Awaiting TDSB governance report
The Provincial ‘community consultation’ about how to deal with the Toronto District School Board included a meeting of Barbara Hall with the Campaign for Public Education in late June. We are looking forward to seeing what recommendations make it to print and which Hall proposals are published and implemented by the Wynne government.
Since turn out for the consultation meetings in the community was not particularly stellar, the individual meetings and responses were important. Deadlines for individual answers were the end of May.
Observers believe that Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government seems to be setting up a paper trail to ‘justify’ a number of actions that will ultimately change the face of education in Ontario. It is mirroring much of the “austerity” (cut back) movement seen in the US and around the world. Like selling off Hydro One, this was not a part of the recent provincial election.
The Wilson Report, based on dialogues with only 60 (sixty) senior staff and trustees, was supposed to suggest ways for everyone to get along plus address the ‘culture of fear’. There is some mention of how the culture may be filtering down to principals and vice principals but certainly no time was allotted to the front line staff – education workers and teachers. No students or parents were interviewed.
Most significantly, Ms. Wilson (and previous Reports, which she cites) never even hint at the root cause of the stress, anxiety and fear spread throughout the Board:
SYSTEMIC LACK OF FUNDING TO DO THE JOB OF PROVIDING EDUCATION FROM THE VERY YOUNG (parenting centres and child care centres) THROUGH YOUTH, ADULTS AND SENIORS FOR SEVENTEEN YEARS! So much for “Learn for Life” (or Life Long Learning).
There isn’t even enough funding to support the traditional JK to Grade 12 model year over year!
That’s why there is a $3 Billion backlog in maintenance & repairs (to name just one item) which will not be solved by selling off schools and land.
So it is hardly a shock that the ‘consultation’s’ 6 questions, devised by the Ministry with the help of their contracted-out corporate consulting firm, avoid any mention of funding like the plague. Any talk of finances or funding or the shoddy formula we are still stuck with, was discouraged — at least at the initial meetings. It is like the Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) being told to look for anything except the murder weapon!!
Filling out this questionnaire is just another step in the struggle to keep Toronto’s schools intact and the democratically elected public education system, accountable to the people of Toronto and funded properly like it was before amalgamation!
The other theme embedded in the questions is the not-so-subtle push to divide the Board into smaller units, the worst idea since amalgamation!
The irony, of course, is that the Provincial Liberals are now micro-managing all schools in all the school boards in Ontario (taxation & budget, curriculum, negotiations, etc).
The payoff would be in remove almost the last vestige of power from elected Trustees and from the people who elected them. It will make closing schools and selling off land much easier. It will be harder to pin responsibility on the Liberal government at Queen’s Park. Remember: all these changes are aimed ONLY at the TDSB who, despite all the problems, have been in the forefront of fighting for quality education and against cuts.
The Liberals are depending on the fact that only a small percentage of Torontonians have child/ren or grandchild/ren in the school system, neatly avoiding the reality that all of society benefits (or loses) because of decisions that are made right now. They are hoping it all blows over before the next Provincial election and are hoping that the anger does not spread to the federal Liberal Party who will be fighting the very important election this fall.
These fights are for us all now AND for the next generations. Please take the time to fill out the six questions – and feel free to respond with whatever you feel is best. Or follow the lead of the politicians who, when asked questions, will answer with whatever they want to say.
Katie McGovern Recording & Corresponding Secretary
Toronto Education Workers – Local 4400 CUPE