Monthly Archives: May 2013

A repost from 18 months ago…

… and sadly, the only thing that has changed is the name on the Minister’s door. Congrats, MELS. You’re doing great.

Our new Minister of Education, Line Beauchamp, is delusional if she thinks that her latest decree has the slightest chance of accomplishing *any* positive change in public education in Quebec.

Do we need change? Absolutely. Do I think our schools to have more effective local governance? Absolutely.

But let’s start at the *real* top here. Let’s look at what the Ministry does, how it does it, and how they are the root cause of so much of the useless bureaucracy that robs public education of time, energy and yes, money.

The most recent change. Partnership agreements between the school board and the Ministry. Management and Educational Success Agreements between the schools and the school board. On the English side, the Ministry hired three fairly recently retired education-types to help “guide us” through it. How many on the French side? How many bureaucrats did they have behind the scenes to develop this asinine idea before that? How many resources are being abused in their attempts to monitor it? How much money was thrown away in this useless exercise?

And what real change, in our classrooms, do you think these paper-pushing-collossal-wastes-of-time have delivered?

ABSOLUTELY ZERO. There’s the truth of it. ABSOLUTELY NONE.

It’s a joke. It’s a hoop that the Ministry forces school boards to jump through. And they have to jump. And nothing gets better, because we just spent scads of time, energy and yes, MONEY on getting through this useless hoop. And for what? So that the Minister can say that school boards are failing. The Ministry is failing!

Your fancy announcement about smart boards and laptops. Nice. Every teacher gets a laptop. And the reality? For our 800 teachers, our actual allotment is 120 laptops. And we’re not allowed to buy them. Because the specifications for them are not yet out. And the call for tender is not yet done by the Ministry, because the specs aren`t out.

The announcement was: Every teacher with a laptop. And the reality is: 85% of our teachers WITHOUT a laptop, and really, the 15% that should maybe somehow get them, well, our Ministerial bureaucracy has yet to respond. No laptops. Good sound bite for the news cycle though. Oh, and by the way, good luck finding a plug. And let`s hope someone`s going to pay to connect the thing to the internet.

WHO IS AT FAULT HERE? The school board? Or The Ministry?!?

ENOUGH. The buck stops where, Line? The buck stops at *YOUR* DESK. You and your bureaucrats are responsible for 99% of the bureaucratic waste in our system.

The simple fact is that the vast majority of useless reporting that schools spend their time on is forced upon all of us by the Ministry, *not* by the school board. Until these facts are addressed, there will be no real change.

Do we want more power at the school level. Absolutely. Who’s going to manage it? Who’s going to oversee it? Who is going to be accountable, and how is it going to be measured?

If you think for one second that you can just dump this all on our principals, well then, I am *certain* that you have *no* idea what you are talking about. The bulk of the principals in public education are teachers first. Most have very little experience in budgeting, purchasing, human resources, crisis management, I.T. and so on. I have been to an actual governing board meeting and checked on the local budget report. EMPTY. Nothing. ZERO. A particular principal waits until the end of the year, and then kind of divvies the total monies out to budget lines that seem appropriate. This is the truth that we have. Do you have any first-hand knowledge of the way things really are, Line? Your actions suggest that you don’t.

Now, more parental involvement on governing boards. Absolutely. But! Governing boards need to have experienced contributors as well. People who know the education act, who know how to manage, who know how to help direct a governing board filled with parents who typically have all the good-will in the world, but who have no real idea how to govern a school. So – more parental involvement, but with experienced and professional “guides” to ensure governing boards understand and fulfil their role to its potential. Without that, a governing board can be fairly useless.

And when we look at more local governance, are you even aware that governing boards can often times be entirely acclaimed, and even short members, because the participation rate at that level is sometimes less than 1%? The public has lost confidence at every level of Government. Many of Montreal’s municipal by-elections elect councillors with far less than a 10% participation rate. So let’s get rid of the city? Similar logic, no?

Continuing on election participation rates… you seem to love talking about these. Yes, they are horrible for school board commissioners.

But really – do you have any right whatsoever to say anything at all when the provincial participation rate in 2008 was THE LOWEST RATE IN SEVENTY YEARS?!?! And what is spent on a Provincial election? I spent around $2500 of a total legal limit of around $3400 for my ward. You spent more than $51,000 on your last election in your riding. Is it any wonder that there is a lower participation rate for school boards?!? And by the way, add to that the fact that in my ward, we somehow expect voters to drive for as much as 45 minutes to get to the single polling station we have in northern Blainville. Yes, that’s incentive to vote.

Listen, we all agree that there are big issues that we are facing in public education today. We need major change. Many of Francois Legault’s ideas are bang-on. Even some of the direction from Line Beauchamp makes some sense to me. But overall, the arrogance and the extreme ignorance that is driving announcements like today`s one is simply astonishing, and in fact dangerous in its potential to harm our students.

Let’s try and work together to fix these problems. Your decrees with little or no useful foundational information are going to result in public education in Quebec costing us more and delivering less than it is today.

And once again, the kids will pay the price.

Truly,

Steve

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Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

Another great TED talk. Just 7 mins, and worth it.

“Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

Simply stated, but isn’t it true?

Click here for the video

Truly,

Steve

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