Diary of a Mad Trustee Open Board Meeting December 1st 2010

 
 
 

Our Trustee Eden

                                               Principiis Obsta…Finem Respice

                                         Resist the Beginning…Consider the End

 Obedience indeed is only the pitiful and cowardly egotism of him who thinks he can do something better than reason.  -Percy Bysshe Shelley

The last meeting of the calendar year and our senior staff decided to bravely go where all administration  has intrepidly gone before – the million dollar question was solemnly asked of trustees – “Do you have an appetite to consider any of  the following: School closure, grade reconfiguration or school consolidation to help preserve programming while building the 2011/2012 budget?”

Come on folks – did you or did you not enjoy the pageantry of this memorandum as it was loftily called?

Well I did enjoy it – I love a little theatre with my dinner even if it is only Tic Tacs.

An appetite indeed… well we more or less said we had no appetite mainly because even if we did have an appetite for such activities it would be a poor excuse for trampling on whatever is left of our obligation to consult with community or at least pretend to regarding closing schools. After all– we chimed hopefully – if we designate school closure as a driver for budget development and our communities tell us school closure is out of the question then how will our budget plans unfold?

However, it is so much more than that – school closures -back in the day -were proposed as rational undertakings to improve the education environment for kids – not budget drivers. We are now openly presenting closure as another cut along with the rest rather than a planning decision. I suppose it is a step in the right direction we are being so frank.

Closing small schools, chopping maintenance and ending ‘frill’ programmes (such as fine arts)  has always suggested an end to cutbacks will be found by making the ‘right’ cuts. This might be more convincing if there had not been a continuous stream of cuts made to the public system over the last generation—and with no end in sight!

The reality of endless cuts and closures demonstrates the intention from Victoria is to follow the barefaced example set in the US of reducing public institutions to inferior ghettos. The strategy they are using to achieve this aim is to set people attached to specific school needs against each other, to convince everyone their expectations can only be maintained by doing away with others. In these circumstances, small schools and ‘non-essential’ programmes and services are being picked off in succession.

Does closing schools supply net savings to redirect to other schools and programs as suggested?

We have been told closing schools will permit a redirection of resources to programs and services for the schools which are left. Has the closure of many schools in this district plumped up our budgets?

We are frequently reminded 80 – 90 % of the operating budget for this district indeed all districts is wages, salaries and benefits. If a school is closed and the children from that school are moved to another in the district then generally the positions move with them and the costs of educating them is ongoing –but at another location. We still have to maintain class sizes according to the School Act and Bill 33.Even a closed school needs to be heated and cared for inside and out and in our new property policy this  is now required.

And – as is often the case – when a school closes and for one reason or another some of the children leave the public system or the district (private schools, home schooling etc) we lose that funding. There is little to redirect when schools close. If anything, we find ourselves paring back and losing assets and continuing to find the provincial policies for underfunding fail our kids.

Closing our schools is part of the process of cutting not a solution to it – as evidenced by the fact all the previous cutting and closing which by the way have gone hand in hand has not slaked the appetite ( there is that word again)to continue to diminish our school programs.

But hey – we said no – I suppose now the senior staff will have to punish us by insisting on further horrific cuts to our programs and our services like those supplied by the maintenance, custodial and bussing departments – and it will be all our fault. Yes, that’s right- all our fault for not seeing the wisdom of turfing our communities’ schools in the interests of solving our budget problems. I imagine it will not be long before trustees are served up for our refusal to be sensible and the smart ones will soon see the error of their ways.

It is almost as if we noticed cuts and closures do not prevent cuts and closures and have actually behaved with some accumulated wisdom– what kind of a weird mindset even comes up with this stuff. I want someone… anyone to tell us when the last closure, the last cut is scheduled so we can just hurry up and travel to that sainted time instead of doing this in drips and drabs. Surely, we are heading for a perfect balanced place with all of this – if that is so tell us and we will arrive sooner. Anything else is just plain cruel and mischievous.

It ain’t over and god have mercy on all our souls – we are now being asked to review our school closure policy which is already the result of an administration dominated process. Evidently, it is still too benevolent and must be modernised to achieve the level of ruthlessness required to really mess with our heads.

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Is Gordon Campbell a friend of public education? According to the outgoing president of the BCSSA (BC School Superintendents Association) he is. Perhaps this will lube the way for a swell job in the ministry – Deputy Minister of Whacking Teachers Around the Ear Hole or Assistant Deputy Minister of Explaining Why We Only Have Money for Ghastly People.

Outgoing high priests of education like presidents of the Superintendents Association are only a heart beat away from being rewarded with an even more glittering title and a decent photo in the paper now and again or in a more sensible universe – a good hard walloping with a thick plank all the way to Cape Scott and back in winter.

It is a staggering disappointment to me anyway if upon realising Campbell was in the building, the members of the BCSSA did not in one collective effort chase him out the exit into the jaws of feral dogs and upload the whole affair to YouTube. I think we deserve an explanation for this behaviour.

If a promotion to Duke of Ruinous Privatisation is such a desirable office it decrees disloyalty to the public interest and well being, we really do have to review the unwholesome connection between a savage education policy and those who have claimed the mantle of learning leaders.

Evidently – despite all claims to the contrary- superintendents have quite the political profile otherwise why would they lionise Campbell in full view of BC educators. So my contention they are activists as much as any of us are has been proven true. Sauce for the gander – if they can toast the premier so deliberately and without remorse – public education campaigners everywhere can continue to swell the ranks of those who want our schools elevated to great heights of excellence and humanity. If we are then pilloried as disreputable for not piously surrendering to the poverty and humiliation program on offer, we must simply say – “we too have a program and we will not be moved”.

Especially by people with so little sense of shame or fair play not to mention appreciation for the performing arts.

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Being a reliable and mature member of the fastest growing budget containment operation in the known universe, I feel I should at this time of year offer anyone who regularly reads these chronicles the opportunity to test their knowledge and endurance with a multiple choice quiz calculated to evaluate your attention to detail.

Feel free to answer and submit these to my panel of tireless thugs devoted to the idolatry of accountability who will assess your responses and then put you on a list for a visit at the most inconvenient time we can devise to explain your test outcomes preferably in front of as many family members and friends as possible. We will not be wearing pants. Thank you.

When it comes to the Foundation Skills Assessment tests parents should:

  1. Always have the last word regarding their kids’ participation
  2. Never have the last word regarding their kids’ participation
  3. Sell hotdogs to raise money for field trips
  4. Keep the kids home for a day of wrestling videos

 The new budget model will be:

  1. Pretty much like the last budget model in fact exactly the same
  2. Driven by wind power
  3. Unreadable due to being in Klingon
  4. Forced down our throats with a toilet plunger

 Our 9 Trustees are elected for a term of:

  1. 300 years
  2. 11 years
  3. 6 months
  4. 20 to life with time off for good behaviour

Budget cuts will eventually result in:

  1. A perfect balance between revenue and expenditure
  2. Schools without roofs
  3. Teachers trained by the dog whisperer
  4. Food Safe as the sole academic course offered

It is important to attend board meetings because:

  1. You never know what we will get up to
  2. It feels so good when you leave
  3. Your taxes pay our salaries
  4. The aging process is defeated by slowing down time

Passing a needs budget will:

  1. Result in deportation
  2. Render us unwelcome at Klan meetings
  3. Cause the School Act to weep and develop an eating disorder
  4. Mean the school year won’t be reduced to  only 3 weeks in April

The people in charge of the Ministry of Education should:

  1. Be mammals
  2. Stop reading Mein Kampf
  3. Spend a day a week as a poor person
  4. Learn to speak English

The taxes the province collects should be spent on:

  1. Crystal chandeliers
  2. Wire guided missiles and aluminum cookware
  3. Marijuana
  4. Space travel

 When kids protest budget cuts adults should:

  1. Laugh at them and tell them they are just being stupid
  2. Claim we admire their resolve and then seek retribution when no one is looking
  3. Feel sadly disrespected and start drinking
  4. Do everything they asked us not to do just to make a point

Democracy is:

  1. Still breathing
  2. Quaint
  3. Impossible under the circumstances
  4. Being turned into a mini series starring the Kardashian sisters and Gordon Ramsey

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I will leave you to your Christmas feasting and with the warmest wishes to all of you for the peace and justice this time of year allows us to imagine.

The words below say it best ; apart from all the bitterness and tawdry joking about, this expresses what we are all trying to achieve in countless ways and throughout the year when we are at our very best.

Words by Tom Glazer
Melody by Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612). J.S. Bach adopted it for his Matthäuspassion, as the “Passion Chorale”is called in German

 

Because we are all comrades, wherever we may be,
One union shall unite us forever proud and free.
No tyrant shall defeat us, no nation strike us down,
And all who toil shall greet us, the whole wide world around.

My comrades are all family, forever hand in hand,
Where chimes the bell of freedom, there is my native land.
My brothers’ fears are my fears, where ever they are found
My sisters’ tears are my tears, the whole wide world around.

Let every voice be thunder; let every heart be strong
Until all tyrants perish, our work will not be done.
Let not our memories fail us; the lost years shall be found.
Let slavery’s chains be broken, the whole wide world around.

Your Trustee Pal

Eden

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