Saturday, February 9, 2013
The view from the board
by Jeff Kanter
It has been less than a week since the previous segment was completed, during
which things have been suspiciously quiet. Naturally, the premier designate is busy
putting together her new cabinet, as many of the previous rats continue to abandon
a ship, which if not sinking outright, is certainly taking on prodigious amounts of
Not that nothing has been going on: the director of education at OCDSB sent out
a very interesting letter to teachers, basically saying “hey guys, the legislation is
in place, not everyone may like it but that’s just the way it goes, let’s all just forget
about all that previous nastiness and get back to our extra curriculars, that’s what a
nice group of dedicated professionals should do, yes? Ok? Please?”.
The Real Issue comes out later in the letter. As we move towards that time of year
when students and their parents make decisions for the upcoming school year, the
director’s missive takes on a decidedly desperate and threatening tone: there is
going to be a massive migration from the public system to the separate system if
teachers don’t go back to providing voluntary services.
First of all, as the response from OSSTF leadership indicated, most of the declines
in student population were already predicted and predicated upon other criteria.
Secondly, even if that were not the case, to now try to shift blame/focus/attention
regarding That Issue onto the teachers is unconscionable.
Boards of education have been reduced to near irrelevance by Bill 115 (even
though it be officially repealed). To see their leaders immerse themselves in the
prolongation of the problem rather than the seeking of solution is a shame.
The entire issue was created and sustained by the provincial government under the
previous premier (again, the name escapes me at the moment). The emergence of a
new premier signifies the possibility and potential for repair. Directors of education
can certainly help to move this process along by lending their voices in support
of their most valuable resource: teachers (students are not the resource; they are
the raw materials). Declining enrolment? Nah. Declining influence perhaps, by an
individual whose salary and perks and severance package would appear off the
scale to a mere teacher. Even the city councilors just got a nice raise – maybe not as
much as the most recent OCTranspo contract gave to its drivers, but still.
Wonder what tomorrow will bring.
Jeff Kanter is a secondary teacher in Ottawa.