Friday, May 8, 2009

Bill 177

I'm no insomniac, but did want to read through Bill 177: The Student Achievement and School Board Governance Act, 2009, since this post had alerted you all to its existence.
First, reading this bill is much simpler if you open up a copy of the Ontario Education Act in another tab or window so you can flip back and forth and make sense of the various sections of the act this bill repeals and amends.
At first blush, Bill 177 moves to make the following changes to the act and by extension to the manner in which publicly funded schools and boards operate:
  • Remove all references to "co-curricular" activities, the act's jargon for extra-curriculars such as sports, clubs, etc.
  • Clean up a number of sections of the act implemented in 1996-97 relating to the creation of the 72 district public and Catholic boards on Jan. 1, 1998.
  • Give the minister the power to set "achievement standards" that boards must meet. Boards have to develop plans to meet the standards set by the minister.
  • Specify trustees' role -- oversight, governance and ensuring the board's plan to meet the minister's standards is met. The only employee they can direct to do anything is the board's director of education.
  • Compels all boards to adopt a code of conduct as issued by the minister, which they can amend to include additional clauses. It also lays out the reprimands available if a trustee contravenes the code.
  • Mandates every board to establish audit committees-- the composition of which is determined by the minister through regulation.
  • Specify directors of education's roles as to the implementation, evaluation and accountability for the board's plan to meet the minister's standards.
  • Allows boards to change the number of trustees-- they would apply to the minister, who would then approve the ability to add the extra seat(s) for the 2010 municipal elections (a similar process is used for municipalities who wish to change the size of council).
  • Removes boards' abilities to issue debentures (this one will require further explanation).
  • Makes a small tweak to the sections on boards sharing facilities.
The meat of the bill is still the student achievement standards, which the minister would set through regulation. Though the current minister has a variety of committees, partnership tables, etc. she could consult, the danger of governing by regulation is that should the government change, the new minister of education has all the same rights to, essentially, arbitrarily conduct a whole set of sweeping changes to the way education runs in Ontario without any need to run it through the legislature.
Due to the current nannygate taking place in the legislature, I haven't seen any reporting on this bill (which looks a little too involved to have been slapped together in a hasty response to this situation as suggested by a commenter here).


Anonymous said...

good post! Thanks for taking one for the team and reading through the snoozer.

I have a suspicion that this Bill was fast-forwarded because of the nannygate stuff...and that the meat isn't there yet.

I seem to recall that this is the time of year...just before summer break that gov't's love to pile on these omnibus bills and let it stew over the summer to get back to it in the fall.

T.H. said...

Interesting info on Bill 177. Too bad they wouldn't come up with more strategies for working in schools in rough neighbourhoods. Talk in the staff rooms in Toronto still includes how rough it is working in schools in rough neighbourhoods. The Ontario Ministry of Ed says make the lesasons interesting. There are still a lot of problems with attitude and behaviour and learning outcomes. As for trustees, what do you do if the principals with your board don't advertise contract jobs, they gove them to friends and family and your union leadership says you have to put in a grievance to deal with it and you're only a substitute teacher? Corruption.

Anonymous said...

As a former Occasional Teacher, all I can say to you is, get over it. Nepotism is sadly all over and touches all professions. If your Union Pres. is the paesan of your principal, you wouldn't know it and so what would be the point of grieving exactly????... other than attaching a target on your back.

No, instead, lesson the number of schools at which you teach, make some lasting relationships and quit complaining. In education, the squeaky wheel does NOT get the grease. It's WHO you know and not what you know. When you know more people and they know YOU, you're in a much better position to ask for a job, a reference, a favour.

Pound the pavement and don't spread yourself thin by teaching at a hundred schools. Pick an area, work as often as you can in a small set of schools and before you know it, the same teachers will always request you and further, people will begin to see you as a reliable member of the staff, (even though you're not) and then the LTOs will come. 2 good LTOs** and an application to HR will probably garner the job you seek.

Good Luck! Bonne chance! Buona Fortuna!

**LTOs that are too short don't count towards much so find out from your Board what will count towards "experience" for your Steps (salary/pay).

Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry for the slip... lessen, not lesson...

Also, Hugo, fab writing!!!! Thanks for being so forthcoming and plain spoken.

Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

The Ministry of Education has NO POWER over school boards which are statutory corporations under the Education Act. I have a letter from the Min. of Ed. if you'd like to read it. SO if the Minister is more of a Minister of educational curriculum but the power is left to the Director of Education at each board. Bill 177 removes power from the Trustees... so we have a Director who is not an elected official (unlike a Mayor) and no agency let alone a Minister over looking their activities. It is hard to THINK that a Minister of Ed. couldn't possibly have power over boards, but it is true. (spoke with Premier's office yesterday). so imagine Air Canada being completely publicly funded, the CEO is not an elected official and there is no agency or Minister that can tell him/her what to do....
Right now I have people looking into if I can fight this as a FEDERAL issue since in my case the school board corporation is not showing due diligence in the area of child safety. Since the Corporations Act is Federal, I wonder how the lawyers will view it...
It is incredible how long people have been given the idea that the Ministry of Education has "power" when in reality I question the need at all for the role of this Minister since they just hand out money and school curriculum ideas (which in reality could be reviewed every 5 years or so).
Don't believe me ? Ask your Director of Education (#1 spot at your school board) who do you go to if you disagree with the actions of the board. See what is happening in Kitchener Waterloo right now, and here in Ottawa. A corporation that is failing to be accountable to it's shareholders (students, parents and taxpayers)....
@heathertwins (twitter

Education Reporter said...


I think you missed something in your analysis. Boards of trustees are still responsible for hiring, firing and evaluating the director of education. The director of education is the board of trustees' sole employee, really, since all other school board staff members work for the director of education.
My read of Bill 177 (over two years ago, I didn't re-read it today) actually bolsters that relationship between a board of trustees and the director of education. Trustees can and are mandated to hold the director of education to account on the various standards and plans the director develops and presents to trustees for their approval.

So, in essence, directors of education are very much accountable to someone-- trustees. Having seen a few directors hired and fired, it's very clear that's the case.