School trustees blast Queen’s Park ‘attack’ on local democracy

News Oct 02, 2009 Ancaster News

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is calling for public hearings on proposed changes to the Education Act that opponents charge are an attack on local democracy.

Trustees voted 7-4 this week to ask Education Minister Kathleen Wynne for broader consultation on Bill 177 amid concerns the legislation could see them kicked out of office if they don’t live up to its focus on “student achievement.”

To some trustees, the nebulous goal is rekindling the spectre of another potential government takeover of local education if students continue to lag behind the Ontario standard on provincial EQAO reading, writing and math tests. The previous Tory government imposed a non-elected supervisor in August 2002 after trustees refused to pass a balanced budget, a situation that ended when the Liberals took power and new trustees were elected in the fall of 2003.

“To me, a trustee is a very honourable position. It is the most longstanding position in government in this country,” said Ward 4 Trustee Ray Mulholland.

“This is an attack on the democratic process of a trustee.”

Trustee Judith Bishop, who also experienced supervision, said she believes Bill 177 not only increases the chances of another government takeover, but is also “going even further in the direction of a very centralized and very directed education system.”

She said at the very least there should be more public discussion about legislation that will alter the traditional job of trustees.

“What is, then, the role of the trustee under these circumstances?” Ms. Bishop said. “Does this mean that as a board where we have trouble with our student achievement that we would all be under supervision, for example? What are the criteria that are going to be used?”

Board chair Jessica Brennan, who voted in favour of requesting public hearings, said afterwards it’s important to allow people to state their concerns in an open forum, rather than simply make written submissions, as the government has suggested.

She said she welcomes efforts to make trustees more accountable, but is personally offended that problems with excessive expenses by trustees at the Toronto Catholic board are being used to justify wholesale changes.

“This is a board, frankly, that has taken a lot of responsibility,” Ms. Brennan said, noting trustees already operate under provincial funding restraints. “If you set a target for us and we don’t have mechanisms or funding in order to achieve that target –even if we agreed with that target, and that’s another issue –then why would we be punished for not meeting it?”

School trustees blast Queen’s Park ‘attack’ on local democracy

News Oct 02, 2009 Ancaster News

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is calling for public hearings on proposed changes to the Education Act that opponents charge are an attack on local democracy.

Trustees voted 7-4 this week to ask Education Minister Kathleen Wynne for broader consultation on Bill 177 amid concerns the legislation could see them kicked out of office if they don’t live up to its focus on “student achievement.”

To some trustees, the nebulous goal is rekindling the spectre of another potential government takeover of local education if students continue to lag behind the Ontario standard on provincial EQAO reading, writing and math tests. The previous Tory government imposed a non-elected supervisor in August 2002 after trustees refused to pass a balanced budget, a situation that ended when the Liberals took power and new trustees were elected in the fall of 2003.

“To me, a trustee is a very honourable position. It is the most longstanding position in government in this country,” said Ward 4 Trustee Ray Mulholland.

“This is an attack on the democratic process of a trustee.”

Trustee Judith Bishop, who also experienced supervision, said she believes Bill 177 not only increases the chances of another government takeover, but is also “going even further in the direction of a very centralized and very directed education system.”

She said at the very least there should be more public discussion about legislation that will alter the traditional job of trustees.

“What is, then, the role of the trustee under these circumstances?” Ms. Bishop said. “Does this mean that as a board where we have trouble with our student achievement that we would all be under supervision, for example? What are the criteria that are going to be used?”

Board chair Jessica Brennan, who voted in favour of requesting public hearings, said afterwards it’s important to allow people to state their concerns in an open forum, rather than simply make written submissions, as the government has suggested.

She said she welcomes efforts to make trustees more accountable, but is personally offended that problems with excessive expenses by trustees at the Toronto Catholic board are being used to justify wholesale changes.

“This is a board, frankly, that has taken a lot of responsibility,” Ms. Brennan said, noting trustees already operate under provincial funding restraints. “If you set a target for us and we don’t have mechanisms or funding in order to achieve that target –even if we agreed with that target, and that’s another issue –then why would we be punished for not meeting it?”

School trustees blast Queen’s Park ‘attack’ on local democracy

News Oct 02, 2009 Ancaster News

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is calling for public hearings on proposed changes to the Education Act that opponents charge are an attack on local democracy.

Trustees voted 7-4 this week to ask Education Minister Kathleen Wynne for broader consultation on Bill 177 amid concerns the legislation could see them kicked out of office if they don’t live up to its focus on “student achievement.”

To some trustees, the nebulous goal is rekindling the spectre of another potential government takeover of local education if students continue to lag behind the Ontario standard on provincial EQAO reading, writing and math tests. The previous Tory government imposed a non-elected supervisor in August 2002 after trustees refused to pass a balanced budget, a situation that ended when the Liberals took power and new trustees were elected in the fall of 2003.

“To me, a trustee is a very honourable position. It is the most longstanding position in government in this country,” said Ward 4 Trustee Ray Mulholland.

“This is an attack on the democratic process of a trustee.”

Trustee Judith Bishop, who also experienced supervision, said she believes Bill 177 not only increases the chances of another government takeover, but is also “going even further in the direction of a very centralized and very directed education system.”

She said at the very least there should be more public discussion about legislation that will alter the traditional job of trustees.

“What is, then, the role of the trustee under these circumstances?” Ms. Bishop said. “Does this mean that as a board where we have trouble with our student achievement that we would all be under supervision, for example? What are the criteria that are going to be used?”

Board chair Jessica Brennan, who voted in favour of requesting public hearings, said afterwards it’s important to allow people to state their concerns in an open forum, rather than simply make written submissions, as the government has suggested.

She said she welcomes efforts to make trustees more accountable, but is personally offended that problems with excessive expenses by trustees at the Toronto Catholic board are being used to justify wholesale changes.

“This is a board, frankly, that has taken a lot of responsibility,” Ms. Brennan said, noting trustees already operate under provincial funding restraints. “If you set a target for us and we don’t have mechanisms or funding in order to achieve that target –even if we agreed with that target, and that’s another issue –then why would we be punished for not meeting it?”