* updated:What a difference a couple of months and a horrific disaster makes

Keith Baldrey October 2019: ” Nothing could be further from the truth ” that hes against the oil and gas industry. 

 

Keith Baldrey January 2,  2020, as Australia burns, he calls out ExxonMobil + oil industry for major cause of climate change contributing to extreme fires. 

 

Amazing what a couple months will do to change perspectives hey?

https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5198311

“I think part of the problem is that journalists are being torn by two competing values right now. The first is our job to tell the truth. We are, over and above anything else, society’s professional truth-seekers and truth-tellers. But the second value that we think is important is appearing unbiased, because if we appear unbiased then people will believe that we are telling the truth. 

I think what’s happened here is that large swaths of society, including entire political parties and governments as well as voters, don’t believe in the truth. And so by telling the truth, to those individuals we appear to be biased. 

For my own part, I think that the truth is a higher value….”

**updated 3 pm Jan 3, 2020: Keith Baldrey deletes tweet staging oil and gas industry major cause of climate change.  That bit of conscience didn’t last long...🙄

Here is a shot of a response to his tweet he retweeted (?),showing his original tweet is unavailable

And this shows his tweet is gone.

I shouldn’t be surprised he deleted it. He likely took a lot of heat from the industry, and who knows who else. But in an era with so much uncertainty, and so many disasters related to or exacerbated by climate change around the world,  what exactly does he stand for, if not this?

I leave you with another excerpt from Sean Holmans interview link above:

“…at Postmedia they’re currently trying to get work with the Alberta government to help support their energy war room. That’s the war room that is designed to essentially suppress truthful information about climate change and the impact of the oil sands. A journalist working for Postmedia might think twice about going hard on that particular issue if their own company is trying to ally itself with people who don’t believe that climate change is an important issue.

The question that we have to ask ourselves as journalists is how much do we go out of our way to cater to segments of our audience that don’t believe the truth.– Sean Holman

Make time. End quarrels.Gladden the heart of a stranger. Speak of love.

I have been absent for some time from this blog, busy with life. I think I’ve always tried to live in gratitude, but there are still many things I tòok for granted…until this summer, when one of my children  developed a serious condition and became partially paralyzed for a period of time. It was a long recovery but successful. I mention this only because things like this often change ones focus and perception drastically, even when you already live in gratitude.  To be able to speak, write, lift a fork or tie a shoe. Walking is a gift we don’t think of as a gift until we can’t, as is telling someone how much you value their presence in your life..until you cant make your mouth say the words.

We think we have so much time, until we don’t.

On that note, I want to say how much I have appreciated those of you who have graced the pages here with your comments, wisdoms, stories and insights, even though my words are few now.  Thank you, and Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and Jolly Festivas to the rest of you! Don’t waste a second. Make memories. Take that leap. Take a risk. Feel, observe, taste and appreciate every moment…They really are precious. ❤

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While one hand applauds climate change accountability, the other continues the path of fossil fuel expansion

Some days, it is hard to reconcile the words being spoken by political leaders with the reality that we are actually in. Case in point is yesterdays announcement by Andrew Weaver and George Heyman on climate change accountability:

“People across this province, and especially young people, are demanding we take the climate crisis seriously and that we make sure everyone works together to secure a stronger, cleaner future,” Heyman said in a news release. “That’s why we will work with communities, people and industry to put in place targets for each sector. What’s more, we’re mandating that the steps we’re taking are reported to the public every year, by law.

 

This will likely anger some,  but how can we applaud this legislation which makes it look like the province is doing something *amazing* with respect to climate change accountability, at the very same time the reality is that:

All these LNG facilities mean a massive increase in tanker traffic through our coastal waters, right from Howe Sound, through Roberts Bank and from the north coast. And we only ever hear about oil tanker traffic…not all these damn LNG supertankers. 68 a year minimum out of the Fraser river alone, not counting Kitimat or Woodfibre – I’m not even going to go look and see what their capacity will be. And did I mention its always been heavily subsidized?

This is EXACTLY what Greta speaks about. Our talk, is not matching our actions.

We applaud leaders and governments for small things like this announcement…but when we look beyond the press conference, the smiles and platitudes about stepping up for the youth, this is what we actually see.

  • We see no community led solar projects being encouraged by government to take load off the grid and help smaller  communities become self sufficient and resilient in emergencies, especially in times of fire or storms. ( some communities on Van isle were without power for weeks last year after a major storm)
  • We see no efforts to legislate or create bylaws at municipal levels to include solar, which is when its cheapest to incorporate and makes minimal difference to home price ( and would be a big selling feature ) * This is where I would encourage the use of our own BC gas for stoves and high efficiency furnaces, as being without heat and the ability to cook in an off season power outage is crippling to famililes.
  • We see no solar powered townhome or condo developments where units buy back and forth with each other. God forbid we not by into the narrative by Hydro that we have abundant water resources ( remember the post I did on drought this summer, when some reservoirs were too low to produce electricity? Read this in depth look at impact glacier loss and lower snowfalls are likely to have) 

Hell we cant even get legislation on things that should be mandatory to any new industrial build, like green roofs to reduce heat retention and release in hot summers ( reduces median temps in urban areas), features like roof wind turbines in windy areas, and rain gardens ( to control runoff instead of going into our storm drains or flooding streets)

The possibilities are endless, and they do not need endless study to enact. Just do it. Where is the actual political will to stand up and say the damn truth? Why are average residents being forced to take up the slack so industry can profit and pollute?

None of these targets will mean a thing when the world passes us by as we quickly build new LNG facilities while the price drop of solar, wind and other tech has come down so much other countries are embracing it like no ones business.

We applaud Greta for speaking blunt truths, but what good is the applause when the truth is that while this legislation was brought forth in one hand, the other hand of government still carried on with a plan that relies on greenwashing  a heavily subsidized LNG industry and fracking. There are some serious climate change extremes happening globally.

Permafrost is thawing all over the Arctic, in Siberia its making roads buckle and infrastructure crumble and in the Yukon and Nunavet its damaging homes, roadways and making lakes implode and collapse.  ( Google images search term: ” permafrost melting damage” for an eye opener)

Here’s the thing. Extremes and weird weather events are increasing here in BC and across Canada. Polar vortex. Floods. Fire. Extreme drought and heat waves. Home insurance rates are increasing because of increased claims. Some underwriters aren’t covering certain types of damage anymore. Climate change doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, but its the poor and mid income victims that will bear the burden when these events hit.

Its our governments who will have to fork out emergency relief funds,house people who have lost homes and rebuild critical infrastructure. That’s why addressing climate change is also a social justice issue, so mitigating it and acting faster to enable resilient communities is a must. And yet we continue down the same path here in BC despite it all.

That’s why I will applaud nothing with respect to this latest announcement.

Not while 2km squared gravel well pads are being laid to frack gas, the Peace is being logged to mitigate methyl mercury when the valley is flooded, and Canada’s north is melting.

How the BC government will put more special needs kids at risk than ever & why parents need to get loud now.

One of the things I looked forward to after the decimation of public education under the BC Liberals, was seeing classrooms thrive again. I, like most parents, didn’t expect miracles to happen overnight…the system was so underfunded all education advocates knew it would take time to restore things to where it should be. I knew the NDP was passionate about education and when I retired from blogging, I felt little need to follow BCED closely.

But having seen whats coming down the pipeline now, I feel urgently compelled to write so as many parents of kids and teens with special needs, learning disabilities or any challenges that require classroom support see it as soon as possible. And when I write this, I want you to know that this perspective is coming from myself not just as a government critic, but as a parent of a teen with challenges, who I have had to fight to have classroom supports for, his entire time in the school system. I know how the education system works in this province with respect to high needs kids – it  often doesn’t, unless a parent has a strong voice and knows how to navigate the system to ensure their child gets support.

But If we move to the prevalence model of funding, it is my opinion- along with many, many educators – that we will see more kids falling through cracks than we ever have. Please, read on to hear why I’m concerned.

Many parents know before their child enters school, that something is different and unique about them. Sometimes its quite clear and a parent might get a diagnosis through a paediatrician or agency before school starts. But many challenges can’t be accurately diagnosed until a child enters school, and is past a certain age of development. Because kids develop at different rates, its sometimes hard to tell what may be a learning or behavioural challenge, rather than just a child who needs more time to catch up. And often behaviors related to these challenges dont appear anywhere but in the classroom.

This is where a parents journey starts, and where mine did many years ago. I quickly discovered that the school system is not in line with the medical system and that life as a parent of a child with challenges, was not going to be easy. Under the current system, there is no entitlement to supports for a child in the classroom, until a child has a diagnosis. It doesn’t even matter if its quite clear there is an issue, that’s how it works. And even with a diagnosis, some disorders still arent funded for help in the current system.

If you are lucky, the school may pull time with an Educational Assistant assigned to another child, to help out – which isn’t really fair to the other child, or the EA – but usually kids are just sent home. That’s right. Sent home.

Until my child received his first diagnosis, he was only attending school a few hours a day, 3 times a week in primary grades. Try holding a full-time job down with this challenge – parents soon learn that most daycares will not take a child with challenges, and the ones that do charge a high rate.This means home care with a qualified nanny, a relative, or you quit your job outside the home and find work you can do from home.

So you fumble along from professional to professional, on wait lists and call backs, until the not so magical day comes when you finally find out what exactly your childs unique issue is. For many parents it is day of both grieving and tremendous relief – you grieve the news that your child is not going to have a smooth journey, but at the same time it is a relief to be able to finally move forward. Now off you run to school, your childs diagnosis papers in hand, and your school team does the paperwork to receive a designation – here it is a single letter to define what type of disability,challenge or health issue your child has.

The designations are not public,so there is no stigma for your child to feel different, only his teacher and support team know. But these designations mean that:

  • 1) your school may receive more funding if its approved ( not all designations qualify for assistance, eg.ADHD, unless there are multiple combined diagnosis’s of co-existing disorders or syndroms )
  • 2) Your child may receive an educational assistant for a period of time
  • 3)  Your child may qualify for an IEP – Individualized Education Plan.
  • 4) your child may access more specialized assessments and educational specialists via the school system. ( occupational therapist, psychologists etc..)

 

But, surprise surprise,  you will soon find out that the school being able to receive more funding, doesn’t mean your child receives that equivalent in help, as schools can spend it where they feel it needs to be.

This is where parent advocacy plays a big part in how much help your child actually receives( and where I see the need for every district to employ a Parent advocate to help parents learn and navigate  the system).

Currently,a child with a diagnosis and designation may only qualify for help 3 hours of the day…even though their disability is constant. Silly right? That’s funding for you.

This is why class size and composition matter so much to both parents and teachers. You cannot overload one teacher with several kids with challenges, when there is not enough help to go around.

It’s a less than perfect system that parents and educators have been living with for years, and for new parents going into this system, its an exercise in feeling alone and inadequate that results in many tears. Trust me. You have to get used to being ” THAT parent” pretty darn quick because no one is going to look out for your child as much as you will have to.

I’ve been lucky along the way to have the guidance of some pretty amazing educators and administrators who went to bat for my child, and am grateful to have those experiences. I have also encountered some terrible administrators along the way.

Currently I work with an amazing educator whose passion and experience makes all the difference..it’s almost like co-parenting! It’s a tough system, but once you get the diagnosis and designation(s), at least you have something concrete to hold in your hand and use to push for more help.

Now, back to the prevalence model being proposed- Are funding changes needed to special education? Absolutely. Right now parents are made to feel like its their kids who are broken when it fact they aren’t…it is the system that is broken.

Read that again. Your child is not broken…the system is broken. And if we move to the prevalence model I fear it will be more broken than it is now.

So what is the prevalence model? Patti Bacchus did an excellent explanation earlier this year and I will refer to it:

The prevalence model

It sounds simple enough. Instead of requiring school districts, parents, and kids to jump through a bunch of diagnostic and administrative hoops for special education designations that qualify for supplemental special-education funding grants, just give school districts funding based on the general prevalence of special needs in the school-aged population.

After all, government types will tell you that about eight percent of the special-education funding is spent on the “administrivia” required to determine who generates what funding. It makes sense, in theory, to redirect that money to providing services to students.

So why are parents like me, who have spent many years fighting through the current system, and teachers now worried?

Because while just cutting out all the paperwork to spend more money on children with special needs sounds great in theory, in actuality parents should be greatly concerned, particularly for low-mid income earners.  Here is why: 

“The prevalence model will lead to fewer special needs assessments and diagnoses,” responded Hansman. “Without that information, teachers will lose valuable insights at the start of each year when they begin working with a new class. If there is no record of diagnosis and paperwork articulating the nature of a student’s disability or learning challenges, teachers will not be able to properly address that child’s needs as they move through different grades. This disconnection in the name of accounting efficiencies will hamstring teachers’ efforts to support all students.

 

“Moving to a prevalence model will also force parents to fight even harder for specialized supports and services. Families who can afford it will turn to outside psychologists to diagnose their children’s needs. But kids whose parents can’t afford it, or don’t have a parent pushing hard in the principal’s office, will be left behind.”

That is a hard pill to swallow and it’s anything but fair or right.

The wait list for public system diagnosis’s can be a year or longer depending on where you live. It costs thousands for a private assessment, depending on your child’s challenges. And what makes this even more distasteful is that many parents, when first starting this journey, fear speaking out, because they fear losing what little help they get. Bureaucrats know this.

Those designations and assessments, as difficult as it can be to get them, are the only thing that differentiates your child from anyone else. Many parents and kids may end up waiting even longer because the overall funding and staffing isn’t even there right now.

And to make this proposed change even worse? Many parents have no clue this is even happening. Education Minister Rob Fleming  appointed a panel of bureaucrats to review all these proposed changes to our children’s education, in relative secrecy.

Parents of children who will be directly impacted have not been widely consulted. (most parents are still clueless as to what this will means)

Parent groups were not widely consulted. ( I’m told a working group of special education parents was created, but information on who was involved or what was submitted is not widely known )

Many teachers, if not most, still oppose this funding model, for all the same big concerns I and other parents have.

And as we all know, bureaucrats usually consider the bottom line : money.

There is also a bit of relatable history to look at which is fueling concerns. Also from the Patti Bacchus piece linked to above:

“History lessons

You only need to look back to see what happened when the B.C. Liberal government did something similar when it announced targeted funding grants for gifted students would be rolled into general funding grants to school districts, and school boards could figure out the best way to use that money.

What followed was a huge drop in students being assessed and identified as gifted, and subsequent cuts to gifted programs. Those psycho-educational assessments that are used to identify and designate kids also provide detailed information about how individual students learn and can provide the key to why they may be struggling. Assessments help educators design programs and plans to help students succeed. Without that information, students and their teachers can flounder and end up with poor outcomes.

What I’ve also watched happen over the past decade-and-a-half in Vancouver is that parents who have the means to get their kids privately assessed for giftedness or learning disabilities are able to use that information to advocate for their kids and get them increased support and accommodations at school. That’s great for them but not for those who can’t afford to shell out the $3,000 dollars or so it can cost to get a private psycho-educational assessment. That’s a major equity issue, and I fear a shift to a prevalence model could make that a whole lot worse, leaving lower-income kids at an increased disadvantage if schools no longer see the benefit of getting struggling kids assessed by an educational psychologist.

Too often kids who haven’t been properly assessed, particularly low-income kids, are treated as primarily having behaviour problems when what they really have is some form of a learning disability. They get frustrated in class and end up acting out. Instead of figuring out why they’re frustrated and what kind of help they need, the focus is on their behaviour.

As we learned with the gifted experience, school districts are less inclined to get kids assessed if they don’t think doing so will get the district any more funding, so that problem could become a lot worse than it already is under a prevalence model without some strong safeguards in place.

While government will tell you school districts must provide appropriate supports and services for all students, regardless of their designations, those with kids with unfunded designations are often told there isn’t any money to give their kids extra support.”

*This is where I remind every NDP MLA out there, that you campaigned on education, with teachers and parents so desperate to see a positive change, to get elected. And now? We have been left out of a critical funding change that impacts each of us.*

So where are we with all this today ?

I feel so bad, as a parent who is still fully invested in this on a daily basis, and as long time public voice on issues like this, for not catching this before now. I’ll be brutally honest. I thought the NDP would do the right thing, that on this issue at least, they would make things right. Wow, was I wrong.

This was included in the email I received: https://twitter.com/browning_jilli/status/1188277010725916672

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new prevalence funding model will be put before Cabinet in November as an entire package. With absolutely no information out here for parents as to what and how this would roll out and impact our kids.

We’ve already seen big issues in BC schools this fall, and it hasn’t even begun to make news like it should. Despite injections of cash, BC education is still grossly underfunded and understaffed.

There is a shortage of EA’s  ( educational assistants) in many if not most districts, including my own, which means kids with special needs are still being sent home when no EA can be found.

There still isn’t nearly enough staff or funding under the current model and this government knows that. They campaigned on funding BCED properly and what is needed here is more funding, period. Implementing this new model in an underfunded system is truly a very big mistake. Just fund the system properly.

The only losers here if this Prevalence Model passes, will be kids and this is going to blindside thousands of parents. 

So what can we do?

Call or email Education Minister Rob Fleming, today or as soon as possible, and ask him to stop  and share information with the public  and parents PRIOR to voting on this package of recommendations. 

Minister Rob Fleming-Legislative Office:

Room 124 Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC  V8V 1X4

 Phone: (250) 356-8247
 Fax: (250) 356-0948

And when you are done that, call or email your local MLA as well. You can find all their contact information at this handy link https://www.leg.bc.ca/learn-about-us/members

** Missed my last post ? Check out lessons from Election 2019, exporting LNG down the Fraser River, and the Money Laundering stunner at https://lailayuile.com/2019/10/26/saturday-morning-coffee-round-up-election-2019-lng-in-delta-money-laundering-inquiry-stunner/