The province's Education Minister needs to clarify something, was he deliberately playing crass partisan politics in the past with the issue of the English school board election?
The minister said yesterday that "I want this done right, and rushing into this would make no sense." inferring that my calls for elections "sooner rather than later" is not sensible and is irresponsible.
He also pointed out that he did not pick the board so "No one will ever accuse them of doing my bidding". I could care less who picked them, the bottom line is that they were picked and not chosen by the public they are supposed to serve. That is the core issue. An unelected board is just an extension of the Department of Education, why bother with the charade?
Lets be absolutely clear, I have only been echoing, often word for word, Minister Kirby's own words on the need for school board elections up until his recent appointment to cabinet. He condemned the previous administration for not holding school board elections for three consecutive years in the House of Assembly, through press releases, on talk shows, in letters to the editors, to the NLFSC and any audience that would listen. His sudden inconsistency is worrisome and bothersome.
The position of the NLFSC has remained consistent over the past three years. We are not approaching the issue any differently to the Ball Administration than we did with the Dunderdale, Marshall or Davis governments. The only thing that has changed is the minister's about face on the importance of democratically elected school boards.
It was Mr. Kirby who, in the midst of the Federal Election (Sep 14, 2015) , said that "School board trustee elections are long overdue and having "non-elected members is 'unfair' and 'unacceptable'. He called on the government to see that new trustees were elected before the provincial election. Was that a sensible and responsible demand or just grandstanding and optics?
It was Mr. Kirby who said “It’s crucial that the governance of the school board be taken out of the hands of the education minister and given back to the people, through their trustees” and “It’s really shocking that things have been dragged on as long as they have. And, unless more pressure is brought to this (issue), they’ll do as they like and continue to delay the process”. However by accepting his advice and continuing to out pressure on government are not sensible and irresponsible!
It was Mr. Kirby who said in his letter to the editor published in the Telegram, and most weekly newspapers throughout the province, that " "Three years without elected school board trustees — that's absurd, that's ludicrous" and "Right now we've got a bunch of hand-picked school board trustees running all of the English schools in the province, making decisions around everything from curriculum, to human resources, staffing, infrastructure and so on with no accountability to the public."
There is no shortage of direct quotations available. It is clear that his position has changed. Would he not agree with his old self that said "Three years without elected school board trustees — that's absurd, that's ludicrous."
In light of the current economic crisis and impending cuts there are too many important issues facing our k-12 system to not have local, elected representatives on the board.
We were promised elections in 2013 they did not happen. We were promised elections in 2014 and 2015, they did not happen. Now we are promised school board elections "with-in twelve months"
It is time now to establish a firm date for these elections, we are tired of promises, half-hearted time frames and a public education system that is acting outside of the sprit of the Education Act.