Transcript: Should Ontario Scrap Elected School Boards? | Apr 26, 2021

Steve sits in a room with white walls, a low slanted ceiling and several framed pictures on the walls including one of George Drew and one of Walter Kronkite. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue shirt and a striped blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Should Ontario scrap elected school boards? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says THEY'RE THE OLDEST FORM OF DEMOCRACY IN CANADIAN HISTORY. IN FACT, THEY PRE-DATE CANADA ITSELF. BUT SOME PROVINCES HAVE ELIMINATED SCHOOL BOARDS ALTOGETHER... MANITOBA IS TRYING TO DO THAT RIGHT NOW, IN FACT... PROMPTING THE QUESTION OF WHETHER WE SHOULD DO LIKEWISE IN ONTARIO. LET'S DEBATE THAT TONIGHT. JOINING US NOW, IN KINGSTON, ONTARIO: LAURIE FRENCH, TRUSTEE FOR THE LIMESTONE DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD, REPRESENTING GREATER NAPANEE, AND PRESIDENT OF THE CANADIAN SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION...

Laurie is in her fifties, with long brown hair and bangs. She's wearing a black sweater and a chain necklace.

Steve continues IN GEORGETOWN, ONTARIO: JOHN SNOBELEN, FORMER PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE MINISTER OF EDUCATION, NOW A STRATEGY CONSULTANT WITH MK and A...

John is in his seventies, clean-shaven and bald. He's wearing a blue shirt.

Steve continues AND IN PICKERING, ONTARIO: SACHIN MAHARAJ, LECTURER IN EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP AND POLICY AT OISE, THE ONTARIO INSTITUTE FOR STUDIES IN EDUCATION...

Sachin is in his thirties, bald, with a goatee. He's wearing a black shirt.

Steve continues IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU THREE WITH US ON "THE AGENDA" TONIGHT IN OUR KIND OF NEW FANGLED SETUP, NOW THAT WE'VE ALL BEEN SENT HOME. WE REALLY APPRECIATE YOU FOLKS SPARING SOME TIME FOR US TONIGHT. LAURIE, GET US STARTED HERE. TELL US, IN ESSENCE, WHAT'S THE JOB OF AN ONTARIO SCHOOL TRUSTEE?

The caption changes to "Laurie French. Canadian School Boards Association. @FrenchLaurie."

Laurie says WELL, DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATION IS A CORE VALUE IN CANADA, AND SCHOOL BOARDS ARE A PART OF THAT. TRUSTEES, AS YOU NOTED, HAVE BEEN IN PLACE SINCE BEFORE THE COUNTRY WAS ESTABLISHED AND OTHER FORMS OF GOVERNMENT TO ENSURE THAT LOCAL COMMUNITIES ARE PROVIDING FOR THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN. AND SO THAT CONTINUES. AND WHILE WE'VE EVOLVED OVER THE DECADES SINCE THEN, OF COURSE, AS WE SHOULD, AND THE SYSTEM IS MODERNIZED, THE ROLE OF THE TRUSTEE HAS NOT DIMINISHED AND THE NEED FOR THAT LOCAL VOICE AND CONTACT ARE CRITICAL. TRUSTEES ARE THE EYES AND EARS OF THE COMMUNITY, I WOULD SAY. AND MOST OF THE TASKS AND RESPONSIBILITIES AS OUTLINED IN LEGISLATION THAT ARE QUITE UNIQUE TO THE ROLE OF TRUSTEE FOCUS ON ACCOUNTABILITY, FOCUS ON SETTING THE BUDGET, SETTING LOCAL POLICY, ENSURING THAT THE MULTI-YEAR STRATEGIC PLANS ARE PRODUCING THE RESULTS. WE EMPLOY THE DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION, AND REALLY JUST CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY AND OUR CONSTITUENTS, AND NOW PRESENTLY IN ONTARIO WE ARE THE BARGAINING AGENT ON BEHALF OF SCHOOL BOARDS THROUGH THE PROVINCIAL ASSOCIATION FOR THOUSANDS OF EDUCATIONAL STAFF AND ADMINISTRATORS.

Steve says THAT SOUNDS LIKE A VERY... IT SOUNDS LIKE AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF RESPONSIBILITIES. HOW MANY HOURS A WEEK, GIVE ME A BALLPARK, DO YOU THINK YOU WORK?

Laurie says WELL, MY ROLE IS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL AND FORMERLY AT THE PROVINCIAL LEVEL, BUT I WOULD SAY THIS IS 20 TO 30 HOURS A WEEK, AT LEAST, IN SERVING THE CONSTITUENTS AND SERVING ON THOSE DIFFERENT BOARD TABLES.

Steve says AND HOW MUCH DO YOU GET PAID FOR THAT?

Laurie says WELL, TRUSTEES IN ONTARIO ARE PAID ANYWHERE FROM AROUND 5,000 dollars A YEAR TO MAYBE 25,000 dollars PLUS IN LARGER BOARDS. IT'S BASED ON ENROLMENT, WHICH IS UNIQUE TO ANY OTHER ELECTED ROLE. AND THAT IS A STIPEND. THAT IS NOT A SALARY WITH BENEFITS. AND SO YOU CAN SEE THAT THIS IS NOT A LUCRATIVE ROLE. THIS IS BECAUSE WE ARE DEDICATED. THIS IS COMMUNITY SERVICE. AND WE CARE ABOUT OUR SCHOOLS.

Steve says OKAY. JOHN SNOBELEN, COME ON IN HERE AND TELL US HOW YOU WOULD DESCRIBE THE VALUE OF SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES TO THE EDUCATION SYSTEM TODAY.

The caption changes to "John Snobelen. Former Minister of Education."

John says WELL, WE'VE GOT A LOT OF REALLY GOOD TRUSTEES OUT AROUND THE PROVINCE. I'VE MET A LOT OF THEM. BUT I CAN TELL YOU THAT IN MY EXPERIENCE, FORM SHOULD FOLLOW FUNCTION. THE FUNCTION OF SCHOOL BOARDS HAS CHANGED DRAMATICALLY OVER THE LAST 25 YEARS... OVER THE LAST 50 YEARS. AND WE HAVEN'T SEEN ANY CHANGE IN THE FORM. SO I REALLY THINK THAT WE NEED TO HAVE ANOTHER LOOK AT HOW WE GOVERN EDUCATION, HOW WE DELIVER EDUCATION, AND HOW WE CAN PUT THE VOICE OF LOCAL PARENTS INTO THE SYSTEM IN A BETTER WAY THAN THE SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE SYSTEM AS IT CURRENTLY EXISTS.

Steve says LET'S DO A LITTLE WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE HERE BECAUSE OF COURSE YOU WERE THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION WHEN THE MIKE HARRIS GOVERNMENT WAS IN POWER, AND YOU BROKE A LOT OF EGGS, LET'S PUT IT THAT WAY. YOU WANTED TO CHANGE THINGS QUITE SIGNIFICANTLY, CUT THE NUMBER OF SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES, SLASH THE PAY TO WHAT IT IS NOW... MUCH SMALLER THAN IT WAS BEFORE... TAKE AWAY THEIR TAXING POWERS IN MANY CASES. THE SCHOOL BOARD FOLKS DIDN'T LIKE ANY OF THAT VERY MUCH. WHY DID YOU FEEL A NEED TO DO IT?

The caption changes to "John Snobelen, @JSnobelen."

John says WELL, LET'S LOOK AT THE TAXING POWERS. YOU KNOW, WE HAD A VERY... A VERY QUIET AND SENSIBLE MAYOR IN MISSISSAUGA, NEAR WHERE I LIVE. AT THE TIME SHE TOLD ME THAT TRUSTEES COULD SET A BUDGET, BUT THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO GO GET THE MONEY FROM THE PEOPLE, YOU KNOW? AND IT SEEMED WRONG TO HER AND TO ME TOO THAT YOU HAVE A LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT SPENDING MONEY BUT NOT HAVING TO COLLECT IT. SO WE THOUGHT IT WAS THE SMART THING TO DO TO HAVE THE PROVINCE PAY FOR AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE LIKE EDUCATION SO THAT LOCAL COMMUNITY STANDARDS OR LOCAL COMMUNITY WEALTH DIDN'T HAVE MUCH TO DO WITH THE QUALITY OF THE SCHOOL OR QUALITY OF THE EDUCATION. SO SCHOOL BOARDS NO LONGER HAVE TO... SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES NO LONGER HAVE TO SET THOSE KINDS OF GLOBAL BUDGETS. THE GOVERNMENT OBVIOUSLY NEEDED TO TAKE OVER THE CENTRAL NEGOTIATING TABLE, YOU KNOW, WHERE WE SPEND 80 percent OF OUR BUDGET ON TEACHERS AND TEACHER SUPPORTS. SO THERE WERE DRAMATIC CHANGES IN HOW THAT HAPPENED. WE ALSO HAD ONE ENTITY, THE PROVINCE, DOING THE CURRICULUM, INSTEAD OF 170-ODD CURRICULUM BOARDS ACROSS THE PROVINCE. I THINK THOSE ARE ALL OBVIOUS THINGS. THEY ALL MAKE A LOT OF SENSE. AND WE DID THOSE BACK IN '95, '96, '97.

Steve says MM-HMM. SACHIN MAHARAJ, LET ME BRING YOU IN HERE TO ASK A BIT OF AN OVERARCHING QUESTION, WHICH IS IF THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT HAS A PARTICULAR VISION FOR HOW THEY WOULD LIKE TO REFORM EDUCATION IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO, AS JOHN SNOBELEN'S GOVERNMENT DID 25-PLUS YEARS AGO, HOW HELPFUL OR NOT CAN TRUSTEES BE IN THAT EFFORT?

The caption changes to "Sachin Maharaj. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education."

Sachin says WELL, AS LAURIE MENTIONED, I MEAN, TRUSTEES COME FROM THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES THAT THEY SERVE, AND SO IN A PROVINCE AS LARGE AS ONTARIO, WITH CLOSE TO 5,000 SCHOOLS AND HUGE GEOGRAPHIC DIFFERENCES, ALTHOUGH YOU MIGHT HAVE, YOU KNOW, CURRICULUM AND OTHER EDUCATION POLICY EMANATING FROM QUEEN'S PARK IN TORONTO, HOW TO EFFECTIVELY IMPLEMENT THAT ACROSS THE PROVINCE IS GOING TO LOOK DIFFERENT. AND I THINK HAVING ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES FROM THOSE COMMUNITIES CAN HELP SORT OF TAILOR THE EDUCATION POLICY TO THE DIFFERENT NEEDS ACROSS THE PROVINCE. AND SO WITHOUT THAT LOCAL VOICE AND REPRESENTATION, I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO RUN INTO SOME ISSUES ABOUT HOW SCHOOLS SHOULD EFFECTIVELY SERVE COMMUNITIES ACROSS ONTARIO.

Steve says LET ME DO A... LET'S DO A SIMPLE VOICE VOTE HERE. LAURIE, ON THE ISSUE OF WHETHER WE SHOULD GET RID OF TRUSTEES ACROSS THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO, YOU VOTE HOW?

Laurie says DEFINITELY WE WOULD NEED TO KEEP SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES, ABSOLUTELY.

Steve says JOHN SNOBELEN, IF YOU WERE PUT TO A VOTE IN THE LEGISLATURE TODAY, YEA OR NAY ON SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES, HOW WOULD YOU VOTE?

John says NAY. I THINK WE NEED TO REORGANIZE THIS. WE NEED TO GET CLOSER TO PARENTS, NOT FURTHER AWAY FROM THEM.

Steve says SACHIN, YOU GET TO BREAK THE TIE. HOW WOULD YOU VOTE?

Sachin says I WOULD NOT VOTE TO GET RID OF ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES. AND I THINK IF YOU LOOK IN OTHER PROVINCES THAT HAVE DONE THAT RECENTLY, WHETHER IT'S NEW BRUNSWICK OR P.E.I., THERE HAVE KIND OF BEEN MOVES TO SORT OF BRING THEM BACK IN SOME FORM. SO I DON'T THINK THAT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA.

Steve says WELL, LET'S FIND OUT WHAT CONRAD YAKABUSKI OF THE GLOBE AND MAIL THINKS ABOUT THIS BECAUSE A FEW YEARS AGO HE WROTE A COLUMN IN WHICH HE WAS NOT AT ALL ON THE FENCE. LET'S BRING UP THIS QUOTE HERE...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Infighting galore." The quote reads "The truth is that most school boards offer a sorry spectacle of Canadian democracy in action. They cannot even govern themselves, much less look out for the students in their charge. They are plagued by petty ideological battles, personality conflicts, incivility and sheer incompetence. You need adult supervision. The number of cases of provincial education ministers being forced to intervene directly in the management of dysfunctional school boars, even firing entire slates of trustees, keeps growing. From Halifax to Vancouver, this pathetic pattern keeps repeating itself. Yet, provincial governments never seem to learn the lessons of these fiascos."
Quoted from Konrad Yakabuski, The Globe and Mail. April 23, 2017.

Steve says ALL RIGHT. WE'VE GOT TO GET SOME RESPONSE TO THIS. LAURIE, OBVIOUSLY, YOU KNOW, HE'S NOT WRONG ABOUT SOME OF WHAT HE SAYS THERE. THERE HAVE BEEN NUMEROUS INSTANCES WHERE SCHOOL BOARDS HAVE SHOWN THEMSELVES COMPLETELY DYSFUNCTIONAL AND THE PROVINCE NEEDS TO COME IN AND TAKE A LOOK AT THINGS. CAN YOU CATEGORICALLY SAYS HE'S WRONG ABOUT WHAT HE'S WRITTEN?

Laurie says STEVE, UNFORTUNATELY, THERE ARE BAD EXAMPLES OF GOVERNORS AT ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT. THAT'S NOT A REASON TO ELIMINATE A REPRESENTATIVE VOICE IN ANY WAY. WITH RESPECT TO SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES IN PARTICULAR, THAT IS THE WORK OF SCHOOL BOARDS TO CONTINUE TO DEVELOP AND EVOLVE AND REPRESENT THEIR COMMUNITIES. BUT ACTING WITH INTEGRITY IS SOMETHING THAT WE DO AND PROPORTIONATELY SPEAKING, THIS IS NOT THE MAJORITY OF SCHOOL BOARDS. I WOULD SAY THAT, YOU KNOW, THOSE EXAMPLES ARE EXAMPLES THAT ABSOLUTELY NEED TO BE ADDRESSED, BUT ARE NOT A REASON TO ELIMINATE DEMOCRACY.

Steve says JOHN SNOBELEN, DO YOU THINK HE'S TAKING THE EXCEPTION AND MAKING IT THE RULE, AND IN THAT CASE, IT'S NOT REALLY A FAIR POINT TO MAKE?

John says WELL, SCHOOL BOARDS ARE DIFFERENT ACROSS THE PROVINCE. YOU SEE RURAL SCHOOL BOARDS WORK A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY THAN URBAN ONES DO AND SOME OF THEM SEEM PERPETUALLY IN DISORDER AT BEST, YOU KNOW, TO BE POLITE ABOUT IT. BUT THAT'S NOT ALL OF THEM. THE REAL PROBLEM HERE I THINK IS WE NEED INNOVATION IN EDUCATION. THERE'S SOME SIGNIFICANT THINGS WE COULD DO TO IMPROVE THE EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS THAT ARE AVAILABLE IN OUR CLASSROOMS, THE DELIVERY OF CURRICULUM, AND SCHOOL BOARDS, IN MY EXPERIENCE, ARE NEVER THE FOLKS WHO DO INNOVATION. THEY ACTUALLY KIND OF ACT AS A SORT OF GOVERNOR ON INNOVATION IN THE SYSTEM. AND THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS WHY I THINK THEY'VE KIND OF OUTGROWN THEIR USEFULNESS.

Steve says SACHIN, IS THAT A FAIR COMMENT?

Sachin says WELL, I THINK WHEN WE HAVE CRITICISMS OF SCHOOL BOARDS, WE NEED TO MAKE A DISTINCTION HERE. SO THERE ARE SCHOOL BOARDS IN THE SENSE OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE UNITS THAT, YOU KNOW, HIRE THE TEACHERS AND RUN THE SCHOOLS, AND THEN THERE'S THE ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD, BOARD OF TRUSTEES THAT OVERSEES ALL OF THAT. AND I THINK WHEN WE TALK ABOUT DYSFUNCTIONAL SCHOOL BOARDS, OR EXAMPLES OF THAT, YOU KNOW, IN MANY OF THOSE INSTANCES THAT HAD TO DO WITH, YOU KNOW, THE ADMINISTRATION, WHETHER IT WAS DIRECTORS OF EDUCATION AND SO ON, AND THAT'S KIND OF A SEPARATE ISSUE FROM THE BOARDS OF ELECTED TRUSTEES. AND I THINK ONE OF THE CRITICISMS THAT WE'VE SEEN IN RECENT YEARS IS WE'VE HAD EXAMPLES OF SOME DYSFUNCTION, PARTICULARLY SAY IN THE TORONTO BOARD OR SOME OF THE GTA SCHOOL BOARDS, AND BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE A LOT OF OUR MEDIA IS BASED, THAT'S USED TO OFTEN GENERALIZE TO SCHOOL BOARDS ACROSS THE ENTIRE PROVINCE, WHERE THAT MAY NOT NECESSARILY BE THE CASE. SO I DON'T THINK IT'S A FAIR CRITICISM TO SAY, YOU KNOW, SCHOOL BOARDS ACROSS ONTARIO ARE SOMEHOW DYSFUNCTIONAL.

Steve says NO, FAIR ENOUGH. BUT, LAURIE, YOU KNOW, I WELL REMEMBER THE STORY AT THE TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD FOR A WHILE, THEY HAD TO BRING IN AN OUTSIDER TO DO AN INDEPENDENT STUDY. IT WAS A BLOODY SOAP OPERA THERE. HOW DAMAGING ARE INSTANCES LIKE THAT TO PERHAPS THE BROADER CAUSE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO PROMOTE?

Laurie says WELL, THOSE ARE EXAMPLES WHERE, YOU KNOW, WORK NEEDS TO BE DONE AND WE NEED TO STRENGTHEN THE GOVERNANCE ROLE IN THAT SITUATION. YOU KNOW, WE CAN'T... WE CAN'T DISPUTE THAT THOSE SITUATIONS DIDN'T EXIST. THE POINT IS THAT THAT IS THE OPPORTUNITY TO CONTINUE TO ADVANCE. TO THE POINTS THAT WERE MADE EARLIER ABOUT INNOVATION. SCHOOL BOARDS ENABLE THAT TO HAPPEN BY RESPONDING TO LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND THE UNIQUENESSES. ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL FROM A CURRICULUM OR A GOVERNANCE PERSPECTIVE, AND REALLY TO BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT'S HAPPENING IN INDIVIDUAL COMMUNITIES, THAT'S WHERE WE CAN TAILOR IT AND FIND THOSE MOMENTS OF INNOVATION, ALLOWING OUR TEACHERS TO FLY AND TO BRING THAT TO THE CLASSROOM. THAT'S WHERE INNOVATION HAPPENS. AND CREATING THE CONDITIONS FOR THAT IS WHAT SCHOOL BOARDS DO THROUGH FUNDING, THROUGH BUDGETS, STRATEGIC PLANNING, AND SETTING POLICY. AND THAT IS OUR ROLE. AND TO DIMINISH THAT OR MINIMIZE THAT OR CENTRALIZE IT HAS GREAT RISK FOR COMMUNITIES.

Steve says WELL, ALL RIGHT. LET ME COME AT THIS A DIFFERENT WAY AND, JOHN SNOBELEN, I'LL GET YOU FIRST ON THIS ONE. ELECTIONS ARE EVERY FOUR YEARS. WE HAVE EMPIRICALLY PROVABLE FACTS TO LOOK AT TO SHOW THAT MANY, MANY PEOPLE WHO GO TO THE POLLS DON'T BOTHER TO TICK THE BOX FOR SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE. MANY SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES IN ADDITION ALSO RUN UNCONTESTED. I THINK IT'S FAIR TO SAY MANY ELECTORS DON'T KNOW WHO THEIR SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE IS. IN YOUR VIEW, SHOULD THAT MAKE US QUESTION THE LEGITIMACY OF THE... THE DEMOCRATIC LEGITIMACY OF SCHOOL BOARDS?

John says WELL... YEAH. MOST PEOPLE COULDN'T PICK THEIR SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE OUT OF A POLICE LINEUP. YOU KNOW, THAT'S JUST THE WAY IT IS. IF YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY, YOU KNOW, IF YOU HAD THE LOCAL DIRECTORS OF EDUCATION REPORTING TO A DEPUTY MINISTER, REPORTING TO A MINISTER RESPONSIBLE TO THE LEGISLATURE, THERE'S A LOT OF MEDIA ATTENTION, THERE'S THE KIND OF STRUCTURE FOR ACCOUNTABILITY THAT WORKS. THAT'S NOT PRESENT IN OUR CURRENT SCHOOL BOARD SYSTEM.

Steve says SACHIN, DO WE HAVE A BIT OF A DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT WHEN IT COMES TO SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES?

Sachin says I MEAN, MAYBE. BUT I THINK A SIMILAR POINT COULD BE MADE WITH MUNICIPAL POLITICS MORE GENERALLY. LIKE, HOW MANY PEOPLE KNOW THEIR LOCAL CITY COUNCILLOR OR REGIONAL COUNCILLOR OR WHATEVER IT IS. AND IN MANY OF THOSE CASES, TURNOUT IS LOW AND PEOPLE ARE SORT OF REELECTED. I MEAN, LOOK AT IN THE TORONTO CITY COUNCIL, CITY COUNCILLORS ARE REELECTED PERPETUALLY. SO I THINK YOU SEE SOME OF THE SAME ISSUES. I THINK PART OF THAT HAS TO DO WITH THE NATURE OF SCHOOL BOARDS THEMSELVES. PART OF THAT HAS TO DO WITH THE LACK OF POLITICAL PARTIES AT THE MUNICIPAL LEVEL, YOU KNOW, IN PLACES LIKE B.C. WHERE THERE ARE POLITICAL PARTIES, SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS KIND OF CAN RUN ON A SLATE AND THERE CAN BE A PLATFORM AND THERE COULD BE MORE AWARENESS IN THAT REGARD. SO, YEAH, I MEAN, THERE IS SOMEWHAT OF AN ISSUE THERE. BUT I DON'T THINK THERE'S REASON TO GET RID OF ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES ON THAT BASIS, ANY MORE THAN THERE WOULD BE TO GET RID OF LOCAL CITY COUNCILLORS.

Steve says OKAY. BUT, LAURIE, DO YOU THINK THAT SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES HAVE A DEMOCRATIC LEGITIMACY PROBLEM GIVEN HOW FEW PEOPLE VOTE FOR THEM OR APPARENTLY ARE INTERESTED IN WHAT THEY DO?

Laurie says WELL, I WOULDN'T SAY THEY'RE NOT INTERESTED IN WHAT WE DO. I CAN TELL YOU, WHEN THERE'S A CONCERN OR A QUESTION, THAT WOULD NEVER BE ANSWERED DIRECTLY FROM A MINISTER'S OFFICE. THEY FIND THEIR LOCAL TRUSTEES. SO WHETHER THEY KNOW THEM ACTIVELY ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS IS A VERY DIFFERENT THING. AND NOT EXERCISING YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE IS NO REASON TO REMOVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE FOR THAT REPRESENTATIVE. I THINK, YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE HAVE TO REMEMBER IS THAT SCHOOL BOARDS IN RECENT RESEARCH HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN PROVEN TO BE MUCH MORE DIVERSE THAN MOST LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT, AND THAT'S A CRITICAL THING IN THE CURRENT ENVIRONMENT. SO MORE THAN HALF ARE WOMEN, AND MANY MORE ARE PROPORTIONATELY BLACK, INDIGENOUS, OR PEOPLE OF COLOUR. THIS IS REALLY SOMETHING WE NEED TO THINK ABOUT ACROSS ALL DEMOCRATIC LEVELS, AND SO I THINK THAT THAT STRENGTHENS THE ROLE AND THE ABILITY TO BE PRESENT IN THE COMMUNITY AND KNOW OUR COMMUNITIES VERY MUCH, TO BE ABLE TO SERVE THEM.

Steve says WELL, HAVING SAID THAT, JOHN, MANY PROVINCES, INCLUDING QUEBEC AND NOVA SCOTIA, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, AND NOW MANITOBA, WHICH IS IN THE MIDST OF THIS, THEY'VE GOT A BILL BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE RIGHT NOW TO TRY TO ELIMINATE SCHOOL BOARDS. THEY ARE DOING IT. THEY EITHER HAVE DONE IT OR ARE IN THE PROCESS OF DOING IT. WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT SAYS ABOUT SCHOOL BOARDS ACROSS THE COUNTRY?

John says I THINK ONTARIO'S 20 YEARS LATE ON THIS. I THINK WE NEEDED TO A DIFFERENT MODEL WHEN WE MOVED TO EDUCATION OUT OF THE PROPERTY TAX AND ONTO THE BALANCE SHEET OF THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO. I THINK THERE'S ACCOUNTABILITY TO TAXPAYERS THAT HAPPENS AT QUEEN'S PARK. THERE'S THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE SYSTEM. THAT HAPPENS INSIDE OF THE MINISTRY AND SHOULD GO OUT TO DISTRICTS. BUT THE REPRESENTATION OF PARENTS AND THE INTERESTS OF PARENTS AND STUDENTS, THERE'S A VERY DIRECT CONNECTION THERE. THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE DIFFERENTLY THAN IT IS NOW, AND I THINK MUCH MORE LOCALLY.

Steve says WHEN YOU WERE THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION 25 YEARS AGO, DID YOU HAVE A PLAN TO GET RID OF SCHOOL BOARDS?

John laughs and says NO. TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, UNLIKE NOW, I COULD SUPPORT EVERYTHING THAT THE GOVERNMENT DID, WHICH HAPPENS WHEN YOU SIT ON EXECUTIVE COUNCIL. I THOUGHT AT THE TIME THAT THAT STRUCTURE HAD OUTLASTED ITS USEFULNESS. I DIDN'T THINK THAT SCHOOL BOARDS DROVE INNOVATION THEN. I DON'T THINK THEY DO NOW. I THOUGHT THERE WAS A BETTER WAY OF LINKING UP PARENT COUNCILS, GIVING THEM MORE AUTHORITY, HAVING PARENTS HAVE A DIFFERENT WINDOW INTO THE CLASSROOM, INTO WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THEIR CHILDREN. THAT'S THE MOST INTENSE RELATIONSHIP INSIDE OF THE SYSTEM. BUT I THOUGHT WE COULD ADMINISTER IT BETTER, MORE EFFICIENTLY. FOR INSTANCE, WE MIGHT KNOW WHY IT IS THAT OUR MAINTENANCE COSTS ON SCHOOLS THAT ARE CLOSED IS EXACTLY THE SAME AS OUR MAINTENANCE COSTS ON SCHOOLS THAT ARE OPEN. THAT MAKES NO SENSE TO ME. SO THE MORE ACCOUNTABILITY WE CAN HAVE AT 900 BAY IN THE MINISTRY, THE BETTER.

Steve says OKAY. BUT DID YOU ACTUALLY BRING A SPECIFIC PLAN TO PREMIER HARRIS TO ELIMINATE SCHOOL BOARDS WHEN YOU WERE THE MINISTER?

John says THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT WE CONSIDERED, AND THE CHOICE AT THAT TIME WAS... YOU KNOW, WE WERE DOING A LOT OF CHANGE ALL AT ONCE, AND THE THOUGHT PROCESS AT THAT TIME WAS, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE TO... WE HAVE TO KIND OF WORK WITHIN THE STRUCTURES OF HOW MUCH CHANGE WE CAN DRIVE AT ONE TIME, JUST SO THE SYSTEM CAN RESPOND PROPERLY. AND SO THE SCHOOL BOARDS WERE REDUCED IN NUMBER. YOU KNOW, WE MADE CHANGES IN SOME TRUSTEE ROLES. BUT WE DID NOT AT THAT TIME ADDRESS THE OVERALL GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE. AGAIN, I THINK WE'RE 20 YEARS LATE ON THIS QUESTION.

Steve says SACHIN, CAN YOU GIVE US SOME UNDERSTANDING OF THE EXPERIENCE IN OTHER PROVINCES THAT HAVE ELIMINATED SCHOOL BOARDS. HAS IT WORKED TO ACHIEVE THE GOALS THAT THE GOVERNMENTS THAT ELIMINATED THOSE SCHOOL BOARDS WANTED TO ACHIEVE?

Sachin says WELL, I MEAN, THERE'S THE STATED GOALS AND THEN I THINK THERE'S KIND OF SOME OF THE REAL GOALS. IN A LOT OF PROVINCES WHERE THEY'VE GOTTEN RID OF SCHOOL BOARDS, I THINK PART OF THE REASON THEY'VE DONE THAT IS SCHOOL BOARDS ARE OFTEN VIEWED BY THE GOVERNMENT IN POWER SOMETIMES AS IMPEDIMENTS TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THEIR EDUCATIONAL POLICY VISION, RIGHT? AND YOU CAN SEE THAT, YOU KNOW, EVEN HERE IN ONTARIO A FEW YEARS AGO, THE FORD GOVERNMENT, WHEN THEY WERE REVISING THE PHYSICAL EDUCATION SEX ED CURRICULUM, YOU KNOW, BOARDS LIKE TORONTO BASICALLY SAID, WE'RE NOT GOING TO DO IT. RIGHT? AND SO... AND BECAUSE THEY'RE ANOTHER BODY OF ELECTED REPRESENTATION, THERE CAN OFTEN BE INTENTION WITH THE GOVERNMENT IN POWER. AND BY GETTING RID OF ELECTED SCHOOL BOARDS, THE PROVINCE IS MORE ABLE TO IMPLEMENT THEIR POLICY. NOW, THEY DON'T SAY THAT NECESSARILY WHEN THEY'RE GETTING RID OF THE SCHOOL BOARDS. LIKE IN NOVA SCOTIA'S EXAMPLE, THEY SAID WE WANT TO GET RID OF ELECTED SCHOOL BOARDS TO MAKE THINGS LESS BUREAUCRATIC AND MAKE SCHOOL BOARDS MORE RESPONSIVE TO COMMUNITIES. WHAT ENDED UP HAPPENING IN THAT PROVINCE, IT HASN'T BECOME LESS BUREAUCRATIC. THERE ARE THE SAME LEVELS OF ADMINISTRATION ACROSS THE PROVINCE. WHAT'S HAPPENED IS THEY'RE JUST NOW... EVERYTHING IS MORE CENTRALIZED IN THE HANDS OF THE PROVINCE. AND EVEN THOUGH THE IDEA WAS THAT THERE BE THESE ENHANCED PARENT COUNCILS, THAT HASN'T REALLY HAPPENED, AND ALSO IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT IF YOU PUT EVERYTHING IN THE HANDS OF LOCAL PARENT COUNCILS, THEN ALL THE CITIZENS IN THE... IN EACH MUNICIPALITY THAT AREN'T PARENTS OR DON'T HAVE KIDS CURRENTLY IN THE SYSTEM ARE EFFECTIVELY SHUT OUT IN HAVING INPUT INTO THE WAY SCHOOLS ARE RUN. SO I THINK THESE ARE IMPORTANT THINGS WE NEED TO CONSIDER IF WE WERE THINKING ABOUT DOING SOMETHING SIMILAR IN ONTARIO.

Steve says LAURIE, LET ME GET YOUR SENSE OF THIS AS WELL BECAUSE OF COURSE YOU DON'T JUST REPRESENT YOUR PART OF ONTARIO THAT YOU REPRESENT AS A TRUSTEE BUT YOU'RE THE PRESIDENT OF THE SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION ACROSS THE WHOLE COUNTRY. SO LET ME COME AT IT THIS WAY: THE WORK THAT TRUSTEES USED TO DO, WHO DOES THAT WORK IF YOU ELIMINATE THE ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE?

Laurie says I DON'T KNOW. AND THAT'S THE RISK, REALLY. WHAT WE'VE SEEN IN PROVINCES, AS SACHIN SAYS, THERE IS A NEED FOR US TO REALLY MAKE SURE THAT THAT STRUCTURE IS IN PLACE. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT I HAVE SEEN THAT THE PROPOSED MODEL WILL ACHIEVE WHAT THEY PROFESS TO OR THAT IN PROVINCES THAT HAVE PROCEEDED WITH THAT, THAT THOSE THINGS HAVE COME TO FRUITION AND REPLACED THE ABILITY FOR COMMUNITIES TO HAVE VOICE. IN NOVA SCOTIA IN PARTICULAR, MANY OF THE MINORITY VOICES THAT HAD DIRECT REPRESENTATION AT THE TABLE, THE MI'KMAQ, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND BLACK AFRICAN NOVA SCOTIANS, THOSE POLICIES ARE GONE. SIMILARLY IN QUEBEC WHERE THE MAJORITY LANGUAGE HOLDER, PARENTS AND TRUSTEES AND CITIZENS WHO HAD THAT STRUCTURE, THE ENGLISH MINORITY LANGUAGE BOARDS THAT REMAIN ARE LIMITED TO PARENTS, AS SACHIN SAYS. YOU KNOW, THAT IS REALLY A CHALLENGE AS FAR AS LIMITING WHO CAN RUN. HOW DEMOCRATIC IS THAT? IT'S VERY CONCERNING. WHAT WE WOULD RATHER DO IS FOCUS ON THOSE MODELS WHERE IT WORKS. I THINK THERE ARE SOME GOOD EXAMPLES IN ONTARIO, DESPITE SOME OF THE COMMENTS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE. BUT I WOULD ALSO LOOK TO B.C. THERE, THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION HAS A CO-GOVERNANCE AGREEMENT WITH THE SCHOOL BOARD ASSOCIATIONS TO DOCUMENT HOW THEY WILL COLLABORATE AND CO-GOVERN. AND SOME OUTSTANDING WORK HAS BEEN DONE. THAT DOESN'T DIMINISH THE ROLE TO HAVE ADVOCACY IN A STRATEGIC WAY AND SPEAK OUT ON BEHALF OF COMMUNITIES, BUT IT ALLOWS FOR THE CONSULTATION TO OCCUR AND TO... YOU KNOW, I MEAN, I CAN UNDERSTAND HOW CENTRAL GOVERNMENTS WOULD APPRECIATE NOT HAVING ALL OF THOSE LOCAL TABLES TO NEED TO CONSULT WITH AND TO CONSIDER WHEN THEY'RE MAKING THEIR DECISIONS, BUT THAT'S ESSENTIALLY WHY THEY'VE EXISTED AND WHY THEY NEED TO CONTINUE TO EXIST.

Steve says ALL RIGHT. LET ME FOLLOW UP WITH JOHN SNOBELEN ON THAT. IF YOU WERE TO ELIMINATE SCHOOL BOARDS IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO, WHO WOULD DO THE WORK THAT TRUSTEES ARE NOW DOING UNDER THAT SCENARIO?

John says WELL, LOOK. I THINK THAT THIS IS NOT ABOUT EFFICIENCY, IT'S ABOUT EFFECTIVENESS. WHAT YOU WANT IS ACCOUNTABILITY WHEN YOU'RE PRODUCING SOMETHING AS IMPORTANT AS EDUCATION THAT USES UP THE KIND OF RESOURCES THAT EDUCATION USES AND IS THAT IMPORTANT. I THINK THAT ACCOUNTABILITY COMES WHEN THERE'S PUBLIC ATTENTION. I THINK THAT HAPPENS MOSTLY AT THE PROVINCIAL LEVEL. AND I THINK THERE ARE AN AWFUL LOT OF THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM THAT, YOU KNOW, LIKE OUTDOOR MAINTENANCE, INDOOR MAINTENANCE, THE DAY-TO-DAY FUNCTIONING OF A SCHOOL, THAT REALLY DON'T REQUIRE, YOU KNOW, AN ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE. I DON'T THINK THERE'S MUCH THAT HAPPENS, FRANKLY, AT THE TRUSTEE LEVEL RIGHT NOW THAT IS BENEFICIAL TO EDUCATION THAT COULDN'T HAPPEN IF WE RE-EXAMINED THE WAY WE DO PARENT COUNCILS AND PUT PARENTS CLOSER TO THE DECISION-MAKING.

Steve says WELL, THE THEORY IS, THOUGH, JOHN, THAT THE TRUSTEE IS AN ELECTED PERSON THAT IF A PARENT HAS A PROBLEM WITH SOMETHING GOING ON IN THEIR SCHOOL, OR FRANKLY EVEN SYSTEM-WIDE, THEY HAVE A POINT PERSON THAT THEY CAN CALL AND COMPLAIN TO. IF THAT TRUSTEE DOESN'T EXIST, WHO ASSUMES THAT ROLE?

John says I THINK THAT FIRST OF ALL SCHOOLS SHOULD BE DESIGNED TO BE MORE RESPONSIVE, NOT THROUGH A TRUSTEE SYSTEM BUT THROUGH THE LOCAL DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION AND THE STAFF THERE. YOU KNOW, I DON'T KNOW... SERVING AS AN MPP, I GOT A LOT OF SCHOOL QUESTIONS WHERE THEY WEREN'T RESOLVED AT THE LEVEL OF THE SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE, AND I KNOW THAT MOST MPPs WILL TELL YOU THEY HAVE A LONG CASE FILE OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE AN ISSUE WITH THE LOCAL SCHOOL OR WITH THEIR CHILD IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. GIVING THOSE MPPs A WAY TO ACTUALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE WOULD I THINK EFFECTIVELY SPEED UP THINGS.

Steve says SACHIN, CAN I GET YOU TO COMMENT ON THAT? I MEAN, THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS OVER THE LAST 25 YEARS, A GREAT DEAL OF THE AUTHORITY THAT SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES ONCE HAD HAS BEEN TAKEN AWAY AND HAS BEEN, FRANKLY, UPLOADED TO THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT. WOULD WE REALLY MISS THEIR DISAPPEARANCE IF THEY IN FACT DISAPPEAR?

Sachin says WELL, WHEN WE LOOK AT WHAT WE EXPECT OF SCHOOL BOARDS, RIGHT, I MEAN, TO YOUR QUESTION, THINGS LIKE TAXATION POWERS HAVE BEEN TAKEN AWAY AND CURRICULUM HAS BEEN CENTRALIZED. BUT WE ACTUALLY EXPECT A LOT MORE OF SCHOOL BOARDS THESE DAYS THAN WE DID A FEW DECADES AGO. I MEAN, A FEW DECADES AGO, SCHOOL BOARDS WERE PRIMARILY TASKED WITH HIRING TEACHERS AND MAKING SURE THERE WERE SCHOOL BUILDINGS AND TEXTBOOKS. NOW THEY'RE TASKED WITH ENSURING HIGH LEVELS OF STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT, WELL-BEING, EQUITY AND INCLUSION, PREVENTING BULLYING, OPERATING CHILD CARE CENTRES, NETWORKS OF SCHOOL BUS, CONTINUING EDUCATION. AND ALL OF THAT IS SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE AT THE LOCAL LEVEL. AND SO GIVEN THE GREATER EXPECTATIONS THAT WE PLACE ON OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM, I THINK THERE STILL IS THIS NEED TO SORT OF TAILOR THINGS TO THE DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES ACROSS ONTARIO.

Steve says SACHIN, LET ME FOLLOW UP WITH THIS. THE MANITOBA GOVERNMENT CURRENTLY SAYS THAT IF THEY ARE ABLE TO GET THEIR BILL THROUGH THEIR LEGISLATURE AND ELIMINATE SCHOOL BOARDS, THEY FIGURE IT'LL SAVE 50 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. DOES THAT MATTER?

Sachin says I MEAN, YEAH, SAVING... MAKING SURE MONEY IS SPENT EFFECTIVELY DOES MATTER. BUT IF WE LOOK AT, AGAIN, THE ROLE OF SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEES HERE IN ONTARIO, AS LAURIE MENTIONED, THEY'RE BASICALLY NOT PAID ANYTHING. I MEAN, A BASE STIPEND OF 5,000 dollars. MY OWN RESEARCH HAS SHOWN THAT TRUSTEES PUT IN ABOUT AN AVERAGE OF OVER 20 HOURS A WEEK IN THE ROLE, WHILE MOST ARE WORKING OTHER FULL-TIME JOBS. AND SO THIS ISN'T SOME SORT OF LUCRATIVE POSITION THAT THEY OCCUPY. AND MOST OF THE MONEY WE SPEND IN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IS IN THE ADMINISTRATION AND TEACHER SALARIES AND THINGS LIKE THAT. SO JUST GETTING RID OF THE ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD ASPECT OF IT I DON'T THINK WILL SAVE MUCH MONEY AT ALL.

Steve says JOHN SNOBELEN, LET ME ASK YOU THE POLITICAL QUESTION, WHICH IS, YOU KNOW, IF YOUR GOVERNMENT, WHICH I THINK IT'S FAIR TO SAY WAS KNOWN AS BEING A GOVERNMENT THAT WAS PREPARED TO BREAK SOME EGGS ALONG THE WAY, IF YOUR GOVERNMENT DIDN'T FEEL THAT IT HAD THE POLITICAL CURRENCY TO DO THIS CHANGE, CAN YOU IMAGINE ANY OTHER GOVERNMENT IN ONTARIO BEING PREPARED TO DO THIS?

John says NO, I CAN'T. I JUST THINK THAT IT'S... ALTHOUGH MANY MIGHT WANT TO AND MAY SEE THE LOGIC IN DOING IT THAT WAY, THERE'S A HUGE NOISE FACTOR HERE FROM A SMALL NUMBER OF PEOPLE, AND YOU'D HAVE TO HAVE SOMETHING THAT WAS MUCH BETTER RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX IN ORDER TO GET THE PUBLIC WILL. AND IT WOULD TAKE A VERY BIG CAMPAIGN TO GET THAT DONE. I THINK IT COULD HAPPEN. I MEAN, I THINK IT'S... BUT I DON'T THINK GOVERNMENTS HAVE THE ENERGY FOR IT AND IT'S NOT HIGH ON THEIR PRIORITY LIST.

Steve says LAURIE, CAN I GET YOU ON THAT?

Laurie says WELL, I DON'T BELIEVE THAT THERE WOULD BE SUPPORT FOR THIS IN OUR PROVINCE. WHILE, YOU KNOW, THERE WILL BE MIXED OPINIONS ON ANY TOPIC, AS SACHIN SAID, YOU KNOW, THIS IS LESS THAN HALF A PERCENT OF THE SCHOOL BOARD BUDGET. SO THIS IS NOT A COST SAVING. AND FOR COMMUNITIES TO LOSE ACCESS TO SOMEONE IN THEIR COMMUNITY WHO KNOWS WHAT'S HAPPENING, WHO CAN GET THEM ANSWERS AND WHO SPEAKS TO WHAT THEY NEED IS INCREDIBLY VALUABLE. AND WHILE I THINK THERE'S ALWAYS WORK FOR TRUSTEES, TO BE SURE, THAT PEOPLE IN THEIR COMMUNITY KNOW WHO THEY ARE, WHAT THEY DO, AND HOW THEY SERVE THEM, THAT'S AN ONGOING PIECE OF WORK FOR SURE. BUT STRENGTHENING THE ROLE AT A TIME IN SOCIETY WHEN WE HAVE SO MUCH WORK TO DO, WHY WOULD WE NOT STRENGTHEN ALL OF US WHO ARE WILLING TO PROVIDE THAT COMMUNITY SERVICE AND MAKE THE SYSTEM BETTER?

Steve says WELL, SACHIN, HUMOUR ME WITH THIS HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION HERE. I THINK ALL OF US WELL REMEMBER 35 YEARS AGO THE PROTESTS IN THE STREETS WHEN THE DAVIS GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED IT WANTED TO EXTEND FULL PUBLIC FUNDING TO THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM. WE WELL REMEMBER 25 YEARS AGO WHEN JOHN SNOBELEN WAS MAKING CHANGES TO THE EDUCATION SYSTEM AND THERE WERE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN THE STREETS PROTESTING AGAINST THAT. YOU ONLY HAVE TO GO BACK A COUPLE OF YEARS TO SEE THAT SOME OF THE CHANGES THAT THE DOUG FORD GOVERNMENT WANTED TO BRING IN BROUGHT PEOPLE OUT TO THE LEGISLATURE BY THE TENS OF THOUSANDS TO PROTEST AGAINST THOSE. IF ANY GOVERNMENT MADE A MOVE TO ELIMINATE TRUSTEES IN ONTARIO, DO YOU THINK THAT WOULD BRING PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR HOMES AND PROTESTING IN THE STREETS? IN OTHER WORDS, IS THIS A BIG ENOUGH DEAL THAT PEOPLE WOULD GET OFF THE COUCH AND CARE ABOUT IT?

Sachin says I THINK SO. I MEAN, I THINK IF IT WAS BROUGHT FORWARD, THIS IS SOMETHING WHERE YOU WOULD SEE LOCAL COMMUNITIES PUSH BACK. I MEAN, YOU'VE SEEN THAT IN SOME OF THE OTHER PROVINCES WHERE THIS HAS HAPPENED AS WELL. AND AS I MENTIONED, IN PLACES LIKE NOVA SCOTIA... SORRY, NEW BRUNSWICK AND P.E.I., EVENTUALLY THE PUSH-BACK WAS SO GREAT THAT THE GOVERNMENTS KIND OF... SORT OF REINSTATED SCHOOL BOARDS ON SOME LEVEL, OR AT LEAST PLEDGED TO IN THE CASE OF P.E.I. AND SO I THINK MOST PEOPLE IN GENERAL ARE RELATIVELY HAPPY WITH THE WAY THEIR SCHOOL BOARDS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS FUNCTION, AND SO I DON'T THINK THERE'S HUGE WILL AMONGST LARGE MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC TO SEE SUCH A SUBSTANTIAL REORGANIZATION, AT LEAST NOT ANY TIME SOON.

Steve says JOHN SNOBELEN, LAST QUESTION TO YOU: DO YOU REGRET THAT YOU DIDN'T GET IT THROUGH 25 YEARS AGO?

John says YEAH, I DO. YOU KNOW, I'D ARGUE THAT MOST PEOPLE HAVE NOT A CLUE HOW SCHOOL BOARDS FUNCTION OR WHO THEIR SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE IS. I THINK THERE'S LOTS OF WAYS TO IMPROVE IT. IT'S JUST NOT THERE ON THE PROVINCIAL PRIORITY LIST NOW AND LIKELY WON'T BE ANYWHERE IN THE FUTURE. I THINK WHEN WE'RE DOING ALL OF THOSE INNOVATIONS 25 YEARS AGO, WE PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE LOOKED HARDER AT THIS.

Steve says I SUSPECT YOU LOOKED PLENTY HARD AT IT. I SUSPECT YOU COULDN'T GET IT THROUGH THE GUY AT THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN BACK THEN. AM I RIGHT ABOUT THAT?

John says EVERYBODY HAS SUSPICIONS ABOUT THOSE SORTS OF THINGS.

[LAUGHTER]

The caption changes to "Producer: Steve Paikin, @spaikin; Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."

Steve says AND I GUESS THEY WILL CONTINUE TO LINGER. I WANT TO THANK LAURIE FRENCH, WHO IS THE TRUSTEE FOR THE LIMESTONE DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD, REPRESENTING GREATER NAPANEE... JOHN SNOBELEN, THE FORMER MINISTER OF EDUCATION; SACHIN MAHARAJ FROM THE ONTARIO INSTITUTE FOR STUDIES IN EDUCATION. IT'S GOOD OF ALL THREE OF YOU TO JOIN US ON TVO TONIGHT. MANY THANKS.

John says THANK YOU.

Laurie says THANK YOU.

Sachin says THANKS, STEVE.

Watch: Should Ontario Scrap Elected School Boards?