Ontario gov’t cancels TO Catholic’s Arrowsmith Program

So, Ontario taxpayers could be excused if they thought that when Ontario Minister of Education, Kathleen Wynn and her officials, fires elected school board trustees and takes over the supervision of a school board, financial related decision-making would improve.

Well, no matter how well intentioned Education Minister Wynn was to take over the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) and she sure had just cause for doing so  — it is obvious that managing a huge operation like that cannot be done from the offices and corridors of power.

Case in point: the TCDSB experimental Arrowsmith program for children with learning disabilities. Read what the Toronto Sun’s Don Peat wrote today on the fact that Minister Wynn and her officials cancelled the program this past June, just two days before the end of the school year — even though parents had been asked to commit to three years. Now, understandably, the parents have launched a law suit.

I have written about the Arrowsmith program before and it seems to help quite a few students with learning problems. However, having been in private practice myself at one time, I know perfectly well that a single “system” will not work for all children as the effects of learning disabilities vary from child to child.  However, readers can read about the approach in this Vancouver Sun article which has a link to a special CBC documentary.

In any event, if the TCDSB special education advisory committee (SEAC) recommended keeping the experimental Arrowsmith program until 2011, why did the government’s supervisory team ignore that decision? Particularly, since: (1) the students would just have started to understand how the approach works; and (2) SEAC members have the rights and obligations under the Education Act to make such decisions.

Well, in my opinion, that is what it is like when a government department tries to manage a school board. The bureaucrats forget that commitments and promises were made and that it is the local taxpayers who actually own the board, not them. Moreover, it is obvious that neither the Minister, her appointed supervisor or her staff have their ears to the ground. Nor do they seem to know how to diffuse controversial and public relations situations.

In my opinion, if a board makes a commitment to parents and special needs children and they ask the parents to make a three year commitment in return, no matter whether the government takes over supervision or not, that board commitment should stand. The Arrowsmith program should continue for the agreed upon time limit — which I assume was until June 2011.