Monthly Archives: February 2009

A long overdue post

February 2009 – it’s been a very busy time both as a Commissioner and in my own business life. It’s the 19th of February and I will be at my 8th meeting tonight … for this month!

Governing Board meetings are insightful. Last night’s meeting at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Elementary was yet another lively meeting. We’re lucky to have such a good group at that school. The principal provides current and accurate information, responds to questions thoughtfully and clearly and manages to be a guiding force in a meeting without in any way being overbearing or controlling. An amazing job.

I was quite pleased to be at the McCaig GB not so long ago to witness the unveiling of several potential plans for the buildings expansion. Even though the decision is not the Governing Board’s decision, it certainly was my belief that the most important information was going to come from the GB and all of the collective experience of its members. Daniel Hogue was sick as a dog, but he still managed to impress with a thorough and extremely patient presentation. This was consultation at its best, in my ever-so-humble opinion.

We had a joint Info Tech and Educational Services committee meeting a couple of weeks ago. It had all gone very well with several really interesting presentations from teachers and consultants working in our schools. Unfortunately, just when the discussion was getting into the real meat of things, the Chair of the meeting closed the meeting, in accordance with the agenda, I should say.

I voiced my dismay at cutting this off and I wil voice it again – a fantastic meeting where real progress was being made should not have been cut off. Very disappointing.

Meetings on Talented & Gifted programs were interesting, although I don’t see any real consensus yet. We need something, obviously, but we may have to consider several different somethings given the size of our territory and the variety of the need.

Council meetings are quick now – good in a way, because they really do end up being purely procedural and they look like “rubber stamping”. They are not, because each and every resolution that comes up in these council meetings has hours and hours of staff work, committee work and more committee work in them before they ever reach Council. I wish Council would make these committee meetings more open.

Finally, resolutions for behavioral expectations and textbooks are back on the table – behavior is coming after our focus sessions and the digesting of all of the input taken from those, and the textbook question is taking a slightly new line adding a focus on eBooks, and the possibility of getting these on an “approved list” from MELS.

Truly,

Steve

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Merit Pay

Today’s Gazette has yet another mention of “merit pay” – an interesting read, but again, always a little negative.

I think that we need merit pay. I think that great teachers who try harder and accomplish more should be paid more than bad teachers who don’t try and who accomplish less.

So I guess I’m not a union favourite. But for most of us, this is the way we live and like it or not, it gets people performing at a higher level.

As Henry Aubin says though, “the devil is in the details”. Ok, you’re right – it is. But does that mean we shouldn’t do it?

I am 100% for merit pay. But merit pay should be doled out by local (school level) committees that are largely union based, but include administrators too. The fact is that in any given school, the teachers and administrators all know who the top performers are and who the bottom performers are.

The top should be compensated and encouraged. The bottom should be mentored and encouraged to be better, and if they cannot, they should be sent on another career path.

A “top performer” may actually have the lowest class success rate in a school. But, that teacher may be baking the best cake that he can with the lack of ingredients he has.

A “bottom performer” may simply skate through his day, having a good crop of students who could perform at much higher levels, but that teacher may rather take it easy.

Believe me – everyone in that school recognizes both.

Let’s not shy away from the discussion. There IS a way to do this, in a fair and equitable fashion that can only result in higher quality education all around.

Truly,

Steve

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