, and more pomp and circumstance. We’d likely no longer be able to avoid the kind of hyperbole of heroism and romanticising of war we hear emanating from south of us.  We might unwittingly turn Remembrance Day into a celebration.

And Canadians don’t celebrate Remembrance Day, we observe it.

So I hope we don’t change Remembrance Day – because it’s a day Canadians really get right.

The first, mid-October poppies on lapels; silent, symbols which multiply as Nov. 11 approaches; like those in Flanders field;  such a powerful statement.

The placing of wreaths at cenotaphs, the twenty-one gun salute in Ottawa, the moment of silence on the eleventh hour of the eleventh month; it’s so solemn and poignant.

Thirteen years of Remembrance Day assemblies in our schools have helped each of us accept the solemnity of the day, allowing Remembrance Day to strike a balance between our deep appreciation for military contribution and our strong abhorrence of war.

Nov. 11th was declared a “day of remembrance” in1931. It was the very fact that it wasn’t declared a national holiday which forced Canadians to observe the day together in workplaces, offices and schools and develop our respectful observance of the day.

If we declare Remembrance Day a national holiday, Canadians would have time to organize Remembrance Day hockey tournaments, annual fishing trips, or shopping outings across the line.  No one is against hockey tournaments or fishing weekends, but I’m not sure that a part of the value of Remembrance Day should be to provide time off for recreational opportunities.

The way we observe Remembrance Day doesn’t require intensifying or improvement. The solemn balance Canadians have achieved in our observance of Remembrance Day is maintained by deep tradition, tradition that expresses the respectful remembrance of Canadians with perfect pitch and volume.

More isn’t better and louder isn’t stronger.



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FSA Tests are a Political Football

AS I SEE IT – Jim Nelson

So the annual hand wringing over the Foundation Skills Assessments tests begins again: Why are teachers so dead against them? Is it just that awful B.C.T.F. being radical again?

Should we keep our children from writing thePhoto tests?

The trouble with the FSA is not the tests but how they are used.

F.S.A. exams are the B.C. banner of the accountability movement in education, a movement that has ruined American public schools over the last 20 years and yet is catching on in B.C. despite its disastrous effect on U.S. schools.

The accountability movement started in the U.S. and was born of the American tendency to analyze, regulate and measure things.

A good example of this is the development of American football.

Now, I enjoy an NFL game as much as much as the next person but a look at American football’s metamorphosis from rugby is instructive in understanding the development of the accountability movement in education.

Americans didn’t play rugby for long; rather, they quickly felt the need to change it, to regulate and delineate the hell out of it. They divided the field into one-yard segments with 200 hash marks, added five officials, helmets and padding, statistics, instant replay, score clocks and down chains. They broke the game into quarters. Time-outs, huddles, motion rules, penalties — with designated yards for designated offences — all marched off precisely. There are signals for everything, a ritualized kicking game and 300-page playbooks with X’s and O’s and arrows.

Instead of rugby, with one ball, one referee, an emphasis on spontaneity and creativity, and an almost chivalrous adherence to fair play, our southern cousins ended up with football, a testament to rules, measures, specialization and intervention. I reiterate that I love watching NFL football.

But back to the analogy.

Unfortunately, the same cultural compulsion that changed rugby into American football proved unhelpful when applied to education.

Because education is more like rugby than football. It is interactive, free-flowing, spontaneous and creative. It’s not easily quantifiable, pre-packaged or measured. It is too complex to be judged by a standardized measure, no matter how strong the cultural imperative may be to do so.

How can a standardized test measure the “A-ha!” moment when a student suddenly appreciates the brilliance of Shakespeare? How can it measure the ability to co-operate or persevere or to help another student?

Learning takes place through relationships with peers and teachers. It can only be measured somewhat accurately using an aggregation of many and varied assessments, both objective and anecdotal.

We all wish it was simpler, that we could judge how students are doing with a simple urine sample or a multiple-guess test.

My opinion, although I’m a bit radical, is that an even more accurate indication of how well your child is learning is whether they are happy at school, whether they feel safe, are confident and engaged at school. If they “like” the teacher, have friends, feel good about their studies and enjoy school, they are learning just fine.

The B.C.T.F. is dead right on this issue. Although the union brings up red herrings such as how the poor children suffer undue stress when asked to write tests or how the poor teachers have to mark them, or the time it takes out of the curriculum or that the reason they are no good is because of demographic differences, yada yada yada. These are peripheral reasons for objecting to the FSA.

Teachers and the B.C.T.F. know viscerally that trying to legitimize standardized measures is harmful to our schools and, thus, our children’s learning. They are the only ones standing against the accountability movement.

As a former school principal in the Tri-Cities, I applaud this stance. Were my children in Grade 7, I would encourage them to not write the F.S.A. exams. Had I a child in Grade 4, I would send him to school and quietly but firmly instruct the school that he is not to write the F.S.A. exams and that perhaps half an hour in the gymnasium or on the playing field might be a good alternative.

Jim Nelson is a retired Tri-City teacher and Principal.

And so now District #43 teachers and Adminstrators – sing along.

Following is “Turfin’ FSA,” sung to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ U.S.A.-by Jim Nelson and Dennis Secret:

Turfin’ F.S.A

If everybody had a notion, ’round District 43,

We’d call BS on the testing and we’d go on a spree,

We’ll throw ‘em all in the dumpster, autonomy has its day,

Tell the super we’re turfin’, turfin’ FSA

We’re giving testing the boot,

’Cause it just don’t compute.

And then we’ll set our sights on, the Fraser Institute.

Every district in B.C. will see us leadin’ the way,

Tell the super we’re turfin’, turfin’ FSA

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“Gas Prices Up This Long Weekend? Oh, it’s the Eclipse”



$1.37 per litre for gas this long weekend. Oil company apologists have absolutely abrogated any responsibility for this, outright gouging of Vancouver drivers.

The price of gas has plummeted from $100.00 plus in 2010 to a little more than $45.000 in 2017.

Gas prices in Vancouver at the peak of oil prices (when oil was $110.00 per barrel) was $1.50 per litre. The price of oil has dropped more than 50%, while the price of gas at the pump has dropped 13%.

Now that oil prices are down more than 50% of 2010 levels, one would think gas at the pump would be about $.75 per litre or so.

But clearly, we don’t understand the sophisticated pressures on oil companies.

I see a hurriedly called brainstorming session of gas suppliers to come up with more creative excuses for their long weekend cash grab.

  • We’ve used the Cherry Point refinery’s having a particularly difficult maintenance period – can’t use that old chestnut.
  • We’ve blamed unrest in Venezuela – a couple of rebels feeling a bit lathered. But we kind of like these latest rebels ( they are against a left wing government), and that was a weak excuse anyway.
  • We’ve carefully explained that Vancouver’s oil comes predominantly from the U.S. ,so the demand is greater, except in Abbotsford and Silverdale who can quite easily sell gas at 15 cents cheaper to compete with their local American gas competition. No one believes that one anymore.
  • We’ve explained ad nauseum about the added gas tax we pay ( damn guvmn’t) but that’s dangerous because if anyone actually looks at the gas tax paid they would see that Vancouverites pay 11 cents more than other BC jurisdictions, while our gas prices are 30 or 40 cents higher, and even more on long weekends. They might also notice that gas taxes aren’t moving up on long weekends. We’d better gloss over that excuse.
  • We’ve tried patiently explaining that sometimes we buy too much inventory at a higher price and so prices can’t go down until that inventory is use up. Unfortunately, we never buy too much when the price is lower so any excuse for an increase is immediately reflected in the price at the pump- so , people are becoming wary of that line.
  • We’ve used the lower Canadian dollar excuse haven’t we? But that doesn’t explain why it’s just Vancouver we choose to punish each long weekend.

“ Come on people, think outside the box…”

We need a new excuse – a beauty, one we haven’t trotted out before, one that will explain why perennially low oil prices are never reflected in Vancouver prices and why we jack up prices at the pump every long weekend as high as we can crank them.

“I know”, says a small, ambitious voice in the background.
” We can say that the upcoming eclipse is causing an increased demand for gas, and that’s why the price went up ten cents on this particular long weekend!”

“Surely they’re not that stupid, are they?”

Well, if they swallowed the Cherry Point Maintenance excuse, they’ll believe anything”

“OK. Brilliant” says the brainstorming circle.

“Right, Sally, you work up some nonsense on the eclipse – once in a lifetime , people will be driving everywhere, demand up, yada yada. Throw in a mention of high taxes and we’ll get someone who is an “industry expert” to trot it out ASAP. And we’ll get that reporter, what’s her name again? She’ll make it sound objective.

“Don’t forget everybody, the excuse this time is :“

“Eclipse causing high demand, high gas taxes because of Mayor Moonbeam, and it’s too complicated to expect prices at the pump to match the international price of a barrel of oil “ (that is, unless the price of oil goes up, in which case there’s an absolute relationship between oil prices and prices at the pump)”

“OK. Get out there and crank up those gas prices – we’ve only got another 10 years or so to gouge the bastards – oh and remember, we’re not colluding”



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