Monday, October 25, 2010

Think of the neglected, the forgotten

As I type this there remains about 80 minutes until the polls close across the province for municipal and school board elections. We've been inundated in the past week (or perhaps just myself) with the pros and cons of electing certain people as mayor (of Toronto) or not.
Forgotten, relegated to maybe a few articles since the close of nominations on Sept. 10 are the votes for trustee. I think, with some wide gaps in my media monitoring this past month, I read maybe a handful of articles on trustee races in Toronto-- with a good half of them written by the Toronto Sun's Moira MacDonald. I know the Star and Globe have touched on local trustees, and through news alerts from my own chain I see that trustees have gotten fairly decent coverage (meaning they got any at all).
Education is the second-largest provincial budget item after health care. While how much of that money is spent is dictated at Queen's Park, your local trustee(s) can still make or break the culture within your local public schools in how they administer those dollars. Dollars that make up between an tenth and a third (depending on where you live in Ontario) of the same bill you pay when you fork over your property taxes for municipal services.
And I won't accept continued moaning over Bill 177 -- given the legacy of 1996's Bill 160 and other related legislation at the time and other bills passed by the Liberals, school boards are now governed like businesses. Where the elected members of the board set policy and pass budgets, leaving the implementation of that policy and budget to the one person who trustees directly hire and supervise (the director of education). This can still be an accountable system for trustees who are able to understand it and work within this structure.
So, I hope we get the school boards we want for the next four years. I certainly put enough thought into my vote (back home in Ingersoll) when I cast it late last week.