Thursday, February 25, 2010

MacDonald profiles Dombrowsky

The Toronto Sun's Moira MacDonald had a full-page profile of Minister of Education Leona Dombrowsky in today's paper, her first opportunity for a sit-down with the MPP since she was shuffled into the post in January. It included the portrait by Dave Able Abel, linked above.
As I've indicated here in the past, it should come as no surprise Dombrowsky said what she's said in this article. That despite her prior experience as a trustee and chair of a largely rural school board and her previous post as minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, that 'saving' schools from these closures is not one of her four main priorities. From the piece:
“My focus as minister, as was assigned by the premier, is to focus on student achievement — on results for kids — closing the gap (in achievement, between advantaged and less-advantaged students), higher graduation rates and on improving the perception of publicly-funded education,” Dombrowsky told me earlier this week in my first interview with her since she became minister in late January.
Dombrowsky made that statement after I asked about the possibility of seeing some school boards — particularly in more remote communities with small school populations — amalgamate to some degree to create economies of scale that could support a wider range of programs and services.
Dombrowsky says she’s here to serve all four school systems — English and French, public and Catholic. While “there’s probably a very healthy debate there,” the government is not going to be diverted off its big four priorities in an exercise that could venture into constitutional amendment territory (there are constitutionally-protected rights to attend French and Catholic schools).
She's proven through her legislative service at Queen's Park she is extremely competent at staying on message, and the message from the premier's office right now doesn't include 'saving' schools from consolidation and closure. It includes achievement, closing the gap and the implementation of the Early Learning Program.
Dombrowsky is a feisty politician, not one to back away from a challenge and even return to it to ensure she makes her point. I've witnessed this personally at Canada's Outdoor Farm Show when she was ag minister— post-scrum, as I had turned to move on, she returned and ensured she got the last word in. MacDonald's bang on when she writes this minister will stay on-task and on-message in the face of what are surely to be some tough decisions ahead.


Anonymous said...

Correction ER, she'll stay on what McGuinty deems the task is and on McGuinty's message all with one goal in sight. Winning the next election.