For a summation of the bill written after its first reading was posted, see this post. See this post for commentary, and this one for the related public-interest regulation consultation.
The debates, if you have the inclination to read them, are always interesting to start looking at where the government and the two opposition parties are staking their ground.
A portion of Minister Kathleen Wynne's remarks from the first day of debate:
So we're proposing to amend the Education Act to clearly state that boards are responsible for promoting student outcomes and student achievement, and this would be laid out in provincial interest regulations.Other speakers to the bill during second-reading debate included former PC minister of education Elizabeth Witmer and NDP education critic Rosario Marchese. Marchese used his entire allotted hour to do a clause-by-clause dissection of the bill, with frequent references to other events and criticisms of the McGuinty government. Leg. assistant Leanna Pendergast kicked off the second day of debates, along with Rick Johnston for the government, with responses by Julia Munro, Paul Miller and Peter Kormos. John Yakabuski, Michael Prue and John O'Toole wrapped the last two days of debate.
Another change would involve direction on handling school board resources effectively. This would include carefully developing the budget, managing assets in a responsible manner and allocating resources in a way that would support the board's multi-year strategic plan. It hasn't always been the case that we've had access to a multi-year plan. In effect, this bill would help ensure that board resources are managed wisely, effective education programs are delivered and students are encouraged to pursue their goals. As a result, all board expenses would align with board priorities, particularly in supporting student achievement. That alignment has been uneven, and I think that we need to make sure that there are mechanisms to ensure that kind of consistency.
Bill 177 is the next logical step-which I think the sector knew was coming, because Bill 78 had already been passed in 2006-because it clarifies for boards, directors of education and school trustees their roles and duties to support higher student achievement and well-being, so it flows out of the work we did in Bill 78. If Bill 177 passes, the government would establish provincial interest regulations that will outline the supports and interventions to carry out their important work. I come back to that word "supports" because it is about supporting boards to do the work that they need to do.
I'll leave you with a snippet of Marchese's comments.
But trustees are elected. They should have some responsibilities that are not purely and completely defined by the government. What this bill does is to define their role, to constrain what they can do, what they can say. It's a shameful piece of legislation. It is an utterly shameful piece of legislation, and I hope to find stronger words as I go in the next 45 minutes to an hour to be able to decry elements of this bill, the content of this bill in its entirety. It will hurt those elected politicians, and I will say by the end of it that under these conditions and under what is given in this bill, what is written in this bill, it is no longer important to run for school trustee and it is no longer important to knock on doors and get elected given the way this bill circumscribes their role.