LOs in Higher Ed LO20001

Brock Vodden (brock.vodden@odyssey.on.ca)
Wed, 25 Nov 1998 13:48:55 -0500

Replying to LO19968 --


You wrote:
>...leadership in
>education should be a process of aligning content, outcomes and processes.
>Like many organizations and institutions, schools need to revisit their
>"purpose" in society, and reaffirm their basic values, while they attempt
>to align each of these elements with purpose and values.

I agree entirely with your belief that education and institutions need to
align their work with values, actions, and purposes.

Unfortunately, at least in Ontario, Canada, the actual trends appear
contrary to that belief. I have been doing extensive interviewing of
people from all walks of life in conjunction with a social research
project over the past few months. One of the trends that I see is towards
a deepening disillusionment among people in education, health, and other
human services. Our provincial government has engaged in a mindless
process of budget cutbacks, restructuring, and the imposition of
simplistic "solutions" which pander to those who like simplicity -even in
complex matters.

The net result is that many of those responsible for services have become
budget-obsessed. The quality of the service, and attention to the needs of
clients, customers, patients has become irrelevant. One example is a nurse
in a palliative care unit who decries the decline in the care being given
to their patients. The management response was "Well, they're dying
anyway, so what does it really matter?"

Another example is the school principal who reports that the policy for
handling a certain behavioural problem in schools, which a few years ago
was defined in a 3-page document, is now outlined in a 50-page document.
The protocols associated with these new expanded policies means that he
spends most of his day contacting agencies - not about solving the
problems, but about satisfying bureaucratic requirements. Parental
involvement has slipped far down in the priority list.

Many interviewees have indicated that their place of work has
disintegrated. All or most of the staff are now contract workers,
job-sharers, part-timers, temps - including managers. No one has a grasp
of the whole picture or the mission or the vision. Many have two or more
other jobs to take their attention. But as long as the budget is spent,
but not over-spent, the authorities appear to be content. These fragmented
workplace conditions appear to be increasing in the private sector as

The people who seem to have the greatest sense of security and
satisfaction from their work, in this study group at least, are those who
are self-employed. Is that not strange, since small business startups have
been such a risky proposition?

There is another irony attached to this trend. Many of the programs that
have been re-structured, down-sized, outsourced, etc. now actually cost
more than they did before, despite the drop in service quality.

Does anyone see similar trends in other regions?

Brock Vodden - Vodden Consulting
"Where Systems and People Meet"
Serving South Western Ontario


"Brock Vodden" <brock.vodden@odyssey.on.ca>

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