Bad Teacher, starring Chris Spence

By Rick Salutin | Published January 10, 2013 by the Toronto Star

The script at the Toronto school board this week runs like a remake of Bad Teacher, the 2011 film starring Cameron Diaz. Remakes get done quickly today. It stars (now former) board director Chris Spence, caught plagiarizing in several articles here in the Star. It lacks the redemptive elements of the original but retains some of its irony.

I try to see this mainly from the POV of kids in the public system, though others (board of ed trustees, parents, citizens) are welcome to a slice of the pain. But the kids have been through a rough school year, and a rough week. Premier McGuinty refused to take Yes from the teachers unions to a wage freeze and killed their bargaining rights anyway, then quit his post so he couldn’t do anything about the mess he created. Then teachers refused to work on extracurriculars, which is often the redemptive element in school life for students. Now comes Spence, in some ways the unkindest cut, especially for those who identified with him about sports programs, or for minority kids.

This is so especially since Spence put himself as a role model at the centre of his work as an educator. Early in his tenure, he staged a big pep rally at the Air Canada Centre for teachers, filled with inspirational speakers. I asked him afterward if he felt his teachers were depressed or unmotivated. He said, Not at all. Then why three hours of motivational speeches? “Because these are my people,” he said, “and I must lead them.” Though his own models include Martin Luther King, this contained a big dose of the cult of the CEO from the late 20th century, when figures like Lee Iacocca and Jack Welch were lionized. It hasn’t been a good week for showy but underachieving CEO types in Toronto.

Read more: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1313469–salutin-bad-teacher-starring-chris-spence

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