“Conceived and Ordered (Moved, Seconded, Carried and Minuted)”

Though it is unlikely – if you were granted the dubious joy of observing shit pass through the intestine of a goose you would be forgiven if you found it somewhat similar to watching the board meetings now – yes smooth as shit through a goose goes the saying and this is not just a metaphor – it is   metaphor in action.

Tonight the stage is set for budget development, school closure and property disposal without the inconvenience of policies to guide the process and make unreasonable demands on the time and patience of senior staff. I don’t know how the managers ever put up with all the agro the community heaps on their narrow shoulders – especially since without us none of this would be necessary and the managers would have nothing and no one to manage – mighty bleak for the old pay packet I would think.

We macheteed our weary way through the agenda – one man solicitously agreeing with himself can be a fatiguing thing to behold but we are tough enough.

There was some discussion about the new and very much crappier committee structure which will now replace the long time honourable tradition of actually seeking both voice and vote from our partner groups. Our 4 standing committees- Education, Finance, Operations and Policy are now history as the Policy which directs their work is suspended (#1100) so our appointee does not have to strain himself attending to the regular duties district governance requires. A single so called Advisory Committee (which is no doubt everything it seems and less) minimises his workload yet does not actually oblige him to attend – still it seems to me there is nothing to be gained by any partner group sitting at this phony baloney table – it only bestows undeserved recognition on a disreputable endeavour.

The Annual Budget Development Policy (#1040) is also suspended, as it dangerously requires recommendations from the now defunct committees for building the expenditures in the district.

All with the wave of a hand and quite a bit of unnecessary chatter from the single board member seldom seen at board tables with mere mortal elected people trying to get some work done.

We are now informed there will be 2 days of so called public consultation meetings- December 8th 2012 and January 12th 2013. It is safe to say the main event at these things will be to manipulate the community into happily agreeing to shutting down their valued schools as well as deciding which of the elements of our schools still left to us can be eliminated.

Interestingly, there was some hesitancy in passing a motion which would simply roll over the 2012-2013 1-31(Aboriginal Education) Budget – our only truly targeted funding requiring full consultation with and agreement from the recognised Aboriginal organisation in any community. The recommendation has been stalled for now.

As our board unanimously recognised the Hwulmuhw Mustimuhw Education Council as the representative organisation way back in 2009, we have a problem or at least Mr McKay does. On September 17 2012, the Hwulmuhw Mustimuhw Education Council sent a letter to Minister McRae and below is an excerpt:

Dear Minister McRae:

We are writing to inform you that we -the -with elected representatives from seven nations within School District 79’s boundaries expect to have all further interaction with you. This is our position in light of the fact you have removed the elected body in School District #79 from their positions. Therefore, we will deal with the next democratically elected individual which – Mr. McRae – is you.

We anticipate a respectful response from you Minister McRae assuring the Hwulmuhw Mustimuhw Education Council you will directly engage with us in good faith to further the educational needs of Aboriginal children in School District # 79.

If you cannot meet with us we fully expect you to call a by election so we can meet with democratically elected representatives of School District #79.

This problem may not necessarily be solved by blaming the Aboriginal community for the impasse as Mr McKay chose to do at this meeting. And since the Minister is insisting the HMEC has no choice but to engage with an unelected official in this matter it will be intriguing to see how this all plays out.

The real treat of the evening came when Mr McKay- our appointee- placed before us his philosophy which included his private views on the definition of a dilemma. A dilemma in his opinion is having to decide which of two ‘right’ things you cannot continue to have as you can only have one. So there it is – the grownup is telling all the children we must hunker down and choose which of our kids’ requirements will be met knowing they are all crucial; knowing the shortfalls will never end; knowing there will never be a final cut or closure. Mr McKay is a man of considerable influence in the education community. If he were to stand up publicly and unreservedly tell the Ministry he believes all the ‘right’ things are vital to the kids and our communities; if he were to demand our budgets reflect the importance of our schools rather than subjecting those schools and everyone in them to a fiscal stranglehold, I believe things might start to change.

But of course, this work is left to those of us who do not have such glamorous opportunities and are far less likely to be heard above the black ops.

For now, we are being subjected to this Jurassic version of democracy. The partner groups can dutifully provide their views on district decisions with no real impact except of course to be exploited as collaborators in any disaster the ministry inflicts on our schools. And our well thought out policies are suspended for the convenience of the admin so their agenda can be implemented with a minimum of fuss.

The next meeting of the appointee is planned for December 5th and at that meeting, we shall hear the outcome of the first Advisory Committee meeting now scheduled for November 28th. The level of high handedness being offered to our communities masquerading as consultation should alarm people or at least create some indignation.

As one of my favourite writers puts it:

“I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of “Admin.” The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.”

[From the Preface]
― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Your Trustee in Exile


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One Response to “Conceived and Ordered (Moved, Seconded, Carried and Minuted)”

  1. Luc Ouellet says:

    Thank you once again, your comments on the operation of your board. The picture you paint does hold true. The frightening aspect of this is that even though your board has been replaced by an appointee there are many elected boards around the province that are little more than mice who pass whatever the admin present to them with little to no questioning about how these cuts will benefit students.

    “Mr. McKay is a man of considerable influence” and school district administration have been bought and paid for. We continually hear about how we have to do more with less, make choices that further limit the education options for many students. There are no examples of successful educational models that operate on the premises being put forward by these individuals. The operational agenda is based on bank balances, not educationally sound policy. The mantra needs to change from “how much education costs” to “how can we best invest in youth”.

    Change will require parents seeing 1st hand what is happening to their children, business experiencing slowed growth due to the lack of educated people. Standing on the side lines with the “there is nothing I can do” attitude needs to change. As a teacher in Parksville I do not see uproar about the state of education. I talk to parents, teachers and some business owners. The common response is you are right things are bad, wish I could do something. I attend PAC meetings to a group of 7 parents for a school of 700 students, board meetings with a gallery of 10 – 15 to watch the board try and advocate for change. Somehow the public needs to understand how the current educational policy is impacting on the students.

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