The Comment

Catholic Education in Toronto: the Joke is on Us

TORONTO – The Honourable Justices of Divisional Court in Toronto are deliberating allegations of discrimination in York Catholic District Schools Board. If they are looking for real life guidance on how trustees and Directors can evade, if not completely avoid (“waive”) their Statutory and Procedural obligations, they need only watch the video of the Toronto Catholic District School Board meeting of April 23 (see it here).

The shenanigans of some trustees and Staff at the TCDSB in their rush to appear on the “popular” side of the abortion issue had to have been offensive to the self-declared Catholic electors and ratepayers, who may have thought, or think, their choice for Catholic education had been placed in proper hands for care and nourishment. Deception and subterfuge seem to be the order of the day when it comes to even symbolic adherence to manifestations of their Faith.

As is now customary, deliberations on substantive budgetary matters, personnel distributions, program offerings and capital expenditures are so minimal as to appear non-existent, except for the pro-forma information overview. The Board received $1.2 Billion in grants for student needs for 2023-2024. In the last four years under the administration of Brendan Browne, it burned through a $100 million surplus to now beg the Minister for permission to operate a $60 million structural deficit.

In that period, their enrolment has decreased by 7,000 students. Last month, they suggested their financial and human resources shortfall is a consequence of teacher absenteeism (cost of an unaccounted-for $20 million shortfall) and teacher shortage – Minister Lecce cannot seem to make up his mind about teacher qualifications or curricula. Which curriculum? The “3 Rs” (Reading, writing, arithmetic) or “DEI” (diversity, equity and inclusion).

Why not concentrate on flags rather than competence and skills? Ahh, but which flags? One reflecting the Pope’s (magisterium), teachings on the issues that distinguish Catholics from others we can be different yet equal. More importantly, the magisterium is the jurisdiction recognized in the Constitution with the authority to determine what constitutes Catholic Schools.

Imagine spending the better part of three hours trying to skirt the magisterium’s directive on matters of Life, Peace and Gender Ideology. All prompted by a craftly worded Notice of Motion designed to preempt a thoughtful debate on the flying of a pro-Life flag on TCDSB properties in the month of May – the month to celebrate Motherhood.

The Honourable Justices (all three women) referenced above will know that Legislative Statute requires that such notices – expressions of Board policy – must be debated in the forum where they have been introduced, typically the following month. Moreover, the public must have opportunities to “delegate” prior to debate and vote. Procedural correctness and fairness cannot be claimed otherwise.

Last night, only two delegations (in favour of the pro-life flag) were allowed to speak, despite having met all the conditions to “inform” the “assembly”. There were none who could apply to delegate on the contrived alternative. Guess what happened? An amendment to the Notice requiring an immediate vote of acceptance was taken, because “the assembly willed it so”. Two trustees were absent.

One rather truculent female trustee at the table muttered a justification: no way I am going to have two men tell me what to believe. She/they was referring to the Pope and a colleague who proposed the original motion to declare support to the official Church/Board position on Life.

She must have tuned out the female delegate who, in my humble opinion, presented remarkably. Essentially, she asked if trustees were confused about why they occupy your chairs? Maybe the new Archbishop has not yet stared down the dissidents who run the Institute for Catholic Education in Hamilton.

In the pics above, Daniel Reszczynski and Magdalena Cardillo during their speeches at the TCDSB meeting: to watch their delegations – Daniel from 1:12:10 and Magdalena from 1:18:46 – click here

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