Sunday, January 9, 2011 | Categories: Episodes
Merit Pay for Teachers - If BC Liberal leadership contender Kevin Falcon gets his way, public school teachersin the province will be paid according to their teaching skills, not their edcucational credentials or seniority. "It is actually the teacher at the front of the classroom," Mr. Falcon says "that is the best determinant of student outcomes." But how do you measure the merit of a teacher? In our First Hour, a critical examination of the concept of "merit pay."
Read more about hour one here
Big Fat Diet - In our Middle Hour, CBC has just launched a new TV series called "Village on a Diet." The series will chronicle the efforts of the people of Taylor, B.C., who have pledged to collectively lose 2,000 pounds. Three years ago, the village of Alert Bay was the subject of a similar CBC documentary. In Hour Two, we return to Alert Bay to see what happens after the exacting nutritionists and gung-ho trainers have gone home.
Read more about hour two here
Ethical Travel - Twenty-two million Canadians take winter vacations of some sort. But some travellers won't go to Cuba because of its human rights record. Some environmental groups have called for a boycott of Alberta's skiing because of the oilsands. Some are avoiding Arizona after that state passed its controversial crackdown on illegal immigrants earlier this year. What's a cold Canadian to do? In Hour Three, we look at the idea of "ethical travel."
Read more about hour three here
Elsewhere in the program: The story of two women whose lifelong friendship was strengthened following the earthquake in Haiti; An essay on the black humor of bondage in Regina and some really really good music.
Merit Pay for Teachers
If BC Liberal leadership contender Kevin Falcon gets his way, public school teachers be paid according to their teaching skills, not their edcucational credentials or seniority. "It is actually the teacher at the front of the classroom," Mr. Falcon says "that is the best determinant of student outcomes."
One of the predictable outcomes of his proposal has been outrage from the BC Teachers Federation.
But merit pay also has its fair share of advocates, one of whom lives in the White House. President Obama has consistently endorsed the idea of paying techers more for better student outcomes. It's a controversial issue south of the border, but it seems to gaining support. In Florida, even the teachers unions are expressing a willingness to consider the idea.
Peter Cowley believes that difficluties might arise in creating a merit pay system, but those difficulties are not reason enough to dismiss the idea out of hand. Mr. Cowley is an education policy researcher at the Fraser Institute, where he also serves as the Director of School Performance Studies.
Ben Levin Canada Research Chair in Educational Leadership at OISE - the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. He's also a former Deputy Minister of Education in both Manitoba and Ontario. Professor Levin is also the author of OISE study "Eight Reasons Merit Pay for Teacher is a Bad Idea."
Some people say that when you're at the end of your rope, drop the rope. Carle Steel kind of did the opposite.In a search for relief from pain , she ended up in a place that was all about it..
Big Fat Diet
2011 is nine days old and that means those New Year's Resolutions you made a week ago are already starting to slip. You know how the internal dialogue goes. "I've got to little weight to lose. This year's the year. THIS year is going to be different". Who hasn't had that conversation with themselves? CBC has just launched Live Right Now, a national initiative to help people lose weight, get healthy. And at the centre of that initiative is the CBC-TV series, " Village on a Diet."
The 1,400 people of Taylor B.C. vowed to lose 2,000 pounds collectively in just three months. And they're going to do it by giving up the junk food and hitting the jogging trails and the gym. They have personal trainers and dieticians and - most important the collective will of the community to help them. Losing the weight is one thing ... but what happens after those three months? What happens in THREE years, when the exacting nutritionists and gung-ho trainers are long gone?
The people of Alert Bay, BC, - the original village on a diet - have been through that long-term struggle. Alert Bay is a town on a small island between Vancouver Island and the mainland of BC. Half the town is the Namgis First Nation - half is non native. Three years ago, about 100 people, both first nation and non native, were part of a year-long weight-loss experiment. Their efforts were chronicled in the CBC documentary My Big Fat Diet.
Dr. Jay Wortman was the doctor who led the dieting effort in Alert Bay. Barb Cranmer was a co-producer of My Big Fat Diet ... and a participant. .
The house is on a mountainside, overlooking banana plants and wild bougenvillas, in the poor rural hamlet of Gwo Jan, just outside Port-au-Prince. It survived the earthquake miraculously well. And, sometimes, the electricity works.
The house is home to Carla Bluntschili and her husband, Ronald, Christian volunteers who came to Haiti with three young daughters 25 years ago. And it's home now too to Deyla Antoine Theus, Madame Antoine, a woman they encountered on their very first night in Haiti.
She was the mission cook. She couldn't read or write, but she laughed a lot and she made a mean pumpkin soup.Carla and Deyla became the closest of friends..... And over a quarter of a century, they've struggled together through the joys and hardships of life in Haiti.
And so when the earthquake struck a year ago this week, , and Madame Antoine's home was destroyed, it seemed only natural that she would be invited to live in the house on a Haitian mountainside.Which is where David Gutnick caught up with the two friends, Carla with her violin, and Madame Antoine singing.
Stranger Than Fiction #1
Lord Byron, the romantic poet, once wrote that truth is always strange; stranger than fiction.
Similar thought occurred to Montreal writer, Heather O'Neil, as she was making the rounds of writers festivals a few years ago.
She kept hearing Canadian novelists telling stories - true stories -- that had a fantastical quality to them. They were funny and quirky, moving and outrageous. So, she asked some of these writers to put their stories on paper, and to record them for us.
This week on The Sunday Edition, we begin our series, Stranger Than Fiction. In the coming weeks we'll bring you ten true tall-tales by Joseph Boyden, Nino Ricci and Lyn Coady to name just a few. The first instalment is, appropriately enough, by Heather O'Neil herself.
Ms O'Neill is the author of the award-winning novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals.
In this story, The Loveliest Mistake, she reaches back to her childhood in Montreal's NDG.The neighbourhood's official name of course is Notre Dame de Grace, but it's known to some as No Damn Good - to uncover the roots of her inspiration as a writer.
It's that time of the year again. The dead of winter. There are weeks of cold and dark and frozen feet and lost gloves stretching before us.
This is the time when we Canadians find solace in that winter vacation. 22-million Canadians take winter vacations of some sort. Maybe it's a week in Cuba--still the most popular Caribbean destination--maybe it's a couple of weeks at a villa in Mexico, or some sort of adventure tour to India...Just to get away. Easy, right?
Maybe not. I have a friend who won't go to Cuba because of its human rights record. Another who won't go to Mexico anymore because of what he perceives as a corrupt police force. Some environmental groups have called for a boycott of Alberta's skiing because of the oilsands. ...Then there are the bands--rock bands, even marching bands--who have boycotted Arizona and called for others to do the same after that state passed its controversial crackdown on illegal migrants earlier this year.
What's a cold Canadian to do?
Tricia Barnett has made a career out of campaigning for an ethical model of tourism. A seasoned traveler herself, she is the director of Tourism Concern, a UK-based charity that produces The Ethical Travel Guide and campaigns to ensure tourism benefits local populations.
Bruce Poon Tip is the founder of Gap Adventures, one of the world's largest adventure travel companies, and one that strives to promote what it calls a 'sustainable' model of tourism.
Jim Byers is the travel editor of the Toronto Star newspaper.
Stephen Smart might have the most entertaining job of any political reporter in the country these days. Mr Smart is the legislative reporter for cbc television in Victoria, BC. And if you like your politics like an out of control ride at some sort of theme park, that is definitely the place to be.
The Liberal Party, the party in power in BC for the last 10 years; watched its formerly much loved leader Gordon Campbell go down in flames over the harmonized sales tax. last Novermber.
Talk about your citizen revolts. Not even plebiscite mad California has seen such a total turn-around in public opinion as B.C. experienced with the humiliation of a man once seen as a political genius.
For the Liberals , the only saving grace might be that as chaotic as their affairs might be, the Opposition NDP seems intent on doing just about everything in its power not to get elected. Or at least that is how some people are reading the bizzarre internal uprising against NDP leader Carole James which left her no choice but to resign a month after Campbell.
And then, floating over the BC legislature like a grinning deus ex machina is former premier Bill Van DerZalm. It was VanderZalm who led the charge agains the HST and is now lending his weight to recall efforts against at least 3 different Liberal MLA.s
Is this just the way things are in BC; another crazy political season in lotus land? Or is there more going on?