My plan to #PutKidsFirst focuses on three core pillars:
- More Crossing Guards and TTC Passes. With the Police handing the crossing guard program over to the city, combined with the increase in car accidents affecting our children in school areas, now is the perfect time to expand the program and make sure that every school which asks for a crossing guard, gets one. We must also expand the TTC student ticket program so more older students can get to and from school without the risk of cars.
- Mental Health Services in Every School. The strain upon our kids is becoming more evident with every passing year. The epidemic of depression and suicide in our youth has gone unanswered for far too long, and as our schools see our students in a more vulnerable and stressful environment than might be seen by parents at home, it's far past time the TDSB stepped up as a first line of defense. Counselling services will be available, during all school hours, in every school in the ward. Test scores are meaningless if our kids aren't well enough to experience their own success.
- Restored and Equitable School Resource Officer Program. While the wide majority of students in the board reported great success with the SRO program in schools, some students did not improve under the program as we hoped. It is regretful that these problems left these students vulnerable and disadvantaged, and it is just as regretful that the program was cancelled entirely and all progress thrown away. We will restore the SRO program, but we will make progressive changes to make sure that students grow up with the police not as opposition, but instead as a friendly and helpful presence in their community.
- Smaller Class Sizes and an End to School Closures. Time and time again, the numbers show that our children learn better in smaller classes with more individual attention from their teacher. In larger class sections, having a teacher's aide allows for that same level of attention to be maintained. By working with the TCDSB to share building spaces and lower costs, we can keep our kids in our local neighbourhoods with their friends and family, with teachers who know their names and can give them the individual focus they deserve.
- Easier Access to Gifted, French, and Other Specialty Programs. Some of the best learning experiences the TDSB has to offer come out of special programs such as French Immersion, Gifted Studies, Extended French, and a wide variety of others; but when students are streamed incorrectly, it is often impossible to be placed back in the right program after the cutoff. Students who demonstrate capacity for these programs will now be able to transfer into them, and finally tap into their true potential for growth.
- Trade Certifications for 5th Year Students. One of the strongest programs available in the TDSB is the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program. Starting at sixteen, students can become registered apprentices and start working in cooperation with local colleges to become certified journeypersons while completing their secondary school diploma. As many as 86% of students enrolled find apprenticeships within their desired trade, and we would see this program expanded to our ward so that if students choose to get their start on life, nothing stops them but their own drive for success.
- Replace the EQAO with a Fair, Student-Based Approach. While the goal of the EQAO in improving student success was admirable, in reality we have found that the EQAO has done damage to our students in ways we didn't expect. Too many multiple-choice questions have worsened critical thinking skills; students in french-inclusive programs have worse English scores than their abilities reflect in person; teachers spend more time teaching how to take the EQAO than enhancing student understanding of the core ideas. We will work with the Ministry of Education to create a new method of evaluating student progress, that doesn't fit each student into one box, but rather fits our expectations to the best avenue of success for that student.
- Monthly Town Halls with Parents and the Community. Too frequently are parents unable to meet with their trustee and develop a plan to solve their concerns for their children, let alone contact their trustee in the first place. Often, even when trustees are physically present, they are occupied with distractions like their smartphones while the parents plead to be heard. As your trustee, I will host monthly meetings for the entire community of Eglinton-Lawrence to attend, and also provide means for your concerns to be sent to the meeting to be read aloud and discussed if you cannot be physically present. I will also attend as many Parent-Teacher Association meetings as possible for any school which would find my participation helpful. Just a couple times a year, to be met with someone who doesn't listen is unacceptable; we deserve consistent and substantial consultation.
- Youth Advisory Council to Hear and Serve our Children. At the federal level of government, one of the strongest programs I've seen is the Constituency Youth Council, which allows Members of Parliament to meet directly with youth in their community and hear their concerns. The simple matter is, our kids undergo a wide variety of experiences at school, and have concerns of their own about the quality and caliber of their education, that as parents we aren't privy to. While I'm your representative as trustee, first and foremost my responsibility is to provide for their education and make sure their needs are met. I would have each Senior Primary and Secondary School pick a student delegate of the student body's choosing, so that they can relate their concerns directly to me, and work with me on a regular basis to improve their schools. The Student Trustee was a fantastic addition to the TDSB; it's time to expand on this approach.
- Clear & Simple Budget to Repair our Broken Schools. After coming into power, the current Ontario Government was quick to slash their school repair budget by over $100 million dollars. With a four billion dollar backlog of repairs that is growing by the day, it's time to crack open the books and look for new and inventive methods to make our schools a safe and engaging environment. With the City of Toronto already assuming control of the Crossing Guard Program, it's also time to evaluate a deeper relationship with the City to provide new funding and services to make sure our school system is growing strong, while maintaining our growth with a properly balanced budget.
Your ideas and concerns are extremely important to me. If you feel their is an issue that you would like to draw my attention to, please use the contact page to let me know and I'll work with you to address it.