The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher
TORONTO The Catholic District School Board seems determined to distance itself from the community it should serve. Here is one more piece to the argument that it should simply be phased out of existence and morphed into one public board. In February of 2017, the TDCSB passed a Motion as follows; “That our unique, valued International Language Program continue both in the Extended Day and After Hours program”.
It sounds good. And it reﬂected a positive response to public outrage in the previous academic year when Staff and some Trustees made serious efforts to eliminate International Language study from the extended Day.
But, we are talking about the TDCSB, where things are rarely driven by motives associated with pedagogical performance, student service, instructional outcomes, religious principles or instructional strategies.
Their conduct in the recent failed attempt to tear down the Columbus Centre, as step one in building an oversized school adjacent to two others experiencing declining enrollment, illustrated how far they have distanced themselves from the concept of truth and facts.
It should come as no surprise then, that notwithstanding their stated commitment to maintain the Extended Day program, they were contemporaneously laying the groundwork to eliminate it. They began to pit parents from one ethnic group against parents from another, teachers against instructors and manipulating collective agreements to undermine stability.
Such single-minded pettiness was in part spawned by the pushback they had received in 2015 when they tried to justify the elimination of the extended Day International Languages program with the excuse that the Special Education/Continuous Education Budget line item was in deﬁcit.
No mention of course that they had just paid $22.5 million for the acquisition the Columbus Centre, and, co-incidentally discovered a $20 million deﬁcit.
Even while they had passed the Motion cited above, the Board was engaged in meetings with the Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers (TECT) unit of the OECTA union “…to consider all possibilities related to scheduling the extended day programme within the 300-minute instructional day, at no extra cost to the Board.”
If one were to imagine that there was some discussion regarding the quality or quantity of either instructional content, style or resources available for desired outcomes, they would be wrong.
They were focused, single-mindedly on a section of the collective agreement [cited above and continuing] that said ‘’… The Board and TECT will consider all non-monetary possibilities [and] … by 20172018 school year, the Board shall ensure that no teacher teaches an extended day”.
It is all about letting teachers leave the school premises after 300 minutes of instructional time (5 hours exclusive of 30-minute lunches and 2 recesses) and not a minute more.
Because an Extended Day involves staggering a 30-minute lesson for an additional subject they do not teach, teachers object to having to devote the extra time.
Pay me or kill the program, they say. There are 44 elementary schools where an Extended Day programme is in operation. The teachers there want to be paid an extra 2.5 hours per week (30 minutes of “down time” for 5 days per week).
TCDSB, which has among the lowest English and Math scores in the Province, regretfully admits (my words) that “… the matter could not be resolved so that there were no additional costs to the board.”
Kill the program, says the TCDSB. It will make the decision official at the July 12 board meeting.
(to be continued)