Sexism at the Eastern School Board was Ghiz’ plan on school consolidation but it will come back to haunt him at election time
Last year Premier Robert Ghiz wanted to close down 11 rural schools on PEI and set his forces in play to make it happen.
While rural mothers lost the first round with 8 schools closed, their pent-up anger with Premier Ghiz is still boiling.
The fracas at the Eastern School Board is just the tip of the iceberg. Ghiz knows it and he wants to shut down the dispute.
Ghiz had his current minister of education Doug Currie prepare legislation that could disband the dysfunctional Eastern School Board in the run-up to the 2011 election.
Ghiz may be whistling past the graveyard if he thinks the female members of the school board are acting alone. They have the both the tacit and explicit support of women throughout the school district.
Premier Ghiz would be wise to study up on psychologist John Gottman’s advice – let women win the argument since they will in the end.
The whole matter smacks of sexism in a male dominated government. Women see it that way.
It was women posted the video about the school closings and ESD – Male sexism dominates school board meeting, video part 1
. It has been one of the top 10 stories on NJN since it was posted. It’s not funny, has no music or sick jokes. The video is the controlled and determined statement by a group that has been pushed off the stage by the Premier.
Premier Ghiz wanted to close rural schools in Eastern PEI to save money. His minister of education at the time, Gerard Greenan, hid from the issue.
Then school board executive Sandy MacDonald (now deputy minister of education) tried to rush through the closures. The board members fought back and delayed the process for a few months of public meetings.
The mothers and female board members developed a consensus to resist the closures, except in Souris where they were swayed by thin promises of a new school.
When the final vote came, the board divided along male female lines – the men voting for closures and the women for retaining the rural schools.
Edna Reid became the beacon for the mothers and other dissenting board members. Ironically, Reid is a Liberal and supported Premier Ghiz.
The anger of the women was directed at Board chair Bob Clow, himself a government employee more or less under the thumb of the Premier’s office. Clow is one of those colorless civil servants who tries to get his way through passive aggressive maneuvering.
As the tension between the female board members escalated after the meeting to close the schools, Clow complained about the women and Reid to the Minister. Two separate mediators were brought in.
Reid and the other female board members saw an ambush and refused to participate in the last mediation. Since then the ESD board has fallen apart. The lines are drawn – male versus female. One female trustee already resigned. The big guns are aiming to get rid of Edna Reid who is not to be underestimated for stamina.
Will Clow be rewarded for his efforts against the female trustees and mothers?
Education Minister Doug Currie is an effective mediator and has considerable charm in dealing with people. He is however, powerless.Perhaps charm will carry him further.
Premier Ghiz has created a box for himself and his government. The Premier himself seems unwilling to come out from his office and deal with the issues. Considering his past mistakes, he may be taking the wise course, for him at least.
The next few weeks will probably seen the Eastern School Board elections nullified when Currie appoints a committee to run the school district. The emotions will fester until the election when Ghiz may find he gets a nasty vote of non-confidence.