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!