Friday, November 08, 2013

Dear CBE: Trustees Are Accountable To The Public

On CBC this morning, I heard that the Calgary Board of Education had demanded that the new board of trustees sign what amounts to a "gag order" preventing them from talking to the press:
The new chair of the Calgary public school board says she regrets signing an agreement that states trustees will not speak to the media.Sheila Taylor said a Calgary Board of Education lawyer asked board members to sign the document on Oct. 25, their first day of orientation.
This  is appalling, but unsurprising.  No doubt the legal team at CBE thought that it would be a good idea to ensure that any communications with the media come through a managed channel rather than airing laundry in public as has happened in the past.

Politics is a messy business - we know this.  Even worse is that in Alberta, the provincial government has more or less emasculated the ability of the school boards to make any meaningful policy decisions.  The province controls the funding, the contracts with the teachers as well as the curriculum.  More or less, that has reduced the scope of the school boards to being operational administrators.

That said, the Board of Trustees are Calgarian's representatives.  Politics is a messy business - we know that.  If you can't deal with the messiness of public opinion and discussion of issues, then there's a serious problem with the board's organization and processes.

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