Our superintendent of schools, Katherine McIntosh, is taking a temporary assignment with the Ministry of Education to help implement the province’s Framework for Enhancing Student Learning — to support school districts and student outcomes, to act as a liaison between the province and the education sector.
This is the same superintendent whose own teachers with the Coast Mountain Teachers’ Federation voted overwhelmingly (99 per cent!) in favour of a declaration of no confidence against her. Her offence was moving principals from schools in which they were proven effective, respected and admired, and to then deny parents and teachers transparency into the decision despite outcry and multiple public protests.
How can this resume possibly qualify someone as liaison with the education sector she has already snubbed, or act in the interest of student outcomes when the displacement of one principal in particular, at Suwilaawks Community School, is feared will handicap students’ ability to reach their potential?
In the announcement of McIntosh’s new role, School Board Chair Shar McCrory propped up the ministry’s decision, writing, “The Board of Education values Katherine’s vision and leadership over the past five years and her innovative approach and successful contributions to public education in Coast Mountains School District.” She noted increased graduation rates and innovative practices as a testament to McIntosh’s “dedication to student success.”
The statement is so tone-deaf to the lingering issues it will only serve to galvanize resentment against the board.
We suspect the ministry is hoping the opposition against district decisions will evaporate in the year of McIntosh’s absence. But we’ll bet the move has the opposite effect; it will harden opinions against her and the district. The public is tired of being ignored on these issues, and now to give the architect of this crisis greater authority is a message to parents and teachers that their views do not matter.
We take no pleasure in these editorials criticizing the school district, the board or even the superintendent. To be fair, the ministry hired McIntosh because of her “proven track record of improving student success.” But when it’s perceived a public institution is going against the public interest, acknowledgement of that disconcert is tantamount to repairing relationships.
The district’s, and now the ministry’s, misreading and mishandling of the situation is baffling. To lose public support is a failure of leadership, but to keep driving that wedge deeper is a wilful dismissal for those you were hired to serve.