Home > BC Liberals, Boards of Education, British Columbia Politics, Non-BC Provincial Politics > Could Alberta Report Inspire BC Liberals To Scrap Elected School Boards?

Could Alberta Report Inspire BC Liberals To Scrap Elected School Boards?

June 8, 2010

There has been plenty of speculation lately that the BC Liberals want to make changes to the governance of education in BC, speculation based on vague platitudes from the throne speech and the report of the comptroller general in regards to the Vancouver board’s fiscal situation, which came down hard on the elected officials for not acting like an executive broad of a crown corporation.

The question is: how would the BC Liberals change education governance? One approach can come from the School Centred Leadership/Shared Business Systems document that the Ministry of Education produced in 2006, in which the government would amalgamate most infrastructure and staff to larger bodies than the current Boards of Education, while covering up this amalgamation by giving more ‘autonomy’ to schools (read: giving money to schools on a per-pupil basis, while forming school-based “School Planning Councils”).

But a recent report released by the Alberta Government, Inspiring Education, provides a different approach.

Inspiring Education suggests that Alberta School Boards transfer their governance from elected boards to Governance Teams, which would be composed of representatives from a number of local stakeholder groups: parents, educators, municipalities, cultural groups, First Nations, business, non-profits, and so on. Most of these representatives would be appointed.

The theory behind this Governance Team structure is that it would make school boards more responsive to student and local demands. Two examples the report suggests on how this would happen: 1) a board with a growing number of immigrants could appoint more immigrants to a Governance Team in order to get relevant input; 2) a board with a large student demand for vocational training in tourism could appoint a person who owns a tourism business to work on ways to provide the training.

However, I don’t think that this is what would happen in practice. I believe that appointing people to Boards of Education would result in: 1) mostly those with connections to the government being appointed; and 2) a system in which Boards of Education would only be accountable to those who appointed them, not local citizens. That is, after all, what happened when the BC Liberals scrapped elected health boards for appointed ones. Furthermore, I would suggest that Boards of Education could be made responsive to student and local demands using committees rather than replacing the entire elected board with a Governance Team.

But if the BC Liberals did actually want to get rid of elected Boards of Education and replace them with appointees, the Albertan Inspiring Education report could certainly be an inspiration for both a structure and spin in which to do so.

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