Post 235

You Stand with Whom?
Reflections on the Consent Order That Ended Wisdom Home Schooling

The slogan chosen by supporters of Wisdom was “We Stand With Wisdom Home Schooling.”

Well, from what I can tell, for all practical purposes, Wisdom is out of the game.

Wisdom will no longer fill its coffers with money in the name of home schooling. Wisdom will no longer make contracts with facilitators or with rich deacons hiding behind corporate entities in order to collect rental income. Wisdom will not give itself salaries.

Wisdom will not be able to do any of these things, because the cookie jar is being placed out of its reach. Trinity Christian School Board, which was the party entrusted with overseeing home schooling, is not going to be able to deliver, as it previously has, the lion’s share of its funding into Wisdom’s bank account, for Wisdom to do with as it pleases.

I have reviewed the January 5 Consent Order, which was not posted onto the Wisdom website, but which was posted onto the Alberta government website.

Among other things, it states that all employees will be employed by Trinity (i.e., not by Wisdom). It probably means an end to facilitators working as self-employed contractors and receiving cheques in the name of their companies as well:

b) All staff, including the principal, home school administrator, teachers, teacher contractors, facilitators, etc., will be employees of Trinity.

The agreement recently reached between the Alberta government and the many parties who sought an injunction was that Trinity Christian School Board would be allowed to retain its accreditation (for the time being, obviously — funding grants are discretionary) but the government will appoint a financial administrator to oversee Trinity. A government-appointed financial administrator will oversee Trinity for twelve months, and perhaps longer:

f) Alberta Education will appoint a financial administrator (in good faith consultation with Trinity as to the individual selected) (the “Financial Administrator”) to oversee Trinity for a term of twelve (12) months, the time of appointment to be extended if necessary. Alberta Education will bear the cost of the Financial Administrator.

The administrator will be calling the shots:

g) The Financial Administrator will support the Board of Trinity’s review and development of revised bylaws, board policies, and oversee the restructured operations of Trinity as set out in the agreement including policies on related party transactions, remuneration and leasing.

In addition, as a further precaution, Trinity will receive the government funding in dribs and drabs:

e) Funding to Trinity from January 2017 onward will be provided on a monthly basis until otherwise approved by Alberta.

I can tell by the wording of the Consent Order that the government lawyer had the upper hand when it came to drafting the agreement.

Trinity clung to existence by conceding almost everything.

It will be interesting to see how Trinity does ultimately get restructured. Who will be employed by Trinity? What will their credentials and job descriptions be? What will their salaries be? What programs will be offered to the families who stay with Trinity?

The Wisdom website gives assurances to the effect that it will be ‘business as usual,’ but I suppose time will tell. Nobody can predict exactly how a restructured Trinity will look. It is arguably a brand new board, with new policies, regulations and employees. While other boards in the province continue with business as usual, Trinity will go through a process of massive change. I wouldn’t be surprised if some families decide that they do not want to go along for the ride; I wouldn’t be surprised if some families decide they don’t want the drama.

The agreement (and Consent Order) is a victory for the government because the government’s goal was to ensure that the funds were being managed in accordance with the provincial regulations. With an administrator in place, this can be achieved.

The initial approach — disband Trinity ASAP — was unpopular with those who were loyal to the people behind Wisdom, and with those who feared that other school boards would not be as good, and with those who dislike the NDP government. In other words, it was unpopular with many people. It wasn’t unpopular with me, but it was unpopular with many.

So, in light of the political pressure, the government proceeded with an alternative way of protecting the cookies (Administrator=Parole Officer=Babysitter). This should satisfy the families who were enrolled with Trinity (though they thought they were enrolled with Wisdom), and I am not surprised that they view the Consent Order as a victory (no need to switch boards).

From the outside, it looks like Wisdom was victorious, because the families can stay where they are. It is no wonder that lawyer Jay Cameron focuses on this aspect of the outcome in his statement to the press.

From the inside, however, it’s a new ball game, and Wisdom now has neither role, entitlement nor voice. It has not retained any of the powers that it formerly had — not a single one.

Indeed, that fast-handed player with the word “Wisdom” on his hoodie has given himself up with a whimper.

So much for #Standing with Wisdom.

Wisdom is nothing more than a website now.

a) . . . The Applicant WISDOM Home Schooling Society as an entity will have no governance role or decision-making authority in the Trinity organization.