My 8 Education Ideas

1: Schools That Work for Active Boys and Girls

I have watched a disheartening trend as my son’s friends, fellow active boys, leave John Fisher – the school is French immersion. When a grade 6 class is reaching the range of 70-30% girls to boys something is wrong. In building schools that also work for active boys we will help all the girls who also struggle with ‘sitting nicely’.

How I can help:

I don’t pretend to have the answers but I want to start a discussion. Boys in schools has been discussed in the Quebec media for years. I’m a French speaker and have been waiting for it to become a larger issue in Ontario.

These children need an opportunity to test boundaries and grow within a safe environment. There is no one way to learn. My son reads well in English and French, but he is constantly moving, sometimes he is upside down. It can drive you nuts when sitting beside him (I move), but from someone who was in special education because of an inability to read I’m ecstatic as long as he is willing to keep trying. Read on one leg if it helps you read my son!

One of the boys who left John Fisher was a top French speaker in his grade. He was smart and used this intelligence to be a handful at times. What one might call a boys’ boy. He was my son’s buddy. There seems to be at least one every year. My son could have been one, as parents we have tried to give his energy an outlet. He’s one of the top soccer players in the GTA, in part because he’s intense and an energizer bunny. A challenge for teachers with 25-30 students.

2: Safety and Walking to School

Children’s safety needs to come before convenience. I support greater traffic enforcement and moving car drop offs and pick ups when this is shown to make a difference.

I want to help more children walk to school by creating walking groups – children from the same area walking together. Our school couldn’t help so my son is now walking by himself (grade 4). A step to raising smart independent adults, not just well educated ones.

How I can help:

I was the co-chair of the John Fisher parent council committee when faced with a major safety problem – the construction of a 35 story tower abutting the playground. We successfully fought to get a buffer zone between the tower and the playground, and other safety measures, that could prevent injuries or deaths if a heavy object falls beyond the site. We had to fight the local trustee and the TDSB.

3: Overcrowding and Low Enrolment

We need more school capacity in some schools, many right here in Don Valley West. In the short term, I will support closing schools with low enrollment. These can be leased out to daycares, preschools, and community organizations. We need the money for repairs and the expansion of busy schools.

Longer term, I want to spearhead a new school in Don Valley West or an expansion of an existing one. Given the prohibitive cost of land, I will talk to developers during the early stages of their projects.

Our schools, Don Valley West, are at or over capacity. Here’s a list of TDSB schools at 65 per cent or less capacity (Globe and Mail).

4: School Land is Public Land & Land Deal Transparency

The TDSB is right now seeking the right to sell off schoolyards. I want to stop this. This is public land that all taxpayers have the right to access.

Trustees representing citizens should not be allowed to sit on the board of the Toronto Lands Corp which sells TDSB land. I believe this is a conflict of interest, although the TDSB disagrees.

How I can help:

I played a central role stopping the TDSB, via its Toronto Lands Corp, leasing out part of the John Fisher schoolyard to a developer. They killed the lease, but we never got an explanation.

I helped put the nail in the coffin to the old Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). We met with ex Premier Wynne. There was no appeal in reality of a highly questionable OMB decision. Premier Wynne gutted the OMB soon after.

As for the Toronto Lands Corp the proper checks and balances are lacking – I will work to ensure they are put in place. I watched as our school trustee sat on the board of the Toronto Lands Corp as it tried to sell, then lease, a part of a school in her ward. The TDSB did not attend the OMB hearing of the development next to John Fisher Public School. The resulting decision has devalued TDSB land.

Where I share my thoughts on school issues as I canvass door-to-door

5: Money

I propose a 10% reduction in TDSB head office costs, including real estate and salaries. The savings going to music, arts and special needs. Technology for offices has advanced, but the TDSB is closer to 1998 amalgamation than 2018 cloud solutions. Fewer people in some administrative roles. Offices are now smaller.

How I can help:

I run a web based business. I take care of budgeting, purchasing and invoicing. I use tools that didn’t exist five years ago. I know how to focus spending on clients (students and parents) not administration.

6: French Immersion

French immersion is a valuable education experience. But it requires high-quality teachers who speak French. They are in short supply. I will propose stronger recruitment of teachers from Quebec. Most schools in Don Valley West have attracted good French speaking teachers, but that’s not the case across Toronto.

How I can help:

I have been speaking in French – I’m fluent – with my son’s French immersion teachers over the last four years. I will meet in French with Don Valley West schools and TDSB staff to determine what is – and what isn’t – working. If we don’t have enough quality French teachers, I would consider a short term cap on French immersion.

7: Communication Tool for Parents

Start with an app like Seesaw or Edsby. Teachers post homework, pictures and more. Parents can email teacher(s) and know what is happening. Principals can manage events and attendance and more. Access is restricted to each class. This approach is used at some schools, but it is often on a classroom by classroom basis.

How I can make this happen:

I am a software expert who knows how to implement these types of approaches. I would help source proven and low cost cloud tools.

The end result: A small investment in technology would empower parents and principals. Then extend this to the TDSB head office.

8: Math Basics Not iPads

The math curriculum needs to incorporate more traditional formulas and memorization techniques. The answer is not iPads, screens don’t teach kids much at younger ages. Steve Jobs limited his children’s use of technology for a reason. Few parents are asking for more screen time for the same reason.

How I can help:

I will push for changes that are fact based. Coding is a job application for math. I build software and have come to see that a lot of coding will be automated. The remaining jobs will be high paying, but limited to those with advanced math and critical reasoning.

Should the government decide to use the math curriculum for political purposes my media and communication skills will be invaluable.

 

While not an exhaustive list I hope these eight ideas give you a sense of my thinking and willingness to critically work on issues.