Sunday, 27 January 2013

Behind the Mashup


It occurs to me (belatedly) that some might be interested in how I put together my Mashup of 3U Greatest Hits. (The drawing posting came to mind first, because I know I need more improvement there, but I can probably stand to improve in everything I do.) So this may not be as detailed, but here we go.

First, the inspiration - well, I'm already a fan of mashups like those done by Daniel Kim, and the KurtHugoSchneider channel. So I've had the idea for a while. What finally got me pulling things together for something to go online was a colleague of mine back in December, suggesting that he'd be willing to sing with me in a classroom setting.



The second step then was obtaining the music tracks. If I'm going to be throwing something onto YouTube, my preference is to have the original source - not just because it's better quality, but to support the artists in the first place. (You can't parody something that doesn't exist.) Kristina Maria's CD I had previously, having picked it up while at HMV in December for other reasons. I also buy Grammy Nomination CD compilations, which gave me some songs, and our school did Wizard of Oz, so yeah. The rest I went to purchase.

Turns out that you cannot purchase Ace of Base in Canada, it has to be imported? The timelines on that wouldn't work. Also Kreesha Turner's song seems to only be a single... purchasable on iTunes... which I don't subscribe to... so for those two only, I got lower quality versions, and decided to try and use them only as much as necessary. Fun story about Bonnie Tyler - the CD wouldn't play past Track 5. So I had it exchanged. New one died at Track 11. I decided to opt for one more exchange; no go. So the store referred me to another location, got the CD there, and it played in my player - but refused to be read by my computer! Had to import it into my wife's computer then transfer the file. Sheesh.

Anyway. Now have music. Since the only parody lyrics I currently have for both the Exponential Strand and the Discrete Strand was Karmin's "Brokenhearted", that became the framing device. Hence the decision to start with that, and segue it into whatever the next thing would be. And since I didn't want Functions to be ALL Quadratics (it's not), Katy Perry seemed the natural extension, since there were elements of her parody song I could use here. From there, I simply went into the rest. (Of course, I already had all the song parodies written, so it was more a matter of deciding which parts were most relevant for the mix.)


I guess I could say that, in terms of what parts of the songs to use, it mostly involved taking the chorus, then slipping in other relevant items. The chorus is the ear worm, after all, thus it's where I put most of the key mathematical features. However, the asymptote rap section felt kind of necessary too, for instance. In mixing, I split up Bonnie Tyler around Pet Shop Boys at the start so the Trigonometry section wouldn't seem too jarring by comparison. (Over half the songs used related to trig!) This was done during the first week back at school in January, cropped together using FinalCutPro on my Macbook, over the span of a few evenings. Then lyrics were added at the bottom, so people could sing along at home.

That weekend (Jan 12), and the following week, it was time for the graphics. This wasn't too hard either, as I already had powerpoint presentations set up to run alongside the music for when I sing in class. Merely a matter of cropping out the relevant bits and pasting them in, then adjusting the timings. Only in a couple instances did I have to make image tweaks. I then needed a framing device for the beginning and end of the video. (The Hilary Duff theme song didn't feel like it worked here.) I don't know why I thought of Law and Order, but there you go. For the end, I wanted a movie clip (because I like tossing them in my videos), and with most of Back to the Future memorized, it wasn't hard to think of a passage.

That much was done by Thursday, January 17th, and gave a good enough scaffolding for a live performance, so I turned my (recreational) attention back to my web series, and came up with last week's blog about How I Draw for it. After all, the only thing remaining was to record a version of me singing, and how hard could that be? Ha ha, famous last words.


First, when I recorded my Mystery Teacher 2000 (Khan Academy) video, going back and layering in other dialogue (even for better enunciation) tended to stick out and interfere with the flow. So I already knew that my vocals would need to be done in as close to one long take as possible. I realized during a dry run on Monday that, despite my memorization, I needed a printout of the lyrics. Then secondly, I started getting sick on Tuesday, with a minor sore throat that migrated into my sinuses. My live classroom performance on Wednesday (with my colleague, so we did two sets one per class) involved a dry throat and me dropping a line (to the collective Awwwww! of the room).

I wanted it finished and out this weekend though, both to correspond with my web series tie in, and with Ontario exams this coming week. Doing it Saturday was out of the question, so, feeling better on Thursday evening, I went for it. I imported the audio file into GarageBand as a podcast, plugged in my Yeti microphone, grabbed my lyrics sheet, and bang. After screwing up a couple of times, I decided one take wasn't in the cards -- thus it's continuous through to the rapping portion of Exponentials, and I pick it up there to the end. Underlying items (like "Vertex" and the intro) were also added in later.

There's a couple of places where I stumble, or rush ahead, but I deemed that fixing those bits would make for an obvious edit - and merely bring attention to other more minor issues. I then had to decide between ducking the music, or individually fading in and out. Decided I had to go with the latter, despite the extra time commitment. Partly because the music itself was at different volumes (not to mention in different keys), but mostly because the emphasis on voice versus music would get botched in particular places otherwise.

With the decibel levels taken care of, I exported that file, and reimported the whole thing back into FinalCutPro, replacing the chopped up soundtrack with the new one. (Except where Marty's talking about your kids, oh right... adjusted.) Re-export, and there you have it! Feel free to offer advice now, if you notice I've done something particularly perplexing.

I'm not sure exactly how long it all took me. After all, when you're doing something that you enjoy, you often don't notice the passage of time. In the end, my hope is that others will also enjoy it. Expectations? Well, my last video took four months to get over 25 views. I'm hoping for better? In an ideal world, maybe even 3 or 4 RT. If not... well, good thing I haven't quit my day job.

Which reminds me I'm supposed to be grading papers.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Drawing for a Webcomic

I'm posting this up for three reasons:
1) So those who don't know get a sense of what drawing entails;
2) So those who do know can offer me tips on getting better;
3) Because I thought it would be fun. Plus, if nothing else, it may be informative for me later in life.

But let's get this out of the way first... my "webcomic" is more a "web series". (Web original? I honestly don't know what to call it, maybe you can help, check it out here.) It's a bunch of text with a picture or two dropped in here and there. I have adopted this format for the following reasons:
1) I'm a much better writer than I am an artist.  (Some might argue I can't draw well at all.)
2) My story form requires paragraphs, not just dialogue. In particular, it's full of math puns, which flow from the English language and descriptions in general.
3) I don't think I can be contained within a 3 panel (or even 6 panel) format. Particularly not when I'm using clip art SO much... since drawing takes SO long for me.

Now, that last point is me, and also comes from the fact that I obsess with having a continuing storyline. (It's indexed. One of these days I should figure out how to manage an actual webcomic site, maybe.) For an example of panel clipart being done well in a math series, check out Index Out Of Bounds. (Or if you're more the D&D type, go see how Elf Only Inn got started.)

Point being, I use text with random head shots. Sometimes dropped into different foregrounds or backgrounds. And then, occasionally (like today), I want to do more. To attempt a sight gag, or to draw the reader in a bit more. So this is an explanation of that process.

STEP ONE: Refining the mental image.

I have a sense of what I want - six characters around a table playing cards.  So I do a quick search on tables, and quickly realize that a rectangular table will probably be easier for me than the round one I had in mind. I can put the six in definite positions and worry less about the gaps between them, not to mention the perspective of a circular table.  That decided, I sketch it out.

I wanted my polynomials seated together, and they're easier to draw, so they got the far side. Para needed to be on the right, so there's room for her bunny ears.  Circe can't be next to the polynomials (conics and polynomials don't get along, donchaknow), and Expona can't be near Para (similar issues), so they went across. (In retrospect, maybe Expona should have had the head of the table.) This leaves Reci and Tangent, and I decide the young girl can be perched on her chair, looking at the people coming in, so that I can see her face.

I sketch some bodies through the chairs to get a sense of the proportions (as most do I imagine). And you can tell that things are a BIT off, but the mind (I hope) has a good ability to rationalize away minor discrepancies once the furniture is there. I'm not aiming to be a professional here, only an entertainer.  (By the way, the dashes in the corners of the image is to make sure the whole thing scans; my scanner tends to lop off anything too light, and I'm still working in pencil here.) I'm not actually sure how long this took, I did bits and pieces over a couple days.


STEP TWO: Refining the actual image.

Time to add detail, still in pencil only.

Changes at this point: Expona decided she wanted her face to be visible, rather than leaning on her arm, and I went along with that because it made the perspectives easier. Also, Circe decided to steal Tangent's cards. That whole pencil process took over an hour, with my images of the characters handy for reference.

At this point, I walk away for at least a few hours.  (To, you know, mark papers or otherwise do the job I actually get paid for, maybe.)  Then I come back to it later, to see if it still works in my mind before I jump to the inking. I decide it's a bit weird having both Cubi and Para's left hands dropped below the table, so I adjust to have Para's other arm on the table instead.


STEP THREE: Inking.

Saying it that way makes me feel more professional, but really I just use a couple black felt-tipped pens I got at a general store.

I should have used a ruler for the chair legs. If I were doing this for someone else, I might have, but it was late last night, and I figure I'm only doing this for the ten people who read my comic. I always seem to miss a line too, which I have to add in post (Para's eyebrow) but sometimes see something I forgot (Para's earring). That done (and dry), I go back and erase all the pencil lines. Takes me about half an hour for a larger image like that.

The rest is all done on my Mac laptop.


STEP FOUR: Cleanup and Colouring.

First I crop the image to a new file and do a bit of white/black cleanup. (FYI, I work in Seashore, the closest Mac program I found to MS Paint. Not willing to spend the money on Photoshop when this is all I'd use it for, plus my laptop's getting outdated.) See, while the pencil mostly erases, indentations in the paper can still be picked up in a light grey (like where I drew Cubi's face about 4 centimeters low the first time), and my inking sometimes runs over the lines (like on Para's eye). So I spend some time now making preliminary corrections there.

Now we're getting somewhere. For the colouring, I bring in a recent image of each character, on a new layer.  I eyedrop grab the colour from the layer and put it onto the new picture, then delete said layer. This saves me having to remember exactly how I mixed certain colours, as well as providing me one last opportunity to pick up continuity errors. Like the asymptote rings for Expona and Tangent!  You'll notice they've been added in the next image.  I've also kept that picture actual size in the upload; the previous ones had all been reduced by 25%.  So yeah, some of the details I'm detailing probably won't even be seen once I shrink the thing back down. -.-

This leaves the objects in the room, namely the table, the chairs, and the cards. For the table, I grab a brown and darken it. I decide the chairs need to be a different shade, or that's too much brown. (And what if I want trig at the table later? They're all brunettes!) So I grab a black and lighten it into a dark grey, which I vary between the chair backs and sides.  I toy with making the cards green, but decide that's weird, and they're probably fine staying white.  All that's left is to shade in the background with my off-white and slap my name and a date into the corner (also cropped from a prior image).  This whole part of the process again took an hour, partly more detail, partly the sheer number of characters.

You can see the final result at the actual published strip - which I'll link to here once I have it up.
Updated: Final Image Is Here

So there you have it!  Start to finish we're looking at a good three hours minimum, not including waiting time for error detection. And that's just for the ONE image... which is why I mostly use clip art.  It's not like (mathematics) teachers have tons of spare time, after all.

That said.... I do have some image ideas for my future web series (comic?) entries...

Because Logan is coming back, with his gazebo base that's larger on the inside...

And of course, we're due to meet the Heaviside step function any day now...

Plus you'll want to tune in for more random anime references, math puns, and plot twists!  (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, probably best you start right back with Series 1.)  Thanks for reading here at the least!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Line Dancing in Sequence


This post comes from some inner thoughts after tweeting at Michael Pershan earlier today:


Stage Zero. The "0"th figure. The flat rate. The y-intercept. It's location is rather interesting in the (Ontario) curriculum. And it's instruction is something that's come up before, both in class and locally... at least in terms of the mathematics department at my school, and at least partially beyond. (For instance, I know there was some mention during my "Gap Closing" Professional Development last year.)

For those not versed in Ontario high schools, the setup: In Grade 8, students do patterning, starting at the 1st figure. They also create (one variable) expressions to represent such situations. Then they come to high school, and while there is some patterning in Grade 9, it's usually used as a launching point into algebraic (two-variable) equations... equations which start at the flat rate. The 0th figure.

This is always a bit of a leap.

That transition sucks.

Of course, it has to happen sometime, and I don't necessarily have an issue with where it is. More where it ALSO is. Because what I want to talk about here is arithmetic sequences. (Sequences that follow a linear model, such as all the even numbers, or something like 12, 22, 32, 42, ...) These sequences have a DIRECT link to the sort of patterning done in Grade 8. In no small part because there is no "term zero", and the Arithmetic Formula is defined as "Tn = a + (n–1)d". That's right, no "y = mx + b" here! But where are these arithmetic sequences in the high school curriculum?

Grade 11. (And interestingly only in the University level course.)

It always feels a bit like a step backwards. After two years of getting students to work (mostly) with continuous functions on the whole Cartesian plane, for one unit, we pop out these discrete functions where n > 0, linking back to Grade 8, and using a formula that deals with the "0th figure" by using (n-1).

Also, when did 'x' -> 'n'?
Now, it's not a completely irrational choice. Geometric sequences are dealt with at the same time, and exponential functions (their foundation) are also first taught in Grade 11. Also in Grade 11 is the notion of functions, and the link can then be made between those arithmetic sequences using (n-1) and shifting the entire sequence/pattern by one to the right.

Still, it sort of begs the question, why isn't the equation of a line:
 "y = c + (x-1)m", where c = b - m?
"Because it's not simplified!" you might respond. Okay, so why isn't the formula for an arithmetic sequence:
 "Tn = dn + c", where c = a + d?
(Aha, gotcha! For that matter, why do we write the slope part FIRST for lines, and LAST for sequences?!)

So where was I going with this?

I think there's some value in using arithmetic sequence patterning, all the way back in Grade 9 - whether you use "Figure 0" or not. For that matter, shifting a pattern left or right by one is a great way to illustrate parallel lines! And if students can even see that (x-1) is a movement of one right, there's a nice foundation for two years down the road. (Something to try... give students two identical patterns, A and B, but start Pattern B at A's "Figure 2"...)

By the same token, there is some value in connecting the "new" sequence formulas in Grade 11 back to more "familiar" ones - or rather, see if the students themselves can make the connections. Of course, one of the main problems with the 11U course is that there only ever seems to be about 3 days to handle all of sequences, series and recursion. @.@ That's curriculum for you.

For more on visual patterning ideas (or to submit your own), check out a recent website effort, Visual Patterns. Which is actually only the first of a few shout-outs I have planned for the week, but the others will be in my web series. (I'm never sure if I can legit call it a webcomic.) Which I bring up in part because, with semester one resuming tomorrow and exams three weeks away, I'm liable to only be using that Blog for the rest of the month. Enjoy your January!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Ontario Teaching Post 2012


I tried to piece together a historical account back in September, using an allegory, which many have said they found very confusing to follow.

True enough. There's a lot of different people and different unions involved, making it hard to capture the essence in a single post. (Or for that matter, in a single bill...)

So let me make another effort here, by linking out elsewhere on the web. Supplemented with my own pull quotes and personal opinions, and still somewhat simplified at that. To start out, you only need to understand two things:
1) Before the Liberals came to power, the Ontario government gave x dollars to school boards, who then bargained locally with unions. Many of these local contracts are different - not only regionally based, but with different clauses regarding leaves, sick day payouts, et cetera.
2) In 2008, the Ontario government met with boards and unions to work out a "framework" for local bargaining to follow. This mostly involved monetary issues.

Also, just to note, I'm not an expert, just a guy who's been to a few meetings, thus probably has a better sense of what to search for, in terms of news articles. Opinions expressed are also my own.

Notably, in 2008, the Education Minister was The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, currently a front runner for leadership of the party.

*2008-09*


CHRONOLOGY OF PROVINCIAL FRAMEWORK 2008
-January 2008: Provincial Discussion Tables Began
-May 1, 2008: Catholic Teachers (OECTA) sign on.
-May 22, 2008: Elementary Teachers (ETFO) leave the talks.
-Nov 27, 2008: Secondary Teachers (OSSTF) sign on.
-NOV 29, 2008: Provincial Framework Agreement Reached
-Nov 30, 2008: Government deadline for framework talks
-Dec 6, 2008: Government announces ETFO must take 2% instead of 3%

FEBRUARY 12, 2009Strike Averted: ETFO Accepts Government's Terms
 "School boards had already accepted the offer, but the union had earlier said it was outraged by Wynne's threats and deadlines."
 "Ontario teachers will now continue to bargain on issues such as leaves of absence, sick days and maternity leave at a local level."
-In Dollar Terms, how much individual ETFO members lost because of the 2% salary penalty imposed in the Provincial Agreement.

MARCH 31, 2009Toronto High School Teachers Endorse Strike Action
 "The teachers are deadlocked with the Toronto District School Board over the issue of 'additional professional assignments'."
 "All other school boards have settled without violating the provincial framework."


MAIN TAKEAWAYS:
1) OECTA signing an early agreement is not news.
2) Teachers teaching for 5+ months without a contract in place is not news.
3) Reaching local deals before Dec 31st wasn't possible in 2008. No idea why the government thought imposing an even stricter framework would make it possible in 2012.

The Honourable Laurel Broten was appointed Minister of Education in October 2011.

*2012: PART 1*


JANUARY 31, 2012
Laurel Broten rejects Catholic trustees' policy statement
 "A battle is looming between the Ontario government and Catholic schools."
 "Laurel Broten is insisting that Catholic schools permit single issue clubs such as gay-straight alliances." (Re: Bill 13)

(A shot of irony for you there. Now, on to the provincial discussion tables:)


FEBRUARY 2012
Teacher Compensation Debate: ETFO vs Ontario Ministry of Education
 "ETFO was greeted by a government negotiating team dominated by three bankruptcy lawyers from law firm McCarthy Tetrault."
 "The government expected teachers unions to agree to its terms within one month, in time for the tabling of the 2012 provincial budget."

Laywers also dealing with OSSTF
 "The proposed PDT process is not part of the collective bargaining process as established in the Ontario Labour Relations Act."

(We're not off to a good start.)


MARCH 1, 2012
 Ontario teachers 'insulted' by plan to end retirement perk
 "The union bosses were so upset they're refusing to take part in further discussions next week."
 "About half the teachers in Ontario have already lost the right to bank sick days, so they aren't likely to fight too hard to preserve it for others."

 Clampdown on teachers' labour costs will protect education, Ontario says
 "'We appreciate Mr. Drummond's advice, but we have a different idea,' Education Minister Laurel Broten told reporters Thursday morning."
 "'We don't just want to freeze the grid: we're going to fix it for the long term,' Ms. Broten said."

(The first is an opinion piece, so I can't speak to 'about half'... I suspect less. But yes, the government is completely ignoring local differences this early in the process.)


MARCH 27, 2012
 Education Funding Cut in 2012 Budget
 "Despite promises to protect education, the budget contained at least $500 million of cuts over the next three years."

 Ontario budget: Hard lessons for teachers, some students
 "Duncan insisted the budget blueprint is not an attack on schools."
 "The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario said it is 'frustrated' at the proposal to cut nine scholarship and financial aid plans."

(We now have the numbers. In a sane world, we could negotiate local deals that meet said budget framework as presented. But the province is still keen on forcing it's framework.)


APRIL 11, 2012
 Ontario Education Minister Warns Teachers, School Boards about local bargaining
 "Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten has launched a pre-emptive strike against the province's teachers aimed at discouraging their unions from engaging in talks with individual school boards."
 "Her letter, she said, simply reminds school board chairs about the value of the provincial table."

STILL APRIL 2012
 From a Media Release of July 6
 "We tabled a proposal to the government back in April that would give them additional cost savings ... we also offered the government a four year deal that included a two year wage freeze, and modest cost of living salary increases in years three and four."
 "The government rejected those proposals without any consideration."

(I don't think ETFO - Elementary Educators - ever came back to the table after leaving in February; this month OSSTF - Secondary Educators - walked away as well. I feel like riffing off Monty Python here...
 "Look, I came here for a negotiation."
 "No you didn't, you came here for an argument.")


Still, a lot of this has been going on behind the scenes, or on the media sidelines. It's finally about to explode, and the rest of the population of Ontario is about to jump on board in asking "Wait, What?".


*2012: PART 2*


JULY 5, 2012
 Ontario Catholic Teachers Reach Deal with Province; Agree to Wage Freeze
 "The Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association ... left negotiations just after 11pm Wednesday night over concerns the deal on the table 'did not represent the best interest of students'. ...they were unaware talks continued between the province and the union until it was announced at Queen's Park the next morning."
 "OECTA president Kevin O'Dwyer said the negotiations were the most difficult he has been involved with in 20 years."
 "New Democrat MPP Gilles Bisson implored the Liberals 'not to take this as a victory lap and flaunt it as a pattern for what's going to happen with the other unions'."

TAKEAWAYS:
1) OECTA signing an early agreement is STILL NOT NEWS. Except when the Liberals think it should be.
2) The Catholic Trustees didn't even know this deal was going down.
3) The Liberals didn't listen to Gilles Bisson.


JULY 30, 2012
 Start of Ontario's School Year in Jeopardy if Labour Talks Stall
 "Education Minister Laurel Broten said at a news conference on Monday that the government will introduce legislation if school board trustees are 'unwilling or unable' to negotiate agreements with teachers before the existing contracts expire on Aug. 31.  ... She did not elaborate on the rush to reach a new deal or why failing to meet the deadline could lead to teachers not returning to the classroom in September."
 "Ken Coran, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, said the government is simply trying to scare parents. Negotiations between boards and teachers can take place after the school year begins."
 "After five months of negotiations, the government has managed to reach two deals without the agreement of the employers. They are now asking school boards to reach 400 collective agreements inside of four weeks."

TAKEAWAYS:
 Nothing's in Jeopardy. (See 2008.) But since we're going nowhere fast, time to make people PANIC!


AUGUST 8, 2012
 Crucial Ontario byelections to be held Sept 6
 "Dalton McGuinty has set Sept. 6 as the date for two byelections that could potentially deliver his Liberals the majority government that they narrowly missed securing during las fall's provincial election."
 "The premier also says calling the byelections does not mean he has ruled out calling the legislature back in an emergency session this month to impose a new contract on Ontario teachers."

TAKEAWAYS:
 Depending on who you ask, this means nothing, or that the Premier wants to win a historically Conservative riding.


AUGUST 9, 2012
 Province Inks Third Deal with French Teacher's Union AEFO
 "The AEFO is the third education union to hammer out a deal with the provincial government, after the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association and the Association of Professional Student Services Personnel."
 "Toronto's Catholic board, the province's largest, voted this week to accept the deal. However, other school boards are balking because it gives teachers the power to decide which diagnostic tests students take and how often."

TAKEAWAYS:
 Provincial Framework doesn't necessarily imply done deals with local school boards. Surprised?


AUGUST 16, 2012
 Ontario Government Previews Legislation to Freeze Teacher Wages
 "'I don't believe the average Ontario worker would expect to get a 5.5 percent pay increase after taking the summer off and refusing to negotiate,' Broten said in a shot at unions."

TAKEAWAYS:
1) No one's been talking about a 5.5 percent pay increase. The heck?
2) The quote sparked a petition asking the minister to either resign or apologize, pointing out that teachers are seasonal workers. (By Broten's logic, snowplow operators should be driving them around all year as well.)


AUGUST 20, 2012
 Ontario Liberals Recalling Legislature to Introduce Bill to Impose Contract on Teachers
 "If the bill is passed, the government would also have the power to ban a strike or lockout for the next two school years."
 "The government would also have the authority to impose new collective agreements starting Jan 1, if they can't be reached before then."
 "The [unions] say they're not in a legal strike position and that the government is deceiving parents by spreading fear that a strike is imminent."

SEPTEMBER 4, 2012
 McGuinty asks Teachers to Accept Two-Year Wage Freeze
 "The cash-strapped province just doesn't have money for raises, said McGuinty, who predicted the government's fight with teachers would soon be over."
 "The New Democrats said the first day of school went off without a hitch, just as teachers had said that it would, and took a shot at the Conservatives for promising to help the minority Liberal government pass the legislation to impose a contract on teachers."
 "The NDP fear the legislation will be overturned by the courts and cost the province even more in the long run, but the Liberals are confident they've made serious enough efforts to negotiate."

TAKEAWAYS:
1) Who said anything about raises?? I point you to April 2012, above.
2) Asking someone something while holding a sledgehammer over their heads isn't really asking.
3) What was the point in recalling the legislature early, exactly?


SEPTEMBER 6, 2012
 Ontario Liberals fall 1 seat shy of Majority
 "The results mean McGuinty's Liberals have 53 seats, one shy of the 54 needed for a majority and the same total they held before the byelections were called."

SEPTEMBER 11, 2012
 Ontario Teachers Vow to Curb Extracurricular Activities as Bill Passes Freezing Wages
 "Up to 136,000 public school teachers will drop extracurricular activities like running clubs and coaching teams on Wednesday to protest Ontario's new law."
 "A gleeful Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said he was happy the Liberals finally followed his call for a wage freeze. ... [his party] wants wages frozen for everyone on the public payroll, including doctors, police and firefighters."
 "Laurel Broten said the legislation is retroactive to Sept 1."

TAKEAWAYS:
 I'll give them this. Without something to claw back the automatic rollover (which meant my first pay this year was an increase, followed by substantial decreases as the retroactive legislation clawed the money back), things would have been awkward. But can someone please explain to me why Bill 115 included, among other things, this language:
 "14. (1) The Ontario Labour Relations Board shall not inquire into or make a decision on whether a provision of this Act, a regulation or an order made under subsection 9 (2) is constitutionally valid or is in conflict with the Human Rights Code."

It's stuff like that which is bothering most teachers, by the way. Not the media hyped wage freeze. Which was tacitly agreed to in April.



SEPTEMBER 29, 2012
 Ontario Says it won't Block Teacher Strike
 "Many teachers and parents believed that the legislation the government passed, which also imposed a two-year wage freeze and cuts to sick days, had taken away teachers' right to strike."
 "While the ministry of education imposed the terms of the contract, union officials have continued to bargain with their local school boards, but within some very restricted parameters. ... 'It's like trying to knit a sweater out of thin air'."

TAKEAWAYS:
 No one knows what's going on any more.


OCTOBER 11, 2012
 Official Transcript Confirms: Ontario minister says Catholic schools can't teach pro-life views
 "Minister Laurel Broten told a press conference at Queen's Park that Catholic teaching on abortion is 'misogyny'."

(Just in case you thought the Catholics were happy. Because, you know, Broten doesn't have enough problems without bringing up Bill 13 again.)

OCTOBER 16, 2012
 Opposition upset over McGuinty's prorogue on Ontario Legislature
 "Premier Dalton McGuinty's surprise decisions to resign and adjourn the Ontario legislature until the Liberals pick a new leader could throw the province's political scene into uncertainty for months."

TAKEAWAYS:
 Well, that's one way to shut down debate.


NOVEMBER 20, 2012
 McGuinty hopes new contract will be 'template' for other boards
 "Five school boards have reached tentative agreements with high school teachers, but the government has only approved two so far."
 "Any tentative deal must be similar to the one the Liberals struck with English Catholic teachers ... four unions are taking the government to court over the new anti-strike law that's granted the Liberals these unusual powers, arguing it's unconstitutional and violates collective bargaining rights."

DECEMBER 10, 2012
 Communication Breakdown
 "The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation ripped up an agreement it had with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board late last week saying provincial Education Minister Laurel Broten had meddled in the agreement rendering it, in the union's view, null and void."
 "Broten, for her part, denied those claims in a scrum Monday."

TAKEAWAYS:
  Local negotiations under Bill 115 really is like trying to knit a sweater out of thin air... then being told that it's the wrong pattern. (The Ottawa-Carleton board later admitted Broten added new language, so the Minister must have a different definition of meddling.)


DECEMBER 11, 2012
 Ontario Teacher Strikes: 5 Frequently Asked Questions
 "English, elementary public school teachers across the province are holding one-day strikes between now and the end of the school year on Dec 21."
 "Broten can't force teachers to take part in extra-curricular activities, including sports and clubs, because they are considered volunteer work."
 "Teachers' unions say their biggest issue is that Bill 115 takes away their right to collective bargaining."

TAKEAWAYS:
 The public has to be informed that the key issue is collective bargaining. Messages aren't getting through.


*2013*


JANUARY 2, 2013
 Dalton McGuinty Warns Teachers who Haven't Signed New Contracts
 "Our preference has always been one of negotiated settlements. But after 10 months, the bargaining deadline has passed."
 "Ken Coran, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, said the timing of McGuinty's open letter was 'seemingly odd, the day before an announced minster's press conference'."


TAKEAWAY:
Well, here we are, "after 10 months". Agree or disagree with Bill 115 and steps taken to date, that is your choice, but at least be informed. Meaning it's probably a good idea to visit someone else's website too... for one thing, I didn't find many articles about the impact on education workers who AREN'T teachers. I know I don't want a pay hike (as a less than 10 years teacher) on the backs of custodians who would have to take three unpaid professional development days.

Thanks for reading. I'm going back to marking papers now.