Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Not going to spend a lot of time on this… more important to get out on the streets as much as possible these last few days.

But there has been much talk about Trustee slates and endorsements by various “community groups” and unions. One of the endorsing groups was Our Ottawa – who came out with their endorsements for Trustee. They are as follows:

Zone 1 (West Carleton–March/Stittsville–Kanata West/Rideau–Goulbourn):  Todd Johnson
Zone 2 (Kanata South / Kanata North): Christine Boothby
Zone 3 (Barrhaven / Knoxdale):  Donna Blackburn
Zone 4 (Bay):  Theresa Kavanagh
Zone 5 (College): Pam Fitzgerald
Zone 6 (Rideau-Rockcliffe / Alta Vista): Bronwyn Funiciello
Zone 8 (Orleans / Cumberland): Lale Eskicioglu
Zone 9 (Rideau-Vanier / Capital): Rob Campbell
Zone 10 (Somerset / Kitchissippi): Jennifer McKenzie
Zone 11 (River): Shirley Seward
Zone 12 (Innes / Beacon Hill-Cyrville): Chris Ellis

Now. This is not a whine. Nor sour grapes. Folks are free to endorse whoever they want.  But…. I was checking out the Our Ottawa Facebook page. And these are the Admins for the page:

  • Phil Robinson
  • Jennifer McKenzie
  • Johanna Hove (Carleton CA)
  • Will Murray
  • Rob Campbell
  • Sabrina Bowman
  • Rick Devereux
  • Patrick Quealey

And they claim there isn’t a slate? I mean, I can understand the whole sign colour thing being a coincidence, but how transparent is it for obviously active members in an organization endorse themselves and those Trustees and candidates who share their views?

Just sayin’…

Oh, and I took a screen shot of the page because I suspect someone will be rushing to remove these names real quick-like…

Then click on this link. Go to Zone 6 and you will see the link on my name.

It sends you to the answers to a number of questions posed to me last week by the Ottawa Parents Education Network. They seem like a solid group with admirable goals.

Here is a summary of their mission:

The Ottawa Parents’ Education Network (OPEN) is dedicated to providing information on public school-related issues to people in the Ottawa region. OPEN was created by a group of parents who want to focus attention on what is happening in our schools and promote greater parent and community engagement in public education.  Our goal is to keep parents and community members informed about local issues in education and, in doing so, foster greater collaboration between parents, trustees and board staff to ensure that public schools are meeting the diverse needs of all students and families in Ottawa.

I think that regardless of whether or not I am elected, I will stay in touch with these folks.

After campaigning full tilt for the past month, I have found that among the majority of voters, there is a misperception or no perception of the role of the Trustee.  Young and not so young, high school graduates and PhD alike, there is certainly a disconnect when it comes to understanding the Trustee and their place in our system of local governance.

Yes, School Board Trustees are elected at the same time as are the Mayor and the City Councillors. And it is your democratic duty to vote for them as you would your Mayor or Councillor.

When you arrive at your polling station, you will be given 3 ballots, one (a very long one in Ottawa) ballot for your choice of Mayor, one for your Ward Councillor and one for School Board Trustee. Depending on which system you gave designated as having your support – through your property – taxes you will receive either a ballot for the English Public, French Public, English Catholic, French Catholic. You mark an X beside the Trustee of your choice just like the others.

So why bother? Say you don’t have children and never plan to, why vote for someone who is not going to impact your life?

Well, for starters, the children now are the Doctors, Engineers, Builders, Teachers, Emergency officers, Nurses, etc. of tomorrow. The decisions that the Board makes DIRECTLY impacts on how these children are taught, what they are taught and where they are taught.

So you do have a stake in this.

Plus, whether or not you realise it, you are paying into the system so why not have a say? Through your property taxes (they are buried in your rent if you are not a homeowner), your provincial taxes and the HST you are paying… and paying big! The OCDSB, for example, has a budget of $700 million! That is not chicken feed.

Finally -and this is a pet reason of my own – by not voting, you are sending the message to Queens Park that local control over education decision making is not important.

Since the Harris days, power has gradually shifted from our local communities to the Province of Ontario. Provincial officials are making decisions that affect Ottawa families and I strongly believe that these decisions are best made by local communities.

The Boards do still have considerable authority. They choose which programs are offered in which schools. ESL, French Immersion, Gifted Programs – all are under the authority of the Board. They choose to open schools or close (gulp!) them. They vote on student transportation, programs with the broader community.

They are responsible for our schools’ infrastructure and the safety of our kids.

Their role – albeit diminished from past years – is vital to our City.

In short, please do vote for your Trustee. Even if you don’t vote for me, at least cast a vote. This is democracy in action!