Making sense of ‘cluster boards’

It has been a struggle to comprehend what the government is implying when they suggest that they want to switch the public school system to using what they refer to as ‘cluster boards’.  Trying to comprehend the Royal Gazette’s interpretations of the meetings does not prove easy nor does trying to comprehend the general sense from the community.  Likely what appears to have happened is that the concept has not been explained clearly enough and just about everyone aside from those directly proposing the idea are confused.  So, with a lack of alternative sources, the best course of action may then be to find someone on the ‘inside’ who can provide a bit of a scoop on what’s going on, which this writer has attempted to do.

Government is not helping itself greatly with it’s attempts to explain their ‘cluster boards’ proposal.  The word ‘cluster’ itself may well be a bad choice of words, at least by the urban dictionary’s definition.  Being that the government has introduced this concept only through a number of public meetings, those unable to attend are left relying on the interpretations of those who did.  While public meetings as a form of public interaction are highly welcomed and encouraged, the lack of supplementary information to digest in order to get a clear picture is disappointing and lends to confusing interpretations.

Thus, in relying on only hearsay, what is the best one can do to get a better idea of what is going on?  Perhaps one can rely on what a friend who has a hand in the reform process and his description of what ‘cluster boards’ are and where education is headed.   By his description, here is this writer’s interpretation (yet another one, so take it with a grain of salt) of what the cluster boards proposal is about.

Aided schools have benefited from trustee appointed boards that have produced considerable success through community and parental involvement.  The problem however is that while some schools have faired better, others have faired worse, and in this it is government’s hope to level the playing field. 

What the government is hoping to do with the ‘cluster boards’ model is to take the advantages offered by the aided boards and spread them out to all public schools.  This, of course, is where things get confusing.  This writer’s interpretation is that the government hopes to create trustee appointed boards that oversee schools at specific levels of education as opposed to simply overseeing individual schools. 

Under such a model, each level of school from primary to middle to senior would have their own trustee appointed board.  The distinction with such a structure being that each school’s trustees would nominate or elect people to sit on these boards so that each school would have representatives in a board who can collectively work together to offer the same benefits to all schools at the same development level.  The purported benefits of such a model being that where today one program or idea may be suggested for an individual school by one board, tomorrow with ‘cluster boards’ that program or idea could be an initiative shared across all schools at the same level.  This would enable schools to share resources and all gain the benefits of the initiative as opposed to only one school benefiting.

Subsequently, the education ministry would be remodeled into a leaner department that provides the function of an oversight board and necessary administrative support for the schools.  The oversight board would be a one that would contain members from both the ministry and members from the cluster boards so that it could function as a means of providing support to each board.  This would enable boards to be empowered with the administrative support the ministry can provide while also facilitating the spread of ideas and initiatives beyond just one level of schooling.

While this writer is still digesting this concept, it is hopeful that this interpretation is closer to the intentions of those tasked with reforming education.  Indeed, if we are able to gain a less muddied picture of the intentions of the education reform committee than it would lend itself greatly to people being able to decide whether this course of action is right for our community or not.  While it would be helpful if this committee could produce clearer documentation on what exactly is intended by the ‘cluster boards’ proposal, in the meantime hopefully this writer’s interpretation of the proposal is one that shall be of assistance and hopefully will garner some valuable feedback.  Indeed, hopefully as we get closer to solving this critical issue that affects us all we shall grow closer to ensuring proper education for all of our youth in the future.

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One thought on “Making sense of ‘cluster boards’

  1. Cluster Boards remind me of the other more deadly cluster bombs. I sure hope that in the end, this new approach does not ‘bomb!’
    However, the point I want to offer, having raised three children to be successful adults, well educated and now contributing to our society, is a simply truth: If parents are not willing to make deposits into their children’s emotional bank accounts when they are young, when they become adults, there will be nothing to withdraw…
    Boards may set policy, establish budgets, and hire teachers, all very important indeed, but it is the individual parent(s) who holds the key to their children’s educational success. Getting directly involved at the school level, volunteering to help out where ever possible, but most important, for their children to see them involved, right there in the class room, or the field day, will show their parent(s) care.
    Virtually every young student failing today and back through history, very likely had no direct parental involvement in their school/educations.
    So then, where exactly will the parents fit into this new Cluster Board’s Role? Will parents still be able to vote for board members, or will the government simply appoint???
    One thing is certain, the current system is not producing a consistent quality education, and again, I believe that individual parent(s) have to accept most of the blame for this.

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