Education Politics,
Power Plays Galore – Who benefits?

di Joe Volpe del 26 April 2021

TORONTO - In our daily editorial meetings, staff are encouraged to drink a healthy dose of skepticism before accepting the “merits” associated with arguments pro/ contra any positions. “Sources” always have an interest in getting “their version of the news” front and centre.

In fact, their preference is to exclude any consideration other than their own from gaining any traction. Sometimes, we too have a bias. In such cases, we acknowledge it. Whenever people “dress themselves in the flag” – as in finger- pointing moralism - our alarm antennae go up. We prefer to talk about due process and obligations recognized in statutes and case law, about responsibility as opposed to whim or convenience.

Covid-19 has had the [unexpected] effect of exposing the fragility of some of the institutions we have taken for granted. Long-term Care Homes, considered fundamental to emerging health care needs of an aging population, have surfaced as veritable death traps for seniors with pre-existing medical conditions, in Canada and in Ontario.

CARP, an advocacy organization for Seniors’ interests, would seem to have virtually unlimited access to electronic media, has been calling for the “dismissal” of the Provincial Minister responsible, Merrilee Fullerton.

Somewhere between 66% and 75% of all Covid deaths in Ontario have occured in LTC homes.

If Education in this Province is a mess today, surely it is equally obvious that Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce be shouldered with the responsibility. Why is he still in office?

Children have lost two academic years of interaction with their peers, the psycho- social- physical skills that go along with that exchange; not to mention the academic skills that may need repair down the road.

The schools are not, apparently, medically healthy environments for either sta or students.

Yet, he has concentrated his “efforts” on surreptitious strategies to “divide and conquer” people and their representatives by fomenting discord instead of building bridges. And he has NO legal or Constitutional authority to do so. In his “own backyard” (York Region), a troubling debate has surfaced re the Senior Administration of the Catholic District School Board and its Board.

It has been prompted by the retirement of several Superintendents. Two groups have come forward with demands that, respectfully, seem to have dropped objective analysis from the criteria to be met for leadership positions.

One of them refers to “racialized” candidates, the other to “equity”. One “racialized” candidate for Director has a group of supporters demanding his appointment, without a due process, and shielding the eventual performance of the candidate from objective scrutiny by putting in place a series of structural mechanisms to ensure that criticism not go anywhere.

The Board had turned to a former Director, a fully qualified, 37- year career teacher/administrator, and female of Italian background. Not good enough apparently: approximately 8,000 of the 27,000 families registered as Supporters of the YCDSB are of Italian origin; while approximately 15% come from visible minorities.

Another mess in education (no, not the TCDSB) the Halton Catholic District School Board, is all consumed by which flag to fly. One intervenor in public delegations, last Tuesday, talked about people being “persecuted”.

A priest who argued a different position, coincidently was dismissed from pastoral duties in the diocese of Hamilton. His Bishop, Douglas Crosby, supported a different view. Minister Lecce, it seems, is an ally of the Bishop.

The Bishop has not responded to Corriere’s repeated efforts to secure comment via email. The archbishop of Toronto has also been remarkably silent. Maybe they lack the confidence or resolve to execute their duties towards Her Majesty’s Roman Catholic subjects under the Constitution. Nonetheless, they are both aware of case law and the Constitutional limitations imposed on the Minister and his current weapon of choice, the Human Rights Code.

Thankfully, the public still has recourse to legal protections.


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