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Archive for January, 2016

NO MILITARY TRAINING IN REGINA HIGH SCHOOLS

Posted by strattof on January 21, 2016

In February 2015, Regina high schools, both public and Catholic, began offering a military training program to grade 11 and 12 students. The program will enter its second year this February.

Initiated by the military, the program has the backing of the provincial government. Both the governing Saskatchewan Party and the opposition NDP support it. School Board trustees were not allowed to vote on the matter.

Should we be educating students for war? How about encouraging students to resolve conflicts non-violently?

MILITARY TRAINING IN REGINA HIGH SCHOOLS 

8 KEY FACTS 

  1. The program is offered during regular school hours.
  2. It has two components: a) Canadian Studies 30, a required course for graduation; and b) Basic Military Qualifications 30L, an elective.
  3. Both components are taught at the Regina Armoury.
  4. A qualified teacher teaches Canadian Studies 30. This teacher works with the Army Reserve staff regarding the teaching of Basic Military Qualifications 30L.
  5. Instruction in weapons handling is part of the program.
  6. Students who take the program earn two credits toward graduation.
  7. They are also paid $2,000.
  8. The military training program is the only course on the curriculum that students are paid to take.

8 QUESTIONS TO REFLECT ON

  1. Whose interests are we serving by welcoming the military into our schools?
  2. From the military’s perspective the goal of the military training program is to “revitalize the reserves.” Should we be turning our high schools into military recruitment centres?
  3. Is weapons handling something we want young people to learn in school?
  4. What is the difference between the military training program and the use of child soldiers?
  5. Is the military training program compatible with the UN’s view of education as enabling “individuals to learn to live together in a world characterized by diversity and pluralism”?
  6. Is the program targeting students from low-income families?
  7. Wouldn’t it be better for society if students were paid $2,000 to study Math or English or Biology?
  8. How about a high school course for credit in Peace Studies?

ENROLLMENT IN THE PROGRAM

The colonel in charge of the program said at the outset: “We’ll gage success by the graduates. They’ll vote with their feet.” Measured by this standard, the program is a dismal failure.

Enrollment Figures

  • Target enrollment: 40 students
  • 2015 Enrollment: 10 students, 5 from Regina Public and 5 from Regina Catholic. Only 9 graduated.
  • 2016 Enrollment: As of mid-January, only 13 students have enrolled, 4 from Regina Public and 9 from Regina Catholic.

Do such low enrollment figures place the program in jeopardy? Surely they should raise the question of value for money! 

COST OF THE PROGRAM

Regina Public supplies the teacher for Canadian Studies 30, allthough just four of the 2016 enrollees are public school students. Board officials have so far declined to provide a detailed breakdown of staffing costs, saying only that expenses are shared with the Catholic board based on enrolment.

Meanwhile, Regina Public is facing a budget shortfall of $6.1 million for the 2015-16 school year, a shortfall it is addressing by eliminating staff positions, as well as lunch-hour supervision.

According to a Regina Public Board official, it is the army’s call as to whether or not the class goes ahead. Is the military now in charge of the curriculum at Regina high schools?

In any case, both school systems seem to be deeply invested in the military training program—so invested that, in an attempt to increase enrollment, they allowed military personnel into their schools to run recruitment workshops for the program.

RESPECT THE STUDENTS’ DECISION

  • Despite the $2,000 incentive, the vast majority of Regina grade 11 and 12 students have voted with their feet against the military training program.
  • They have said “no” to being educated for war.
  • Let’s respect the students’ decision and cancel the program.

STUDY WAR NO MORE!

  • Attend Regina Public’s Annual Meeting of Electors—an opportunity to make motions and to ask School Trustees questions: TUESDAY JANUARY 26, 7 pm, MARTIN COLLEGIATE, 1100 MCINTOSH STREET.
  • Let Premier Brad Wall know you do not want the military training program in our schools: bradwallmla@sasktel.net or 306-787-9433.
  • Send the same message to NDP leader Cam Broten: saskatoonmasseyplace@ndpcaucus.sk.ca or 306-787-0230.

I would no more teach children military training than teach them arson, robbery, or assassination.”—Eugene Debs (1855-1926)

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REGINA: A PERFECT CITY?

Posted by strattof on January 14, 2016

REGINA: 5 MAJOR IMPERFECTIONS 

1. AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING CRISIS

Between 2005 and 2015, rents in Regina increased by 84%. They are still increasing.

Mayor Michael Fougere keeps boasting about Regina’s above average rental vacancy rate (5.4%). But affordable rental housing is still nowhere to be found.

PROBLEMS

  • Regina has a growing population of homeless people.
  • Many Regina residents have to choose between paying the rent and buying food.

SOLUTIONS

  • Work with the business community to purchase Sears       Warehouse and, with the help of NGOs and volunteer citizens, convert it into affordable rental housing.
  • Require developers to include affordable rental housing in their plans or pay a fee into an affordable housing account.

2. CARDING: A DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICE

Carding‒also known as street checks‒is the police practice of randomly stopping people for questioning when there is no valid reason for doing so.

The ‘card’ in carding refers to the contact cards police create on individuals they stop. The information on these cards gets entered into a police data base where it stays indefinitely.

PROBLEMS

  • Statistics show that so-called “random” stops always end up targeting racialized and marginalized people.
  • The information on the data base becomes the basis for further police harassment.

SOLUTION

  • Ban carding.

3. TRANSCANADA’S ENERGY EAST PIPELINE

TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline cuts right through Regina in the Harbour Landing area. The pipeline would carry 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil a day.

PROBLEMS

  • TransCanada has a poor safety record. A spill would have a devastating impact on our city.
  • The pipeline would expand Canadian tar sands production, thus driving dangerous climate change.

SOLUTION

  • Stop the Energy East pipeline.

4. PESTICIDE POISONING

Over 170 Canadian municipalities have banned the cosmetic use of pesticides. But not Regina. Here it is still legal to use dangerous pesticides in parks and on lawns and gardens. The city itself uses 2.4-D and Round Up.

PROBLEM

  • “Research linking pesticides to serious health issues is significant and growing.”—Canadian Cancer Society

SOLUTION

  • Ban the cosmetic use of pesticides.

5. UNDERFUNDED PUBLIC TRANSIT

PROBLEMS

  • Traffic congestion and rush hour traffic jams
  • Scarcity and cost of downtown parking
  • Climate change caused by rising carbon emissions

SOLUTION

  • An annual 20% increase to Regina Transit’s operating budget for the next six years. One bus load of passengers takes the equivalent of 40 vehicles off the road.

STRIVING FOR PERFECTION: TAKE ACTION

Let‘s let Mayor Michael Fougere and our City Councillors know we want Regina to live up to the claim on the City’s website that Regina “is the perfect place to call home.” Let them start working on eliminating imperfections! Let’s also make these matters an issue in the up-coming municipal election.

Mayor Michael Fougere          777-7339 or mayor@regina.ca

Ward 1: Barbara Young          539-4081 or byoung@regina.ca

Ward 2: Bob Hawkins             789-2888 or bhawkins@regina.ca

Ward 3: Shawn Fraser            551-5030 or sfraser@regina.ca

Ward 4: Bryon Burnett           737-3347 or bburnett@regina.ca

Ward 5: John Findura            536-4250 or jfindura@regina.ca

Ward 6: Wade Murray            596-1035 or wmurray@regina.ca

Ward 7: Sharron Bryce           949-5025 or sbryce@regina.ca

Ward 8: Mike O’Donnell        545-7300 or modonnell@regina.ca

Ward 9: Terry Hincks             949-9690 or thincks@regina.ca

Ward 10:Jerry Flegel               537-9888 or jflegel@regina.ca

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