Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Call for term limits long past due

A long-serving trustee
TORONTO - The long-awaited Barbara Hall report on the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) may end up on a dusty shelf now that controversial director Donna Quan has found herself a soft landing at the education ministry.

Certainly the ministry itself — after all the fanfare associated with announcing the seven-member Governance Advisory Panel this past March — bungled its release, posting it online late last Friday night.

Education minister Liz Sandals has yet to respond to the report.

That said, even though I was skeptical about the usefulness of the task force, I found myself in agreement with many of the recommendations, particularly the role of trustees — that is, whether the trustees truly understand they are there to set policy, not to micromanage the day-to-day affairs within their schools.

As I’ve been saying for some time and as the report highlights, the school trustee is seen as a stepping stone to a political career. Many people who spoke to the panel felt that decisions were made by trustees in the “best interests of one’s political career” rather than students, or the board.

Olivia Chow comes to mind, as does Kathleen Wynne, both of whom used the Toronto school board as their entry into political life.

Look how Wynne has taken the leftist ideology she was known for at the TDSB and her refusal to cut the school board budget or deal with teacher union demands into her role of premier. I don’t need to say more on that.

But what really jumped out at me in the panel report was a reference to “term limits.” The panel’s report says almost every stakeholder group they consulted felt term limits are sorely needed to bring “new ideas and new energy” to the TDSB.

“Some linked the dysfunctional culture ... in part to a sense of entitlement and domination that can come with being in the position for many years,” the report says.  (more...)

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