Friday, January 1, 2016

After years of amalgamation, are Canada’s school boards too big to succeed?

It has been quite a year for scandal in public education governance.

Vancouver, for example, might seem to have a claim to be the most dysfunctional school board in Canada, given a review that found it spends more than $70 million a year to heat and maintain the equivalent of 19 empty schools.

But it has nothing on Toronto’s board, which has lately lurched from embarrassment to crisis and back again, culminating in a top level provincial review that said it has a year to shape up or be eliminated. With no report cards this term due to strike action, and a well-documented climate of fear and distrust of management cliques, Canada’s largest school board closed up for the holidays just as cozy in its dysfunction as ever.

Both Vancouver and Toronto have brand new school board leaders, each with a mandate for major corrective action, but it would be a mistake to see them as big city outliers with unique problems. On the contrary, they are the two best expressions of the national trend toward amalgamation in school governance. So for the rest of the country, they offer a cautionary vision of a future.  (more...)

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