A tear is shed for #Charlottesville

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The first play I acted in was when I was around 9 years old.  The play was about Martin Luther King Jr. – Skin Deep.  My father was one of the authors of the play and it was pretty powerful.  I had a pretty small role but the play stuck with me.

Fast forward a few years and we were travelling in the United States and visited the graveyard where Martin Luther King Jr. was buried.  My dad disappeared and when we found him he was talking on a pay phone to someone about the play he had written and that he planned to put it on again.  Turns out he had looked up Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow, in the phone book and gave her a call.

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As a result of this phone call Yolanda King came to visit us to see the play.  Certain events stand out in your life and this was one for me.

This past weekend the violence in the United States erupted to the point that people died.  As I listen to the news and hear the term “identify consciousness” I am sickened to see how hate has continued to fester all these years later.  Slavery may no longer be legal in the United States (is it simply offshored now?), many of the inequalities that the civil rights movement fought against have been rectified, but our world is still festering with racism, intolerance and hatred.

When you come to protest carrying torches and bats, you are not starting a dialogue.  You are inciting terrorism.

To those I saw on Twitter that suggest the left is hypocritical because they denounce violence on the right, but ignore the counter protesters that promoted violence I ask that you consider this:  I denounce the violence on both sides, but when I heard Yolanda King talk about her Father being shot and killed when she was a little girl my heart broke.  He was killed because he wanted to be treated equally.  He was killed because he wanted blacks and whites to get along.  The violence this weekend was started by people who want to tear others down instead of bringing everyone up.

Black Lives Matter exist because in our world we have systematic racism that is accepted as normal.  Race, gender, religion, sexuality – none of these should cause us to not treat people with respect.  Yolanda managed to forgive a society that murdered her father.  I choose the path that was revealed in living room those many years ago – for every difference there are similarities that tie us together as the human race.  We need to denounce the violence but it can’t stop there, we each have a responsibility to ensure the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about is realized.

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John McTavish and Yolanda King

 

 

Find out how many people pass the Ontario Literacy Course

A couple months ago I read a blog post where the person wondered how many people actually pass the OSSLC – they assumed that almost everyone did and that the course was a joke. I hate assumptions so I started looking for the answer.

Ontario Open Data was my initial starting point. I absolutely love that the government provides data – I have used it many times. Turns out that this information is not available. Next I tried a freedom of information request and I finally have the answer.
In 2015-2016 17,648 students passed the Ontario Literacy Courses in public (and Catholic) high schools in Ontario. This is out of 21,173 students that attempted the course. An 83% success rate is a far cry from 100%. It is also very close to the graduation rate (86.5% in 2016) which makes sense as it is a graduation requirement. 

What does it matter? I am actually relieved – a perfect success rate would call into question the integrity of the course. Obviously we want students to be successful but we are not going to water down our expectations to ensure success. It also opens new questions – how many people don’t graduate only because of the literacy requirement. How can we intervene to increase the success rate? Making data available allows people at the grassroots level make informed decisions.

Responding to the latest thing Trump did

I’ve been following the Trump soap opera lately and a few things have been getting under my skin.

1- Trump tweeting is not policy. When he is sharing his views on who can serve in the military he is deftly changing the discussion away from the areas he does not want people to focus on. I feel like the social media universe is Pavlov’s dog.  

2. Facts don’t seem to matter to people.  Whether it is the financial cost that he is claiming or the ‘leaked’ financial records of Scaramucci (his financial disclosure was freely available – little thing called transparency) I am amazed at how people accept whatever they view or read without a little independent research to verify the information. One area I cover in the library is how to differentiate facts from opinions, the world needs more education in this area.

3. Civility – when reading about Trump, Trudeau or Wynne you would think that you were back in the middle ages as part of a mob. I do love Michelle Obama’s statement – when they go low I go high. By all means disagree with our political leaders but back up your opinions with facts and be respectful.

4. Discrimination is not ok. Ever. Skin colour, religion, sexuality – why can’t we respect our differences? Is is simplistic to project our views on an entire community.

Thanks for letting me rant.