Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What Politicians These Education Officials Be

Caroline Alphonso, in today’s Globe and Mail, writes about a draft internal document from the Toronto District School Board that suggests officials are more concerned over ‘damage control’ than anything else when it comes to violence in their schools. This simply reinforces my contention that some of the biggest problems in education today are aggravated by the types of people that tend to hold positions of power – quasi-politicians, a label I think appropriate not only for elected officials, but also principals, superintendents, education bureaucrats, and directors of education . Read and decide for yourself. I have bolded parts I feel are especially relevant:


Board had a plan to limit safety-report backlash
January 29, 2008

TORONTO -- The Toronto District School Board prepared for the release of a damning report on school safety with a media strategy designed to "minimize and contain the damage to the board's reputation," including a press conference late enough to "pre-empt" views that may "contradict or detract" from its position.

An internal draft document obtained by The Globe and Mail yesterday links the expected findings of the report, commissioned after the shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Manners last May at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute in North York, with plans for a black-focused school.

Public-school trustees will meet today to decide whether to proceed with a staff proposal on opening a black-focused alternative school in 2009.

"The board must position itself with unified and integrated messaging as it deals with the final report and other related issues in the public/media area, including Africentric schools ...," says the communications strategy document dated November 29.

The final massive report on school safety, written chiefly by Toronto lawyer Julian Falconer, was hastily made public earlier this month after it was leaked to most of the city's major news media. It described Canada's largest school system as rife with weapons, violence and sexual assaults, many of which go unreported because teachers and staff fear that speaking out will bring down the displeasure of their superiors.
The school board was scheduled to release the report earlier this month, with a media lockup in the afternoon and evening news conference.

"The timing of the press conference is critical as it will allow the chair and director to demonstrate leadership, anticipate questions that may arise from the findings, and take advantage of the opportunity to establish TDSB positioning to pre-empt individual stakeholders' views, which may contradict or detract from TDSB's position," the internal document says.

A separate document obtained by The Globe yesterday and dated Dec. 3 suggests that a school board committee already had hints of what would be in Mr. Falconer's report. "How will we address 'code of silence' concerns from the School Community Safety Advisory Panel?" asks the summary notes from a meeting of the school safety work.

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