Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Politics Of School Boards

Having worked as a teacher for 30 years, I am well-aware of the politics that pervades and blights education. The higher one goes up the ladder, the more one is concerned about damage control. Since I was a mere peon, i.e. a classroom teacher, I had little tolerance for such nonsense.

It was therefore with much disgust but little surprise that I read about the Toronto District School Board putting an embargo on principals when unpleasant things happen in their schools. Apparently, the drawing of swastikas in washrooms is something they like to deal with 'in house.'

Parents at a Toronto elementary school vandalized with swastikas were stunned to hear of the incident from their children and not administrators, saying they are “disappointed” by a board procedure that prohibits principals from sharing such information.

The Toronto District School Board says it takes allegations of hate and racism “very seriously” but has moved away from telling parents about these incidents because it’s concerned that students who may have been involved will be vilified and the reports will lead to copycat acts.

Hmm, consequences for the malefactors - what a horrifying prospect.

“As an educational institution, we have a duty to create a school community that is not only safe for students, but one in which they can learn from their mistakes.”

In an interview with the Star, school council co-chairs Rachel Cooper and Livy Jacobs say their children told them the principal made an announcement about washroom graffiti, urging those with information to come forward. It was through the rumour mill that students, and parents, learned two swastikas had been drawn in the washroom.

Cooper and Jacobs, both Jewish, met with the principal and told her that parents should have been informed. They were surprised to learn the board doesn’t notify the school community about incidents of hate, including antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Black racism.

“The principal’s hands are tied, and they’re not allowed to send a communication even if they feel that they should,” said Cooper....

The TDSB, it appears, is more concerned about transgressive students than their victims, and optics over openness, revealing in an email that informing parents of such incidents

“often led to the identification, surveillance, and stigmatization of the specific students who may have been involved — making it difficult for them to reintegrate with their peers.

But never fear, the board is 

developing a “distinct strategy” to combat antisemitism, which had been in the works before the war. It’s also addressing other kinds of hate, such as anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, anti-Indigenous racism, ableism and homophobia.

I have never been a fan of theatre of the absurd, but at least until now I have had the choice not to attend such performances. Give what is going on with the TDSB, that obviously no longer holds true. 






  1. I think the Toronto District School Board is taking the best approach. It is much better to have children spreading wild rumours of satanic rituals and human sacrifice than having a school principal make a statement.

    I developed a theory years ago that getting elected to municipal council meant an immediate drop of 20 IQ points* but I did not realize it extended to school boards.

    Just to add to your sleepless nights these nutters are aiming at school boards.
    Inside the fundamentalist Christian movement that wants to remake Canadian politics . We seem to have a local infestation.

    * Based on a London ON city councillor who wanted to ban a book, Catcher in the Rye if I recall correctly, though she had not read the
    book. She went on to become a Conservative MLA and cabinet minister. This was before Doug Ford!

    1. Many thanks for the link, Anon. It is clear that the U.S. does not have a monopoly on the crazed. The only bright spot thus far is that Moms for Liberty have not yet infiltrated school boards here, though the nutters are clearly emulating their tactics in this country.

  2. The job of a principal -- in my experience -- is to keep a lid on things, Lorne. Woe betide he or she whose school receives bad publicity.

    1. As teachers, it is a truth we both know, Owen.