Connect with us

Education

A Game of Funds

Published

on

It’s war and both sides know how to play this game of funds.

Teachers initiate rotating strikes; employers, in turn, plan to lock them out and reduce pay by 10 per cent for the work loss. Media coverage is thick, on-screen blasts and visible displays of protest butt-up against government officials and talking heads. The students, well they collectively fall in behind, awaiting a verdict on when normalcy in the broken system will return.

And the system is indeed broken. If the opportunity to leverage the educational needs of children with increased wage demands exists, there’s something wrong. Worst, there appears no way to shave the billion dollar costs currently associated with the K-12 public school system as the only way forward is to increase and fatten what’s already there.

The government recently pitched a 7.3 per cent wage increase over six years. The B.C. teachers returned with a 13.7 per cent wage increase demand over a four-year period. According to Peter Cameron, the government’s lead negotiator, this would amount to four times more than any other union agreement currently in place.

The government most recently shelled out $4.5 billion to the K-12 system. But aside from economic demands, control and support to manage class size and composition are additional points of contention. These points, while valid, only add to the cost and while teachers’ demands have merit, in the current economic conditions, they aren’t realistic.

It’s the entitlement that strikes me, and without any context or full consideration provided. The teachers—BCTF—point to salary grids that place B.C. in the lower-third within a national pay scale of teachers. If you were to view the document you would note that Category 5 teachers in B.C. make, at minimum, $48,083 (in Vancouver), up to a maximum of $74,535. Category 6 teachers would start at $52,823 (in Vancouver) and top out at $81,488. Not too shabby.

But, what locations round out the top four? Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yellowknife and Yukon, respectively. Lets ponder why? Beauty comes at a price. B.C. is a nice place to hunker down in, especially in the summer so this makes the job market that much more attractive for teachers than the aforementioned arctic locales.

Further down the list at the fifth, sixth and seventh spots are three Alberta cities with wages in the $61,000 range. This is a critical point of comparison made by teachers and the BCTF, but without any context.

Alberta, even with its vast oil resources, ran a deficit for six consecutive years only just reporting a consolidated $1.1 billion surplus for this year. And even still, out of control spending on programs and public sector compensation (Read: Fraser Institute Report), accompanied by the recent bitumen bubble, has put the West’s wealthiest province into an accumulated $14.5 billion debt, and critics fear this hole will only deepen by 2017. In such an economic environment, heavy cutbacks will  ensue.

Flip to B.C. and the situation isn’t any prettier, in fact it’s worse. According to the B.C. Fiscal and Debt Summary for 2014/15 to 2016/17, the projected provincial debt is expect to rise to $68.9 billion. Granted the same document states the rate of growth on the debt is projected to decline, the debt load is daunting to think, especially as a young taxpayer.

So how is there room for a nearly 14 per cent wage increase to teachers, plus additional support staff and proposed class size reductions (which will certainly result in more teachers being employed)? There isn’t, and the BCTF know this, or ought to. Quite simply, the aim eye, land on the clouds approach is unrealistic and comes off as greedy.

Furthermore, you cannot point to provincial sphere’s of fiscal responsibility and demand similar benefits. Provincial economies function and react differently. The strength of provincial budgets depends on a myriad of factors, some common, others unique. In short, it’s difficult to have a uniform pay scale in a federalist country, so vast and varied.

Another condition high on the BCTF agenda, especially with the recent ruling, is class size. There’s no question reduced class sizes will result in a better, more manageable, environment for teachers and for some students. But aside from the logistical nightmare of creating additional space and staff, there is a paradox to this argument that is bothersome.

Teachers are often first to state that a student’s educational outcome is indeterminate. Extraneous factors such as home life, personal learning disabilities, motivation, character are just some examples of challenges that can affect a student’s ability to achieve academic success. No one can disagree with this.

Teachers thus argue in favour of a professional growth model over punitive measures based on student success. So if this is the case, then a reduction in class size shouldn’t really matter. Some students will succeed and others still won’t—the subjectivity of life.

What’s clear is the teachers strive for a better working environment along with a 13.7 per cent wage increase and additional support for those oddly composited classes. Even meeting these demands in the middle would still place a greater burden on an increasing debt-load and the bitter distaste from all of this isn’t just from the spin coming from both ends, but that any sort of economic gain to the public union is footed by society’s hard-earned dollars. And the people on the other side of the negotiating table, well, it’s no different there. That’s what’s most annoying about this seemingly relentless dispute. It’s a game of funds and the taxpayers are made to play and pick sides when in the end it’s taxpayer money on the line.

Brandon graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.A. in comparative history and a political science minor. After a two-year stint as a compliance researcher at a private financial firm, he moved on to an accelerated journalism program at Langara College. Brandon currently freelances, sharing time at a local startup magazine and content writing.

Education

New Viking DNA Research Yields Unexpected Information About Who They Were

Published

on

In the popular imagination, Vikings were fearsome blonde-haired warriors from Scandinavia who used longboats to carry out raids across Europe in a brief but bloody reign of terror. But the reality is more complex, says SFU Archaeology Prof. Mark Collard.

Collard is a member of an international team of researchers that has just published the results of the world’s largest DNA sequencing of Viking skeletons, in this week’s edition of Nature.

Led by Prof. Eske Willerslev of the Universities of Cambridge and Copenhagen, the research team extracted and analysed\ DNA from the remains of 442 men, women and children.

The remains were recovered from archaeological sites in Scandinavia, the U.K., Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, Estonia, Ukraine, Poland and Russia, and mostly date to the Viking Age (ca. 750-1050 AD).

The team’s analyses yielded a number of findings. One of the most noteworthy is that contrary to what has often been assumed, Viking identity was not limited to people of Scandinavian ancestry—the team discovered that two skeletons from a Viking burial site in the Orkney Islands were of Scottish ancestry.

They also found evidence that there was significant gene flow into Scandinavia from the British Isles, Southern Europe, and Asia before and during the Viking Age, which further undermines the image of the Vikings as ‘pure’ Scandinavians. Another discovery that runs counter to the standard image of the Vikings is that many had brown hair, not blonde hair.

The analyses’ results also shed light on the Vikings’ activities. For example, consistent with patterns documented by historians and archaeologists, the team found that Vikings who travelled to England generally had Danish ancestry, while the majority of Vikings who travelled to Scotland, Ireland, Iceland and Greenland had Norwegian ancestry. In contrast, Vikings who headed east were mostly from Sweden.

Interestingly, says Collard, data revealed a number of close kin among the 442 individuals. Four members of a Viking raiding party interred in a boat burial in Estonia were found to be brothers, while two individuals buried 300 to 400 kilometers apart in Sweden were found to be cousins. Perhaps even more strikingly, the team identified a pair of second-degree male relatives (i.e. half-brothers, nephew-uncle, or grandson-grandfather) from two sites, one in Denmark and one in England.

“We have this image of well-connected Vikings mixing with each other, trading and going on raiding parties to fight Kings across Europe because this is what we see on television and read in books – but genetically we have shown for the first time that it wasn’t that kind of world. This study changes the perception of who a Viking actually was,” says Willerslev. “No one could have predicted these significant gene flows into Scandinavia from Southern Europe and Asia happened before and during the Viking Age.”

Of all the team’s discoveries, Collard is most intrigued by the identification of close kin. “While the ‘big picture’ discoveries are great, I was blown away by the fact that the analyses revealed the presence of four brothers in the Estonian boat burial, and a possible nephew and uncle on either side of the North Sea.” “These findings have important implications for social life in the Viking world, but we would’ve remained ignorant of them without ancient DNA. They really underscore the power of the approach for understanding history.”

Continue Reading

Education

Enver Creek Secondary student awarded largest Canadian STEM scholarship

Published

on

For this year, number of scholarships doubles to 100

Tejash Poddar has been selected to receive a $100,000 Schulich Leader Scholarship to study Engineering at Simon Fraser University.

A graduate of Enver Creek Secondary in Surrey, Tejash will be entering the Engineering Science this Fall. He was selected by Ms A. van Dyk for his outstanding academic excellence and leadership achievements.

Given the unparalleled current disruption, there is a much greater need for students to get financial support in order to pursue their university education. This year, The Schulich Foundation has decided to award an additional 50 scholarships, for a total of 100.

“Schulich Leader Scholarships are the premiere STEM scholarship program in Canada and the world. With 100 outstanding students selected in Canada this year, it is all but guaranteed that this group will represent the best and brightest Canada has to offer. These future leaders will make great contributions to society, both on a national and global scale.

With their university expenses covered, they can focus their time on their studies, research projects, extracurriculars, and entrepreneurial ventures. They are the next generation of technology innovators,” says Mr. Schulich.

(When asked):
How did it feel to receive the notice of offer for the scholarship? How will this scholarship help you reach your goals?

(Tejash) :
“It was surreal first hearing the words over the phone – I could barely finish my sentences as I spoke. Looking back at it, everything really is a blur, but I am glad I was able to share the experience with my family around me.”

“I believe that sharing innovation is the key to driving innovation, and I plan to collaborate and grow with the people around me. I am incredibly grateful to be part of the Schulich Leader network, and I look forward to meeting new people and building relations in order to further pursue opportunities in the STEM field.”

About Schulich Leader Scholarships Canada

Recognizing the increasing importance and impact that STEM disciplines will have on the prosperity of future generations, businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich established this $100+ million scholarship fund in 2012 to encourage our best and brightest students to become Schulich Leader Scholars: the next generation of entrepreneurial-minded, technology innovators.

Through The Schulich Foundation, these prestigious entrance scholarships are awarded to 100 high school graduates this year, enrolling in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) undergraduate program at 20 partner universities in Canada.

Every high school in Canada can submit one Schulich Leader Nominee per academic year based on academic excellence in STEM, entrepreneurial leadership and financial need.

Continue Reading

Education

Hundreds Enjoy Surrey Libraries EXPO

Published

on

Surrey, BC – Hundreds of families joined Surrey Libraries at the inaugural Surrey Libraries EXPO on Saturday January 25th at the Guildford Town Centre to celebrate Family Literacy Day. The EXPO showcased some of the wonderful and varied programs and services offered at Surrey Libraries.

Participants got an opportunity to try their hand at stop motion animation, Dot and Dash Robotics, and have their photo turned into a vintage photo by using green screen technology. There was a mini escape room, and even a pop-up library where people could register for free library cards and borrow books, DVDs, and books on CD.

“This year’s theme for Family Literacy week is ‘Take 20!’ and encourages families to take 20 minutes and make learning together part of every day,” said Mayor Doug McCallum who was there to help kick off the EXPO. “We know literacy is an essential skill that directly impacts people’s quality of life and their ability to earn a good living. That’s why it’s so important to promote literacy and this is where Surrey Libraries plays an essential role in our community.”

Family Literacy Day is a national initiative involving annual literacy-related events and activities held at the end of January to raise awareness of the importance of literacy.

“We’re delighted that so many people came out to explore Surrey Libraries and our diverse programming,” said Surinder Bhogal, Chief Librarian. “The 21st century library offers so much more than books, and Surrey Libraries works to connect people, spark their curiosity and inspire learning.”

Surrey Libraries EXPO is one of many programs and events hosted by Surrey Libraries in support of literacy. More information on Surrey Libraries’ programs and events can be found at: https://surreylibraries.ca/events.

Children enjoying a puppet storytime at the EXPO.

Learning how snail mail worked before electronics.

A family having fun with the green screen technology.

Continue Reading

Education

Surrey Libraries Support Learners Obtain Google IT Support Certificate

Published

on

Graduates from the first cohort of the Google IT Support Certificate program along with the Honourable Harry Bains, MLA, Jinny Simms, MLA, and Councillor Mandeep Nagra, just after receiving their certificates on January 24.

Surrey, BC – BC’s tech industry is booming and there aren’t enough people with the skills required to fill the jobs that are available. This is what Google Canada realized and to help remedy the situation, last year they teamed up with Surrey Libraries and three other libraries across Canada to provide scholarships to hundreds of individuals to get trained in the Google IT Support Certificate Program (GISC Program).

Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate is aimed to prepare participants to become ready for an entry-level job in IT support in about eight months, with no experience required. This certificate is part of Grow with Google, an initiative focused on helping everyone across Canada access the best of Google’s training and tools to grow their skills, careers and business.

In addition to identifying students eligible to receive the Google scholarships, Surrey Libraries provided the students with online instruction and in-person learning facilitation by a dedicated Google IT Support Certificate Site Lead Librarian. Scholarships and funding for the Site Lead Librarian were supported through a generous Google.org grant.

The first cohort of 50 learners started the program in April 2019 and so far, 37 students from that group have finished the GISC Program and some have already landed jobs in the tech industry. Learners were provided wraparound supports including learning circles, opportunity to tour a local tech company, as well as presentations and workshops from the City of Surrey’s IT Department, WorkBC, and TLC Solutions.

“This program was very well run and helpful in getting my foot in the door to IT. I received amazing support from Surrey Libraries, and I enjoyed a lot of aspects of how this course was set up and how it was executed.” Said graduating student, Monica Mah “Having other learners to turn to weekly was very helpful in providing motivation, knowledge, and amusement. I feel more confident to be able to look for a job in the IT field.”

“We’re so pleased Surrey Libraries was chosen by Google to help support this program,” said Surinder Bhogal, Chief Librarian at Surrey Libraries. “Surrey is the fastest growing city in British Columbia, with a diverse and talented population. The program also aligns well with one of the library’s objectives to support digital skills development in preparation for a stronger workforce.”

A second set of learners are about to embark on their learning journey in March. People interested in the GISC Program are invited to attend an information session on Wednesday, January 29 at Surrey Libraries – City Centre Branch, Room 402 at 6:30 pm. Call 604-598-7426 to register.

About Surrey Libraries

Surrey Libraries is a valued community institution and one of the most-used community services in Surrey. The library welcomes around 2.7 million visits to our nine branches each year, and over two million visits to our online resources. Surrey Libraries runs hundreds of programs and services for children, youth, and adults to support their diverse learning needs. Serving the community since 1983, Surrey Libraries strives to connect people, spark curiosity, and inspire learning. Find out more about Surrey Libraries and our diverse programming at surreylibraries.ca.

Continue Reading

Education

SFU’s next president eyes “new era of potential”

Published

on

University appoints Joy Johnson as its 10th president and vice-chancellor

Simon Fraser University’s Board of Governors has appointed professor Joy Johnson as the university’s next president and vice-chancellor, following an extensive community consultation and international search process.

Johnson, SFU’s current vice-president research and international, will take office on Sept. 1 2020. She succeeds Andrew Petter, who completes his term on August 31 after a decade of distinguished service.

“Over the course of this competitive process, professor Johnson stood out from other candidates for her depth of academic and research experience, commitment to students and enthusiasm for the future of SFU,” says Fiona Robin, chair of SFU’s Board of Governors and chair of the presidential search committee. “We are thrilled to announce that professor Johnson is the successful candidate and look forward to welcoming her into this new role.”

A strong supporter of academic and research excellence, and a leader in nurturing and building community partnerships, Johnson is also committed to vibrant student learning experiences, equity, diversity and inclusion, and Aboriginal reconciliation.

“SFU is a remarkable institution at a remarkable time in its history,” says Johnson, who becomes the university’s second woman president. “We continue to attract world-class students, faculty, and staff, and we are stepping into a new era of potential.”

Johnson, who has been in her current role at SFU since 2014, is widely respected in academic and research communities. Under her leadership, SFU’s research income has grown from $103 million in 2014 to $161 million today, making it the fastest growing research income of any university in Canada.

During her tenure, the university established its innovation strategy—SFU Innovates—launched its big data initiative, secured two Canada 150 chairs and became host to Canada’s most powerful academic supercomputer. The university also became a founding partner in the City of Surrey’s burgeoning Health and Technology District and established collaborative research partnerships around the world.

“I love being part of SFU—so much is possible here as we develop new learning opportunities, enhance student support and services, expand our facilities, strengthen our research infrastructure, and forge new partnerships,” says Johnson. “It’s my great privilege to have the opportunity to serve as President and Vice-Chancellor, and I look forward to getting started.”

BACKGROUND

Johnson completed her PhD in nursing at the University of Alberta, and is a former professor in the University of British Columbia’s School of Nursing.

Before joining SFU, Johnson had an impressive academic and research career in the health sciences. Her research focused on how environments and social dynamics influence health outcomes and opportunities, particularly among youth.

Her commitment to research led to her role as scientific director with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Gender and Health, setting the institute’s strategy and building opportunities for researchers.

Johnson is an elected Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2019).

She is the co-author of more than 180 peer-reviewed manuscripts and has led several initiatives that mobilized research insights to influence practice and policy.

Read more about Joy Johnson

About Simon Fraser University:

As Canada’s engaged university, SFU works with communities, organizations and partners to create, share and embrace knowledge that improves life and generates real change. We deliver a world-class education with lifelong value that shapes change-makers, visionaries and problem-solvers. We connect research and innovation to entrepreneurship and industry to deliver sustainable, relevant solutions to today’s problems. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties that deliver 193 undergraduate degree programs and 127 graduate degree programs to more than 35,000 students. The university now boasts more than 160,000 alumni residing in 143 countries.

Continue Reading

– Advertisement –

Latest Events

september

24sep7:00 pm11:00 pmVIFF.FASHION Live PPV7:00 pm - 11:00 pm Location: Online Cost: 10

25sep9:00 am25oct8:00 pmBC Culture Days: September 25-October 25, 20209:00 am - (october 25) 8:00 pm Location: Various locations and online Cost: Free

26sep6:00 pm9:00 pmIntro to Bartending Class6:00 pm - 9:00 pm Location: Fine Art Bartending School Cost: $99 per couple

– Advertisment –

Trending

Copyright © 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Designed by Binary Souls.

X
X