The puzzling state of education politics in Ontario

di Joe Volpe del March 9, 2020

TORONTO - Minister Lecce has his work cut out for himself. He did pull o a public relations coup when he pre-empted his negotiations teams last Wednesday by offering an olive branch to the Teachers’ Unions and to the Catholic Teachers (OECTA) in particular.

Logic suggested that Teachers respond in kind and defer the “scheduled strikes” until his offer was “’put on the table” as a sign of good faith. They muffed it and struck the next day anyway, to prove a point.

What that point was is no longer clear. Suffice it to say that even his detractors are now prepared to cut him some slack. OECTA has effectively joined the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) as a counterproductive element in the maintenance of a vibrant, faith-based, vocation-oriented and Constitutionally mandated school system.

OECTA may have some pedagogical rational to buttress their positions regarding class sizes and the allocation of resources, but the TCDSB can’t seem to find any of them to justify their on-going problems regarding spending for student accommodation (relocation plans) or code of conduct issues. As an organization, it is the epitome of dysfunctionality.

We invite those who can withstand the boredom to read some “gems” in corporate governance formulated in their Agendas for Board meetings.

For those interested, the Agendas provide an understanding of the crying need for “adult supervision” of a clearly dysfunctional organization. Minister Lecce may have to seize the opportunity to be the “knight in shining armour that slays the dragon” and place the Board under Ministry supervision.

The Trustee collective at the TCDSB serves no useful educational function. It does not certify teachers; does not set the curriculum; does not establish the standards against which to measure student performance or behaviour; does not negotiate with Teachers unions regarding expectations, merit or seniority. It cannot even agree on how they should conduct themselves behind closed doors.

The Agenda outlines items for discussion (next Thursday) that includes a Report on how Trustees should behave and the process they should follow if they have a complaint against any of their fellow Board members. It is filled with “weasel words” designed to give individuals an escape hatch.

It is a waste of time. The former Chair, immediately after being replaced by her colleagues was interviewed by a local English language newspaper, where in she declared herself free from any constraints… her colleagues be darned.

She almost single-handily orchestrated a subversion of “catholicity” in the student code of conduct, claiming the primacy of a secular Human Rights Code over the Catholic ethic that purportedly governs the system.

Incidences of Bullying in the system are at an all-time high. In her case, “cease and desist” lawyer letters to citizens who complain are becoming the norm. The Corriere has not been exempt from her missives.

Watching her perform in Board meetings, one is struck by the apparent lack of confidence Senior Sta have in her judgement and commitment. She refuses to acknowledge error, frustrating the Board’s legal counsel to the point such she stormed out of the public meeting. The now (happily) former Chair had insisted that she had not seen the advisory of the Report recommending that students at Loretto Abbey H.S. be relocated until such time as a “critical” and “urgent” need to make environmental changes be completed.

Those changes involve clearing the school of asbestos (a carcinogen) and mold. She managed to get consent to conduct costly and time-wasting post-factum consultations so that she could “save face” and reverse the recommendation.

The rest of the world is wedded to the strategy of “containment” as the only eective means of guarding against lethal pathogens.

At the same time, an overwhelmingly negative decision by the community of Regina Mundi and Dante Alighieri to demolition and relocation is being “tested” once again, as per note to the community: “ We would like to inform you that despite ongoing community consultation, we are not anticipating any delays to Regina Mundi’s redevelopment construction.”

Why? What is the purpose of engaging the public if your mind is made up? Over to you Minister Lecce.


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