Sunday, January 13, 2008

Why municipal elections are important

If you are one of those complacent Ontarians who shrugs off municipal elections as not worthy of your time, please read today's Sun editorial - Breaking the culture of silence. Those in Toronto need to pay special attention:

...The Falconer report calls for a trustee job description, training and a code of conduct specifying prohibited behaviours.

But that can't replace the good judgment and common sense which some (not all) trustees clearly lack.

Only voters can fix that, and right now few bother to vote in school board elections, meaning trustees rarely face serious challenges and can be re-elected largely on name recognition.

What the Falconer report indicates is that too many students are paying a high price for our apathy.

And that price is often their safety.

At a provincial level, please pay attention to the myopic words of Ontario Education Minister Kathleen Wynne, and the Sun's response:

"It's not my experience that there is an invasive culture of fear," she said.

With respect, if fear imposes silence, as the task force found, how would she necessarily have known?

Complacency and apathy come at a cost.

In the case of Jordan Manners, that price was too high - The life of a child.

* * * *
Update: Globe - Fears of career suicide stopped educators from reporting violence. Well, I sure glad we have our priorities straight!

...Jordan's mother, Laureen Small, is especially upset that a summary of the report was not given to her in advance, the lawyer said. Ms. Small found out about its contents from news stories yesterday.

Since Jordan's killing, Mr. Betty said, no one from the TDSB has contacted Ms. Small to express condolences...

( . . . )
"And we don't need to reinvent the wheel," said Constable Scott Mills, who runs Toronto's Crime Stoppers school program.

Constable Mills said he offered to speak to the Falconer panel, but none of its members got back to him.
( . . . )

"The reputation going around is: when you talk, you're basically a snitch," said student Chandé Wilmot. "[People worry] that they might get beat up."

Star - Falconer never asked us: No-shows.

I think I'd be seriously looking at home-schooling.


Anonymous said...

training for trustees? What a crock.

Those who run for elected office should by all counts be bringing something to the table in terms of experience and knowledge.

I'm not forking out any more of my taxdollars to trustees who should do their homework on what their job is before they decide to run.

Oh and by the way, there's policy out there in the Ed. Act NOW that clearly spells out a trustee's job description.

How about trustees clue in to the fact that this gov't is slowly chipping away at their role by being too prescriptive and in their micro-manging ways???? Leaving very little for trustees to decide or reflect on with their communities.

I think trustees should be spending less time at meetings and in their offices and more time advocating on behalf of their constituents IN THEIR CONSTITUENCIES.

Do TDSB trustees or any other have any clue that they've been dumbed down by this gov't????

Ron said...

This is just one more layer of usless administration. The Liberals and the unions have made it quite clear, they are going to indoconate you children the way they want to. Any interference by the trustees will not be tolerated so, take your monies and shut-up - My youngest is in grade 12 this year. Since Dalton was elected I have seen a steady decline in quality and accountability of the system. I pity parents with young children in school - find a good private school and get out of the system while you can.

Lee said...

Good point, Ron.
You have a few separate schools in Ontario. There may even be some in Toronto.
I wonder if there are any comparisons available to do with violence in separate schools vs public schools?

Rob C said...

The situation will not change until the sheeple of Ont wake and turff the lieberals out. I doubt that is going to happen .

Anonymous said...

I have 2 children in the public school system in Toronto. While the problems in school's like the one Jordan attended are very real, they are the exception not the rule.

While I support bringing sniffer dogs into the school and meaningful consequences for those who committ crimes in our schools, I also recognize that the roots of the problems are deep in ther repsective communities.

More cops, dogs and sentences aren't the whole answer, only a part. If you put gangster A in jail, he likely has a younger brother watching in the lurch waiting to emulate the only male role model he may have. Poverty breeds hopelessness and despair which lead directly into violence and crime.

We start with the single moms.If you can offer them hope and dignity, a way out, you'll save a child and it's mother.

Those who are already beyond the reach must be punished and off our streets until they're able to become part of the solution.

- Janice Brighton, Toronto

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Very well thought-out comment, Janice, and thank you for it.

You've made an important distinction between those who are actively breaking the law, and those for whom there is still hope.

We start with the single moms.If you can offer them hope and dignity, a way out, you'll save a child and it's mother.

What would you recommend?

Anonymous said...

Janice - not all problems identified in the report are socio-economic in nature.

A neglectful school board or school administration has nothing to do with status..or it shouldn't have. If it does then that's another report altogether.

What we have in Ontario is a public education system being defined by the dysfunctional TDSB. Why is it other school boards managed to work within the confines of the Safe Schools Act. What is it about TDSB that makes it unable to manage itself.

No blame on the students, parents or community should be shed.

What has this board done with the money is has gotten from the gov't, through repetitive bailouts???

Why is it we have a program in place to send millions of textbooks to northern First National schools yet the TDSB doesn't have textbooks for its own First Nations school?

Could it be that being taught to read, write and do math has become a secondary priority in our schools these days?

Since when did schools become all things to all people and have all of the solutions and resources.

What of the single parent who wants nothing more than an education, and send the kids to school only to be asked for money for one fundraser or to have their child join a club or sports team.

Is this what happens when we make schools and education about everything EXCEPT getting an education and insuring that all kids learn to read using programs that work.....thank-you whole language and fuzzy math!!!

Anonymous said...

Falconer's report really panders to the unions all by itself.

How exactly will hiring more teachers, supervisors, and having more money

stop the rot within the board, and layers of bureaucrats at the MOE from perpetuating a culture of silence.

I think the Sun's editorial today wonders rightly how Kathleen Wynne knows things given the deafening silence?

I think most intelligent folks would know that not all of TDSB schools are as Falconcer describes but I think that most parents can identify with a culture of excuses and the ability of a teacher, principal to trivialize concerns and sent parents running on the old hamster wheel of a process.

How many school boards do we know that have a rapid response process in dealing with concerns over safety issues. How many schools have working school councils that have safe schools as a recurrent item on their agenda, leaving parents free to discuss if they wish?

Anonymous said...

how many voters actually research the qualifications of trustees? Not many I'm guessing. Maybe they should seeing as though school boards seem to be nice training grounds for future provincial politicians. Case in point...the entire Liberal bench..has anyone actually checked to see how many are ex-school board types?? teachers?? Is anyone worried about the affairs of the province being managed in the same way as school boards?

I remember a trustee, who was a lawyer once telling me that he had to instruct the other trustees on how to read a balance sheet. No financial qualifications necessary.

Lots of political soapbox types as trustees though.

Anonymous said...

If you go to the Society for Quality Education website they have a study there that indicates that Safety is one of the main reasons parents take their kids out of the public system.

Parents will do anything they need to, including move their kids.

Anonymous said...

If you go to the Society for Quality Education website they have a study there that indicates that Safety is one of the main reasons parents take their kids out of the public system.

Parents will do anything they need to, including move their kids.

Anonymous said...

why not check out a really great place? The Children First School Choice Trust is a great idea that gives low income parents hope and a chance to be able to choose their school.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks, Anon at 05:55:00. First time I heard about Children First.

OMMAG said...

"In the case of Jordan Manners, that price was too high - The life of a child."

The cost of lesser harms has not been tallied either and I'd suggest that any harm or cost due to the foolishness, incompetence and ideological posturing of these clowns is TOO much.

Anonymous said...

as I sit here in my small town and read where the solution to all of TDSB's problems is more money, more teahers, more,more,more.

I heard where Falconer recommends moving to more alternative schools for cultures of First Nations, Afro-centric schools...essentially move to small schools, yet small school boards who worked very successfully and had no qualms about the Safe Schools Act, are looking to close small schools while the TDSB is asking for a $$handout to create small schools.

What's wrong with this picture?


How about a fair trade financial answer. Give TDSB money to create small schools and give small towns money to preserve theirs.

If it's good for one, it's good for an other. Isn't equity what it's all about?