Thursday, September 30, 2010

Giving it its due

I was impressed to read in this Owen Sound Sun Times piece about the trustee debate that was specifically setup to provide the forum for issues in the Bluewater District School Board to be discussed.
The one-hour Dave Carr Live phone-in show was the first time the three candidates faced each other in public.
It was scheduled late last week after the three trustee hopefuls -- Gaviller, Miranda Miller and Doug McKee -- lamented being left out of two scheduled public all-candidate meetings focused on the Owen Sound council and mayoralty races.Bullying and drugs in schools, class sizes, student assessment, funding, fundraising and the role of corporate sponsorship were among issues raised by callers and guest host Linda Van Aalst, along with questions about accountability and how parents who approach the board are treated.
Some of you out there may already be yawning, but it's important to understand the turmoil this board of trustees has been through in the past two years. It led to then-minister Kathleen Wynne appointing two advisers to the board, a huge survey and consultation, the resignation of a trustee / chair, several current trustees opting not to run to keep their seats and (though I'm not making any link here), the retirement of the director of education in place as all of this was going on. Along the way, some serious concerns about governance, transparency, responsiveness and accountability were raised. It also led to the (now defunct) Mend Ed, formed by groups of disgruntled former teachers and other interested parties.
With all that history, kudos to the people that brought these two city ward candidates into a studio when the local all-candidates`debate left the trustee hopefuls watching from the pews.
Something similar is happening in Toronto-- the city`s Catholic district school board election has a slate of candidates running to try and restore some faith and some integrity to the board of trustees that has been under supervision by the province for most of this term as three of its trustees faced (or are currently facing) court dates on conflict-of-interest charges.
A comment on an earlier post about the trustee election noted disinterest in the face of increasing centralized control and other changes in legislation. That saddens me-- I`m an oddball, I know, as someone with no children (yet...) who is insanely interested in K-12 education and continually speaking for its importance and relevance. Paying attention to these trustee elections should be important in the public sphere.
Again, kudos to those out there who are giving it its due.


Miranda Miller said...

And kudos to you for this post and your blog in general! I read it often and your articles are always well written and researched. Thanks for shining a light on what our students and community as a whole have been through in the last board term.

Education Reporter said...

Thanks for your kind words, Miranda. :)