The Real Reason for Reopening Schools

“The economy, stupid.” James Carville, 1992

Why is there such a push to re-open schools in the middle of a pandemic just as variant strains of the virus increase the possibility of transmission? Well, as James accurately noted, “it’s the economy, stupid.”

The family circle of the days of Leave it to Beaver are long gone, being replaced by two working parents or single parents leaving no one to look after the children while the parental unit is at work keeping the economy functionning. This is a trend that began in the seventies when more women entered the workforce and accelerated with increasing divorce rates and single parent families. In fact, by 2020, over 1/4 of children were living in lone parent families.

 Doug Ford, alleged high school dropout turned drug dealer turned Lingerie League cheerleader, doesn’t give a hoot about the value of education. He needs those adult bodies back in the factories and stores and services stimulating Ontario’s economy. What’s the motto? “A place to grow .., your business!”  or was it “Ontario: Open for Business”  or was it “Make Ontario Great Again” ….

Heck, you can’t get all those parental units to Build Our Ontario Back Better (BOOBB) if they can’t work because they can’t leave the younger children at home alone, and you don’t have enough provincial daycare spaces due to your lack of policy, so … reopen the schools!

The saddest part of this push is that we are all realizing that parents who grew used to depending on our high quality and professional public school safety net to protect and teach their children are now stuck in a Stay at Home Lockdown with rusty to non-existent parenting skills. The incidence of infants and young children being injured at home has increased dramatically. The incidence of family violence has increased dramatically.

And what does Doug do? He makes home deliver of alcohol easier. Brilliant. In fact, he considers it an essential service. You know the old saying, “Once a drug dealer, always a drug dealer.” Allegedly.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children, School, and Mental Health

Never let schooling interfere with education.” Grant Allen, 1895.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced some interesting debate about the benefits of children being schooled in a classroom. While some expert doctors declare that children’s mental health and indeed their future success in life is inextricably bound up in in-school learning, Grant Allen and Mark Twain respectfully disagree

 

I agree with Mark and Grant. The industrial revolution model of in-school classroom learning is neither conducive to high quality learning nor to fulsome mental health. In fact, as many of our First Nations argue, in-school learning is punishment for children. I know. I was in the public school system for over half a century, both as a student and as an award winning teacher.

Granted, most of my teaching years were spent subversively trying to get my students out of the classroom on field trips and outdoor environmental education adventures, a  quest that liberated both them and me. In the mid-1800’s, Egerton Ryerson may have had the best of intentions in dealing with those hordes of rural children moving with their families to the cities for  factory employment, or it may have been purely a mathematical necessity, or it may have been a case of cultural genocide for generations of First Peoples families.

My youngest son is now in his final year of pandemic induced online university, He was raised outdoors, but knows the necessity of schooling in this age of information and high tech. However, as I remind him, how many Engineering courses deal with Ecology and Ethics, deal with the moral choices of “I can build it, but should I build it?”

That is what a life lived in diverse ecosystems reveals. That there is no economy outside of a healthy ecology, We live in a finite frame of resources unless we get another meteoric impact of new materials. We are not 6000 years old, our planet is not a flat disc around which the sun circles, and we did not walk with dinosaurs.

When we walk and share and learn in the world we discover the wonder in children’s eyes when they discover an ancient sea fossil in the high limestone cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment … and the stories of Earth’s billion years of history begin.

To place thirty young bodies in a tightly enclosed indoor space on plastic chairs, sitting at desks, studying from the printed images of the real world on the pages of colonial textbooks is not only indoctrination, it is child abuse.

Years ago, on a visit to Eskimo Point, now renamed as Arviat, an Elder told me, “Why is the white schooling system punishing our children. They make them sit in those chairs and they can’t move or speak. Children run and play and fall down and get up and learn and explore. What they are doing is punishment.”

As I have written previously, we keep you, our children, in a box  for thirteen years from Kindergarten to High School, and on your graduation we hand you the keys to the car. We never really taught you how to drive, how to live, choose a partner, contemplate the big questions of who we are, from where did we come and to where are we going, but we hand you the keys. Good luck driving at high speed looking into the rear view mirror.

For over a million years human beings raised children in small family and community groups. There was no mass indoor schooling and our mental health seemed to be just fine. Perhaps the cure for all these modern insanities lies not in school but in family and outdoors. Perhaps as our old storytellers taught us: “Keep our children close to the wild places and sacred spaces.”

Long live free range children. The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

 

 

 

 

Red Herring Headlines

Following Julie Payette’s resignation, the “non-partisan” CBC had hosts, pundits and Opposition Party guests heap scorn on Justin Trudeau’s initial ad hoc selection of her as Governor General. In print media, Fraser, Fife, et al. went all Opinion Piece proselytizing on how none of this would have happened under Harper.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole intoned:  “Considering the problems with his last appointment … the Prime Minister should consult opposition parties.” The NDP’s Jagmeet Singh bemoaned the Liberal’s lack of good judgement: “This is all sad, but it’s so Justin Trudeau’s style,” he said. “He thinks that he knows better than anybody else, than the special committee created by the Conservatives. But we were right at that time. We made the right decision, he did the wrong decision and unfortunately, today we paid a price for this mess.”

Hindsight is a wonderful gift, Mr. Singh, but so is history. Back in 2017 when Julie Payette was nominated to the position of Governor General by Justin Trudeau, then NDP leader Thomas Mulcair announced: “On behalf of the New Democratic Party and Canadians across this country, I applaud the appointment of Julie Payette as the next Governor General of Canada. Ms. Payette is a superb choice as she embodies some of the very best qualities of Canada.” Nothing but the best for the NDP, Jagmeet,

Similarly, then Conservative leader Andrew Scheer proclaimed, “As a scientist, a former chief astronaut for the (Canadian Space Agency), and a leading advocate for Canadian ingenuity around the world, Ms. Payette will be well-suited to play a leadership role in Canada as the next Governor General,”  adding that his party has full confidence in her.

The Canadian Space Agency declared: “Ms. Payette has served the Canadian Space Agency and her country exceptionally well, both on the ground and in space for over two decades. Throughout her career as an astronaut, she was a tireless ambassador for science and technology. Ms. Payette visited schools across the country, encouraging young Canadians to view science as a means to contribute to society and to our planet. As a lifelong defender of the arts, she will be in a unique position to communicate her passion for music and science to the next generation of Canadians.”

 Well, well, well. Turns out that at the time the Conservative and NDP Opposition Parties gave their full confidence for Trudeau’s superb choice of Julie Payette as Canada’s Governor General with nary a whisper of the need to invoke the Harper regime’s Advisory Committee on Vice-Regal Appointments to assist the  Liberal minority government in its selection process.

O’Toole and Singh have clearly established themselves as opportunistic hypocrites. Perhaps a Liberal appointed non-partisan Committee for the Opposition Party Leadership Appointments would create a more robust selection process for the future. You know, to ensure that we have full confidence in the superb choices made for future NDP and Conservative leaders. The current batch have been weighed, have been measured, and have been found wanting.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

*images from enwikepedia.com and istockpohoto.com

The Keystone Cops – Trumpism in Canada

 The Keystone XL Pipeline has been dead for some time now. It died under Obama. It died under Nebraska and Montana court orders. It got briefly revived under Trump, It was finally, officially confirmed deceased by the 46th President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden. The Keystone XL Pipeline is dead.

We who are seeking a sustainable energy economy for Canada do not mourn, but the wailing and weeping from Trump wannabe politicians in Canada is deafening, No sooner had Biden cancelled Keystone, than the Republican Conservative horde north of the border, led by O’Toole, Kenney and Ford, took to the airwaves predicting job loss armageddon and the death of the Big Oil corporations.

Let us remember that the Keystone XL Pipeline was NEVER a Canadian dream. It was a business deal cooked up in Calgary between Alberta and Trans Canada Corporation (a private energy company) back in 2008 when Stephen Harper was Prime Minister. Trans Canada Corporation, now known as TC Energy, got it’s Keystone XL Pipeline deal rubber stamped by Harper’s hand-picked corporate National Energy Board.

Fortunately, a marriage made in the deep pits of the tar sands at a time when oil prices were booming high was doomed to failure when the bust came. From environmental studies that showed the potential for disastrous pollution problems to cultural protests over the route selected through the States, Keystone became an investors’ nightmare.

The oily Republican Conservative horde in Canada will no doubt use the cancellation of Keystone XL to attack PM Trudeau. They will blame the Liberals for the loss of non-existent jobs in a  declining and rapidly imploding resource extraction industry whose impending death is as predictable as the demise of the pipeline. Canada needs a sustainable energy sector, not an unsustainable cabal of profiteering fossil fools.

The US just deposed a lying dictator – we don’t need the same kind of leadership in Canada. O’Toole and his provincial partners would be well advised to sit down, educate themselves on the energy needs of the 21st Century, and start planning for jobs and economic security in the new renewable, sustainable energy economy.

Ontario’s Doug Ford is so confused over the issue that he thought for a moment that he was a federal leader who could advise newly elected President Biden to reverse his decision. Mr. Ford, you are a provincial Premier, not a Prime Minister. President Biden will be calling Prime Minister Trudeau on Friday, not you. That’ll do, Doug. That’ll do.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is dead. Long live a sustainable energy sector.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

*image from wxow.com

 

Ford and Phillips: hypocrisy loves company

Canada has clear coronavirus health guidelines. Ontario has clear coronavirus health guidelines. All we need is for people to follow them in order to get this pandemic under control for a healthier 2021 and beyond.  We often look to our leaders for inspiration. In Canada’s case, our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has walked the talk from day one. Alas, we cannot say the same for Ontario.

At a time when front line health care staff are taxed to the maximum, it would seem that the least we could do would be to follow the basic guidelines; no non-essential travel, stay in your bubble, avoid indoor crowds, mask, stay 2 m apart and wash our hands.

Alas, neither our Premier, Doug Ford, nor some of his Conservative cabal, like Finance Minister Rod Phillips, seem capable of following those simple rules. Now, wet-behind-the political-ears rookie Sam Oosterhoff may have an excuse for his rules violating crowded evangelical restaurant party, but there is NO EXCUSE for seasoned politicians like Ford and Phillips. These were clear cases of arrogant entitlement.

At least Phillips, still on a rules violating non-essential travel vacation to St, Barts with his wife, can say he was “just following the leader.” Ford has twice violated Ontario’s travel and bubble restrictions by his May visit to his cottage to “check on the water pipes” and his family dinner get-together for Easter.

After the Ford Government shut down Queen’s Park for an extended December to February break in the middle of a global pandemic, Phillips thought it was a good time to skip the country for a little non-essential travel. For the second time.

And the icing on the Christmas cake was the pre-recorded fireside message that Phillip’s arranged to have Tweeted to his constituents making it appear that he was still home for the holidays. The message should have said, “As you all make sacrifices this #Christmas, remember that some of our fellow citizens won’t even be home for Christmas dinner over Zoom. Like me. I’ll be soaking up the sun in St. Barts while thousands of front-line heroes will be looking out for you. Ho, Ho, Ho!” Gee Rod, turns out you’re a Dick.

Also turns out that Mr. Phillips let Mr. Ford know about his trip “about two weeks ago” which would have meant that the Premier knew about Rod’s illicit vacation at the time that parliament was dissolved on December10th for a two month break in the middle of a pandemic. And Doug kept it quiet until the proverbial excrement hit the fan. So, dear readers, who wins first place?

Yeppers, two peas in a hypocritical pod in the middle of their “do as I say, not as I do” sycophantic conservative goober patch. 2022 can’t come soon enough.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

* image from cp24.com