Thursday, January 22, 2015

Multiplying and dividing at the Toronto school board

‘Culture of fear” is a phrase that invokes Stalin’s purges, rather than staffing practices and human-resources management at a Canadian school board. Even so, a report commissioned by the Ontario government affirms previous assertions that people at the Toronto District School Board, the country’s largest, feel there really is such a culture at the TDSB.

The proverb “Too many cooks spoil the broth” expresses the TDSB’s problem better than any claim of a reign of terror.

The provincial Education Act makes the “director of education” – currently, Donna Quan – into the head of a large regional school-teaching bureaucracy. She’s basically the equivalent of a CEO. The elected trustees are not supposed to micromanage, or take part in detailed day-to-day decisions.

Rather, the board’s work is to supervise, set general policies, do multi-year planning, and hire and evaluate the director of education. The trustees, however, being elected, naturally tend to act like retail politicians, even though they each get only an “honorarium” of $25,000, and a political constituency staff of three each. They seem a bit like members of the U.S. House of Representatives – politicians in a very loose party system.  (more...)

Are the unions innocent?

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