November 29, 2023

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Faculty Trustees Ought to Concentrate on Training, Not Politics

Faculty Trustees Ought to Concentrate on Training, Not Politics


Faculty board trustees have an necessary function: They have to be certain that college students obtain a high-quality training.

For this to occur, a lot of crucial choices should be made. Trustees are chargeable for putting budgets, hiring district leaders, deciding on applicable academic packages, and offering college students with bus transportation. Being a trustee is a severe dedication and fogeys have each proper to count on them to stay targeted on their major function.

Sadly, some trustees seem like extra fascinated with taking part in politics than in doing their jobs. Nowhere is that this extra obvious than within the Waterloo Area District Faculty Board (WRDSB), the place during the last 12 months trustees have supplied an object lesson on what not to do.

For instance, final October trustees launched into what could be the most important make-work mission in that board’s historical past—an entire evaluation of each single ebook in all elementary and secondary college libraries to make sure that college students aren’t uncovered to “inappropriate” or “dangerous” materials.

Not solely was this initiative a colossal waste of employees money and time that might be used for extra productive issues, however it led to a really disastrous board assembly involving one in all their academics.

In January, Carolyn Burjoski, a WRDSB trainer with greater than 20 years of expertise, appeared as a delegation at a board assembly. Naively assuming that the board of trustees was sincerely fascinated with expunging library books that contained inappropriate content material, Burjoski learn out sexually specific excerpts from two books from WRDSB libraries.

As a substitute of taking her considerations significantly, board chair Scott Piatkowski accused Burjoski of violating the provincial human rights code and summarily stopped her presentation.

By publicly accusing Burjoski of delivering “hateful” remarks, Piatkowski uncovered himself to a defamation lawsuit. Unsurprisingly, Burjoski is now suing Piatkowski and the remainder of the board for $1.75 million.

Making the night even worse was the truth that the board of trustees held its total assembly on Zoom, though public well being laws on the time allowed in-person conferences. Had the board assembly been in particular person, it’s potential that cooler heads might need prevailed since Zoom conferences make it a lot more durable to debate controversial subjects the place nuance is necessary.

Earlier this month, WRDSB descended even additional into absurdity when it suspended trustee Mike Ramsay for allegedly violating the board’s code of conduct. However the board refused to launch any details about why Ramsay was suspended.

In accordance with Ramsay, he was suspended as a result of a trustee didn’t prefer it when he retweeted articles that have been vital of how the board dealt with Carolyn Burjoski’s presentation. Paradoxically, this meant that Ramsay, the board’s solely non-white trustee, was successfully precluded from voting on a movement he helped draft requesting extra details about how vital race concept was being taught in WRDSB colleges.

Clearly, there’s something significantly flawed with the WRDSB board. One probably clarification is that trustees are extra fascinated with positioning themselves for higher-level political workplace than in really managing the faculties.

For instance, two WRDSB trustees ran unsuccessfully for the NDP within the current provincial election. In the meantime, the board chair is a previous president of Waterloo’s NDP constituency affiliation, who twice ran unsuccessfully for that get together in earlier federal elections.

When college trustees use their positions as a stepping stone to larger political workplace (or as a comfort prize after they can not win wherever else), we shouldn’t be stunned that they make poor choices about training. That’s what we will count on from individuals who by no means actually needed the job within the first place.

Whereas WRDSB is a very egregious instance of poor governance, there are many different Canadian college boards which might be equally dysfunctional. Contemplating how necessary training is to a wholesome society, we have now each proper to insist that college boards work successfully to realize that goal.

Anybody considering of working to be a college trustee this fall should ask themselves why they need this place. If potential trustees are extra targeted on burnishing their very own progressive bona fides than on doing the arduous work of enhancing public training for Canadian youngsters, they need to discover one thing else to do.

Public training is simply too necessary to be ruled by mediocre politicians who don’t put the wants of scholars first.

Views expressed on this article are the opinions of the creator and don’t essentially replicate the views of The Epoch Occasions.

Faculty Trustees Ought to Concentrate on Training, Not Politics

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Michael Zwaagstra is a public highschool trainer, a senior fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Coverage, and creator of “A Sage on the Stage: Widespread Sense Reflections on Educating and Studying.”