TORONTO -Halton Region encompasses relatively wealthy, established communities like Oakville and Burlington mixed with economically comfortable, newer, suburban middle-class towns like Acton, Georgetown, Halton Hills and Milton.
The Halton District School Boards offer parents a respectable array of choices for parents to exercise in the education of their children. The non-denominational, “public” Board of Education, HDSB, has 68 elementary and 16 secondary schools. The schools tend to be newer as more and more immigrants choose to settle in the area. Parents have ample choices for their children.
By comparison, the Catholic Board (HCDSB), which exists for parents exercising their Constitutional denominational rights to a Catholic upbringing for their children, is a smaller Board with 45 elementary schools and 9 secondary schools. Its elementary schools fared relatively well academically until Covid-19 disrupted the learning routine.
The Fraser Institute rankings for 2018-2019 were encouraging. Fully 35 of its 45 (78%) elementary schools scored results above the provincial median of 6.2 out of 10 on provincial standardized tests, administered by Education Quality Accountability Office (EQAO). (see graphics above)
None of the schools ranked in the failure range (red). No schools achieved a score less than 6 out of 10.
Sixteen (16 schools), 36%, ranked in the successful spectrum designated for those achieving 7.6 and higher. Eight of those schools scored 8 or better with the highest achieving a 9.2, ranking 46th in the province. It is the only one in the top 100, and one of three in the top 200.
Twenty-two (22) schools (49%) were in the satisfactory but “concerned” range (yellow colour). Three of them were below the median.
Seven (7) schools (15%) ranked in the orange zone. Attention to modified learning strategies is more urgent there.
Is that where trustees and Administration have been placing their attention? Not all of them. The wokists in the group appear concentrated on issues other than their professional obligations to the Catholic parents to whom they are responsible.
Over the last two years, the Corriere has tracked the meetings of the Board, read the reports of the staff to the trustees and examined the “reports” delivered by outside “investigators” commissioned at great expense by the Director of Education. Moreover, we followed the “experts” they invited to expound on the social issues of the day.
It has not been a pretty picture. From our perspective, excessive efforts have been made by the Director (with the connivance of the last two Chairs) to prove “dysfunctionality” in the Board. Their efforts are disparaging to four trustees who appear to stand for parental rights and denominational obligations.
The Director is leaving for greener pastures at St. Michael’s College school in Toronto. That is the same school embroiled in the sexual assault issues over the last three years. The immediate past Chair and current replacement (who manifests a “prickly temperament” at the best of times) are both testing the waters for local Municipal Councils.
They rely on two seemingly self-professed wokist warriors of the cancel culture movement. One of them, Nancy Guzzo, is facing twelve separate counts of fraud lunched by her former employer, LiUNA. The other, Brenda Agnew, seems fixated on tearing down traditional Catholic ethos, especially as it pertains to sexualization – among children.
They clutter representations to the Board with “quack” doctors, “research experts” and biased documentation of little relevance to the experience of, and demanded by, parents who choose to exercise their right to a Catholic education for their children.
They successfully installed a co-ordinator for Library maintenance who admitted at a recent Board meeting that the department is in the process of eradicating HCDSB libraries of books it deems “offensive”. No criteria, no titles.
This the Board that spawned Brendan Browne, currently still the Director of Education at the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
Graphics by Raquel Martins