Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Dreaming Of A Representative Salary Grid

One of the reasons I became a teacher is because it seemed like a particularly credible profession.  The process of becoming a teacher appeared to have more in common with an apprenticeship than an abstract degree.  My teacher's college in particular was focused on getting us as much in-class time with a working, mentor teacher as possible.  Once in the profession, it takes a teacher twelve years to earn full pay, once again implying that this is an apprenticeship that takes a great deal of time to come to fruition.

I'm in year eight of teaching and life on the ground has been somewhat less affirming.  The vast majority of teachers I've met do little to expand their teaching skills, unless they are new and so desperate for a position that they spend thousands of dollars collecting additional qualifications.  Many older teachers I know still have the two teachables they started with, and in some cases aren't even actually qualified to teach the subjects they are teaching.  A surprising number have never updated to honours specialist so they could top out on the salary grid (though that would be hard to do if you don't actually have a degree or any background in what you're teaching).

Having found an online community of teachers who are actually interested in improving their craft (and recognizing the changes digitization is having on education and society in general) has been a saving grace, but I still face comments like, "why in God's name would I want to talk about teaching when I'm not at work?" or "oh great, another pointless PD day" when I'm on the ground in school.

To that end, I'd like to consider revisions to the much maligned 'grid' that determines teacher salaries in Ontario.  Ranging from just over forty thousand a year (which isn't an awful lot when you've just spent over one hundred thousands dollars on five years of university), to just over ninety thousand a year more than a decade into working, the grid relies mainly on years in the classroom as a justification for pay raises.  The difference between an honours specialist in a subject and a teacher who has never lifted a finger to try and improve is less than 5% of pay at the top of the grid.*

I would suggest that there is a lot more to the craft of teaching than years in the classroom, especially if you're not one of those very special teachers who like to trot out the same old lesson, year in, year out (one you probably photocopied from someone else in the first place).  In the great scheme of becoming a master teacher, your activity both in and beyond the classroom are vital to your understanding of how your profession works as a whole.

Teachers who are active in their professional organizations (ECOO, OHASSTA, OLA, OAME, ELAN, OCTE, and others), are working to enhance their craft by working with colleagues in their various disciplines.  How this isn't a consideration in a salary grid is beyond me.

Teachers who are active in school leadership roles (such as department heads, directions teams members, etc) are currently offered a rather silly little stipend to do what is essentially another part time job.  They do this with no time given from regular teacher duties, and for a couple of bucks a day.  Why these 'positions of additional responsibility' aren't considered in the salary grid is beyond me.

Teachers who take on student teachers and do one of the most important jobs in our profession?  Nothing on the grid.

Teachers who spend time developing school teams and clubs over the long term?  Nothing on the grid.

Teachers who spend time developing school events like graduation or grade nine introductory programs?  Nothing on the grid.

Teachers who spend their own time and money away from home attending professional conferences to enhance their practice?  You got it, nothing on the grid.

I'm not advocating for a pay per-extracurricular approach here, but I am asking for a grid that works from something other than how long you've been doing the job.  If we graded students the same way we salary teachers, they'd get higher and higher grades the longer they are in school, regardless of what they are doing.

Talk of extending the grid from 11 to 15 years is as myopic as basing the grid primarily on years of teaching in the first place.  Seniority has its place in teaching, there is no doubt.  How long a teacher has been teaching is an important metric in determining their quality, but it certainly shouldn't be the key factor in calculating their pay.

If we're going to overhaul the salary grid, let's really examine what determines a teacher who is trying to perfect their imperfectable craft, and then make a grid that isn't solely based on how old you are as a teacher.  That grid would be fluid and flexible, with people moving up and down in various elements of it.  You'd still enjoy seniority bumps, but a senior teacher who does nothing other than show up and go home, offering no mentor-ship to younger teachers, no direction for their school, no enrichment for their students, and who has no specialization in the subject they teach, wouldn't be able to make within 5% of the trained specialist who offers up their time to lead departments, train new teachers, or lead subject enrichment.

This kind of grid would encourage the kind of meta-cognition we expect to see in our students, and encourage senior teachers to mentor and improve the craft, rather than closing the door to their classroom five years early while they glide to retirement.  It would also support teachers who recognize how changeable the world is at the moment and who take steps to try and prepare students for a future that will be quite unlike the past.

If we're going to fix the grid, let's fix it.  Seniority is only one (relatively minor) metric in considering how hard a teacher is working at becoming a better teacher.

Note:  teacher pay based on student test scores are another American myth that are designed to diminish the profession while cloaking justifications (usually financial) in fictional, statistical validity.  Standardized tests are inherently limited, and teachers who teach well to them are probably such compliant, mechanical creatures that they are actually poor teachers.  US world rankings would suggest that trying to standardize teaching around this kind of testing is a disaster.  A well designed salary grid would recognize the many individual ways that a teacher could improve their craft, without grossly simplifying the metrics for excellence (such as basing the grid almost entirely on seniority).

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Shopclass as Soulcraft: IT Idiocy, Management Speak & Skills Abstraction

A brilliant little book by Matt Crawford
I'm currently reading the very meaty and painfully direct "Shop Class as Soulcraft" by Matt Crawford. In the book he laments idiocy in professionals and the vagaries of management language in modern business where there is no objective means of determining an employee's competency. Both of these arguments come together beautifully in the relatively recent field of information technology.

I've been working in IT in both private and public sectors for going on twenty five years now. I've worked in small offices, and on massive installs, in engineering shops, manufacturing concerns, universities, schools and in offices. With a certain breadth of experience comes a pretty good bullshit detector. Crawford's ideas around professional idiocy and manager-speak appear to have, unfortunately, come together in a perfect storm of hidden incompetence in information technology.  There are few places more managed by people who have no technical background in it than there are in information technology.


Crawford talks about Robert Persig (the author of Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance - another great read)'s idiot mechanic, who is more intent on appearances and action than submitting himself to the truths the bike is trying to tell him and what that means to his public role as a professional technician. In the book, the kid ends up butchering Persig's bike while taking no time to actually try and diagnose what the problem is; he's all hands and no brain. Crawford describes the idiot:

"Persig's mechanic is, in the original sense of the word, an idiot. Indeed, he exemplifies the truth about idiocy, which is that it is at once an ethical and a cognitive failure. The Greek idios means "private," and an idiotes means a private person, as opposed to a person in their public role - for example, that of motorcycle mechanic. Persig's mechanic is idiotic because he fails to grasp his public role, which entails, or should, a relation of active concern to others, and to the machine. He is not involved. It is not his problem. Because he is an idiot... At bottom, the idiot is a solipsist." (p98)

That lack of involvement should spark a memory with any teacher reading this. The student who refuses, at all costs, regardless of the differentiation you throw at it, to do anything whatsoever, is an idiot in the technical sense of the word.

From the IT angle, I see people like Persig's idiot mechanic every day. You know the type, they know just enough to be dangerous (and have tools on hand). They tend to make grand assumptions, usually based on a non-existent knowledge base, and then act on them to make the situation worse. They talk loudly and use a lot of word whispers ("you know?", "right?", "know what I mean?", etc) to make sure you agree with them.  It's a handy way to externally monitor what's going on when you have no idea yourself and dovetails nicely with the idea of management speak presented later.

The disengaged idiot fits especially well with information technology because it's a dark art to the vast majority of people. You can talk out of your ass to 99% of the population and they have no idea what you're saying, freeing you to say pretty much anything you want. The bigger the words the better, and because most people are users they're more than happy to sit in on the tech talk and participate at the same level as the disengaged idiot.

Many moons ago, right out of high school I found myself working in a Canadian Tire shop. One day one of the mechanics burned himself on a Fuego. He proceeded to flip out and run up a bill of unneeded repairs to the order of a thousand dollars; a good example of the moral failure of the idiot and one I see all the time in IT, especially when dealing with older customers to whom the dark art seems positively Satanic.


Crawford also does a brilliant dissection of the 'peculiarly chancy and fluid' life of the corporate manager (substitute administrator or educational consultant for equal value here). In a world with no objective means of assessing competence the manager lives in a purgatory of abstraction using vague language "...staking out a position on all sides of a situation, so you always have plausible deniability of a failure." Crawford goes to great lengths to point out that this isn't done maliciously but rather as a means of psychic protection for the people trapped in this morass. At any point an arbitrary decision can make you redundant (shown brilliantly in Up In The Air - many of the people in the interviews are real people who have actually been downsized) regardless of your own abilities or actions.

In a world of meaningless management language actual technical competency is devalued with every spoken word, a central theme in Crawford's book. Objective competency is ignored in favour of MBA language that allows the initiate of globalized business speak to survive regardless of what decisions they might have made. In fact, the very making of decisions is discouraged. In places where reality matters your opinion is not as important as you've been taught to think it is.  I see this with students all the time.  They attempt poorly planned, grandiose engineering projects and then are frustrated by the simplest physical problems.  They aren't used to the absolutism of reality.   As Crawford so cuttingly notes: "This stance toward 'established reality,' which can only be described as psychedelic, is best not indulged around a table saw."

One of the many reasons I'm looking forward to teaching tech this fall is because there is no doubt of the student's focus, ability and honesty of effort when reality is judging them. If you made it, ignored lessons, examples and process, and it didn't work no amount of 'but you're still fantastic' student success talk will mitigate a failure staring you in the face. The fantasy of 'everyone's a hidden genius' so popular in education today is best not indulged when reality (and the objective assessment of it) is judging the results. Having no safety net in your learning isn't necessarily a bad thing (it focuses the mind) unless you're trying to peddle a new ed-theory on zero failure.

Management speak based on the the surreal, 'psychedelic', entirely provisional world of business became popular along with globalization, itself founded on many hidden assumptions. Grown out of the initial industrially driven abstractions of Taylorism in the early 20th Century, modern business is so far from the witness of truth (like the stock market it has spawned) that it has more in common with Alice in Wonderland than it does with a technical manual.  The best you can hope for are some vague metaphors to describe the massive fiction of modern commerce.

The IT Idiot Management Babbling: Making An Objective Technical Skill Abstract

Information technology is a new field of study. It began and grew in a well established, Taylorist, globalized, MBA driven, entirely fictional world. The language around IT maintenance is often clouded in mysticism, grown from the same vague, plausibly deniable language of business and finance. In education we feed that fire with talk of digital natives, people who magically have technical skills because of their birth date. In classrooms we ignore this vital Twenty-First Century literacy in favour of magical thinking about divine digital birthrights.  Education's adherence to the vagaries of business speak serves our students poorly.

I'm not saying every student needs to be a qualified information technology technician, but it is safe to say that every student graduating at the moment should be familiar enough with digital technology that they don't get white washed by an idiot's babbling, or convinced by the parochial and intentionally misleading language surrounding information technology. Auto shop is often taught this way - as a means of delivering a basic familiarity to students so they aren't bamboozled by an idiot. IT should adopt the same position as this older, wiser technology.

IT is a measurable skill. I take great pleasure in offering up the A+ certification practice test to the resident experts in senior computer engineering. When the best of them barely get it half right it sets the stage for systemic, meaningful learning of a technical skill they've always been told they magically gained by being born in the nineties.

People born in the 1900s weren't magically imbued with the ability to fix the new automobiles just coming out. What we do in failing to teach digital literacy is absurd as it feeds misinformation and empowers the idiot. It's bad enough when we purposefully remove objective standards from academic classes (and I'm not talking about standardized tests - they are about as far from objective standards as you can get, just another fiction), but to actively discourage objective standards in a technical field? That's just downright dangerous and expensive!

Friday, 20 July 2012


I'm once again in the additional qualification classroom in order to gain another teachable.  This one was a bit tricky.  I'd been working in information technology since I graduated with an honours BA in English in the mid '90s.  When I went into teaching, I looked into getting my technical qualifications (I'd spent a fair amount of money on getting IT qualified and wanted to keep a finger in the pie, so to speak).  It didn't happen.  The Byzantine rules around what I needed and how I qualified were taking so long to get through, it was easier to just plug in my degree (to a very degree friendly teacher qualification system) and start there.

I did computer clubs and delved into #edtech relentlessly, but didn't get my computer engineering qualification until now because I needed it for a headship, and they'd recently made changes that cleared up some of the labyrinthine rules around getting the qualification.

So here I am, a qualified IT technician in a computer engineering class.  If we're doing networking, or computer repair, I'm aces, but soldering?  Circuit boards?  Not so much.  The funny thing is we have electrical engineers that don't know what a registry is or how to reset an IP address, but they are brilliant on a circuit board.  I'm starting to realize that computer engineering is another one of those subjects that collects expertise from various disciplines and files it all under the same heading.  I'm also beginning to see why some comp-eng teachers' courses look so different from other comp-eng teachers' courses.

Other than cutting networking cables, running them and installing hardware, I'm not really a nuts and bolts of electronics kind of guy, but after taking this AQ, I will be.  When I was a kid I got into cars and stereos and did some wiring then, it's nice to get hands on with components again.  My experience has all be around making it (IT) work for business, after taking this AQ, I get the sense that I'm going to end up delving more deeply into maker culture, something I've wanted to do for too long.

Getting my head back into wiring diagrams felt impossible in the first few days.  I'm finding the tools available, especially Arduino and Fritzing to be invaluable in bridging gaps in knowledge.  I know I won't be a Jedi knight at circuitry by the end of the course, but the 1-2-3 system our instructor has been using has recognized the varieties of skills in the room and allowed people to focus on what they want to improve in, and improve I have.

I'm looking forward to hitting my tech-class in the fall and getting my hands dirty.  In the meantime, I just started Shop Class As Soulcraft, suggested by our instructor on the last day of class.  Some mechanic's philosophy will help fill in the gap I'm feeling between my academic background, and my urge to work with my hands again.

Learning Without A Safety Net

As a learner I tend to have problems following curriculum (I have trouble following it as a teacher too).  For me, learning is a challenging, self-directed, non-linear activity.  It's a delight  when you have that eureka moment and frustrating when you're can't grasp a concept because you don't have enough context around it.  I don't want it to be easy, and I don't want it to be fail-proof.  Classes that are unfailable are pointless in my eyes; difficulties in learning are what make it empowering!  Success shouldn't be assured, if it is, you've sacrificed any real sense of accomplishment.

If a teacher, closely following set curriculum, spoon feeds me a lesson, I don't feel that I've learned it, so much as learned the wrong thing (being told how to do it rather than figuring out how to do it).  When students ask me to resolve a problem for them, I point them in the right direction, I don't fix it for them.  They aren't in class to learn how to ask someone to correct their grammar, operate Adobe Flash or build a computer, they are in class to learn how to do these things for themselves.  If they're miles from figuring it out for themselves, I simply try and close that gap, but never take the last step, they need to do that themselves, or they won't own their learning.  To quote the mighty Morpheus, " I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it. "

I set up my classrooms as research centres and each assignment as a project.  The environment should quickly and easily provide the tools needed to learn in a hands-on way.  Failures aren't failures, the only way to fail is to do nothing (which an increasing number of students seem to be doing once they realize how hard it is to fail in the current system).  I encourage experimentation, and the opportunities found in resolving your own misunderstandings.  Most of all, I make it very clear that the only way to fail is to make no attempt.  Once students are engaged, they inevitably find success in a supportive learning environment.

I did this in English and it often caused conflict with the force-feeders who feel that you're not teaching unless you're talking at the class.  Those force-feeders are as often students as they are teachers; the expectation of most academic students are that the teacher will give you information, you'll repeat it back, and see high grades.  Giving them room to fail makes them very nervous.  Seeing that the technology curriculum is actually based on this idea of broad based, project focused learning, I'm looking forward to teaching a subject built upon this open, student centred approach.  I loved teaching art for the same reason; project based, hands-on learning with lots of time for me to work one on one with students as they develop tangible skills.

In a tightly restricted, curriculum based classroom, I feel like I'm trying to dance in a straight jacket (both as a teacher, and as a student).  I'm not saying that there shouldn't be some focus, but the moment you dictate the entire process of learning, you effectively kill any personal meaning or satisfaction in it.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Final OISE Blog

The final blog entry from my OISE computer engineering program:

Name and describe the school, board and ministry standards you must follow.
Our school and board follow Ministry standards and our collective agreement based upon it.  One of the challenges we have is in following changing standards.  One of those specific problems is the adoption of skills based assessment (a holdover from the Harris years).  Many teachers have a great deal of trouble following this protocol (the learning to 18/student success plan works with it extensively).

I recently had to do a heads thing and sit on a committee that would create school level language around assessment.  The fights were pretty epic.  Many of the academic teachers believed that students should  be marked on their behavior, not what they know about their subject.  To them, school is about control and discipline, not subject matter (this dovetails nicely with a conversation I had with my wife last night - I think I'll be blogging about it on Dusty World shortly).

In any case, our admin is determined to even out the radically different approaches to assessment that go on in our school (even within the same department).  I'm curious to see how much this affects teachers this coming year.  There is a great deal of professional latitude given to teachers whenever the door closes to the classroom.  Unlike the US system, our lessons aren't mandated and while we have invasive standardized testing, we aren't held too tightly to them.  US schools are required to force feed students lessons year round to feed standardized testing.  They then rank poorly world wide.

As much as a loose, teacher centred approach grates on the nerves of hard core curriculumists, it does produce broad based learners who score well in general testing (and adapt well in a changing work environment).

I personally have issues with student success and many of the shortcuts they take in getting students diplomas.  But even that process is one I can live with if it allows the majority of students to maximize their learning.

What would you see changed?

One of the few countries ahead of use in world rankings is Finland.  Finland does a couple of things that I think would fit well with Ontario's approach to education.  Firstly, they expect teachers to be highly trained specialists in education.  In order to teach in Finland, a teacher must have a Masters in Education.  I think university focus on this isn't a great idea, but I'd like to see teacher's college be much more rigorous in producing teachers.  A two year program that offers easy outs into other programs (teaching assistant, educational support worker, business training, etc), or out of education entirely, would be helpful.  A greater stress on teacher's college as an apprenticeship with many more weeks spent in-class with an associate teacher/mentor would also shake out the applicants.  

I found a number of candidates in my program who wanted to drop out, but were given no option other than withdrawal with financial penalty.  I'd really like to see a first semester drop out option (available after the first in school, teaching COOP session), that offers escape with no financial penalty.  I've seen too many people teaching who aren't particularly good at it, have no interest in changing that, and are doing it because they feel trapped into doing so.  A more stringent, apprenticeship based, exit enabled teacher training system establishes higher standards (like Finland's) without the university bias, and with a firm focus on developing teachers actually interested in teaching well.

The other thing Finland did was abolish all standardized testing.  Standardized tests do not produce broad-based students who are able to adapt to new situations in creative ways.  Standardized testing produces myopic, specifically focused students who fail in open, changing environments (the kind most students will be facing when they enter the workforce).
I'd also like to see a huge push away from the walled garden/board run IT model.  The language around protecting students produces overly restrictive access to technology that reduces students' ability to learn how to author, manage and effectively use current digital tools.  If we want to remain relevant, we need to be able to meet students where they live, and show them how to manage modern digital tools effectively.

Develop an action plan to push forward your idea(s).Process:

  • Figure out what my stance is on effective educational reform
  • Read other theory, review statistics (don't be Ontario-centric, look at educational theory from around the world), establish an understanding of what you believe effective reform is
  • Metacognitively, reflect on your own experiences in the classroom.  What is a modern student like?  What is needed to reach them? What would an effective learning environment look like in 2012 and beyond?
  • Develop your own ideas
  • Collaborate with others to organize and present them
  • Publish your thinking and invite critical response
  • Build a following or establish connections with other people who share your vision
  • Continue to respond to conditions in education,  
I've done this by starting a blog that continually looks at current digital learning.  I use it to reflect on my own experiences, think of ways to produce better results, publish my ideas and continue to evolve my own understandings of this very complicated (and very simple) profession.  The blog led to presentations at Edcamps, conferences and PD.  It'll lead to a book at some point me-thinks.

The most important step in this action plan is to take action, and make other people aware of what you're struggling with in education.  If you're a teacher who doesn't think twice about teaching, I'd suggest that you're probably not a very good teacher.  If I had to mandate any Ministry requirement for teaching, it would be that teachers should be life long learners, who love the process of teaching and learning, and demonstrate how they are actively working to improve it, in themselves, their classroom, their board and their profession in general.

http://pinterest.com/scottmcleod/slides/   Some good (and funny, and sometimes nasty) comments on educational irrelevance

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Learning On A Knife's Edge

I'm still struggling with my Mum's recent, sudden death.  While that is going on, I'm dealing with a previously signed up for teaching qualification in computer engineering, and a series of slanderous attacks on my profession.  I can't help but be self-reflexive about how I'm dealing with the role of student; I fear I'm not doing it very well.

Culturally, I think I'm on the Ridge
I've felt thin since that phone call on June 1st.  The North American manly thing to do is dismiss anything to do with it and proceed with a steady course of denial.  I suppose the stiff upper-lip English thing is to do something similar.  Since being dumped somewhere in the mid-Atlantic as a child, I'm having trouble adopting a social convention to follow.

The thinness I'm feeling has made for some awkward moments with time management.  On the first weekend, when I should have been plugging away on our first big assignment, instead I ended up going to the cottage and passing out on the couch.  It made for a stressful Monday when I returned, but one of the things about being thin is that there isn't enough butter to evenly cover the toast.

I feel like we're over the hump in the course now.  I'm finding old habits returning around hard focusing on specific tasks instead of just directionlessly wandering through the material we're covering.  I'm a good student, even when I'm incomplete.  The deadlines have been difficult to handle, but perhaps their imminence helped me get my mind off subjects it wouldn't let go of otherwise. The fact that the emotionally turbulent month of June is slowly receding might be helping too.

I've had students who have gone through emotional crisis, some of which make mine look like a walk in the park, yet we still come at them with curriculum expectations and demands.  I've always tried to step lightly in those cases, out of a sense of compassion.  It's a difficult thing for a teacher to deal with.  In some cases a student who has gone through trauma is best left with space, but in others, giving them something else to focus on might help move them on emotionally.

No clear answer to this one, I fear.  Some days I'd be driving down to the course with tears rolling down my cheeks because of a song on the radio, right now I'm feeling pretty solid.  It comes and goes.  I guess the one take-away from all this is that you can't make an algorithm or develop a system for dealing with emotional crisis; each person experiences it differently, and coming at it in a curriculum orientated, systemic manner is a recipe for disaster.

A good teacher will remember their own ups and downs and differentiate not just in terms of what a student is capable of intellectually, but also in terms what emotional focus they can  bring to bear.

In my own case, I've been trying to change my mind, but when it runs deep, it's not always a matter of conscious choice.  In the end, if I can remember where I am now with my students in the future, I'll be in a better place to respond to their needs.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Educational Maelstroms

Nice to see you'll support pension cuts,
shame that was never on the table

I find myself in a bit of an educational maelstrom at the moment.  Government twitter trolls who like to tell me I must be enjoying my summer off instead get sharp replies about my sitting in a computer lab in Milton taking my 3rd AQ in 7 years of teaching.  When I'm done here I'll have 4 teachables (English, history, visual arts and computer engineering).

I've also taught summer school four times.  Since I started teaching in 2004, my summers have been busy, and expensive.  I know there are teachers who don't do additional training.  I also know that whenever I did training when I worked in the private sector, they paid for it.  Getting lumped in with a brand of teacher who expects more for less makes me angry, I'm not that guy.

I also attend Edcamps, self directed professional development.  I can't recall ever seeing my private sector colleagues driving an hour out of their way on a Saturday morning to spend the day learning how to do their jobs better.  Then there are the conferences (that take a lot more of my time than just the day or two of school I miss) where I spend a lot of my own time developing educational theory and training for (I hope) the benefit of teachers and students.

I'm immensely proud of Ontario's education system, and don't see it as a political pawn to be used in a game that has more to do with financial shell games than anything real.  I'm a liberal who can't vote liberal any more.  Worse, I'm a voter who doesn't know what the point is any more, because political parties in Ontario only stand for re-election, they don't actually stand for anything else.

I haven't mentioned the department headship I took on with minimal notice and then was attacked for taking on in a full time capacity; working with teachers can be very tiring.  I haven't mentioned the sixty or so hours I spend each year coaching soccer.  I can't understand why my own government is intent on generating public hatred at my expense for their own ends.

I'm not sure what I did wrong.  Looking at any metric you care to apply, we do more at less cost than just about any education system in the first world.  Our cost to performance ratio is excellent.

Instead we get strung up, vilified and turned on by the very government that won office by scare mongering the electorate away from the blue myopia.

Ontario will bail out poorly run businesses because they live in the 'real world' and are meaningful, tough, manly ways to make a living?  They drive the economy?  If that were the case, we'd still be in a destitute market that eats itself to pay 1% of the population.  If you think private business will do anything other than the least it has to while feeding itself, you're naive, and dangerous.  The economy is like a cockroach, let it pick up the scraps, you don't feed it steak.

Thank goodness we have higher standards in education, health care, and other services.  If we ran the province like GM, or American banks, or Blackberry, we'd be in real trouble (though we would have a small group of hospital administrators and school superintendents who were immensely wealthy).

I guess that's where we headed, because if we're gonna stink, we might as well all stink equally.