Academic Juggernaut

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Jun 9, 2011

by Lianne Castelino

Alert, alert.  There seems to be an increasing number of people on the planet Earth, many of them wielding significant decision-making power, who are completely out of touch with reality.

News bulletin  Many of them work in the education system.

If you ever have the extreme misfortune of escalating a query or issue to the school board level, be prepared — it is not for the weak.  Only the fittest survive.

Speaking from experience, and from countless stories shared by friends, it has come to my attention that the glass towers enveloping the brain trust that are superintendents, trustees, highly-educated educators, and the like, are largely filled with people killing time or pushing paper, or those paralyzed by the system or governed by inaction.

Absolutely great.  Could they not be in another line of work?

Is it any wonder that so many families and more and more every day are opting for private school. Would you willingly want to entangle yourself in a system that usually displays such little forward thinking, not to mention rarely puts its money where its mouth is and truly “care about its students”.

Just yesterday, another infuriating tale from a friend who finally got a call back from a superintendent of her school, in the quest to get a straight, educated answer on why a certain program that has yielded phenomenal results across North America, a scientifically-based teaching system which helped her son improve his math by several grade levels, is not being taught in her school and in other schools for that matter.

This superintendent called her back without having done any research, not have any clue about what his subordinates are up to and essentially quizzing her on what she’s found to date —- all information that should be at his fingertips, if not on his speed dial.

It is maddening.

He obviously had no idea that he was going to be dealing with a savvy, loving mom of 4 who is a creature of research based in actual fact, and who took it upon herself despite a full-time job, and a busy household to bother to do her research.  While Mr. Big did her a huge favour by returning her call.

My personal experience revealed one thing —- the system is designed to make you weary.  Only the relentless, persistent, tireless parents seeking the truth or a logical explanation to their educational or parenting issue will make it.    And that is not a huge number.

The rest will, through no fault of their own, grow frustrated, tired, and stop their fight.   Everything from telephone tag, to stalling tactics, to dishonesty to outright intimidation will often prevail, leaving many battered and bruised parents on the sidelines.  I feel for them.  I’ve been there myself but only after my husband and I pursued all the avenues possible for our children.

I’ve covered countless school board meetings over the years and I can’t think of a story I enjoyed reporting on less as a journalist.  Wait, maybe labour disputes (strikes and unions).

School board meetings are largely filled with political affiliations, pre-determined answers to questions, internal issues and most importantly the perception that change is forthcoming.

It usually isn’t.  It’s a slow-moving sloth, that usually turns once-energetic and vibrant educators into ornery paper-pushers with flowery titles.

Of course, there are many good people in the school board and education system.  I don’t know how they maintain themselves surrounded by so much archaic thinking.

My question is — don’t they have children?  Can’t they relate?

Please do all of us a favour and stop taking up space in one of the most important jobs on the planet.

Go to recess, please, and don’t bother coming back.

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