Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Six years ago I was fired from my job as a math teacher in the Carpentry Apprenticership Program at University College of the North in Thompson, Manitoba. Almost two years later, I wrote a letter telling my side of the story, and sent it to various recipients including my former colleagues at UCN. I think it's a pretty interesting story, and I've decided to share it here with my readers. It's a long letter, so I'm breaking it up into installments. Here is the first installement.

Yes, I was fired last year. Thompson is a small town and people must remember me. And everyone seems to think that I had it coming. But do you actually know why I was fired? The College has the right to reject someone on probation without giving any reasons. But in my case, I was able, with some difficulty, to get them to come up with written reasons for my rejection. I have in front of me a letter from the President of the College, Denise Henning, dated Nov. 26 2007: “Rejection on Probation”. Now I'm going to show you what kind of people I was working with.

The letter of rejection consists of twelve paragraphs, two of general introduction and two of conclusion, which leaves eight paragraphs of content. In seven of these eight paragraphs, my failure to stick to the curriculum is cited as an ongoing problem. In fact, the curriculum issue was nothing but a red herring.  It was first raised by my senior co-instrucutor Murray Oman just before the Christmas break as a result of an unrelated personal conflict: namely, I disobeyed his direct instructions by suspending in class a student who swore at me. When I became aware that in retaliation for this incident I was being accused of not following the curriculum, I wrote my supervisor asking for specific examples. Nothing of the sort was ever provided, verbally or in writing, until Ms. Henning’s letter, which came five months after my dismissal.

Understand: the college had the right, under the collective agreement, to reject me on probation for NO REASON. But they chose to make a case against me based on curriculum. That is the clear thrust of Ms. Henning's letter, which to be fair is also peppered throughout with vague and non-specific references to "unprofessional behavior" and “interpersonal issues”. But none of these side issues are important enough to warrant specific citation in Henning’s letter, so I’m going to likewise ignore them in mine. I can’t very well respond to accusations that she doesn’t raise herself except in the vaguest of generalities. Yes, I exhibited unprofessional behavior at times and yes, I have certain interpersonal issues. Who doesn’t? But it is the curriculum issue, reiterated in every single paragraph of the letter but one, which is clearly the centerpiece of her case, and that’s what I intend to answer here.

In what way did I not follow the curriculum? After  months of my badgering the College, verbally and in writing, to provide any specific cases of my supposed improper teaching, during a year when I was continually under the microscope, here are the examples which they are able to muster: (From Hennings letter of Nov. 26 2007, para. 6:)

“Specific situations which were provided to Mr. Green regarding examples which were deemed to be difficult for the students to relate to were: determining the height of a smoke stack, the slope example, trouble-shooting a circuit, control for electric water heaters, and use of complex trigonometry"



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