Monday, November 2, 2009

Getting into Toronto ARCs

A frequent if anonymous tipster passed this along earlier today-- it ran in a weekly in the GTA, and is also posted at the Campaign for Public Education's website. Haven't heard of the CPE? Its member organizations are listed here. From a quick scan of the site, it appears the CPE has been somewhat dormant of late-- its blog has only two posts from within the past year. Its media contact list for the GTA contains several incorrect names. For example, Tess Kalinowski hasn't been the education reporter at the Star for... almost two years? If not longer.
Having said all that, the CPE is obviously choosing to wade into the eight reviews launched in the Toronto District School Board. From the ad:
The TDSB’s public consultation meetings downplay the negative impact of school closure on  students, adult learners and the community as a whole. The meetings are designed to limit discussion of the benefits of keeping existing schools open and finding ways to improve them.
To pave the way for closing schools with low enrolment, the TDSB is pushing mega-schools — despite decades of positive experience with smaller schools.
This ad only shows the CPE's own misunderstanding of the accommodation review process and how it's supposed to work. It presumes the best interests of Toronto and all its students is to keep every building open forever, with the fiscal backing to invest in all of them. It also neglects to tell you that Toronto's decades of experience with small schools happened because the city had the richest corporate, industrial and commercial assessment base in the province. A taxed assessment which was to the Toronto (public) boards' sole benefit until 1998, and allowed it to have facilities, school sizes and programs assessment-poorer parts of the province could only dream about. Since 1998, these dozens of schools maintained by the TDSB that fall outside the funding formula have been sustained by year after year of provincial subsidy above and beyond what other boards were able to get, given by successive governments too afraid to tackle the behemoth of a board the government of the day created.
There are tough choices to be made in Toronto. Kudos to the CPE for stepping forward and adding its voice to the fray-- its opinions need to be heard.
However, its input would be most productive if it quickly learns to abandon the status quo, become a real contributor to review committee work (not just complain and lob insults from the sidelines) and contributes the options and solutions it claims won't be developed for consideration by trustees.
If this first ad is any indication, I don't think we'll see that from the CPE. It's unfortunate.


Anonymous said...

CPE is a union-backed group no matter what the "list" says. Their office is OSSTF Local 12 in Toronto.

They are all about keeping union jobs. Nobody is fooled.

Anonymous said...

I think they fooled ER Anon. 9:39, but maybe not.

Anonymous said...

If what anon. #1 says is true, where are the media letting the public know just who is behind the Campaign for Public Education?

Or, are the media happy for the money they receive for the ads in their papers? No grass root organization has money enough to pay for full-page ads in the GTA after all.

ER, is this common knowledge among the education establishment and media because if we're in the business of getting facts to the public that's one HUGE fact that seems to fall under the radar.

Education Reporter said...

A few thoughts--
Journalists, particularly in larger operations but in principle in all organizations, are separated from the ad department and advertisers. Journalism associations, including the one I belong to, scream and yell bloody murder at the top of our lungs when a media owner allows paid ads to dictate content.
I'm not trying to suggest it doesn't happen, because I know that it does happen often in very subtle ways. However no self-respecting journalist would allow themselves to consciously change how they approach an issue based on dollars and cents.

I wasn't fooled by the list of participating organizations. The language used in this ad tipped me off right away, hence why I made a point to link directly to the list and let people reach that conclusion on their own.

My point stands however— these organizations, under this umbrella or any other, are welcome to participate and bring their opinions to the table. They have to be prepared to reject the status quo however, and come to the table ready to participate, not sit on the sidelines and whine and complain they're not being listened to.


RetDir said...

A fairly brief cruise around their web site makes their political affiliations/connections clear. They were very active during the last two rounds of trustee elections, which may also account for the fact that Toronto has some trustees who are very close to the unions. This is probably a topic for another time, but that would seem to me to be a conflict of interest when bargaining is happening, and when boards are trying to reach deals. Perhaps former employees should not be allowed to be trustees (the background noise is the trampling of democratic rights:)?
The section of Moira's article that is posted would seem to me to reinforce the possibility that the accommodation review in Toronto will be a class issue - not only is the centre of Toronto underrepresented, but so are many more affluent neighbourhoods. And Trustee Goodman's comments, while reflecting the political reality of making decisions in Toronto, are unfortunate. Boards of any kind) should not make decisions based on the opinions of individual trustees. Many individual trustees may not support the closure of a school in their area, but no board can make the tough but right decisions if it insists on making the easy and politically facile ones. The Toronto board should also have (and I'm sure their staff does) a sense of what the multi-year plan looks like for closing schools - perhaps it would show the underrepresented areas popping up after they have successfully closed some of the 'easier' ones.

Anonymous said...

Yep, the Campaign for Public Education's been around for quite a while. Their reach isn't vaste however, but their rhetoric carries for miles.

To anon. 11:30am - I wouldn't be too surprised if folks outside of the GTA have never heard of this group.

I'll wager that we'll hear more than we care to in the next while, but ER makes a good point in presenting all sides front and centre.

In hindsight I wish I knew when I was starting out what I know now about the games.