Minister Lindsay Blackett & Bill 44

Minister Lindsay Blackett at Banff

[June 9th Update: In total, I conducted two video interviews with Minister Blackett. The first interview was conducted on June 6th and then 8th (see below YouTube videos). I was unprepared for and a bit shocked by the “justifications” and “reasonings” provided by Mr. Blackett to my questions & concerns in the first interview. After further research and readings, I was much more prepared in my second interview and less able to simply accepting Mr. Blackett’s “explanations”.]

[Note: The goal for this post is to add grounded reasonings to this passionate debate/discussion. Thanks.

I will update this post as more information becomes available.]

Interviewing Minister Lindsay Blackett

Earlier today (June 6th), I met and interviewed Minister Lindsay Blackett for the first time to ask him about some of my concerns about Bill 44 (PDF or see bottom of this post). (see video below)

I pointed out to Minister Blackett that Alberta Teachers Association has expressed serious concerns about Bill 44. To my surprise, Blackett was dismissive and said the union doesn’t speak for all teachers and implied the 20-30 supportive teachers he has spoken to are more representative of the general teachers’ opinions about bill 44. Is the teachers’ union really this misinformed about bill 44?

Your help (please share your grounded comments and insights)

While trying the best I could in my first interview with Mr. Blackett, I was no match against the well briefed and studied minister in the interview and I probably missed many important concerns and potential problems. So I have done more research and conducted a second follow up interview (June 8th) with Mr. Blackett.

*** Two video interviews with Minister Blackett ***

Lindsay Blackett Bill 44 video interviews (June 6th)

Lindsay Blackett Bill 44 video interviews (June 8th)

After further research and readings, I was much more prepared in my second interview and less able to simply accept Mr. Blackett’s “explanations”.

*******

Thanks for all the comments left on this post so far (as of June 8th, 7:17am). Please keep them coming. It is important to have teachers, students and informed readers sharing their informed opinions here.

Thanks to @ChrisLaBossiere at Twitter for the @albertateachers link where I was able to download and read the excellent and fair 20090508 Submission to the Premier of Alberta (highly recommended reading). After reading the submission, I now realize Minister Lindsay Blackett‘s arguments and reasonings are much weaker than his voice or his physical presence.

The following is a selection/excerpts of some of the comments received so far, I’ve added some emphasis. Please keep them coming.

From “Ken Chapman”,
“The Minister is misleading you on teacher reaction to Bill 44. You [Blackett] did a presentation yesterday to the ATA Executive Group and Senior Adminstratin in their strategic planning session. All 60 of them were negatively concerned about Bill 44. They are getting lots of teacher feedback that expresses Bill 44 concern too.

Note: Ken is also blogging that “Students in Medicine Hat Demonstrate Against Bill 44

From “John Winslow”,
Mr. Blackett denies the existence of any opinions contrary to his own. Unfortunately, he never seems to have PROOF that those who agree, outside of the obediant MLA’s, exist.”

From “WhiffofGrape”,
Over 450 teacher representatives chosen by their colleagues from across the province met at the Alberta Teachers’ Association Annual Representative Assembly over the Victoria Day Weekend. All save one voted in favour of a resolution calling for the removal of the education provisions from Bill 44.

Perhaps Hon Blackett should release all of the letters / emails that he has received relating to Bill 44.

From ” A. Letourneau”.
Minister Blackett should speak to his colleagues. I am a teacher, and I called my MLA Hector Goudreau to express my concerns with this bill. From conversations with other teachers, I feel the minister is wrong in his judgement that the majority of us support 44.”

*******

Excerpt from Bill 44 (emphasis added),

9 The following is added after section 11:
Notice to parent or guardian
11.1(1) A board as defined in the School Act shall provide
notice to a parent or guardian of a student where courses of
study, educational programs or instructional materials, or
instruction or exercises, prescribed under that Act include
subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion, sexuality or
sexual orientation
.
(2) Where a teacher or other person providing instruction,
teaching a course of study or educational program or using the
instructional materials referred to in subsection (1) receives a
written request signed by a parent or guardian of a student that
the student be excluded from the instruction, course of study,
educational program or use of instructional materials, the
teacher or other person shall in accordance with the request of
the parent or guardian and without academic penalty permit the
student
(a) to leave the classroom or place where the instruction,
course of study or educational program is taking place or
the instructional materials are being used for the duration
of the part of the instruction, course of study or
educational program, or the use of the instructional
materials, that includes the subject-matter referred to in
subsection (1), or
(b) to remain in the classroom or place without taking part
in the instruction, course of study or educational
program or using the instructional materials.

17 Responses to Minister Lindsay Blackett & Bill 44

  1. Ken Chapman says:

    The Minister is misleading you on teacher reaction to Bill 44. You did a presentation yesterday to the ATA Executive Group and Senior Adminstratin in their strategic planning session. All 60 of them were negatively concerned about Bill 44. They are getting lots of teacher feedback that expresses Bill 44 concern too.

    This is politics trumping governance and Media Messaging trumping Authentic Information Sharing.

    Looking forward to seeing the video.

  2. John Winslow says:

    Mr. Blackett denies the existence of any opinions contrary to his own. Unfortunately, he never seems to have PROOF that those who agree, outside of the obediant MLA’s, exist.

    He might be amazed how many teachers DISAGREE with him. All he needs to do is read the Tweets from NUMEROUS teachers on twitter. There are more than 30 there who DISAGREE.

    Don’t we find it odd MR. Blackett seems to think 30-40 teachers agreeing is a MAJORITY of the 1000’s of teachers in the province. Oh, I forgot, Blackett only hears what he WANTS to hear.

    I disagree with your statement that Blackett is better versed on the issue than you are. He simply refuses to accept there is an opposition to the bill, and he shuts down anyone who disagrees with him.

  3. WhiffofGrape says:

    Re Hon Blackett about the position of teachers regarding Bill 44. Over 450 teacher representatives chosen by their colleagues from across the province met at the Alberta Teachers’ Association Annual Representative Assembly over the Victoria Day Weekend. All save one voted in favour of a resolution calling for the removal of the education provisions from Bill 44.

    Perhaps Hon Blackett should release all of the letters / emails that he has received relating to Bill 44.

    The ATA has opposed the education provision of Bill 44 solely on its lack of merit and has made no personal attacks against Hon Blackett. For the Minister to claim that he is more representative of Alberta’s teachers than their Association is the height of arrogance.

  4. G. McFarlane says:

    I tried to phone Mr. Blackett but never did get through. The nearest I got was some assistant for about 3 minutes. I wonder which teachers he talked to – members of the party he belongs to? The teachers I am talking to are concerned and they followed the issue carefully. There seems to be two realities. that is not really a surprise. Ironically, the Alberta Conservatives may be the result of a evolutionary process that allows them to make take a particular point of view. See the Cornell study at http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/June09/pizarro.disgust.lg.doc.html.

  5. A. Letourneau says:

    Minister Blackett should speak to his colleagues. I am a teacher, and I called my MLA Hector Goudreau to express my concerns with this bill. From conversations with other teachers, I feel the minister is wrong in his judgement that the majority of us support 44.

  6. Leslie Newton says:

    In response to your request, an excellent assessment at this link:

    http://ablawg.ca/2009/05/29/amendments-to-bill-44-worsen-a-bad-bill/#more-388

  7. kempton says:

    Thanks for all the comments left on this post so far. Please keep them coming and have other teachers and informed readers share their thoughts here.

    I will read some of the provided links later.

  8. Loring says:

    I can understand that parents are important in instilling their roles in parents, but as mentioned parents already have the right to take their kids out of the classes and informed when these activities take place. Yes you can enact legislation with the potential to punish teachers, but it all comes to the involvement of parents. There is no guarantee that these parents will talk with their children on these topics after they have pulled them out.

    If the child is using approved instructional material after being pulled out from the class and they ask questions on the information they were removed because of, can the teacher answer? They did not probe for this question the child asked it themselves. Who gets benefit of the doubt when a parent believes their child was taught something inappropriate? Do security cameras with microphones need to be installed in schools as evidence?

  9. kempton says:

    Loring,

    Under this law, we in Alberta have a sad education system where legitimate questions from students won’t be able to be addressed by teachers in a flexible educating context.

  10. Loring says:

    The way that I have understood this law was that if teacher does not “probe” for this information. Therefore if a student has a valid question on religion that a teacher hint at so that the students would ask the question the teacher can answer it. It is when the teacher is trying to get the students to answer the question that it becomes a problem.

    How do you prove which one occurs though, more cash drain on our school system?

  11. kempton says:

    Alberta teachers have a submission and worth reading. They have an example that shows how the hands of the teachers are tied when a student raise a question herself/himself.

    Click to access Bill%2044%20Submission%20to%20the%20Premier%20Final.pdf

  12. Loring says:

    I definitely agree that they need to identify the terminology, as it is asking to be exploited. Where it becomes judicial decision on a broad or narrow understanding for the bill.

  13. kempton says:

    I hope the teachers and especially students will speak up with the problems they face and see when the new school term starts in September.

  14. […] attention to it when it come up for discussions again in the Legislature. I told Paul about my two encounters with Minister Lindsay Blackett re Bill 44 (where I interviewed him on camera) and my deep concerns with the bill tying the hands of teachers in […]

  15. […] Take my yearly trip to report on the happenings at Banff World TV Festival and nextMEDIA (which I’ve tagged with “bwtvf-nextmedia”), it means driving for a few hours out to Banff and staying in Banff for a few nights to report. Of course, I enjoy every moment of it! Special moments like listening to Oscar winning writer/director Paul Haggis tell his chair story and how he broke into TV was priceless. And I had a ton of fun interviewing Ron Moore (Battlestar Galactica) and attending Doug Ellin (Entourage) insightful chat. Plus even doing some legislative reporting re Bill 44 with Minister Lindsay Blackett. […]

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