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The impact of centralization on local school district governance in Canada



Across Canada there have been numerous recent examples of incidents where the political and ideological interests of provincial governments have run counter to the mandates of school districts. In this pan-Canadian study, focus groups were conducted with school board trustees and school district superintendents to examine the relationships between districts and provincial governments. Preliminary data suggest that the significance of the school district apparatus in Canada has diminished as provincial governments have enacted an aggressive centralization agenda. We theorize that in a politicized environment, the values, reward systems, and accountabilities against which school board superintendents and trustees operate are likely to differ substantively from those of politicians and bureaucrats, thereby creating a policy environment that is antagonistic to local governance.
Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, Issue #145, September 18, 2013.
© by CJEAP and the author(s).
Gerald Galway, Memorial University, Bruce Sheppard, Memorial University,
John Wiens, University of Manitoba, and Jean Brown, Memorial University
Across Canada there have been numerous recent examples of incidents where
the political and ideological interests of provincial governments have run
counter to the mandates of school districts. In this pan-Canadian study, focus
groups were conducted with school board trustees and school district
superintendents to examine the relationships between districts and provincial
governments. Preliminary data suggest that the significance of the school
district apparatus in Canada has diminished as provincial governments have
enacted an aggressive centralization agenda. We theorize that in a politicized
environment, the values, reward systems, and accountabilities against which
school board superintendents and trustees operate are likely to differ
substantively from those of politicians and bureaucrats, thereby creating a
policy environment that is antagonistic to local governance.
Case evidence accumulated over several decades suggests that school districts have the
potential to positively impact teaching and learning (Sheppard, Brown, & Dibbon, 2009).
Effective school districts do this by de-emphasizing and delegating perfunctory administrative
and buffering processes while creating the conditions for schools to focus on what Elmore (2004)
describes as the “technical core” of teaching. But in recent years there has emerged a growing
constituency that believes that school boards have become wasteful hierarchies whose role in
1 The authors gratefully acknowledge funding and logistical support from the Canadian School Board’s Association
and the Faculty of Education, Memorial University. We also thank Dr. Glenn Loveless, Margaret Wakeham,
Annette Walker, Eryun Skulladottir, Shawnee Hardware and Jeffrey Patry for research assistance.
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
promoting student learning is negligible. Over the past twenty years provincial governments in
Canada have introduced a broad array of educational reform and accountability initiatives to
address a lingering decline in student enrolment and higher public expectations for schools
(Galway, 2007). Some provinces have already restructured and centralized school districts to
make them so large that elected school boards are no longer perceived to be the local “voice of
the people” thereby creating public concern that boards have lost their “raison d’être. There is a
growing perception that provincial governments make all the important policy decisions and that
the most meaningful public engagement is through school councils (Dibbon, Sheppard, &
Brown, 2012). These changes are a stark reminder that the organization and governance of
schools by school districts/boards “is a political and organizational invention, not a natural and
inevitable phenomenon” (Anderson, 2003, p. 3).
Across Canada there have been numerous recent examples of incidents where the
political and ideological interests of provincial governments have run counter to the perceived
mandates of school boards and the governance roles of elected trustees (Dibbon, Sheppard, &
Brown, 2012). In several notable cases governments have intervened to influence or overturn
school board decisions. These interventions have ranged from public statements criticizing the
policy decisions of school boards to more extreme measures, such as the outright dismissal of
board members. But Sheppard (2012) argues that provincial departments of education (DOEs)
are unsuitable proxies for the leadership provided to schools by effective school boards. A more
constructive long-term approach is to ascertain the key attributes of effective school boards, and
to determine how these attributes can be replicated in all school districts.
To this end, the objectives of this research are to improve our understanding of the
characteristics of effective school boards and to examine the relationships between school boards
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
and provincial governments in the current context of increasing accountability in Canada.
Toward these purposes, we examined two overarching questions:
(1) What are the attributes of effective school boards in Canada?
(2) What is the nature of educational governance in school boards in
Canadawho are the principal actors and what are their governance and
accountability roles?
In this paper we report findings from a pan-Canadian study of English school boards
relating to these questions. These findings, based on interviews and focus groups, pertain to the
ways school board trustees and district superintendents perceive the impact and effectiveness of
school boards, their governance roles, and the governance roles of provincial DOEs.
Governance Roles of School Boards and School Board Trustees
Elementarysecondary education in Canada is governed, almost exclusively, at the
provincial (ministry or department of education), school board, and school levels (Lessard &
Brassard, 2005). When the Canadian federation was established in 1867, the British North
America Act granted authority over education to the provinces, subject to particular conditions
related to denominational, separate, or dissentient schools (Lawton, 1996; Levin, 2005; Loveless,
2012). As other provinces joined Canada, similar articles were included in their terms of union,
thereby resulting in separate education systems for each province. There is no formal role for the
federal government in the Canadian system, except for First Nations-controlled schools and
federal schools established for children of military personnel (Young, Levin, & Wallin, 2007).
The federal government does make some investments in second language programs and certain
other so-called “boutique” programs, but education is funded almost exclusively by the
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
School boards are by legislation valid and legitimate governments in their own right.
The authority of school boards is established by provincial legislation which sets out the
parameters, mandate, duties, and powers of the boards (Shields, 2007). School boards are
responsible for directing the activities of the school district in terms of organization, strategic
planning and operations, and accountability for finances and student learning (Seel & Gibbons,
2011). School board members (also known as trustees, or in some provinces, commissioners) do
not hold administrative positions, but are members and representatives of the public and are
legally responsible for the organization (Shields, 2007). The school board functions as a legal
entity which exercises its authority as a single corporate body; therefore, individual board
members do not possess any authority as individuals (Carpenter, 2007). However, they make and
act on decisions related to the organization’s mission, develop policies and monitor their
implementation, establish decision-making processes, put in place control mechanisms for the
allocation and distribution of power and resources, institute procedures for performing specific
tasks, and self-evaluate (Kelleher-Flight, 2005; Ranson, 2008). If tangible assets are involved,
trustees legally hold them and are responsible to all interested parties for their good use. School
board members are elected by voters within the boundaries of their district for three-year terms
in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, and four-year terms in the other provinces
(Bradshaw & Osborne, 2010).
While school board members do not exercise individual authority of the board, they
have a duty to provide leadership and oversight. One of the key duties of a school board is to
ensure that all students receive the services to which they have a right in accordance with
provincial legislation, regulations, and policies (Lessard & Brassard, 2005). In fulfilling this
mandate, trustees have a significant influence on the culture of the board and district, and a duty
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
to develop board credibility and trust. Shields (2007, p. 17) suggests that for school board
members to be credible they must:
be perceived as accountable and committed to their mandate and their
electorate; ensure a level of openness and transparency that allows people to
trust in the work done; demonstrate a responsiveness that ensures decisions
and actions occur within reasonable time frames . . . make the best use of their
resources; [and] work to mediate different interests for the best outcome . . .
The model of governance that seems to be broadly practised by Canadian school boards is
governance through policy formation. Newton and Sackney’s (2005) study of trustees in three
Canadian provinces showed that trustees were of the view that policy making was the primary
role of school boards. This is consistent with school board governance models in the United
States. The National School Board Association and the American Association of School
Administrators have jointly defined the school board’s role as the establishment of policy with
other related functions (Thomas, 2001).
School Board Relevance
According to Chapman (2009), as trustees exercise their governance responsibilities,
they have the potential to improve the public’s perception of the legitimacy and relevance of
school boards. This is important because school boards are often characterized negatively in the
media and, from time to time, their relevanceeven their continued existencehas been
questioned (Alsbury, 2008; Beckham & Klaymeier Wills, 2011; Land, 2002; Saatcioglu, Moore,
Sargut, & Bajaj, 2011; Sheppard, Brown, & Dibbon, 2009; Williams, 2003). School boards have
been described as anachronistic, dysfunctional, and obsolete, and there have been calls for their
replacement with a more appropriate governance mechanism (Hess & Meeks, 2010; Owens,
1999). Different explanations have been advanced to account for the negative public perceptions
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
of school boards. One of the most persistent criticisms, dating back to the early 1990s, relates to
a perception that they are inattentive to parents (Lewis, 1994; Malen, 2003). Another is that
school boards, especially in large districts, become stagnant and fail to provide strong leadership
in helping schools adjust to changing times (Land, 2002; Lewis, 1994).
School boards have historically existed as a reflection of society’s deep-rooted belief
that educational governance should reflect community and regional values and priorities. The
fact that a parent or a member of the community can express their concerns to a school board
member provides a degree of democratic legitimacy not necessarily present in other public
services, except perhaps through an ombudsman (Land, 2002; Lessard & Brassard, 2005;
MacLellan, 2007; Mintrom, 2009; Williams, 2003). But critics argue that unwieldy
bureaucracies and limited opportunity for trustee contact, characteristic of large, diverse, school
districts, hampers the ability of a trustee to retain connection to community values and local
needs (Fleming & Hutton, 1997; Lessard & Brassard, 2005; Williams, 2003). According to
Garcea and Monroe (2011) there has been a “decline in the legitimacy of school board trustees
among ratepayers due to what they perceive as very low voter participation in school elections,
low levels of accountability, low levels of efficiency and effectiveness in the educational system,
and weakness in the face of powerful school bureaucrats” (p. 11). In both Canada and the U.S.,
voter participation in school board elections tends to be low. Across the U.S., voter turnout for
school board elections rarely climbs higher than 15 percent (Plecki, McCleery, & Knapp, 2006).
In Canada, many school board elections are held in conjunction with municipal elections
(Mueller, 2011; Williams, 2003), which tend to have voter turnout below 30 percent (Stockdale,
2010). Statistics on voter turnout for school board elections in Canada tend to parallel American
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
figures, except in instances where there the vote is integrated with other high profile educational
Another factor that may contribute to the bad press experienced by school boards is
their relationship with the provincial government. Shields (2007) speculates that a trend towards
centralization of educational authority may be sending a message to the public that the value of
school boards has run its course and they are no longer able to make a significant contribution to
education. Lessard and Brassard (2005) suggest that the centralization of power by provincial
governments has weakened school boards and thereby decreased their political legitimacy among
constituents. Other investigators have questioned the apparent inconsistency between a school
board’s role as an agent of the state and its simultaneous role as advocate and trustee for children
and communities. The conflict between governments and communities over issues such as
school consolidation, for example, raises the question of whether school boardsas arms of the
governmentcan truly act on behalf of communities. Such tensions suggest to the public that
they have contradictory roles, which reflects negatively on the organization (Plecki, et al., 2006;
Williams, 2003). School boards in the United States have also been accused of a host of other
failings. Researchers have identified a long list of criticisms including: failure to take decisive
action to improve achievement; lack of public engagement in school board matters; decisions
perceived to run counter to local interests and values; extension of their governance role into
district management (particularly large urban boards); failure to collaborate with superintendents
and problems functioning as a cohesive group (Danzberger, 1994; Land, 2002; Petersen &
Fusarelli, 2001).
All of this evidence, much of it conducted in the American context, suggests that the
negative public perception of school boards is complex and likely related to a variety of factors.
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
Despite these criticisms, Shields (2007) suggests that school boards in Canada continue to enjoy
public support. They are still seen as representative of democratic governance, and are perceived
as providing an important link between community values and the professionals who administer
the system. But this support has been threatened by recent trends towards greater centralization
and government intervention into areas of responsibility traditionally held by school boards
(Dibbon, Sheppard, & Brown, 2012).
Trends in Canadian Educational Governance
During the last two decades, each provincial governmentsometimes with the
involvement of the courtshas restructured its governance model for education with stated goals
of improving operational efficiency. One of the most publicly visible reforms has been a
reduction in the number of school boards largely through district consolidation (Canadian School
Boards Association, 1995; Dibbon, Sheppard, & Brown, 2012; Fleming, 1997; Galway, 2011;
Lessard & Brassard, 2005; Watson, DiCecco, Roher, Rosenbluth, & Wolfish, 2004; Williams,
2003). District amalgamations have been accompanied by significant reductions in both the
number of school board trustees and the overall number of district administrator and professional
staff (Anderson & Ben Jaafar, 2003; Fleming & Hutton, 1997; Fredua-Kwarteng, 2005; Lessard
& Brassard, 2005; MacLellan, 2007). In some provinces, the actual school board structure has
undergone major change. In 2001 the province of New Brunswick abolished school boards and
created district education councils (DECs) that were intended to provide local governance and
community input in the education system. However, the legislation governing the DECs
stipulates that their policies must be consistent with provincial policies and procedures, in
matters relating to the authority given to the DEC, or the superintendent of the school district
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
(Education Act, 1997). New Brunswick has recently announced its intention to consolidate the
14 existing DECs into seven (Government of New Brunswick, 2012). In Quebec and
Newfoundland and Labrador, district consolidations have been accompanied by constitutional
changes whereby denominationally-based school boards have been replaced by language-based
school boards in Quebec and public school boards in Newfoundland and Labrador (Loveless,
2012). Other provinces have established school boards to serve their official minority-language
populations and, in the province of Ontario, full funding has been extended to its Catholic school
boards (Loveless, 2012).
Over the last two decades, provinces have also taken steps to facilitate parental
involvement in educational governance through the creation of school councils, a majority of
whose members are parents (Canadian School Boards Association, 1995; Levin, 2005); however,
with the exception of Quebec, school councils have enjoyed only advisory status with no
legislated policy role (Lessard & Brassard, 2005; Preston, 2009). Interestingly, in at least one
province, Newfoundland and Labrador, school board members for the Conseil scolaire
francophone provincial are selected from each of the five school councils in that school district
(Schools’ Act, 1997). Although school councils were intended to provide parents with a
consultative and collaborative relationship with schools, some critics charge that the legislation
is soft and “there is little incentive to promote councils (Duma, 2010, p.14). Others charge that
the real motives for the establishment of school councils are more closely linked to the
improvement of school-level performance by making teachers and school administrators
formally accountable to parents (Lessard & Brassard, 2005).
While provincial governments have taken steps to encourage parents to become
involved in their children’s schooling, they have been less enthusiastic about parental choice of
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
schools. Currently, all provinces make provision for home schooling (Luffman, & Cranswick,
1997), but only five provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and
Quebec) provide at least partial funding to independent schools (Wilson, 2007). Legislation in
Manitoba and Alberta makes specific provision for parental choice (Young & Levin, 1999), with
charter schools having been established in Alberta (Cymbol, 2009). In Ontario and Alberta,
financial support is provided for Catholic schools and school districts thereby offering some
choice in selecting either public or parochial schools.
Another common trend in governance has been the centralization of power at the
provincial level. According to Bradshaw and Osborne (2010), as provincial governments have
increased their decision-making authority in education matters, they have simultaneously
decreased the authority of school boards. The tendency of provincial governments to centralize
power is reflected primarily, but not exclusively, by changes in the way education is funded.
Since 1990, provincial governments have reformed the way they fund education, by introducing
formula-based funding. These changes have generally resulted in a reduction in or elimination of
the local school board’s taxation power such that provinces now provide all, or virtually all of
the money (Anderson & Ben Jaafar, 2003; Levin, 2005; Taylor, Neu & Peters, 2002; Williams,
2003), with only Manitoba retaining significant local taxation for education (Garcea & Monroe,
2011). Consequently, most school boards no longer have the ability to raise funds to address
fiscal needs and, in provinces where school boards negotiate collective agreements with
teachers’ unions, their room to manoeuvre in collective bargaining has been significantly
reduced (Anderson & Ben Jaafar, 2003; Lessard & Brassard, 2005; Young & el Nagar, 2011). In
Newfoundland and Labrador, there have been other attempts to impose central control over
school board functions. Following school board consolidation in 2004, the Department of
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
Education established standardized job advertisements for board executive level positions and
draft contracts containing clauses requiring direct financial accountability to the minister as well
as the school board (Dibbon, Sheppard, & Brown, 2012).
Consistent with restructuring initiatives in other countries, provinces have also tended
to centralize curriculum, with clearly defined provincial learning outcomes, and to implement
provincial, interprovincial, and international standardized assessments and reporting (Canadian
School Boards Association, 2010; Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, 2011a, 2011b;
Lessard & Brassard, 2005; Levin, 2005; Levin & Wiens, 2003; Sheppard, 2012). Reporting of
school test results has become a high profile event in some provinces (Levin, 2005).
Decline of School Board Authority
Historically, school boards have been free to make educational decisions independently
from the daily machinations of provincial politics, provided they act within boundaries specified
in the legislation that governs them. Under the Carver (2006) model of school board governance
the district superintendent/director is independent from government and accountable only to the
school board. This model ensures that a school board’s ability to carry out its mandate through
the director is not compromised. But recent research within the Canadian context (Dibbon,
Sheppard, & Brown, 2012; Sheppard, 2012) has pointed to several examples where provincial
governments have intruded directly into school board operations. Dibbon, Sheppard, and Brown
(2012) profile a number of cases of direct intervention ranging from overturning a decision to
close a school (during a provincial election) to dismissal of a school board for failing to balance
its books.
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
Recently two provinces used their legislative authority to oust several school boards
charging that the boards were ineffective. In Nova Scotia, between 2006 and 2012, the education
minister dismissed three of the province’s school boards replacing them with government-
appointed managers (South shore school . . . , 2011). In two cases the boards were fired for
internal disagreements, while in the third most recent case, the board was accused of failing to be
accountable, when it was revealed that members were resisting a school review process that
would have likely led to school closures and individual members were lobbying against some of
the closures. In 2011 Prince Edward Island’s minister responsible for education dissolved one of
its two school boards replacing it with a government-appointed “trustee.” In the minister’s news
release he claimed that acrimony within the board had taken precedence over its concern for the
school system (Government of Prince Edward Island, 2011). Given the political nature of some
school board actions and decisions, this kind of interference evokes tensions between the boards
and the governments who create and fund them.
The above-noted examples raise questions about the nature of the relationship between
school boards/districts and provincial government authorities, the autonomy of boards, and the
level of surveillance imposed on school board operations and policy. They also raise questions
about whether there has been a tacit change in the governance roles both of school board trustees
and the superintendents who administer school districts on their behalf. It is within this context
that the research reported in this paper has been conducted.
Method and Data Sources
The study was done over a 12 month period between December 2010 and November
2011. We adopted a qualitative research design that involved the participation of two participant
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
groups: (1) English school board trustees and (2) school district superintendents/directors from
nine Canadian provinces (New Brunswick and French Quebec excluded). In total, 21 sessions
were held including nine focus groups with school board trustees, and one session with a
nationally-representative group, nine focus groups with district superintendents or directors of
education and one interview with a superintendent of education. Focus groups ranged in size
from 6 to 12 participants with sessions running between 60 and 90 minutes. The questions that
comprised the interview and focus group protocols were developed through an extensive review
of the relevant literature relating to school board governance and through information gathered
from three consultation sessions: two sessions with school board members and superintendents
of education conducted at the 2012 CSBA Annual General Meeting and one session with
interested members of the Canadian Association for the Study of Educational Administration
(CASEA) at its 2010 Congress.
To increase the validity of findings, we took considerable care to collect data from
school board members and school district superintendents from all provinces and territories and
from those holding office with the CSBA Board. All four principal researchers (with some
assistance from graduate students) collected data at different times and in differing locations and
circumstances over the twelve-month data collection period (Meijer, Verloop, & Beijaard, 2002;
Merriam, 2009; Miles & Huberman, 1994).
Within each province or region, participant selection was conducted with sensitivity to
gender, experience, ethnicity, and regional geography. The research protocol was approved in
advance by a university interdisciplinary committee on ethics in human research and followed
the principles outlined in the Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Conduct for Research
Involving Humans (TCPS2).
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
Governance Roles of School Boards
The preliminary findings reported here relate to how school board trustees and district
superintendents perceive the governance roles and effectiveness of school boards, and the
governance roles of provincial governments. Several near-synonymous themes emerged from the
focus group data relating to roles in maintaining local autonomy including regional
representation, maintaining a community-based presence, the importance of local culture, and
localized decision-making. Other roles included accountability for student learning, financial
accountability, oversight of the professional staff, advocacy and negotiation with government,
and serving as a middle layer or buffer between government and the school community.
Although the findings based on our work with superintendents were similar to that of
school board trustees in many areas, superintendents focused more on policy roles, the
democratic mandate of school boards, and the relationship of school boards and government.
Both groups were insistent that school boards serve a vital role in sustaining the success of
Canada’s education system.
Local Representation
There was significant attention to the importance of local representation. School board
trustees expressed the importance of maintaining a local/regional orientation to the policies and
operations of a school district. They viewed the role of the trustee as bringing forward school-
community issues and concerns about which senior management and professional staff in the
district office may not be aware. Some trustees highlighted diversity in terms of the educational
needs of constituents (students and their parents) and talked about their roles as a conduit
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
between parents and the professional staff of the district. School board trustees said that they
provide a mechanism to translate those needs into local policy.
Some participants concentrated on the role played by trustees in ensuring schools
operated in a manner that reflected local values and needs. Trustees described linguistic
differences, regional differences, and cultural-ethnic differences that are particularly important to
constituents. Some trustees observed that communities with a large Aboriginal presence are
going to have vastly different needs than those of stakeholders in larger cities with a different
ethnic character or those with a large multi-cultural population. One trustee noted,
I think as elected people we are the conscience for the public . . . I think
people look to us to represent them and again be their conscience . . .
Superintendents echoed these representations. One observed that trustees are like ombudsmen or
trouble shooters who can address or correct local problems when they crop up, for example, a
busing issue or a concern about a particular practice in a school.
Independent Decision-Making
The capacity of boards to be autonomous in decision-making was stressed as a key
means of ensuring boards remained effective in representing local interests. Participants pointed
out that regional school board trustees are well apprised of the unique sets of regional issues
important to parents and citizens. They described part of their role as identifying local priorities
at the policy table and ensuring that the resources of the district are deployed to respond to these
priorities. Without trustees, one participant observed, the connection to the community could be
in jeopardy.
Some trustees focused their comments on the need for local culture and community
circumstances to be brought to bear on educational decision-making. One characteristic unique
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
to school board decision-making is the first-hand experience of trustees with community
priorities. Several participants noted that board members were effective in keeping the values of
the district bureaucrats and the directions of government from overriding the values of the
Superintendents expressed concerns about loss of democracy in a more centralized
system, since more centralization has the potential to limit the independence of the board and
politicize decision-making. One district superintendent speculated that in a more centralized
system senior staff would need approval at a political level to even participate in a study such as
this one:
. . . [T]o do this research study you [would] begin with approval from the
minister to see if we, as employees of the Department of Education, could talk
to you and whether in fact this was a good thing.
Some superintendents had already been part of a significant consolidation of several smaller
districts. There was concern expressed that the merger of boards into a larger centralized board
has had the effect of amplifying the number of local issues that must now be adjudicated by the
one school board. Moreover, these larger districts now cover a larger geographic area and more
electoral ridings. Some superintendents expressed concern about an escalation of the level of
political contact between trustees (and senior professional staff) and elected members of the
legislative assembly (MLAs). Participants told us that members of provincial legislatures have
sought direct access to trustees and board personnel, potentially compromising the independent
functioning of the board. As one director observed,
it is almost like a love-hate relationship with school boards. [Members of the legislature]
need them to carry out things that perhaps they can’t do at a government level because
politically it wouldn’t be in their best favour, but they also don’t like [school boards]
because they are autonomous and you are a corporation essentially that can say, no we
are not doing that.” So it’s a very fine balancing act between the . . . political part of
government and the . . . school board.
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
Accountability and Oversight
Both school board trustees and superintendents were clear that one of the most
significant roles of board trustees relates to financial accountability for the use of public funding.
Trustees said that they understood their obligation to make prudent financial decisions about the
allocation of resources throughout the district, but they felt such decisions must account for
different regional needs. In sessions with superintendents there was considerable focus on
individual school board members as the local face of accountability for public educational
spending. One superintendent commented that,
people tend to measure provincial investments by how well their neighbour’s
kid is doing or their own child is doing or what people are saying at the gas
pumps or after church and so forth. They make that aspect of accountability
Accountability for Student Learning
In addition to their fiduciary responsibility, there was general agreement that oversight
of professional staff and practitioners was a significant governance role of school boards. A
common theme relating to this finding was that this oversight role extended to monitoring
operations to ensure schools meet local needs while graduating students with a high quality
education. There was consensus that one of a school board member’s primary functions is to act
to ensure that the quality of education remains high.
In our sessions with superintendents we heard the same kinds of representationsone
of the key roles of trustees is to keep professional staff accountable in terms of outcomes and the
results. Many expressed the belief that the role of the trustee has changed in the last ten years
since a good deal of what is required of districts by education departments is mandated, and the
focus is now on student achievement. Therefore, the agenda items for school board meetings
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
have changed to parallel the new focus. Commenting on the regulatory environment of school
districts, one participant observed,
much of what [school board trustees] do, I guess I should say, are required to
do, is mandated. Their role has become increasingly about finding ways to fit
into the local context, the initiatives that come from the ministries . . .
Trustees also interpreted regional representation in terms of advocacy. They expressed
the view that different communities in a regional school board may have very different needs.
Trustees in several regions of the country said they were also situated as advocates for the
communities within their own “zone. As democratically-elected representatives, they viewed
their voice as the voice of the resident in their particular constituency. The role, therefore, is
parochial and communicative; they are a liaison with the public who elected them and who they
represent. One participant expressed the role of trustee in this way:
We are a voice for the vulnerable and a voice for those who don’t speak for
themselves; a communicator and ombudsman for communities that don’t
know how to connect, to me that’s a primary role that we play.
Several trustees noted, however, that parochialism has its place, but after an issue has been
debated, a board can only be effective if individuals place the interests of their region in check to
avoid divisiveness.
Negotiating and Mediating
Both trustees and superintendents represented school boards as serving as a “buffer”
between government and the public on education issues. Superintendents described a school
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
board’s role as acting to shape and adapt provincial policy to achieve the most positive impact
for students in the local community. One participant noted that
school boards become very involved in . . . the policy directions and discussions
with the staff in the government and at the bureaucratic level and attempt to
modify the direction they are taking so that, in fact, it will work effectively on
the ground for students in the schools.
Trustees also identified a necessary mediating role between government and the public. One
trustee conceptualized this as both acting for and on behalf of parents and the public, and serving
a function of influencing, and subsequently interpreting and acting on, the will of government.
One observed that school boards have a duty to represent the district’s interest with government
including lobbying to acquire the educational services and resources constituents feel are needed
in the district:
Well I see [our role] as advocating for students . . . to be sure that each district
is getting a fair share of the funding pie and without school boards I think it
could be open seasonespecially in rural areas. I think the big role is
advocating on behalf of your own district.
Role of Provincial Education Authorities
There is a strong consensus view that the significance of the school district apparatus in
Canada has diminished as provincial governments (cabinets and DOEs) exert greater direct
influence over local educational matters. School district superintendents suggested that school
boards were struggling to define their role in a new governance arrangement where different,
external actors were not only setting the broad educational agenda, but also involved in local
operations. According to one participant, school districts are in danger of “losing their voice in
education” as there is now “very little governance left.” Among the cited examples of
operational changes that are believed to have eroded school board autonomy are centralized
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
labour negotiations and province-wide collective agreements; an increase in targeted funding;
centralized student information systems; direct intervention by ministry bureaucrats, and; the
requirement for ministerial sign-off on certain school board policy decisions.
Both school board trustees and superintendents expressed the view that, increasingly,
school board policy is being driven “from the centre.” Participants from both groups expressed
concern about the intrusion of political actors in school board policy, with one trustee noting that
when school boards operate at arm’s length from government the governance arrangement works
to “remove the politicization of decision making.” One of the factors responsible for eroding
school board autonomy in policy making is the accountability relationship with government. One
trustee observed that parents and the public expect school boards to make policy in the local
interest, but boards are limited in the kinds of decisions they can make because governments
“control the purse strings” and scrutinize decisions through a political lens. In another session
superintendents cited examples where school boards were brought to task by the DOE for
“decisions that shouldn’t have been made.
Another problem identified by trustees was the apparent contradiction between strict
oversight of school district operations at one level, and the claim, made by governmental
authorities, that school boards operate independently. Trustees expressed concerns at the
progression of ministry contact with school boards from macro-level to micro-level oversight. In
the following exchange, two trustees discuss financial directives that had been imposed on
school boards:
Speaker 1: In Quebec, I would say in the past three to four years our funding
has become so targeted and there is no wiggle room in so much of the funding
that we receive that . . . it has taken away all of the voting power.
Speaker 2: I would say today that even your travel budget was targeted by the
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
Speaker 1: The travel budget was cut 25%, the travel budget, PD, and there
are a whole bunch of other things administratively that are cut two for one
so if one retires, two retirees you can only replace one. It is huge.
Speaker 2: That’s micromanaging.
Superintendents in a number of sessions echoed the perception that school boards are
now more restricted in fulfilling their mandates and this tightening of flexibility is not only
financial but extends to program focus. The following exchange typifies how district
superintendents represented the relationship between government and school boards:
Speaker 1 . . . they control the purse strings; they really do dictate what the
board can and cannot do whether it is a capital project or a curriculum
implementation or even the hiring of staff. It’s really all under the direction of
the department.
Speaker 2: They determine the funding, that’s right.
Speaker 3: The funding for programs for everything.
Speaker 1: A hundred percent of our dollars come from government.
Speaker 2: And . . . we are developing our strategic plan but it has to be linked
with the strategic plans of the department so you just can’t do whatever you
want you know. You got to contribute to that plan, the government’s plan.
Some trustees were concerned that local programs could be affected if the
centralization trend continued. There was a view expressed that some local programming is
specifically designed to address particular needs that are situated in the local community.
Trustees shared numerous examples of localized programming that had been developed at the
urging of a school board representative. Some trustees felt that if the imbalance between regional
and central authority continued, some of these local programs would be at risk of never having
been developed:
We still do a lot of stuff around programming and things that are unique and I
think in British Columbia; [one of these is] the Haida Gwaii immersion
program to keep kids engaged in schools to make sure they graduate. That’s
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
not going to come out of central office somewhere where it is planned in
Victoria that has to come from a local community. So there is still a role [for
school boards], but these [are] tensions that have developed because of other
Superintendents in several sessions were more direct in articulating a centralization
agenda and represented some governments as firmly focused on the elimination or substantial
consolidation of existing boards. On several occasions we heard fears expressed about plans to
substantially reduce the number of districts and frustration with multi-year funding reductions
announced by government in response to enrolment decline. In one session participants
expressed the view that governments have been able to “beat up on school boards” because there
are “no votes in education.
Other district superintendents were more measured in their assessment of the
relationship between governmental authorities and school boards. Considerable value was placed
on fact that trustees are elected regionally and, in a large geographic school board, they bring the
values and interests of different constituent groups to the policy table. There was consensus that
this function would be jeopardized in a completely centralized system. However, in several
sessions there was recognition that governments were generally sensitive to the importance of
that role. Participants described a need for a balance between the will of the ministry of
education and the representations of the local community. While it was felt that these two are
often in alignment, there are circumstances where local needs or values might be compromised
without the work of school boards. One superintendent talked about the importance of balance in
governance responsibilities:
You need defined responsibilities and defined rights and powers at the local
levels just as you need those definitions at the . . . central level by
government. So you know school boards are an important part of the living
out of that vision of a balancing of the rights and responsibilities. A good
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
school board can have the impact of enhancing student learning I believe
[and] has a better chance to welcome and to accommodate local diversity.
School Board Effectiveness
Many of the research participants, from both groups studied, conceptualized
effectiveness in terms of the culture and climate of a school district. There was a strong view
expressed that school boards play a significant part in shaping the organizational climate of a
district and this, in turn, influences effectiveness. According to some trustees how well a school
board accomplishes its mandate, is influenced by whether the board perceives its role in political
terms or in educational terms. One trustee observed that board composition can have a strong
impact on the extent to which a district is innovative and student-focused.
From the perspective of effective governance and relevant decision-making many
trustees talked about the importance of their personal connections to schools and school councils.
Several trustees mentioned the value of visiting schools, attending school events, and meeting
with the student council or the advisory council of a school. We heard that a common practice in
school districts is to assign trustees to schools as a means of maintaining an “elected” presence in
the local community. Trustees were strong in their defence of this practice charging that the
needs of local constituencies could be lost if administrative arrangements were more technocratic
in nature. One speaker felt that policy needed to be connected to the community. The view was
expressed that the hired professional staff are more dispassionate and often do not have any
personal connection to local circumstances. One trustee observed,
We hire very good technical people, who know lots about the pedagogical
world, but you have to have a community that supports what you are doing
and we are that interaction with the community.
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
Notwithstanding the fact that the school board presence and scope of responsibilities
had been dramatically reduced in some provinces, some trustees felt that school boards still
maintain an important local role in governance. In one instance, a trustee acknowledged that
school boards had undergone significant consolidation and a diminished governance role, but she
still considered the role of school boards to be relatively independent of government:
[The ministry] give[s] us the funding, but we have a tremendous input as
boards ourselves in how we allocate that fundingnot hiring teachers because
that is now the place of the provincebut the actual programming and the
actual facilities that they maintain. You know we have a very hands-on
[approach]; we are the ones who really develop all of that. . . .
However, not all trustees felt that school boards were maintaining the local relevance
they consider to be vital to their continued existence. Trustees in all the focus group sessions
identified their roles variously as advocating for students, setting broad policy for the board,
vying for public funding and ensuring accountability for its expenditure, and representing local
interests. But in some regions, there was a view that governments have demonstrated a
fundamental lack of clarity related to what school districts do. One trustee observed that “there is
a lot of misunderstanding about the role of school boards.”
Gradual centralization of authority was also blamed for changes in the perceived
relevance of school boards. The movement away from local taxation in some provinces, as well
as a profound increase in the number of provincially mandated procedures and governance
requirements was seen as a radical shift in authority over education. Whereas, in the past,
financial management, collective bargaining, and governing authority rested more with school
boards than with government, the participants in this study felt that provincial ministries of
education had appropriated authority in these areas away from school boards, thereby weakening
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
their relevance in the community. The following excerpt describes how one trustee described the
impact of these changes on school boards:
In Quebec we are experiencing less and less connectivity and there is a lot of
questioning about the relevance of school boards so I’m not so sure that the
community supports us as they once did.
Several trustees voiced concern over the impact of rapid change in education and
greater demands on school districts in a range of areas. There was agreement that parents and the
community have become more restlessparticularly in urban centres. Both participant groups
held the view that educational governance is now under greater public scrutiny, and this has had
an impact on the relevance of school boards. One superintendent suggested that school boards
have not adapted their practices to respond to new public demands for schools:
So now society is more questioning. Not that they disagree; they just have
high expectations of the system. So they are asking questions and we haven’t
invited the community in and engaged them and we are still behaving in a
way that was for a different time that makes a disconnect.
Another speaker added that:
That is part because of the increased centralization and . . . that’s a common
theme across the country, that local autonomy that we had as trustees of school
boards which could be very reflective of the community has been interrupted by
a very politicized and centralized direction from our provincial governments,
which compromises quality, I think.
Discussion: Implications for School Board Governance
This study attempts to connect the understandings from several strands of governance
and policy research and to address questions relating to the relevance of school boards in an
interventionist education policy environment. Earlier research (Galway, 2006, 2008) on the
policy formation practices in ministry-level policy elites in Canada (education ministers and
senior bureaucrats) shows a trend towards reliance on broadly defined democratic/political
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
influencespublic opinion, advocacy, the mass media, and other political and pragmatic
pressures. These findings are consistent with a policy paradigm that is ambiguous, politicized
and risky (e.g., Majone,1989; Kingdon,1995; Levin, 2001; Stone, 2002)inclusive of personal,
political, experiential, and altruistic motives. This paradigm supports the conceptualization of a
policy environment in Canada that is more reactive than systematic; and driven, to a great extent,
by public opinion, advocacy, and the mass media, which often call for immediate policy
responses and, potentially, intervention in school board actions and decisions.
The findings from this research show that both school board trustees and
superintendents are gravely concerned about the ability of school boards to be effective in a
climate of faltering government support. While superintendents identified numerous examples of
how their school districts had enacted programs and initiatives to remain effective and relevant
(e.g., policy consultations with constituents, opportunities for parents to engage with the board
on matters of student learning, enhanced communications, and a strategic focus on student-
centred teaching and learning) in some jurisdictions, they were less than optimistic about the
long-term prospects for school boards. One superintendent expressed the view that collaboration
between the school board and the province was highly unstable, while another characterized the
relationship as lacking trust. There was general consensus that the public expected school boards
to provide a strong local/regional voice in broad educational policy making; however,
participants from both groups felt that trustees could only be effective in that role if governments
do not circumvent them or openly criticize their work. School board trustees, meanwhile,
provided numerous examples of instances where DOEs made decisions that directly impacted
school board operations without any form of consultation. They also cited examples where the
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
school board was charged with defending or taking responsibility for questionable decisions into
which they had no input.
Among the questions not addressed in Galway’s (2006) study is the extent to which the
recent policy interventions by governments into school board operations observed by Dibbon,
Sheppard, and Brown (2012) are related to political risk. The research presented here shed some
light on this question. The findings of this study reveal that school board roles and
responsibilities have changed and continue to be shaped and marginalized by new
accountabilities and new arrangements with provincial governments. Elsewhere Galway and
Dibbon (2012, p.1) have described the educational landscape in Canada over the past quarter
century as unsettled and risky; punctuated by “commissioned studies, program reviews,
accountability and performance initiatives, and strategic plans, all of which fed significant
reform of education systems . . . as policymakers tried to negotiate the problems of fewer
students, unstable budgets, and new expectations for schools.” They suggest that these kinds of
actions, particularly the widespread reform of education systems also serve as public
demonstrations of government legitimation. Beck (1997) points out that in risk society there are
many competing special interests all vying for inclusion on the public education agenda. Public
expectations for what school systems can deliver have never been greater and these expectations
are constantly changing and being redefined, creating a chaotic and uncertain political policy
Based on these new data, and consistent with risk theory, we speculate that, in the
present education policy environment, the political and ideological interests of elected
governments may run counter to the democratic mandates of school boards. We theorize that in a
politicized environment, the values, reward systems, and accountabilities against which school
The Impact of Centralization on Local School District Governance in Canada
board trustees and superintendents operate are likely to differ substantively from those of
politicians and senior bureaucrats, thereby creating a policy environment that is antagonistic to
local governance.
Our judgment, based on the findings from this research, is that the continuation of
meaningful local educational governance in Canadian jurisdictions requires that elected school
boards evaluate how they are situated in relation to the governments that create and fund them
and the public who elect them. The options appear to be quiet acquiescence to the centralization
of educational governance versus some form of productive opposition to these forced changes.
School boards have the authority to begin a public discourse on local governance in education;
perhaps it is preferable to take action to save a sinking ship than to quietly allow nature to take
its course in the hope that it will be spared.
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... greater centralized control by the provincial Department of Education. The trend toward more centralized control of Canadian education systems (Galway et al., 2013) runs counter to the evidence regarding the positive relationship between distributed leadership and improved student outcomes (Sheppard & Galway, 2016). In Nova Scotia, the concentration of power in the provincial Ministry of Education has hampered distributed leadership in several ways. ...
... School boards reflect society' s longstanding belief that education governance should reflect community values and priorities while affording parents the opportunity to express their concerns to local representatives (Galway et al., 2013). With the elimination of the English school boards, parents lost ready access to local representatives who were familiar with their communities and schools and who had legally sanctioned decision-making authority in key areas of education. ...
... Therefore, the findings point to the need for viable alternatives to traditional school boards. While research has shown that school boards make meaningful contributions to democratic participation in Canadian education (Campbell & Fullan, 2019;Galway et al., 2013;Sheppard & Galway, 2016), the trends toward the consolidation and replacement of school boards continue across the country. Although school boards ideally function as effective stewards of public education that embody collaboration, accountability, and transparency (Campbell & Fullan, 2019), the reality often falls short of this ideal. ...
Full-text available
This article examines how recent policy reforms in Nova Scotia, Canada, encouraged and constrained distributed leadership in the provincial public education system. The study found the language of newly enacted legislation and policies encouraged distributed leadership by endorsing collaborative team processes for school improvement and special education/inclusive education. However, distributed leadership was constrained by the elimination of elected school boards, the reduced authority of school advisory councils, the altered duties of educational leaders, and the failure to enact essential supports for distributed leadership. Overall, this analysis found that recent policy reforms strengthened the control of the provincial ministry of education at the expense of local, democratic participation in education. The need for new organizational structures and processes for citizen participation in twenty-first century education was identified. Résumé Cet article examine la manière dont la réforme de politiques récentes en Nouvelle-Écosse (Canada) a à la fois encouragé et restreint le leadership partagé dans le système d’éducation publique de la province. Cette étude a trouvé que le langage de nouvelles législations et politiques a motivé le leadership partagé en encourageant des processus de travail en équipe axés sur l’amélioration des écoles et sur une éducation spécialisée et inclusive. Cependant, l’étude a aussi trouvé que des contraintes ont été imposées sur le leadership partagé par l’élimination de conseils scolaires élus, l’autorité réduite des commissions consultatives scolaires, la modification des responsabilités de leaders éducationnels, et l’incapacité d’offrir des appuis essentiels pour le leadership partagé. Cette analyse a conclu que la réforme de politiques récentes a augmenté le pouvoir du ministère de l’Éducation néo-écossais aux dépens d’une participation démocratique locale en éducation. Cet article a identifié le besoin d’établir de nouveaux processus et structures organisationnels afin d’assurer une meilleure participation citoyenne en éducation au 21e siècle. Keywords / Mots clés : distributed leadership, policy reform, school improvement / leadership partagé, réforme de politiques, amélioration des écoles
... Political boards are more focused on being responsive to community wishes; they are divided on issues and votes and tend to be more willing to act independently of staff. Most boards lean towards the professional model, with a focus on policy formulation (Butler et al., 2019;Galway et al., 2013;Maharaj, 2020;Sattler, 2012). However, how a trustee comes to be elected may impact their view of the role. ...
... The act focused the role of trustee broadly on student achievement, stewardship of resources, oversight of the director of education, and multiyear planning. It is the director of education that is responsible for day-to-day operations (Carver, 2006;Faubert & Paulson, 2020;Galway et al. 2013;Gill, 2005;Lessard & Brassard, 2005). ...
... Of the three levels, arguably the school board is the one that has seen its power diminish the most. School boards in Ontario have been losing power for the past 30 years to the province (Faubert & Paulson, 2020;Galway et al., 2013;Garcea & Munroe, 2014;Lessard & Brassard, 2005;Owens, 1999;Sattler, 2012). Successive Ontario governments have removed the ability for school boards to directly tax and centralized funding, amalgamated boards, took more of a role in the curriculum (Garcea & Munroe, 2014;Sattler, 2012), and have begun to centrally bargain most issues with school board labour unions. ...
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School board trustees play an important role in the education of children throughout Ontario. Using an online survey of Ontario residents, expectations of school board trustees are explored in detail. The survey included an open-ended question that asked respondents what role they see being performed by trustees, as well as a question that asked respondents whether they preferred a “delegate” governing model, which believes trustees should represent constituents, or a “trustee” model, which believes trustees should render decisions based on their best judgement. On the surface, respondents see three primary and distinct roles: represent the public; support the administrative functions of the school board, and to ensure educational outcomes are met. In addition, the sample tilts favourably towards the “delegate” governing model. Regression models identify some factors that help explain respondents’ choices.
... The main difference between these two countries is that the school governing boards play a big role in Shanghai, but a very small role in Taiwan, where the SMTs have larger roles. Canada (Alberta) is also at the upper end of Dimension 2, where the school boards are well-established entities with considerable powers, despite the increased influence of central authorities [51]. Conversely, Sweden is at the lower end of Dimension 2. Johansson, Nihlfors, and Steen [52] point out that the school boards in Sweden are fairly recent organisational institutions, with variable roles and powers. ...
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The purpose of this paper is to explore the authority basis of compulsory school principals in Iceland by making a general comparison to the other participating countries in the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018, as well as by using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory. The study utilizes data from principals in 48 of the countries that participated in the TALIS 2018. The authority bases of the principals and of the other governing agents are explored with regard to the key task areas, which range from managerial to curriculum tasks. The authority basis of the principals and the other agents in Iceland has commonalities with most of the other Nordic countries, as well as with Baltic countries, Anglophone countries (except for Canada (Alberta)), and with many Eastern European countries. On the basis of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions model, Iceland is “individualist”, with a low “power distance”, and it allocates more responsibility to the principals and to the other school agents at the school level than it does to the authorities. The major implication of this study for the Icelandic context is the need to enhance and strengthen the role of the school boards in terms of the professional support for principals.
... These actors create, interpret, and shape educational policies, and consequently, the experiences of students and teachers working in schools. While both U.S. states and Canadian provinces have the constitutional authority to govern the schools within their purview (Vergari, 2010), local school districts (United States) or divisions (Canada) have long played an important role in the creation, implementation, and interpretation of educational policy (Galway et al., 2013;Hess, 2002;Jimenez-Silva et al., 2016). This multi-layered policymaking process shapes schools' practices and students' experiences. ...
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This comparative case study examines the policies of two new immigrant destinations in the United States and Canada that in the past 20 years experienced a rapid influx of immigrants. Using an integrated framework of policy design theory and the context of reception, this paper analyzes the framing of immigrant students in the state, district, and school-level policies. Interviews with immigrant students in these communities show how these policies shaped their schooling experiences and communicated important messages to them about their role in their new communities, thus shaping their political identities. The findings highlight the important interplay of these different policymakers in shaping the contexts of receptions students encountered. The paper concludes by discussing educators’ role in working to craft more equitable policies.
... Essentially, central schools were geared towards meeting the demands of the workforce in the country. In Bhutan, the Central school concept was a strategic intervention to fast track improvement in the overall quality of education through restructuring of the school system by establishing large centres with proper boarding and adequate educational resources preferably located in rural settings with major and permanent catchment areas and enhance their global competencies and skills to face the challenges of the 21 st century while remaining deeply rooted to our national identity and values" (Pokhrel, Kuensel, 18th April 2015) [8]. ...
This paper attempts to examine the general perceptions of the Parents on the Concept and Implementation of Central Schools in Bhutan. These days we have mixed feelings on the implementation of central schools in Bhutan. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the level of perceptions of the parents on the implementation of Central Schools in Bhutan. The first section is the statement of the problem on the introduction of central schools in Bhutan. This is followed by the general-purpose and specific objectives of carrying out this study. In the next section, this paper presents the significances of carrying out the study and finally concludes with the main guiding question and sub-questions. The study employed both qualitative and quantitative methods. The sample consisted of more than 100 parents from three Gewogs of Samdrupjongkhar. The finding of the study revealed that with the coming of the Central schools, the other small schools are deprived of the facilities. Therefore, it is recommended that the facility has to be equally distributed and the current system of the detachment of lower campus from upper campus has to be continued.
... While similar reforms played out in other countries, this province, with its unique characteristics and challenges in the delivery of education was also caught up in broader global trends with restructuring and devolution as key strategies. Education policy was remade in response to broader global trends including centralization through radical restructuring, tighter central control, accountability measures, and loss of autonomy among educators (Ball, 2016;Blackmore, 2000: Galway et al., 2013. Political directives held educators accountable with increasingly less input in policy debates. ...
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Neoliberal discourse dominated education policy for decades and fueled reform movements with lasting effects. Through a critical lens this qualitative case study explored policy direction, the influences that shaped multiple years of reform initiatives and the impact of these changes in one Canadian province. Data sources including policy documents, surveys, and interviews, revealed that with each restructuring there was a loss of professional expertise and local governance affecting working conditions, communication, and relationships. Consequently, there was a decline in support for student learning, teachers, and schools. This historical overview informs policymakers challenged with shaping future policy direction in education.
en The value of elected school board trustees has been a topic of debate. Several provinces in Canada have already eliminated them, with Manitoba currently considering abolishing them as well. Whether this is supported—or opposed—by the public is somewhat unknown. This research note reports the results of a survey of Ontario residents. We find that while two-thirds of respondents support retaining trustees, there are factors that pull people more towards favouring their elimination. Support for trustees is significantly lower for males, younger respondents, and those on the political right. Sommaire fr L'importance des conseillers scolaires élus a fait l'objet de débats. Ils ont déjà été éliminés dans plusieurs provinces du Canada, et le Manitoba envisage actuellement de les abolir également. Que le public y soit favorable – ou opposé – est quelque peu inconnu. Cette note de recherche rend compte des résultats d'un sondage auprès des résidents de l'Ontario. Nous constatons que si les deux tiers des répondants soutiennent le maintien des conseillers scolaires, certains facteurs poussent davantage les gens à préférer leur élimination. Le soutien aux administrateurs des conseils scolaires s'avère considérablement plus faible chez les hommes, les répondants plus jeunes et les personnes appartenant à la droite politique.
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Eğitim olgusunun yapılandırılma biçimleri ülkelere göre farklılık göstermekte olup merkezi veya yerel unsurların baskın olduğu farklı modeller eğitim sistemlerini biçimlendirmektedir. Bu çerçevede okul tabanlı yönetim uygulamaları, eğitim otoritesinin yerel bir grup, veliler veya bir kurula ait olması gibi toplum kontrolü uygulamaları, otoritenin ebeveynler ve profesyoneller (öğretmenler ve müdür) arasında eşit paylaşıldığı dengeli kontrol uygulamaları gibi eğitimde farklı yerelleşme uygulamaları hayata geçirilmiştir. Araştırma konusunun ele aldığı ülkeler (Avustralya, Kanada ve Almanya) bağlamında ise eğitimde yerelleşmenin boyutları; bina-tesis-arazi işleri, fonların harcanması, bütçe planlama ve denetimi, personelin istihdamı, vergilendirme, yerel emlak vergisi toplama, kendi kendini kurma yetkisi, yıllık bütçeyi belirleme ve yönetme, okul politikası belirleme, okullar inşa etme, sendikalarla müzakere yapma, ders ve eğitim yönetimi gibi yetki ve sorumluluklara ulaşmaktadır. Aynı zamanda bu anlayış, müfredatın eyalet ve bölge düzeyinde belirlendiği esnek ve yerel odaklı süreçleri yoğun olarak içermektedir. Bu doğrultuda derleme çalışması şeklinde gerçekleştirilen bu araştırmada ele alınan ülkeler bağlamında elde edilen sonuçların, merkezi eğitim sistemlerinin karşılaştıkları zorlukların giderilmesi ve yerel şartların dikkate alınarak verimli eğitim süreçlerinin planlanması açısından katkı sunacağı düşünülmektedir.
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Ontario school districts are struggling to respond to racism in schooling and society. How has the literature on school district reform in Ontario addressed these ongoing and growing concerns? Through a narrative synthesis and a systematic literature review, we map and characterize the existing literature on school district reform in Ontario in the past 25 years. By combining systematic searches in main online databases with key journal and author search, we analyzed and coded a total of 95 documents. Framed through Critical Race Theory (CRT) and in conversation with recent studies on anti-racist district reforms in the United States, we conceptualize four approaches to district reform literature in Ontario: The Politics of Race Evasion, the Politics of Illusory Equity, the Politics of Representation and Recognition, and the Politics of Anti-Racist Resistance. The authors conclude with a commentary on the use of these conceptualizations in district operations and policies, as well as directions for future research. They also propose a potential fifth approach to district reform, The Politics of Regeneration.
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Governance of Scientific Research in Egypt: A Future Vision This study aimed at identifying the dimensions of scientific research governance and its contemporary trends, diagnose the reality of scientific research governance in Egypt, and develop a future vision to enhance scientific research governance in Egypt. The study used the descriptive approach to find out the dimensions and directions of the governance of scientific research, and to diagnose the reality through the opinions of (44) experts from members of the researchers in the national research centers in Egypt and members of the teaching staff in Egyptian universities. In terms of importance, the results of the study ranked the axis of enhancing the dimensions of integrity and transparency first. The axis of the application of accountability standards ranked second; the axis of scientific research policies and legislation came in the third rank, and finally came the axis of enhancing the dimensions of participation and communication, which ranked fourth and last in terms of importance. Based on several points, the study presented a future vision for the governance of scientific research in Egypt. The most important of these points are: • Introducing a strategic plan for scientific research institutions in Egypt. • Updating research policies and linking them to development plans. • Building faculty members research capabilities. • Preparing a research map according to a systematic survey. • Developing legislation and regulations related to scientific research. • Inclusion of all scientific research institutions under one umbrella. • Marketing scientific research results. • Formulating performance indicators to measure the quality of scientific research. • Strengthening the advisory role of research centers and scientific research institutions.
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Between 1970 and 1990 enrolment in Newfoundland and Labrador schools dropped by 22 percent. The first wave of major educational reform (1990 to 2000) saw massive reductions in public school expenditures and the reduction of more than 1650 teachers. Facing continued enrolment loss and a large current account deficit, in 2004, government again consolidated school districts. In this paper I examine the 1997 and 2004 reforms and argue that the ―rationalization‖ agenda set by government was aggressive—driven primarily by fiscal and corporate factors. While the reforms accomplished their corporate goals, they also resulted in educational and organizational costs which should be weighed against potential benefits.
School District Leadership Matters challenges policy makers, administrators, and academics in the field of educational leadership to reassess their traditional approaches to learning, working, and planning. The authors believe that government restructuring, standards-based reforms, and centrally imposed strategic planning have been painfully ineffective. As a consequence, student learning has become increasingly superficial and inauthentic. This book bridges the traditional divide between the generalizations of social science theory on the one hand and the world of educational practice on the other. It argues that a more promising approach to education reform is through effective school district leadership. Sheppard, Brown and Dibbon draw on their collective experience both as educational leaders and researchers of leadership, having spent five years researching and working in one school district. Here, they show how a district superintendent can successfully navigate the paradoxes and challenges of facilitating collaborative leadership in a school district with a traditionally hierarchical organizational structure. As a conclusion to their work, the authors highlight what they call five ‘recognitions’ that deepen readers’ understanding of school district leadership. They illuminate, too, ways that senior level practitioners can apply theory to practice in order to break down the traditional hierarchical bureaucracies that inhibit learning, and create professional learning communities. School District Leadership Matters urges researchers, graduate students, practitioners, and policymakers to focus on improving authentic learning for all students and argues that the best hope rests with effective school district leadership. This empirically-based yet practical book provides new insights and questions for academic researchers and will inspire policy makers and practitioners to imagine what could be and to work towards it.
High levels of cynicism about politics, fuelled by a lack of understanding of the real dynamics of policy and the political process, are dangerous to democracy. So argues Benjamin Levin in Governing Education. With this book, Levin seeks to improve public understanding of the way government works, especially with regard to education policy. Based on his experience as Manitoba’s deputy minister of education from 1999 to 2002, Levin offers an insider’s account of the events and conditions that governed Manitoba’s educational policy as a way of illustrating the larger dynamics of the political process. He demonstrates how the actions of governments are rooted in diverse political demands, and looking at the current state of education and education policy in Canada, comments on its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. Levin’s unique combination of informed analysis with real stories of real events told by participants provides an incisive exploration of government in action. While based on events in Manitoba, the same dynamics and conditions apply across the country. This book will have strong appeal to people in education, political science, and public administration.
Challenges the common assumption that policy analysts engage in a purely objective technical assessment of policy alternatives. This book argues that what analysts really do is produce policy arguments that are based on value judgements and are used by policymakers in the course of public debate.
Canadian public school board trustees are generally chosen by way of public ballot in civic elections. A comparison of board governance literature to a local narrative account of public school board elections exposes several gaps between espoused democratic ideals and the realities of public engagement in trustee selection. I investigate the nature and extent of this misalignment in order to establish a baseline for future inquiry into public perceptions of school board governance, engagement in school board elections, democratic representation in public school systems, and links between effective governance and educational outcomes.