Given the apparent tempest of late within, and outside, the
Bluewater School Board, it would seem that dramatic change is not
outside the realm of possibility, particularly, given the sudden
resignation of the School Board Chair, Rick Galbraith.
Glabraith reportedly stated that, “There’s poor communication
between the senior administration and parents and community members,
and there needs to be a change in the way they respond to issues
that come from the public, otherwise these things are not going to
This is about more, however, than dissatisfaction within the School
Board. This is about the apparent lack of communication
between a board and the administration and the students it serves
and, thereby, the parents that it ultimately assists in educating
There have been parent and student protests over the dissemination
of rotary classes. The Saugeen Times has written many
articles about this and other issues. (See
There have been petitions signed over the lack
of due process when it comes to decisions made concerning local
There has been a community outcry over the process of
implementation of a Section 23 program, again without due process and
communication with parents and teachers.
These are not separate issues. Instead, they all fall under the umbrella
of the responsibility by public servants paid to do a job ... to
provide the best possible education for children and communicating with
those who know them best - parents/caregivers/teachers.
According to a recent article in the regional Sun Times media, retired
principal and chair of the Bluewater School Board, Rick Galbraith, said
that, “If the public is not seeing what we’re doing as clear and
transparent, then there’s something that’s not working. That’s now
become very clear to me, that people just aren’t sure what’s going on —
they’re getting no responses, or responses that don’t help them
understand what’s happening.”
That is the whole point and, it would appear, that after Galbraith's
short tenure of only some eight months, he has suddenly seen the that
things are not as they should be.
School Board Trustee, Ross King, says that he is very sorry to see
Galbraith resign from the board. "Ever since he arrived last April, I've
had a lot of respect for him and he added a very positive note. Everyone
was very surprised when he submitted his letter of resignation. I know
that it's important for a board to be open and transparent and we have
been working on it but probably not as quickly as people would hope."
21/03/2009 11:27 PM
Parents have not been getting responses, or ones that
help clarify what is happening, despite the Director of Education, Mary
Anne Alton's, “Our senior administration certainly communicates
extensively with the public and staff. The issues that come to the
attention of trustees are often the ones where those involved have not
been satisfied with the outcome. These situations represent a very small
fraction of the ongoing effective communication that takes place with
our staff and public.”
It would seem that Ms. Alton and parents and concerned
community-minded citizens are sitting on very different sides of a
fence. To Alton it may seem that "...these situations represent a very
small fraction of the ongoing effective communication." However, when
there are more than one hundred students and parents marching in the
streets in a relatively small community such as Saugeen Shores,
protesting against a major administrative decision that will change the
education of their children, it is not a small fraction. ((See
Video June 13, 2008 of the Protest March in
Port Elgin by parents and students.
While morale on the board, according to some, may be low, it is very
doubtful that the reason is the recent alleged plagiarism allegations
arising against two of its members. The underlying causes may go deeper.
Morale, is also low among many teachers - teachers who are under
instructions not discuss matters. Often the teachers, are among the last
to know what is happening in their own schools. Programs are cut,
curricula are changed, cut-backs, such as that to the 'gifted' student
T.R.A.I.L. program, are implemented and they (teachers), like the
parents, are the last to know.
According to MP Larry Miller recently in his published letter (Sun
Times), "... plagiarism allegations at the Bluewater School Board
may be just the tip of the iceberg."
In a letter written to the Provincial Minister of Education, Kathleen
Wynne, it was pointed out that, "... Mary Anne Alton, the Director of
Education has stated quite publicly that on matters of curriculum
delivery, parents need not be consulted."
However, in 2005, in a report, Wynne said that, " The ongoing confidence
of parents not only in local schools, but also in publicly funded
education, is an important objective. Over the last decade unmet parent
concerns about the publicly funded education system contributed to a 50
per cent increase in those who moved their children to private schools.
To reinforce parent involvement, the province will make parent
engagement one of the provincial outcomes expected of boards."
It would appear that this has not happened within the Bluewater District
Parents are mystified, taxpayers are angry ... and everyone wants to
know what is going on. This is about the future of children. They
aren't, or should not be, pawns in a political game where everyone is
trying to get to the Queen for answers.
Sandy Lindsay Editor