Vision's School Board chair defends political program aimed at children

Post by Mike Klassen in

13 comments

resistance-is-fun-kids!
Vision's Bacchus: "We needed the cash" (flyer above shows Dora at Buchenwald)

Today's headline story at The Province is about those attention-loving Olympic cynics, and the politicians and unions that love them. Mike Smyth should be commended on his feature commentary on this embarrassment that peels back the comfy relationship Vision Vancouver maintains with teacher's union radicals.

Since Smyth's column was posted online, Vision School Board chair Patti Bacchus has posted comments to clarify her statements around this controversy, and by doing so buries herself and her party even deeper into this quagmire.

The controversial leaflet above advertising the event at an east side school was promoted on the website of VESTA, the local of the BC Teacher's Union (BCTF) responsible for Vancouver elementary school kids (ages 5-12). On VESTA's website (which has a glaring typo in the navigation - "COMMITTIEES" - oops, we're only educators) the event was described as follows:

Teaching 2010 Resistance - Teachers' Night

This is an open invitation for teaching professionals to review a critically-minded Olympics workshop, to collaborate in adapting materials for elementary students, and to learn about the existing and growing teaching resources currently being developed. Info here.

Note, this information has now been removed from VESTA's website. The organization claims to have no position on the Olympics, but the only information one could find on their site was from group opposed to the Games.

The flyer circulated by the teacher's union showed cartoon character Dora the Explorer garbed as someone in a Nazi concentration camp. The Teacher's Union radicals are showing like-minded educators how to adapt materials to turn little our little ones to APC wannabes.

Blaming government boosterism and tight cash Bacchus told Mike Smyth that a "balanced approach" is required:

Bacchus had no problem renting out a classroom to the Olympic Resistance Network for the Oct. 28 workshop. “We need every dollar we can get,” she said.

Bacchus tries to explain herself in a comment:

My understanding of the situation – which I tried to explain to Mr. Smyth in our telephone conversation — is that the Olympic Resistance group invited the local teachers’ association to attend a workshop they were holding in a space they rented from the school district. Many groups rent space and it is a much-needed revenue stream for the underfunded school district. The district then conveyed the invitation to their members.

To bypass the opportunity — actually, the responsibility — to engage students in study of the history of the Olympics (see CBC story about controversial Holocaust Museum exhibit), the Munich hostage taking, today’s coverage of the long-term impact on Lillehammer…and then of course ethics in professional sport, corporate influence and interest in the games, doping and the allocation of public resources.

Whew...are you sure you're named after the god of wine and intoxication? Remind me to skip the Vision Christmas party. In a follow-up comment, she says:

A correction to my earlier post - the information regarding the workshop was conveyed by VESTA to their members (not by the school district).

It would be helpful for folks and columnist to take a deep breath and note this is a workshop being offered to teachers. No one has declared they will be teaching this material - it is an opportunity for teachers to review it.

So VESTA really is just trying to inform its members and this has nothing to do with kids. It'll just spice up the arguments in the staff room, right?

The depressing reality for our teachers is that they have no choice, regardless of their personal politics, but to get bombarded by their unions with this kind of stuff every day. Having your school trustees elected with the financial support of that same union (the COPE/Vision slate received over $55,000 in donations last year alone from VESTA) means the interests of teachers are certainly well served.

As for the kids and parents, that's another matter altogether. Judging by the comments at The Province, the public is none too happy on this one. Someone should be asking Mayor Robertson if he supports these union radicals, and if not, then Vision Vancouver and COPE should be giving back the fifty-five grand.

UPDATE: Olympic Resistance updates the flyer to remove barbed wire. Teach2010.org website (another typo: Civil Liberities) links Nazism to the Games as part of teacher's resources, and provides yet another Dora the Explorer flyer.

13 Comments

Patti's BFF is Frances Bula. It's just a matter of time before the pro-Vision spin on this story is coming.

How about copyright infringement lawsuit for exploiting poor Dora the Explorer's image?

Amazing to think that Vision Vancouver is using the excuse of budget shortfalls as an excuse to court unions who use hate propaganda. How much are they making renting that room for one night? Jeezus, pass the hat.

Outrageous. Simply outrageous. These Vision folks are getting more bizarre by the day. Give me COPE any day. At least they make sense.


Interesting discussion but I really hate that photo of me.

Here’s what I understand to be the facts: The ORN invited Vancouver Elementary School Teachers’ Association (VESTA) members to a workshop and VESTA put up a link regarding the invitation. Janet Steffenhagen broke the story in the Sun yesterday and accurately quoted me saying that I am hoping “teachers will take a critical look at the Games and delve into issues such as doping, corporate sponsorship and Olympic-inspired public events. “ I added, in her story, that “Just last week, the Vancouver school board discussed the importance of Olympic education rather than boosterism and decided if students are going to be involved in events there has to be an educational component — it can’t be just to provide a cheering section.”

I didn’t comment on the OLN group.

The VSB has discussed and developed guidelines regarding the need to uphold the integrity of our public schools by ensuring the school-based student involvement in the Olympics is of an educational nature, vs “boosterism”, and by that I mean we’re not offering up our students simply as backdrops for promotional events, but are ensuring that we take full educational advantage of the extensive educational opportunities presented by this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

A key component of education is engaging in critical thinking, examining events and issues from a range of perspectives, weighing the merits vs the faults, understanding roles, who benefits, who doesn’t, why and how we could improve areas and what we can learn from others.

There will be room for the excitement and cheering on our athletes of course, but we expect that to be balanced by thoughtful consideration and debate of the multitude of issues one can extract from such a major event. If public education is the cornerstone of democracy, and I believe it is, we need to be preparing our students to be engaged citizens, equipped with the knowledge and ability to participate effectively in the democratic process. And that takes critical, balanced thinking.

A range of curriculum materials are being developed by provincial and school-board sponsored educators who will be doing this. The ORN groups presents one point of view, and I don’t expect any teacher would take that back to the classroom as the only point, but it does make for some interesting debate.

As for the Mike Smyth’s Province editorials, be careful about believing everything you read and always keep your critical thinking skills handy.

And for the record, I have not defended any political program aimed at children. That is flat out false and I would strongly object (and do my best to prohibit) a one-sided political argument being presented in any classroom.

Well Patti. Enabling hate is the same as condoning it. If you were male I would tell you to grow a pair but in the absence of that technicality I will just say stop trying to a appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Last year, my kid came home from KINDERGARTEN class saying that there was a guy showing them a bunch of medals that morning... When I asked my kid what was that all about the answer was "I don't know, my teacher asked us to sit quiet and listen".
None of the parents I talked to were informed that some VANOC Olympic propagandist was brainwashing a bunch of Kindergarten kids WITHOUT their parents permission first! IN the light of that I think the action taken recently is an appropriate and measured one keeping in mind that at least now they informed us and want to discuss about it in a democratic way before introducing any "teachings"to the kids. Let's go back two years (2007). The GRANTS for Daycare programs were slashed by the BC LIberals resulting in Fee increases $100 & up/ per month. The ONLY Olympic sport practiced at my kid's school last year in Kindergarten and since starting Grade 1 is "The Olympic Fundrasing". On the other hand it seems that our Province and Municipality has enough money to cover the Olympic Village ($1 Billion +) Security costs for the games(1 $ Billion +) (1/2 $Billion) costs overrun for the Convention Centre, etc... Most Community centers that are serving your neighborhood are in limbo, and they will be disrupted before, during and after the Games. I also wonder how many kids & families of this Province will afford to see a live event keeping in mind that we are the 6th year in row National Champions in Child Poverty in Canada and the only "sponsored" tickets so far are for the friends of ICBC, Lottery Corp, BC Ferries...! Leave the kids out of this BS and definitely stay away from mine!

I'll stay away from the issue (something about molehills here), but I do feel obliged to point a finger at:

"Judging by the comments at The Province, the public is none too happy on this one."

Has it come to this, that we judge public opinion using the comments section of a near-tabloid? From the comments section of the top story on the Province website right now:

"I'd say just we should just emulate countries like China and just put offenders like these onto the firing squad."

Is it just me or does the little cartoon girl in the "Teaching Resistance" poster look a lot like Dora the Explorer?

Hey kids, can you say major copyright infringement?

Patrick, it's mentioned several times in the post.

Patti -- nice spin!! Do you really think anyone buys that crap?? Give it up - we all can see what this is -- a hate campaign designed to politicize young children into the birkenstock mafia guard of the self righteous left wing.
What's next Patti? A course on how to cheat the welfare system and get the best bed in a VISION party shelter?

It's shameful, disgusting and pathetic -- yet not at all unexpected.

A "hate campaign"? Do people wake up full of hyperbole?

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