Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Silence of the Shepherds

We human beings have learned a few things over the centuries - One of them is that belonging to a 'group' of some kind enhances our chances of survival. And along with that privilege come rules of some kind.

One of those rules, is the code of silence.

In today's society, there are times when this code or oath of silence is ethical and necessary; for example cabinet members in matters of national security; doctors regarding patient records; banks concerning their clients' financial records, and so on.

However, there is also the "unwritten" code of silence that exists among other groups and organizations.

This code exits in unions, in gangs, in families and even in school boards.

Thus we see a picture now emerging of a very closed society in schools such as C.W. Jefferys, and the results of an attitude of secrecy and willful blindness that seems to work to circumvent any effort to air dirty laundry in public.

Brave teachers are now stepping forward to tell the truth about a school environment where rules are ignored with little if any repercussion. Indeed, the code of silence is reinforced by rewarding see-no-evil teachers with a lighter workload, and ignoring the complaints of the few that do voice concern.

We hear today that the Board has finally agreed to probe conditions. But this has been requested before:

Doug Jolliffe, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation branch that includes Jefferys, said his organization has received a number of complaints about unsafe conditions within the school. "There is nothing that we've heard from Jefferys that we haven't heard from other schools as well," Jolliffe said. Jolliffe has twice requested that the Toronto school board sit down with the union to address the concerns of teachers about dangerous conditions inside school hallways and classrooms. He formally requested a joint union-management meeting on April 13. When he received no response, Jolliffe asked again on May 11 to arrange a specific date and time to meet.

"I'm hoping that they will now," Joliffe said. "One of the reasons why there is a problem in some schools and less of a problem in other schools has to be that sometimes principals run them like their own little fiefdoms.

"And, for some reason, the TDSB won't bring them into line," he said

Joan Tintor offers an insightful post juxtaposing the salaries and attitudes of this powerful clique of bureaucrats to whom we entrust our children's education - and in fact their very lives.

She mentions this quote from a previous Star article ("Jefferys Lawless - Teacher"):

Donna Quan*, safe schools superintendent for Toronto, said Jefferys was an outstanding school and urged concerned teachers to discuss their problems with administration and the school board. “We’ll be glad to meet,” Quan said. “It’s important to have courageous conversations.”

(*$136,616.54 in salary and $5,366.66 in benefits in 2006.)

Reader Tori had remarked at both Joan's site and mine that if you try to decode that statement, it sounds like they are trying to keep this "in the family" so to speak: other words, don't leak our dirty laundry to the press, let's keep it to ourselves. But why should the teachers go to the admin or the board? They've tried that, and nothing gets done. Again, this speaks to actions and consequences of the actions. Teachers will stop going to the higher-ups if nothing is done; youth will continue to commit violent behavior in school if nothing is done to stop it.
Well said.

But those are troubling words in themselves - "Courageous" conversations. Why "courageous"?

Why should encouraging teachers to share their concerns and experiences with the administration be deemed "courageous"?

My feeling is that with that very word, Donna Quan has tacitly admitted what we all suspect - That the school board is more interested in safeguarding itself, than the lives of those lambs it is paid to shepherd.

* * * *

Friday Update: Speaking of consequences, here's a great letter to the Sun from a police officer:

Re "Youth crime law is a farce" (Point of View, May 30): I could not agree more with Lorrie Goldstein. Youth court is such a farce that even when arrested, young offenders just laugh at the police because they know once the charges get to court they will be tossed out or the offender will get a week of community service. There is little punishment for the crimes committed by youths. I am a police officer and it has reached a point where the police know that once the charges are brought before the court nothing will happen that will make the young offender want to change his or her ways. So these kids continue their life of crime. Something has to be done to the Youth Criminal Justice Act to make young offenders responsible for their actions, and if nothing is done you will see more kids killing kids.
Steve James

680 News: Gunshots Fired near Manners' Home...

- Gunfire Erupts Near Manners' Home.

Lorrie Goldstein - Commit to Full Employment for Youth. (I think this is a bit unrealistic, but worth striving for).


tori said...


thanks for the kudos :)

slightly off topic, but somewhat related, I read this in the star today...

do me a it and replace "begging" with "gun" and see if you get the same reaction I did

Joanne (True Blue) said...

do me a it and replace "begging" with "gun" and see if you get the same reaction I did

OMG, I laughed out loud, Tori! You're on a roll!

tori said...

I'm tempted to write a letter to the ed, but I suspect it will fall on deaf ears...

I know that begging does not kill, but why do they see the absolute hilarity of a "begging ban" (and use the same points that are used against a gun ban nonetheless) yet are all on the bandwaggon for a ban on guns that are essentially banned?

nomdeblog said...

The issue of the “code of silence” comes up in the movie The Godfather which is a criminally organized family business. Crime is an economic business.

A classic example is in the Star … 50 lockers in the Jeffery school got cleaned out in 10 minutes. But the utopians running the school didn’t even call the cops. Because the School Admin types don’t see it as an economic crime done by highly organized criminals in 10 minutes … incredibly well organized.

These crimes are economically driven. They aren’t about the homeless and the abused and the mentally ill. These gangs aren’t unemployed, they are working … on those lockers … it’s a job. A low risk/high reward job. Low risk because the utopians running our schools won’t even call the cops. The “code of silence’ isn’t only amongst the perps , our government run institutions suffer from it.

The Canadian middle class is tiring of being blamed for criminal people making bad choices in their life. The “family business” of crime is done by choice. There needs to be severe penalties when they get caught because young children are being killed in our schools. School Boards are guilty of the consequences of appeasement, of their “code of silence”. We should have a class action suit against the appeasing utopians running our schools.

School admins have been cowed by the Human Rights Commissions who view crime as a result of the mentally ill, the abused, the homeless. But the majority of those in crime work hard at it and do it by choice. . on the other hand , homelessness is a result of NO work. The criminal is not homeless, nor jobless, the criminal is busy working. The PhD’s in sociology have analyzed this backwards.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought...perhaps the reason teachers are 'looking the other way' is because they are 'customers' in the little drug businesses'?
Remember...there is a pervading atmosphere that nothing is absoluetly 'right or wrong', therefore 'they' won't be judgemental...

tori said...

thank you!

next show is at 6pm... :)

tori said...


eh...don't think so. I guess it is a possibility, but i think it is more likely that they are either worried that these kids will go after them if they bring the cops in or they have tried to bring it to the attention of the admin. Getting nowhere, they stopped trying.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I'm tempted to write a letter to the ed, but I suspect it will fall on deaf ears....

Tori, DO IT!!!! Write to the Star. I'll bet they'd publish it.

Just be sure to include your whole name, addy & phone number. They won't print anything other than your name & city, but they have to call you to confirm that you wrote the letter before they'll publish it.

PGP said...

The rule of "Omerta" ! Exactly.

Ever hear about the "Don't Snitch" movement in the Gangsta culture ?
You can even buy T shirts and other merchandise across North America.

The culture that is being allowed to flourish is based on the accpetance of crime as a legitimate way of life!
Every bleeding heart PeeCee that defends this behaviour or tries to hide the fact of it is complicit in the harm done to ALL of society.

Way past time to stop catering to "Groups" at the expense of the whole.

Anonymous said...

Thanks tori...good point.
anon @1148

Teej said...

Off topic Joanne, but what are your thoughts on this:

Just protest until a government bends to your whims. More indian BS.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Teej, I heard about that and am trying to make sense of it.

On one hand, it's good to see some movement on land claims. On the other hand, my understanding of Caledonia is that the Federal government found that particular claim to be invalid, so why are we paying what amounts to extortion? And even at that, the Six Nations say it's just a start; i.e. not enough.

Lots of native issues in the news with Ipperwash too. I may do a post on this whole thing once I've chewed on it a bit.