Sandra Mathison, The Globe and Mail, October 19, 2016– Education Minister Mike Bernier fired the Vancouver School Board on Monday morning, a shocking move illustrating how very differently the public and the politicians see the role of school boards. On the one hand the public sees school boards as advocates for their community and their schools. On the other hand the government sees school boards as technocrats appropriately constrained by the B.C. School Act to manage school districts.
Citizens go to the polls in an election year and vote for school trustees who will manage the school district, but voters also expect advocacy for the district, schools and children. The public does not see itself as simply electing bureaucrats; they elect champions. Greater parental involvement in schools was established in the 1970s and 80s with the creation of parent advisory committees giving members of the public every reason to believe their voices matter. With control vested in the politicians and educational bureaucracy of the moment, school trustee advocacy for well-funded, appropriate education is framed in relation to the current provincial party (the B.C. Liberals) and educational leadership (Minister of Education Bernier).
As shocking as firing the Vancouver School Board is, the provincial government’s action reflects a historical pattern of centralized education governance that has become ever more acute. By law, school boards are subordinate to the provincial government and charged with managing the budget and implementing the curriculum and standards set by the ministry. This change is not recent and began as early as the 1970s although escalated dramatically with Socred changes to school governance in the 1980s.
Firing school boards is draconian but it has happened before in British Columbia. In 1985, the Socreds fired both the Vancouver and Cowichan trustees for submitting needs-based budgets rather than complying with government-set spending limits. Provincial governments have made other changes to school boards that have outraged the electorate, such as the NDP’s 1995 plan to centralize schools and reduce the number of school boards from 75 to 37 (a plan only partly implemented and a reduction in the number of school districts to the current 60).
Even though firing a school board in B.C. is legal within a centralized education system, it is unmistakably a political act. The BC Liberals have been in an antagonistic relationship with local education authorities and other education constituencies such as the BC Teachers’ Federation for years. Firing the VSB trustees is a political move, but it is also a bureaucratic move that fosters the centralization of educational decision-making. It is easy to see this as merely a partisan move, rather than one that is both political and partisan.
Mr. Bernier accused the VSB trustees of spending too much time on advocacy and too little time on following the rules. Many Vancouver parents accuse the B.C. Liberals of flouting democracy for political ends.
This dramatic situation in Vancouver raises the question: Are school boards necessary? The answer has to be yes.
Read More: The Globe and Mail
Posted in Academic Labor, Administration, BC Education, Critical Education, Disputes, Government, Institute for Critical Education Studies, Students, Teachers, Unions
Tagged Administration, BC education, Ethics, Government, Strikes & Labor Disputes, Students, Teachers, unions
UBC’s Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre
Stephen Petrina & E. Wayne Ross, Vancouver Observer, October 7, 2016– Vancouver, the city of disparities, is faced with polar opposites in its educational system.
The contrast between K-12 schools and the university in Vancouver could not be more stark: The schools sinking in debt with rapidly declining enrolments and empty seats versus the university swimming in cash and bloating quotas to force excessive enrolments beyond capacity.
With central offices just 7km or 12 minutes apart, the two operate as if in different hemispheres or eras: the schools laying off teachers and planning to close buildings versus the university given a quota for preparing about 650 teachers for a glutted market with few to no jobs on the remote horizon in the largest city of the province.
There is a gateway from grade 12 in high school to grade 13 in the university but from a finance perspective there appears an unbreachable wall between village and castle.
Pundits and researchers are nonetheless mistaken in believing that the Vancouver schools’ current $22m shortfall is disconnected from the university’s $36m real estate windfall this past year.
The schools are begging for funds from the Liberals, who, after saying no to K-12, turn around to say yes to grades 13-24 and pour money into the University of British Columbia, no questions asked.
There may be two ministries in government, Education and Advanced Education; there is but one tax-funded bank account.
Read More: Vancouver Observer
Posted in Administration, BC Education, Budgets & Funding, Government, Institute for Critical Education Studies, K-12 issues, Students, Teachers, Unions
Tagged BC education, Budgets & Funding, Government, K-12 issues, Students, Teachers, unions
Special Issue of Workplace
Karen Lynn Gregory & Joss Winn
Articles in Workplace have repeatedly called for increased collective organisation in opposition to a disturbing trajectory in the contemporary university… we suggest that there is one response to the transformation of the university that has yet to be adequately explored: A thoroughgoing and reflexive critique of academic labor.
Table of Contents
- Marx, Engels and the Critique of Academic Labor
Karen Lynn Gregory, Joss Winn
- Towards an Orthodox Marxian Reading of Subsumption(s) of Academic Labour under Capital
- Re-engineering Higher Education: The Subsumption of Academic Labour and the Exploitation of Anxiety
Richard Hall, Kate Bowles
- Taxi Professors: Academic Labour in Chile, a Critical-Practical Response to the Politics of Worker Identity
Elisabeth Simbürger, Mike Neary
- Marxism and Open Access in the Humanities: Turning Academic Labor against Itself
- Labour in the Academic Borderlands: Unveiling the Tyranny of Neoliberal Policies
Antonia Darder, Tom G. Griffiths
- Jobless Higher Ed: Revisited, An Interview with Stanley Aronowitz
Stanley Aronowitz, Karen Lynn Gregory
Posted in Academic freedom, Academic Labor, Administration, Corporate University, Critical Education, Critical University Studies, Governance, Institute for Critical Education Studies, Media & Technology, Student Movement, Students, Unions, Working condition
Tagged Academic freedom, Critical Education, Ethics, Publishing, Strikes & Labor Disputes, Students, Teachers, unions, Working conditions, Workplace Journal