TORONTO - Where to start? Usually at the top. Neither the Director’s office nor the Office of the Chair return Media (ours) email requests or phone calls. That is usually a sign of indifference or disrespect. We are ratepayers and our writers are Catholic electors.
Letters or posts “from the above” sent to parents and teachers (and obtained by us) are signed “Board of the TCDSB”, suggesting that no one wants to take ownership of the contents.
The elementary teachers (TECT) threaten strike action, demanding that the Board negotiate in good faith and alleging Board’s (Senior Staff) refusal to negotiate over the last two years as well as its questionable observance of Covid protocols. In response, letters from the Board office bad mouth TECT. Teachers withdraw extra-curricular services like parent teacher meetings.
Parents characterize the planning of online learning and the hybrid model of education as shoddy preparation for student instruction. The absentee rate makes it difficult to predict who and how many will be in class on any given day. Social distancing models go out the window once the children are inside the school.
The Director Brendan Browne is off chasing themes like equity, inclusion etcetera - valid issues in their own right – but there does not appear to be any learning taking place. How do parents know? The Board submitted a letter to the Minister of Education begging him to exempt the TCDSB from the annual EQAO testing. Such testing is crucial to planning and structuring a learning environment for students in math, reading and language skills.
The Ministry slapped down the request faster than Usain Bolt ran a 100-metre race in his prime.
The “Board” is embroiled in a bitter internal dispute involving the Integrity Commissioner, whose contract expired last September, and [several] trustees.
Those trustees are collectively involved in a judicial review – and surely an expensive subsequent defamation suit that is sure to follow – at great cost to the School Board and our children. This cannot possibly pass for education leadership.
In full disclosure, the Corriere has also filed a Statement of Claim against several trustees and that action is wending its way through the justice system.
If the academic and operational leadership is lacking, where is the policy focus of the members of the Board of Trustees? Well, the current Chair, trustee Angela Kennedy, has just secured the Conservative nomination in Beaches-East York for the upcoming election, June 2.
Trustee Ida Li Preti has had her Liberal nomination in Humber River Black Creek for months. Neither of them have resigned from the Board.
Why would they? Trustee Norman Di Pasquale was an NDP candidate in the last federal election and did not think there were ethical/conflict compelling issues to do so.
Insiders from the PC Party claim that another trustee, Markus De Domenico, was rebuffed by the local Conservative electoral district when he apparently asked to be appointed as a replacement for the ousted MPP, Ron Baber.
Without taking away anyone’s right to exercise political ambition, one must ask where the children, students and parents fit in that trajectory. If nothing else, when these individuals present and “debate” motions at Board meetings what are the motivations?
Do they stem from Party headquarters? To what purpose?
In the pic at the top, Usain Bolt (credits: AthleticsWeekly.com)