School trustees should focus on education, not politics
School counselors have an important role: they must ensure that students receive a quality education.
For this, a number of very important decisions must be made. Administrators are responsible for writing budgets, hiring district leaders, selecting appropriate educational programs, and providing students with bus transportation. Being a fiduciary is a serious commitment and parents have every right to expect them to stay focused on their primary role.
Unfortunately, some administrators seem more interested in playing politics than doing their job. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), where over the past year school trustees have given an object lesson in what not TO DO.
For example, last October, trustees embarked on what may be the biggest job creation project in this council’s history: a comprehensive review of every book in every elementary and secondary school library to ensure that students are not exposed to “inappropriate” or “inappropriate” content. harmful material.
Not only was this initiative a colossal waste of staff time and money that could be used for more productive things, but it led to a truly disastrous board meeting involving one of their teachers.
In January, Carolyn Burjoski, a WRDSB teacher with over 20 years of experience, appeared as a delegation at a board meeting. Naively assuming that the board was genuinely interested in removing library books with inappropriate content, Burjoski read sexually explicit excerpts from two books from the WRDSB libraries.
Instead of taking his concerns seriously, board chairman Scott Piatkowski accused Burjoski of violating the provincial human rights code and summarily cut off his presentation.
By publicly accusing Burjoski of making “hateful” remarks, Piatkowski exposes himself to a defamation lawsuit. Unsurprisingly, Burjoski is now suing Piatkowski and the rest of the board for $1.75 million.
To make the evening even worse, the board held its entire meeting over Zoom, even though public health regulations at the time permitted in-person meetings. If the board meeting had taken place in person, it’s possible that cooler heads would have prevailed since Zoom meetings make it much more difficult to discuss controversial topics where nuance is important.
Earlier this month, the WRDSB descended even further into absurdity when it suspended Administrator Mike Ramsay for allegedly violating the board’s code of conduct. But the board has refused to release any information about why Ramsay was suspended.
According to Ramsay, he was suspended because a director didn’t like it when he retweeted posts criticizing the board’s handling of Carolyn Burjoski’s presentation. Ironically, this meant that Ramsay, the council’s only non-white director, was effectively barred from voting on a motion he had helped draft asking for more information about how critical race theory was taught in schools. WRDSB schools.
Clearly, there is something seriously wrong with the WRDSB board. One likely explanation is that administrators are more interested in positioning themselves for higher political office than in actually running schools.
For example, two WRDSB administrators ran unsuccessfully for the NDP in the recent provincial election. Meanwhile, the chairman of the board is a former president of the Waterloo NDP riding association, who twice ran unsuccessfully for that party in previous federal elections.
When school trustees use their position as a stepping stone to higher political office (or as a consolation prize when they can’t win anywhere else), we shouldn’t be surprised they make bad decisions by matter of education. It’s what we can expect from people who never really wanted the job in the first place.
Although the WRDSB is a particularly egregious example of poor governance, many other Canadian school boards are equally dysfunctional. Considering the importance of education for a healthy society, we have every right to insist that school boards work effectively to achieve this objective.
Anyone considering running for a school trustee this fall should ask themselves why they want the job. If would-be administrators are more focused on honing their own progressive bona fide than on the hard work of improving public education for Canadian children, they should find something else to do.
Public education is too important to be ruled by mediocre politicians who don’t put the needs of students first.
The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Epoch Times.