Hi there tout la gang,

We don't have much to say about research in practice at the Café right now

but we are talking policy and practice over here now: Literacy Enquirers.

Friday, April 3, 2009


There has been a hiatus on the blog. Probably partly because I have been out-of-town on a little trip with my family. The other part I am less sure about. I feel as though I have a lot to say and nothing to say.

We were officially laid off last Friday. I banked some of the March hours for work that needs to be done in April and May closing the grant and making sure that Issue #10 gets to people.

Another group of colleagues are working their last day today. Their work was funded by both Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). HRSDC bailed out a while ago and MTCU has whittled away at funding until now they are left without funds and no commitment for the future.

Last week, our federal government announced this:

The federal government will hire hundreds of people as its spends an additional $60 million to help process the growing number of claims for employment insurance [EI], Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said Tuesday [March 24].

Our grant from HRSDC was about $160,000 per year. This grant employs 2 people, provides contracts for 5 other people and two other organizations -- one a literacy program -- and supports the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education through an administration fee. We produce two magazines a year, two bulletins, two web forums, a web site and a blog. I will let you be the judge of the value of these 'products' and how these activities enhanced practice in Canada and helped us engage in the national and international conversations about research, practice and professional judgement.

I am not sure what grants my colleagues got but I do know that those grants helped employ about 8 people and supported a library, online learning and countless other professional development opportunities for learners and practitioners.

We are all probably EI eligible so HRSDC will keep paying us for a number of weeks. And they will use some of that $60 million to process and administer our claims. But we won't be getting any fantastic articles about research, accessible resources, professional development support, conversation, debate, innovative approaches to learning, and so on.

The pretzel logic of unfunding programs and projects that produce resources and advance the so-called knowledge society in favour of funding the administration of income support systems has made me think more about the Guaranteed Annual Income program. The first person I heard talking about GAI was Hugh Segal, a Progressive Conservative Senator. Part of his argument is that we would spend less money ensuring that every Canadian had a liveable income than we do now on administering and policing EI and welfare claims -- that more tax dollars fund the processing of claims, ensuring compliance and the social costs of poverty than income redistribution.

Detractors of a guaranteed annual income will invariably point to its price tag. However, the municipal, provincial and federal governments are currently footing the rather hefty price tag of poverty as it translates into health-care costs, an overburdened judicial system, a myriad of social services that often duplicate each other and the basic loss of human productivity.
Welfare study shows need for guaranteed income, Toronto Star,
by HUGH SEGAL, Sep. 2, 2006

So as you can see, I have nothing to say and a lot to say.


More reading on GAI:
Investing in well-being: A guaranteed livable income for Canada
, Citizens for Public Justice, Feb 19, 2008
Senator urges debate on plight of poor,
Toronto Star, Feb 11, 2008
Guaranteed income, guaranteed dignity,
Toronto Star, Mar 05, 2007
Improving Social Security in Canada Guaranteed Annual Income: A Supplementary Paper,
Government of Canada, 1994
Plus this list of articles at Liveable Income for Everyone - News.


Wendell Dryden said...

Hope you'll keep the blog up (though I'm not sure why you would).

I, too, have been posting less and feeling like I have too much and not enough to say.

All the field wanted was a little bit of money - maybe the cost of 30 or 40 kilometers of divided highway. Instead, more and more of my colleagues are taking jobs outside the field, and then trying to find time to volunteer with adults and families who want to learn to read better.

... meanwhile, buddy with the Toronto Star walks off with 9 million in his pocket.

yep. hard to know what to say (in polite company)

Well, Literacies is great, and the only one like it. And they can never take away the good you've done.

don't let the bastards grind you down. ;)

Maria said...

I'm with Wendell - tho' like him I have to wonder why you would keep the blog going - but.... I don't even know how to begin to think about not having Literacies... it is really the last thing that "we" had... but.... Three long, loud happy/sad cheers for Tracey and Tannis, for Literacies, for endings and beginnings - for working so hard, for trying so hard, for telling the truth and giving us all so much

risky mouse said...

Thanks youse guys! And right back at you.

Not sure what I am going to do about the blog. I think I need to to take a little break but i know that I will get a craving to blah blah blah at all of you again :P

Nancy Friday said...

Literacies is the best!!! I tried to get on the other night and for some reason the site was down - likely NALD was down (so relieved to see that was a blip). I thought that was it - it was over, gone, done - and I can't express the empty pit I felt in my gut.

I have learned SO MUCH reading the Literacies Journal and reading this blog over the years. Literacies and the blog has just become my regular go-to place online and is very much a part of my online community. I don't want to have to even face that this is over.

I am so saddened that business and service has monopolized so much of the world - and has relegated community development to where? The unfunded place. I was discussing this recently with one of my cousins and he recommended a book that I just got from the library called Artists, Craftsmen and Technocrats by Patricia Pitcher that he suggests might help buoy my sagging faith in anything.

Here's a blurb from the book cover that gives an idea of what's inside (I plan to read it this weekend while in Waterloo).

Pitcher paints the portraits of the three types of leaders found in organizations: the Artist, the Craftsman, and the Technocrat.

The Artist is people-oriented, open-minded, intuitive, and visionary.

The Craftsman is humane, dedicated, knowledgeable, and wise.

The Artist and Craftsman are "fellow-travellers".

But the Technocrat is another story. Detail-oriented, rigid, methodical, and hardheaded, the Technocrat is the enemy of both the Artist and the Craftsman. His/her analytical thinking leaves no room for fresh ideas and new pathways; he/she follows an uncompromising set of rules he/she believes are right.

To the Technocrat, the Artist is out of control, "nuts", and the Craftsman is old-fashioned.

Too many Technocrats are admitted into the corridors of power.

So, to the Artists and Craftpeople who have visioned and crafted Literacies and the blog - hip, hip hurrah!

And to those Technocrats ... time to get out of the way and step down from power ... you're messing up really bad!!!

I hope the Literacies blog continues. It is one of those really good places on the Web to land!


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