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The York Region District School Board (YRDSB) is in desperate need for change. We need trustees who can represent all families, and act with professionalism and maturity.

It’s time for a fresh start!

Policies

If elected school trustee for Wards 1 & 2 in the York Region District School Board (YRDSB), I will push the following policies:

Make All Trustee Business Public

As investigations have shown, the current board of trustees has been utterly disgraceful in conducting business behind closed doors, including spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on questionable global travel and, most infamously, signing a completely absurd contract with a board supervisor who then had leave.

If elected trustee, I pledge to post the minutes of all board meetings, as well as a full and regular accounting of all spending. It is completely absurd that this is not already standard practice. As elected officials, trustees have a duty to be open and public about all their dealings.

 

Lower the Temperature on Racial Conflict

York Region is incredibly diverse. Almost half of all YRDSB students speak English as a second language. The only way our community works if if we accept one another and get along. I am ethnically mixed, and in my life I have learned one crucial lesson: fighting is easy, but goodwill is hard.

All communities are precious. All nationalities, all languages, all ethnicities, all faiths, all histories — all are precious. All are gorgeous colours in our local mosaic. I will embrace all and dismiss none. I am much less interested in words than I am in action. I will never milk racial tensions for personal gain, and I will never condemn someone just because they see the world differently. Minds can be changed through gentleness and humanity, not yelling.

Improve Curriculum Consultation

Recent events have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that parents don’t feel like they have enough of a voice in the shaping of public school curricula. This isn’t just about sex education, it is about everything that happens in the classroom, particularly STEM subjects.

School curricula is far too important to be put entirely into the hands of politicians at Queen’s Park. It requires input from experts, educators and the community. It’s critically important for families to be more involved, and as trustee I will ensure that parental input is always central to every decision we take.

Exercise Mature, Professional Governance

The devastating investigation into the board by the province found incredible ignorance and incompetence. Many trustees had no idea what their duties were or how to carry them out. They routinely struggled to get basic information from the bureaucracy. Crucial hiring took place behind closed doors without public consultation, and were essentially clueless when it came to dealing with educator unions.

It’s time to put grownups in charge. Ordinary day-to-day work in education presents enough challenges, but things are about to get much harder. It seems highly likely that cuts to education are coming, while collective agreements are soon to expire, requiring tough negotiation. The days when trustees could mail in their jobs are over. It’s time for focus, hard work and professionalism.

Keep a Line Open to Families

There is a catastrophic disconnect between parents and the public school system. Parents have concerns about many issues that might seem mundane to administrators but matter a great deal to families. Concerns over things like bullying, snow and ice clearance, homework and so much more go ignored or unaddressed.

As trustee I will not only ensure an open line of communication to parents and guardians but will make seeking that input a standard part of the job, through community meetings, regular surveys and accessibility through text, email and social media. For too long we’ve allowed school boards to drift — it’s time for active, responsible leadership that respects families and kids, and regular input from families is absolutely central to that.

In areas where education has become a political football, the result has been disastrous. We must never let the future of our children come second to the prospects of politicians in the next election.

Reevaluate School Security Policies

Times have changed. We can no longer take safety for granted. It’s long past time for a thorough reassessment of all school security policies. This involves working with police, as well as experts from other levels of government, or outside experts if necessary.

Parents need to have confidence that their children are safe at school. We can no longer take security for granted.

Audit Traffic In and Around Schools

York Region is growing fast. Our neighbourhoods are becoming more densely populated, which means there are more cars, more pedestrians, more buses and more congestion. Traffic is a serious issue, especially around primary schools. Greater effort needs to be made to ensure that streets flow smoothly and kids can come and go safely.

We need to collect data, not just once but on a continuing basis, to assess the true state of traffic in and around public schools and work with all relevant levels of government to find areas for improvement.

Have any questions or suggestions? Contact me!

 

Blog

It’s Time to Sort Out the YRDSB’s Finances

As reported by an official provincial investigation, the current trustees of the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) have had a disastrous record when it comes to the board’s finances. Trustees have, in the past, made inquiries of the board’s bureaucracy as to the state of the organization’s finances, and were met by resistance. Incredibly, …

About Me

I have lived in the GTA for most of my life, and I’m happily raising my kids in Vaughan, where my two children (my son is seven and my daughter is five) attend public school. I absolutely love this community of ours. Our diversity, our complexity and all the amazing people bring me joy every single day.

One thing you can say about me is that I believe in public service. From an early age I have volunteered my time and labour toward worthy causes, whether working with the homeless downtown or training journalists on human rights reporting in post-dictatorship Ghana. While in West Africa I did a bit of my own reporting on human rights issues (for instance the treatment of criminal suspects and the suffering of refugees from war-torn Liberia).

Recently I have been helping out at the Yellow Brick House, a women’s shelter in Richmond Hill. They are always in need of resources, so if you have money or items to donate please click here.

I think I would have to say that my most intense volunteering experience was in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I drove down and worked with Habitat for Humanity. Thousands of homes had been flooded and ruined by the rising waters; our job was to put on Tyvek suits, filter masks and hard hats, and enter homes that had been abandoned since the flooding. Due to the threat of toxic mould and assorted vermin (up to and including alligators), we had to dispose of almost everything: furniture, electronics, kitchenware, clothing, photos, you name it. The experience was a devastating reminder of how fragile life can be — and how important it is to make the most of our time on this earth.

Professionally, most of my work experience centers around writing. I worked at CBC Radio One for many years (off and on from the early 1990s to the mid-00s). I also worked as a copy editor at a newspaper in China, where I lived for five years. For the past decade I have been a stay-at-home dad while working as a freelance writer (my wife Stefania is a successful entrepreneur).

Despite all I have seen and done in this world, the most important role I’ve ever played is being a dad. Parenthood brings with it a long list of challenges and labours that you can never really understand unless you’ve done it, but the most unexpected part of fatherhood, for me, was how much of a learning experience it is. Seeing the world through the eyes of my kids has completely changed my world. It’s made me more empathetic, more dedicated and above all it ensures that I listen to the thoughts, feelings and opinions of all my fellow human beings, whatever their worldview or background.

This, in a nutshell, is who I am and what I’m about. If elected, I will bring every ounce of my dedication and my passion for service to my work.