Thursday, May 29, 2008
As City Librarian of HPL, Ken Roberts brings vast experience to his new role at CLA/ACB. HPL serves the newly amalgamated City of Hamilton and the new library system is the recipient of numerous awards for the way it has handled its amalgamation. The library system was a co-recipient of the 2002 Ontario Library Association's President's Exceptional Achievement Award. Ken himself won the 2001 Canadian Association of Public Libraries Outstanding Service Award.
Prior to amalgamation, Ken had been seconded from his normal position as Chief Librarian of the former Hamilton Public Library to act as the City of Hamilton's Director of Information Technologies (1999-2000). Ken created the city's first City of Hamilton IT Strategic Plan. In 2000, Ken was responsible for unifying all municipal and regional and library computer systems as part of the City's amalgamation process.
Ken was the co-director of the myhamilton.ca portal site launched in the Fall of 2005. The site provides some stunning capabilities. The Hamilton Public Library was one of five recipient of the 2006 Sirsi/Dynix Building Better Communities Award for its portal involvement. In July, the Hamilton Public Library also won a 2006 Digital Pioneer Award.
In previous incarnations, Ken has been Storyteller-in-Residence for the Vancouver School Board, Games Master for the World Improvisation Championships (1986), a winner of a CanPro Award for television writing, and a nominee for the Christie Book Award, the Canadian Children's Book of the Year Award, and the Governor General's Award for Children's Literature. His children's book,The Thumb In The Box, received a starred review in The Horn Book. The newly published sequel Thumb on a Diamond also received a starred review.
The Canadian Library Association/ Association canadienne desbibliothèques, is Canada's largest national and broad-based library association, representing the interests of public, academic, school and special libraries, professional librarians and library workers, and all those concerned about enhancing the quality of life of Canadians through information and literacy. Comprehensive information about the CLA/ACB and its programs and services is available on the CLA web site: www.cla.ca.
For further information: Judy Green, (613) 232-9625 ext 322,
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
VANCOUVER, May 28 /CNW/ - Nisga'a Dancing in Both Worlds, a film documenting the historic journey of the Nisga'a people to achieve a modern-day treaty that secures their place in their traditional territory and protects their centuries-old culture, traditions and way of life has been recommended for use in BC secondary school classrooms by the British Columbia Ministry of Education.
The Ministry of Education approved Nisga'a Dancing in Both Worlds as a provincially recommended secondary educational resource for supplemental learning for Social Studies 8-11, BC First Nations Studies 12, Civic Studies12 and Law 12.
"Through Nisga'a Dancing in Both Worlds, the experiences of the Nisga'a people will enrich the learning of BC's students," said Minister of Education Shirley Bond. "The hard work, commitment, pride, and deep cultural heritage of the Nisga'a hold valuable lessons for all of us."
Each secondary school in the province will receive two copies of the DVD paid for by the Treaty Commission through a purchase agreement with the film-makers. The Ministry of Education covered the distribution costs.
The documentary tells the history of the Nisga'a people of the Nass Valley of British Columbia, profiling their epic 113-year struggle to secure a treaty with the governments of Canada and British Columbia. It depicts aboriginal history, rights and title, legal obligations and demonstrates the courage, determination and triumph of the Nisga'a people.
Nisga'a Lisims Government President Nelson Leeson, whose words gave rise to the title of the documentary, says the Nisga'a people aren't afraid to adapt. "We can dance and walk in both worlds."
The documentary Nisga'a Dancing in Both Worlds was produced in partnership by film-makers John Bassett and Rosalind Farber, with the funding and support of the BC Treaty Commission, the BC Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
"Working with the Nisga'a people and all those involved in the making of this DVD has been an exciting and rewarding experience," say Bassett and Farber. "We are especially thrilled this historic documentary will be included in the BC high school curriculum, and hope it may help young people to understand better the aboriginal experience."
A/Chief Commissioner Jody Wilson said, "This collaborative effort to see the Nisga'a nation story told in BC classrooms contributes to our understanding of the challenges First Nations face and ways in which they can address them and is in keeping with our mandate to provide educational resources in support of treaty making in this province."
Copies of the DVD can be obtained from Kinetic Video at 416-538-6613 or www.kineticvideo.com.
About the filmmakers
Beginning in 2003, film-makers John Bassett and Rosalind Farber made numerous trips to Nisga'a territory to document Nisga'a history and life since the Nisga'a treaty was signed in May 2000. Bassett initially financed the documentary, believing the remarkable Nisga'a story had to be told. Bassett has a list of credits including individual episodes of the award-winning documentary series A Planet for the Taking, part of CBC's The Nature of Things. Farber is a former producer of CBC productions MAN Alive and Take 30.
About the BC Treaty Commission
The Treaty Commission is the independent body responsible for overseeing treaty negotiations within the six-stage BC treaty process among the governments of Canada, BC and First Nations in BC. It has three roles: facilitation, funding and public information and education.
Established in 1992, the Treaty Commission comprises a provincial appointee, a federal appointee, two First Nations Summit appointees and a chief commissioner chosen by agreement of all three principals. For more information about the BC Treaty Commission or to view a clip of the video, please visit www.bctreaty.net.
For further information:
Brian Mitchell, Communications Manager, BC Treaty Commission,
(604) 482-9215 or (604) 788-5190, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
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Images are available for research and non-profit educational purposes only and the Simon Fraser University Library requires clear and proper citation on all copied or linked materials. Links may be made to our site but under no conditions are the images and associated data (such as captions, subject headings, etc.) to be copied and mounted onto another site or server.
Commercial use of these texts is prohibited without written agreement from the Simon Fraser University Library.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Province: 2008 May 22
With summer just around the corner — well, hopefully — high school students everywhere are freaking out.
Yes the end of year is an exciting prospect, but before students can shut the book on school they have to open a few.
You see standing right there in the middle of their road to summer freedom are final exams.
So what’s a kid to do? Study!
Hmmm study? Now there’s a word that strikes fear in the heart of an academic underachiever like myself.
Looking back to my high school days, I don’t remember spending much time studying. Actually to be honest I don’t remember much from high school other than playing basketball and almost vomiting at the sight and smell of the fetal pig we were suppose to dissect in biology class. God, whose idea was that?
So when it was decided that Do It Better would look at studying for provincial and final exams I have to admit I drew the same kind blank as if someone had said locate lithium on the periodic table of elements. Periodic table of elements? I’d look for it in my medicine cabinet.
Luckily for me the principal at Killarney Secondary School Brenda Burroughs was an amazing resource setting me up to talk to counselor Vicki Jury and teacher/librarian Denise North.
North in turn was a huge help rounding up a bunch of grade 11 and 12 students to take time out of their busy day — and these kids are busy — to talk about preparing for exams and to have a little fun (check out the video www.theprovince.com/doitbetter to see a video).
Turns out most kids these days have a plan. Wow, that makes me wonder, what if I had had a plan that say stretched further than last class of the day? Maybe then I wouldn't have had to scramble and sweat like a crazy person once I got to college. Ahhh hindsight.
So, for the lowdown on getting good grades check out Do It Better in Province and online beginning May 26.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The three sectors in BC that provide services to students and the public are exploring opportunities to work together to align their online database licensing and acquisitions.
The groups involved in this initiative are:
ERAC - Educational Resource Acquisition Consortium representing K-12 schools in B.C.
PLSB - Public Library Services Branch representing public library branches in B.C.
BC ELN - Electronic Library Network representing universities, institutes and colleges in B.C.
Notice is hereby given by ERAC, PLSB and BCELN of their intent to enter into direct negotiations for licensing Online Database Resources for the three sectors in the Province of British Columbia. The three sectors and groups have identified three online databases to enable a Provincial approach to licensing. The products identified have a significant installed base in these sectors and where for a reasonable investment, these resources can be accessed provincially by all sector groups.
Additional funds have been made available through the Ministry of Education and Advanced Education to add to what is being currently spent on existing databases in the Province of BC. In doing this licensing will be made available to all participants under a coordinated multi-year agreement. Based on our collective analysis Encyclopedia of BC, EBSCO and World Book have been identified as being the most likely candidates for this consolidated Provincial approach. The three sectors intend to enter into direct negotiations with these companies. Our data, understanding and research indicates there are no other competing products that have:
- A significant installed base in BC that overlaps the various sectors
- A resource that is considered a defacto standard in the BC system
- Resources and content that is appropriate and required across the three sectors
- Proven correlation to BC curriculum and learning outcomes
- Appropriate teacher and library resources, support and training for immediate use
- Appropriate Canadian content for immediate use, implementation and application
- An in-depth understanding of the three existing BC public sector groups and current operational models
- An established business relationship with the groups in BC showing a proven track record with previous licensing implementations within these sectors
If a company has licensing that meets the above criteria and would like to be included in these negotiations please make your submission by mail, fax or e-mail to Ian Mulcaster, Resource Acquisition Coordinator. The submission should outline how you believe you meet the necessary criteria and why you should be included in any negotiations or proposals entertained. The submissions are to be received before closing time at the addresses and numbers specified in this posting.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
As the Toronto Star reports, the Toronto District School Board has removed a Barbara Coloroso book from its high school curriculum.
Barbara Coloroso’s Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide
had been selected as a resource for a new Grade 11 history course about genocide and crimes against humanity, but the book and the course came under review after they were challenged by members of the Canadian Turkish community.
While the board’s review committee decided to remove Coloroso’s book from
the curriculum, deeming it “far from a scrupulous text,” the Armenian genocide
will still be taught in the course.
The move comes two years after the same school board limited access to Deborah Ellis’s Three Wishes (Groundwood Books), a book about the Israel-Palestine conflict, to students in Grade 7 or older. There’s been no comment or statement on the Extraordinary Evil situation from the book’s publisher, Penguin Canada, which had not returned messages from Q&Q at the time of this post. But Groundwood publisher Patsy Aldana has released an open letter to the board; it appears in full below.
Dear Trustees and staff of the TDSB,
As the publisher of Groundwood Books I am suffering from déjà vu. Once again you are succumbing to pressure and pulling a book. This is the THREE WISHES controversy all over again.
I am also the publisher of a different book on genocide currently listed for your course. In light of this decision I have to wonder for how long. Our book GENOCIDE: a Groundwork Guide by Jane Springer presents a different definition of genocide from Coloroso’s though our book also describes the events in Armenia as genocide. As in the case of THREE WISHES it would seem that Coloroso’s book among others was originally selected by knowledgeable people for a reason. Now all of a sudden it’s “inappropriate.”
What is offensive in your decision is that it reflects what seems to have become the TDSB’s habitual response to pressure – get rid of books that are “problematic.” This is a Grade 11 course – thus obviating the weasel words “age inappropriate” used in the THREE WISHES case. Is Barbara Coloroso’s argument unworthy of being considered, discussed, debated? Bernard Lewis is a noted Islamophobe and yet you seem to have included him in your course. Why not – isn’t the point of education to stimulate critical thinking? Or have you already decided what kids should think about this difficult topic in advance?
As a citizen of Canada, as a resident of Toronto, as a book publisher, as a human being I find the TDSB’s reflexive instinct to censor problematic, contentious, or (in the view of one group or another) incorrect books and their points of view deeply disturbing. Have you learned nothing? Our children need, urgently, to be educated to be critical thinkers capable of drawing their own conclusions based on a range of ideas. TDSB does not seem to embrace this principle, quite the contrary. You are once again doing the children you have been charged with educating a terrible injustice.
I condemn your withdrawal of this book. It is deplorable. It is inexcusable. And I wonder what book will you be afraid to give to our children next?
Saturday, May 17, 2008
The Toronto District School Board has removed a recent book about human atrocities from the curriculum of a new high school course after a committee was asked to look into public concerns over the book's treatment of the Armenian genocide.
Barbara Coloroso's Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide had been selected as a resource for a new Grade 11 history course about genocide and crimes against humanity, but the book and the course came under review after they were challenged by members of the Canadian Turkish community.
While the board's review committee decided to remove Coloroso's book from the curriculum, deeming it "far from a scrupulous text," the Armenian genocide will still be taught in the course.
Coloroso, the bestselling author of parenting books, draws similarities between behaviour exhibited in childhood bullying and that exhibited in a genocide.
In addition to dealing with the mass murder of more than a million Armenians, the book also examines the Holocaust that killed six million Jews during World War II and the Rwanda genocide of almost a million Tutsis in 1994.
The course's inclusion of the Armenian genocide has been controversial since its initial announcement and was met by a petition with more than 1,200 signatures opposed to the book and the course.
"To pick Armenia as a genocide when it is so controversial - especially when there are atrocities by other countries that could have been chosen - is just wrong," Lale Eskicioglu, executive director of the Council of Turkish Canadians, said prior to delivering the petition.
Officially, the Turkish government views the slaughter of the Armenians as wartime casualties of World War I, with both sides guilty of some provocation.
Board representatives declined to comment on the matter last night because members of the community can still appeal the decision.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The British Columbia Library Annual Conference
and British Columbia Library Trustees' Association
Annual Conference were held April 17 – 19 in
Richmond. The conference was attended by 560
people representing public and academic library
staff and public library trustees.
Fred Kent, the keynote speaker, discussed libraries
as public spaces, while Bill Barnes and Gene
Ambaum shared stories about their comic strip
about libraries (www.unshelved.com).
Staff at the Ministry of Education’s Public Library
Services Branch participated in the conference – as
speakers and convenors of sessions.
Sessions included: ‘BC SITKA - implementation of
the Evergreen open ILS in BC libraries’; ‘Library
2020 - future of library collaboration in BC’;
‘BiblioCommons - social software and discover
layer for ILS’; ‘Libraries without Walls - Update on
provincial strategies in BC public libraries’; and
‘ReadNow BC literacy initiatives.’
12) Integrated Resource Package (IRP)
has been approved and signed off by
the Minister of Education, Honourable
Shirley Bond. The final approved IRP has
now been posted to the Ministry of
Distribution of hard copies of the EFP 12
IRP to the B.C. K-12 education system,
post-secondary educational institutions
and education stakeholders has begun
in preparation for implementation in
English 12 and English 12 First Peoples both meet
the same rigorous graduation requirements.
Students may choose to take one or both of these
courses and they may use results from one or both
provincial examinations towards provincial
scholarships. It is intended that students who earn
credit for English 12 First Peoples will qualify for
entry into post-secondary educational institutions
and programs on the same basis as those who earn
credit for English 12. Accordingly, the final EFP 12
IRP has been forwarded to British Columbia postsecondary
institutions for their review and approval
for entrance requirements.
CNW: 2008 May 15
TORONTO, May 15 /CNW/ - Today, the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation committed another $1.5 million to high-needs elementary schools totaling $6million in funding to date. Twenty elementary schools across Canada will receive grants of up to $160,000 over three years.
"The Indigo Love of Reading Foundation focuses attention on Canada's most valuable resource - our children," said Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo Books &Music Inc. "By providing schools with funding for books we are, in a small way, helping to brighten the future of young children and mitigate the literacy crisis in Canada. In addition to our direct work with schools, we remain committed to encouraging Provincial Governments across Canada to follow the Ontario Government's lead to invest more boldly in school libraries and librarians."
Early Love of Reading Results
A focus on literacy and enriched libraries produces results. Mary Street School in Oshawa, Ontario, achieved tremendous results over the past three years, including dramatically improved reading levels from grades 1 through 8.Prior to the grant, no students at the grade 2 level were assessed as being able to read at the standardized levels for their grade. Now over 35 per cent of students are reading at standardized levels. Grades 7 and 8 were previously struggling to read at Level 1 and now 78 per cent of students' reading skill shave significantly improved, reaching Levels 2 and 3 - the latter considered the provincial standard.
At St. Francis of Assisi in Edmonton, Alberta, overall academic performance improved significantly. St. Francis initially ranked last out of705 Alberta schools. After one year, this school moved up to a ranking of 578,garnering a nomination for the Garfield Weston Award in the area of Academic Performance and Improvement.
King Edward Public School in Kitchener, Ontario, demonstrated a marked improvement with just 32 per cent of students reading at standard grade 3reading levels prior to receiving their grant. In their second year of the Love of Reading program, 59 per cent of students scored above or at provincial reading standards for grade 3.
- A 1 per cent increase in literacy adds $18.4 billion to our economy.(1)
- In 1970 public schools received the equivalent of three new books per child per year. Today it is less than one third of a book.
- 87 per cent of Canadian public schools lack a working library with a full-time librarian.(2)
- 42 per cent of Canadian adults lack basic literacy skills.(3)
- 80 per cent of people who end up in jail are functionally illiterate.(4)
2008 Love of Reading Recipients
This year, the following 20 schools will receive funding from the 2008 Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. Excerpts from the grant recipient calls can be found online at http://www.loveofreading.org/code/navigate.asp?Id=81.
Lena Shaw Elementary School, Surrey
Conrad Street Elementary School, Prince Rupert
To be considered for an Indigo Love of Reading Foundation grant, elementary schools must demonstrate that they are a high-needs institution and show a commitment to an environment where literacy is a main focus. Schools can apply for grants from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation by downloading an application at www.loveofreading.org. A new application will be available for download in September.
About the Love of Reading Foundation and Indigo Books & Music Inc.
The Indigo Love of Reading Foundation is a fully chartered charitable foundation whose goal is to improve the literacy and opportunity of children in high needs schools. The Foundation annually grants $1.5 million dollars to selected elementary schools across the country. Funding for the Foundation comes 2/3 from Indigo and 1/3 from Indigo customers. This year The Love of Reading Foundation was pleased to receive a donation from Random House of Canada. Indigo Books and Music Inc. is a Canadian company and the largest book retailer in Canada, operating bookstores in all provinces under the names Indigo Books and Music, Chapters, and Coles. Indigo operates chapters.indigo.ca, an online retailer of books, music, videos, and DVDs. Itis a publicly traded company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the stock symbol IDG.
(1) Stats Canada study June 22, 2004 (Coulombe & Tremblay and Marchand, Department of Economics, University of Ottawa
(2) "Writing on the Wall", Love of Reading Fund production, 2007
(3) Statistics Canada International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey/IALS, 2003
(4) Dr. Ann Curry report on Canadian Federal Prison Libraries 2003 Page 26 / Correction Service Canada, Education and Employment Programs January 28, 2003
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
With National Ambassador of Young People's Literature Jon Scieszka as host, Al Roker of The Today Show as an honoree, and the announcement of five new children’s book awards chosen by children themselves, the Children's Choice Book Awards gala held on Tuesday, May 13, at the Times Center in New York City seemed destined for success. And indeed the event was a huge hit, drawing publishers, authors, and children to share in the celebration of the 89th Annual Children's Book Week, observed this year in May for the first time.
Scieszka celebrated the new as he introduced the event, which was organized by the Children's Book Council (CBC). "We have a new, improved CBC, a brand new Book Week, and these brand new Children's Choice Book Awards," he said. He spoke about his role as literature ambassador for 75 million children, saying, "The thing I love most about being ambassador is being the champion of the little guys."
Next came the presentation of the new Children's Choice Book Awards. More than 55,000 votes were cast, with the following winners being named from among five finalists in these categories:
Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year—Frankie Stein by Lola M. Schaefer, illustrated by Kevan Atteberry, published by Marshall Cavendish
Third Grade to Fourth Grade Book of the Year—Big Cats by Elaine Landau, published by Enslow Publishers
Fifth to Sixth Grade Book of the Year—Encyclopedia Horrifica by Joshua Gee, published by Scholastic Paperbacks
Illustrator of the Year—Ian Falconer for Olivia Helps with Christmas, written by Ian Falconer and published by Simon & SchusterAuthor of the Year—J.K. Rowling for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, published by Scholastic
Brian Selznick, winner of the 2008 Caldecott Medal for The Invention of Hugo Cabret, presented Al Roker of The Today Show with the 2008 Impact Award for "Al's Book Club for Kids," noting that The Invention of Hugo Cabret was the first book featured on the regularly occurring segment.
Robin Adelson, executive director of CBC, closed the evening, noting that Children's Book Week is the longest running literacy promotion event in the United States. She cited the International Reading Association, noting that the nominees and prize winners for the Children's Choice Book Awards all are drawn from the Children’s Choices booklist, which has been compiled annually by a joint committee of IRA and CBC for more than 30 years, based on the votes of children.
For further information about Children's Book Week and the other activities of the Children's Book Council, visit the CBC website. For further information about the Children's Choices booklist, visit the IRA website. Watch for the annotated Children's Choices list for this year to appear in the October issue of The Reading Teacher.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
By Joyce Valenza and Doug Johnson -- School Library Journal, 5/1/2008
To stay fit, we all know we need to exercise. It might be a 30-minute cardio workout one day, some weight training the next, or just forgetting about the car and walking. In a similar way, we need to invest in our professional health...
As Industry Minister Jim Prentice prepares to introduce new copyright legislation, Crown copyright is unlikely to be part of the reform package. According to documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, there may be a disturbing reason behind the government’s reluctance to address it — Crown copyright costs Canadians hundreds of thousands of dollars while being used as a tool to suppress public criticism of government programs.
Dating back to the 1700s, Crown copyright reflects a centuries-old perspective that the government ought to control the public’s ability to use official documents. Today, Crown copyright extends for 50 years from creation, and it requires anyone who wants to use or republish a government report, parliamentary hearing, or other work to first seek permission. While permission is often granted, it is not automatic.
The Canadian approach stands in sharp contrast to the situation in the U.S., where the federal government does not hold copyright over work created by an officer or employee as part of that person’s official duties. Government reports, court cases, and Congressional transcripts can therefore be freely used and published.
The existence of Crown copyright affects both the print and audio-visual worlds, and is increasingly viewed as a barrier to Canadian filmmaking, political advocacy, and educational publishing. For example, while U.S. governmental reports are freely available and often used for commercial purposes without the need for prior permission, Canadian publishers seeking to release a Canadian report as a commercial title would need approval from the government to do so.
To obtain permission, the publisher would be required to provide details on the intended use and format of the work, the precise website address if the work is to appear online, as well as the estimated number of hard copies if the work is to be reprinted. If the work is to be sold commercially, the publisher would be required to disclose the estimated selling price.
Filmmakers and educational publishers face similar barriers. Unlike their U.S. counterparts, they must budget for lengthy, expensive approval processes for the use of government clips in their films or documents in their textbooks.
Beyond the policy reasons for abandoning Crown copyright, internal government documents reveal other concerns. Financially, the federal Crown copyright system costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Documents from Public Works and Government Services Canada, which administers the Crown copyright system, reveal that in the 2006-07 fiscal year, Crown copyright licensing generated less than $7,000 in revenue, yet the system cost more than $200,000 to administer.
In most instances, Canadians obtain little return for this investment. Ninety-five percent of Crown copyright requests are approved, with requests ranging from archival photos to copies of the Copyright Act.
More troubling are the five per cent of cases where permission is declined. While in some instances refusals stem from the fact that the government does not have rights in the requested work, government documents reveal that some requests are declined for what appear to be politically motivated reasons.
For example, an educational institution request to reproduce a photo of a Snowbird airplane was denied on the grounds that the photo was to be used for an article raising questions about the safety of the program. Similarly, a request to reproduce a screen capture of the NEXUS cross-border program with the U.S. was declined since it was to be used in an article that would not portray the program in a favourable light. Although it seems unlikely that Crown copyright authorization was needed to use these images, the government’s decision to deny permission smacks of censorship and misuse of Canadian copyright law.
Given the significant costs associated with a program that does more harm than good and that appears susceptible to political manipulation, any new copyright reform should eliminate Crown copyright and adopt in its place a presumption that government materials belong to the public domain, to be freely used without prior permission or compensation.
Michael Geist holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and Ecommerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. He can be reached at email@example.com, or online atwww.michaelgeist.ca
Saturday, May 10, 2008
TORONTO -- There are promises kept and promises broken but Dalton McGuinty's pledge to provide millions of new books to Ontario's school libraries is a promise in the making.
Last September, in the midst of his campaign for re-election, the Ontario Premier stood beside Heather Reisman and said that her company, Indigo Books and Music, had agreed to provide 1.7 million books a year at cost to elementary-school libraries.
Nearly eight months later, none of the $80-million promised over four years has flowed and the Ministry of Education is only now consulting the librarians, retail bookshops and book wholesalers who had profound misgivings about giving Indigo what amounted to an untendered contract to be a sole-source supplier of school library books. The pushback means the scheme, with Indigo playing a lesser role, will not start until some time in the autumn.
There's little doubt that Mr. McGuinty's credentials as a supporter of public education were burnished by his appearance with Ms. Reisman, coming as it did at a time when Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory was mired in a gumbo over his promise to provide financial aid to faith-based schools.
The initiative came together last summer. Government officials, aware of Indigo's Love of Reading Foundation, which had donated about $4.5-million to elementary schools across Canada, thought the retailer was a natural partner for its plan to bolster school libraries that had been ignored when educational financing was overhauled in the 1990s.
The industry built around school libraries, surprised by Mr. McGuinty's announcement, reacted quickly. "The industry blew up steam," said Arthur Gale, president of wholesaler S and B Books Ltd. "Our concern," added Susan Dayus, executive director of the Canadian Booksellers Association, "was that a sole supplier would be servicing all the elementary-school libraries and we felt that wasn't good for the libraries."
The argument made to ministry officials (after the election) was that school libraries need a variety of sources to build a collection. Ms. Reisman was respected for her literacy work, but the fear was that Indigo would squeeze out retailers and wholesalers and that it wouldn't be able to provide regional or specialty books or satisfy the need that some smaller schools have for the cataloguing services that places like S and B provide.
None of the controversy about the Indigo scheme stuck to Mr. McGuinty. There was some comment that Ms. Reisman is a long-time Liberal supporter. But the campaign spotlight remained on the Conservative Leader.
The issue still rankles Mr. Tory. As he tracks the mutation of the promise, he wonders what processes were followed and what questions were asked about whether giving Indigo an exclusive contract was the smart thing to do. "When you make these promises in kind of a superficial way just to try and buy yourself a few votes and make people happy for a couple of weeks, you get results like this," he said.
Annie Kidder, head of People for Education, has similar concerns. She believes the Liberal campaign team didn't understand the ramifications of the promise and she warns that school libraries are too important to get mixed up in election politics. "We shouldn't be writing policy on the back of an envelope," she said.
Education Minister Kathleen Wynne says books will get to libraries when she finds a way to introduce flexibility into Mr. McGuinty's promise. "It's just a matter of getting the procurement process right," she said. Better late than never.
Posted on: Friday, 9 May 2008, 03:00 CDT
By Rosenfeld, Esther
In this issue's column, 1 am introducing several useful Web 2.0 tools to those of you who are just beginning to use the read/write Web in your school library program. These tools enable many types of student and teacher collaboration. ONLINE COLLABORATION AND DOCUMENT STORAGE...
Vancouver Sun: 2008 May 10
ONE SWEET RIDE: Twenty dollars will take you a long way on public transit. Back a century in time, in fact, if you spend it on the just-released DVD City Reflections: 1906-Vancouver-2007. Its basis is downtown streets of the then-21year-old city filmed from a streetcar as it narrowly avoided jaywalkers, dogs, horse-drawn vehicles and endless horse droppings. There’s footage of the same route filmed a century later, a soundtrack by various worthies, and extensive coverage of buildings and other facilities the streetcar passed. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to enjoy this remarkable $20 ride.
Friday, May 9, 2008
The Angela Thacker Memorial Award honors teacher-librarians who have made contributions to the profession through publications, productions or professional development activities that deal with topics relevant to teacher-librarianship and or/information literacy.
Carlene Walter and Donna DesRoches have worked collaboratively to design a series of eight modules to help teacher-librarians learn how Web 2.0 tools could be used in their school library programs. The free online course they posted through the Saskatchewan School Library Association website was entitled Meet The Stars: Books & Web 2.0. Activities in which the tools of Web 2.0 were integrated were developed to focus on student achievement related to the learning objectives of school library programs.
The collaborative team hoped that teacher-librarians would gain understanding of the potential of the social Web within their profession, both as a tool supporting a community of professional learners and as a tool for students to use to become more information literate.
Participants in Meet the Stars: Books & Web 2.0 indicated that the goals of the collaborative team had been met. Success was evident in the following ways. The modules were accessible to anyone online, engendered a passion for reading, highlighted the potential range of emerging technologies, and provided professional development that reflected the goals of a 21st century school library program.
Carlene and Donna have created a resource that exemplifies the far-reaching and positive effects of collaborative work. They are to be congratulated for their excellent contribution to professionalism within school libraries.
The Canadian Association for School Libraries is a division of the CLA/ACB. The Canadian Library Association/Association canadienne des bibliothèques is Canada’s largest national and broad-based library association, representing the interests of public, academic, school and special libraries, professional librarians and library workers, and all those concerned about enhancing the quality of life of Canadians through information and literacy.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Here we go again. The Fraser Institute has once again released its school rankings based on the Foundation Skills Assessment tests — standardized tests given to Grades 4 and 7 each year in British Columbia. It is a misleading exercise.
Let’s be clear why this ill-conceived competition is forced on schools every year.
The Fraser Institute is dedicated to the privatization of public services and is openly hostile to all public institutions. While it portrays itself as a disinterested, objective “research institution,” the truth is that no matter what the public system did it would not be good enough. The Fraser Institute’s goal is to denigrate the public education system.
Not a single independent education expert supports the use of the FSAs for this purpose — even if they support the FSA test itself. The Vancouver Sun publishes the rankings ostensibly because parents want to know the results. Naturally, parents want to know how their child does on a test. The problem is that the FSA gives parents no useful information about how their child is doing or how good their school is.
The FSAs are designed to test the overall system — they are not graded in the same manner as teachers assess their students. Markers are instructed to read only the last paragraphs of the writing samples. In 10 minutes, markers are instructed to assess: Two openended math problems, one open-ended reading response, one short writing sample, and one longer writing sample. No teacher would ever assess their students in this manner.
The implied promise of these tests is that they will result in the application of additional, targeted resources based on identified deficits. But there are no extra resources and there is no targeting.
The FSAs completely ignore the most dynamic, substantive, and creative work of dedicated teachers and their students — the stuff that makes not only good citizens but good employees.
They ignore the challenges that many schools face as well as the obvious privileges and advantages of other schools. This is an exercise that overtly divides our communities along class lines. Class differences are unavoidable in our free market economy. But it is shameful to exploit public education (intended to promote equality) to highlight such divisions.
The rankings hurt students and parents in low-scoring schools who are acutely aware of where they are ranked, even if they know it is unfair.
The Liberal government is the guilty party here. We expect the Fraser Institute to do what it does — promote a society where government is reduced to the absolute minimum and everything else is done for a profit. But we do not expect our government to facilitate this yearly attack on public education. By refusing to prevent the ranking, Education Minister Shirley Bond and Premier Gordon Campbell are coconspirators in a process that undermines public education.
Bond says she agrees with us on this issue but is powerless to do anything. She said in the legislature: “The ranking of schools isn’t something that we encourage. We certainly can’t stop it.”
Nonsense. Health Minister George Abbott moved effectively to stop exactly the same kind of ranking of hospitals by the same Fraser Institute.
What’s the difference? It is difficult to come to any conclusion other than this government has singled out public education for ideological attention. Bond’s protestations notwithstanding, her ideology mirrors the Fraser Institute’s.
This government has a competitive, industrial model of education — not a community model. It’s not just the FSAs and the obsession with standardized testing that treat students like widgets. It’s also the epidemic of school closings based almost exclusively on the business principle of economic efficiency. It is found in the government’s preoccupation with cutting costs, no matter what the consequences and even when it has huge surpluses.
What else explains a rich province like B.C. laying off hundreds of school librarians, and specialist teachers and being so parsimonious with playground grants that they leave out hundreds of needy schools and their kids?
It is as if, in their calculations, the government sees students as a cost to be slashed. So if you have to displace 22,000 kids and disrupt their family life by closing 150 schools, so be it.
The government stands condemned by its failure to act on what it claims are its principles. It clearly supports this offensive ranking exercise, otherwise it would stop it.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
What Kids are Reading: The Book Reading Habits of Students in American Schools
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Sarah Price, Education Reporter
MORE high schools are turning to the Premier's Reading Challenge as a tool to encourage adolescents to read.
Robyn Condrick, the teacher-librarian at Sydney's Northern Beaches Secondary College, Cromer Campus, said the challenge helped motivate teenagers.
"These days it's very hard to turn kids on to reading, particularly boys," Ms Condrick said. "On the school holidays, the kids much prefer to play computer games. The world's changed and trying to get kids to value reading again is great."
As well as primary school students, the challenge is available to students in years 7 to 9.
The college has incorporated the challenge into its wider program for years 7 and 8. It is also incorporated into the school's DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) program.
Ms Condrick said they also saw the challenge as a valuable way to help improve literacy.
"A lot of high schools don't do it and I think one of the reasons for that is they see it as a primary school initiative, which I think is a real pity," she said.
Other high schools involved in the challenge include Heathcote High School, which recently ran a pizza party for year 7 students taking part.
What's your school doing?
The Premier's Reading Challenge is a NSW Government initiative, incorporating media partner The Sun-Herald, principal partner Dymocks Literacy Foundation and supporting partners Laubman & Pank and OPSM.
Is your school doing something interesting for the Premier's Reading Challenge? Send details to email@example.com.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Friday, May 02, 2008
The Delta school board has approved its most painful operating budget in recent memory.
On Tuesday, trustees voted in favour of implementing a number of staffing cuts in order to balance the books and make up a $3-million shortfall.
"We made every effort to avoid cuts inside the classroom but ultimately they will impact the classroom," said superintendent Steve Cardwell. Last week, Cardwell and secretary treasurer Grant McRadu released the district's tough budget, which proposed cutting 26 full-time equivalent positions. The staff cuts focused on both schools and the school board office, affecting administration, custodial, teacher-librarians, clerical and educational assistants.
There was a sliver of good news at Tuesday's board meeting, though. The board announced it would dip into its depleting reserves once again, this time to the tune of $100,000. McRadu noted the money would be used to maintain hours for teacher-librarians and education assistants and administration time for vice-principals. He explained the result will be fewer layoffs, but in the end there will still be over 20 positions axed.
The deficit, the worst the board has seen in almost a decade, is attributed to a number of factors, including a loss in government grant funding and a decline in student enrollment. Another factor cited is a decrease in international students.
The district was hoping to expand its international program last year but needed land to build a student dormitory. After the municipality turned down a land swap proposal and the district wasn't able to find another suitable location, a lucrative contract with a Korean firm to bring in more students went to a district elsewhere.
The board intends to look at attracting more international students from other countries. The school district, which already has three sports academies, also hopes to earn more revenues with a soccer academy to open in September.
A plan for an equestrian academy, however, was scaled back to a program in the continuing education department after trustees agreed this week it was too risky a proposition to open a full academy at this point.This board also agreed this week to follow the lead of other districts in setting up a business company that could sell educational services overseas.
While work on several fronts will take place to keep revenues flowing, cuts that have been avoided for years still have to take place and, unless more provincial dollars come through, it could well be the same story next year, said Cardwell.
In addition to addressing the budget shortfall for the upcoming year, district officials say they must adjust fiscal practices to reflect the new reality of a lower student population.
"If jobs can be improved and efficiencies made then that's the message that we have to send to every single person in this district. This is a critical time and every single person in this district has to do their part," said trustee Gordon Masi.
The board also agreed to come up with a "needs budget" to highlight the funding required if the district simply wanted to maintain the same level of services.