Sex Ed Curriculum
First, removing the new curriculum and replacing it with one that is over 20 years old is not a reasonable solution to any issues. There is a lot of new content that is required for our students to be prepared for our more technologically advanced society. Preparing children for pornography is one good example – https://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/10/garden/when-children-see-internet-pornography.html or letting them understand the concepts of sexting and how those images could be considered criminal activity and they will never ever go away. Those are key items in the new curriculum that all children need to understand.
I do empathize with parents that may have issues with any school curriculum and think that there should be a standardized method for those issues to be brought forward to the school board and to the ministry of education. This shouldn’t be done in a manner that punishes teachers or causes any kind of strife in the school system or classroom. Any issues with curriculum should be brought forward in this new system. Issues will be addressed ensuring that the curriculum follows the most rigorous scientific information. If required, curriculum may be addressed by a group of child psychologists, educators and psychiatrists to ensure that it meets best practices within those professions. This could be nicely documented in the “Open Source Course Content” policy outlined below – with references to the relevant scientific literature for interested parents and members of our community. I do not support a “snitch” line (https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2018/08/22/educators-slam-fords-snitch-line-for-teachers-who-defy-sex-ed-rollback.html) as I feel it would be used for intimidation and will cause strife and damage in the student-teacher and teacher-parent relationships.
A Focus on a Growth Mindset
Children should be taught to continuously improve and adopt a long term growth mindset. Their frame of mind should be to accept and exercise the responsibility of continuous self development – physically, mentally and socially. Let children in the classroom express how they’ve made their life better, their family better, their community better, and the world better through their own development. Teach them to start with small life improvements and show them how those can increase the quality of life for everyone. We can apply this KaiZen methodology to the operation of the school board and all of our schools – continuously learning and improving extends well beyond the classroom.
School Repairs and Maintenance
Our schools need to be maintained both as an environment for learning but also as a workplace. We need to make certain that the need for $752 million in repairs never happens again. I will work to make certain we have a more proactive approach to dealing with facilities and maintenance that addresses the needs of every school. The LTC had a massive infrastructure deficit that was properly addressed before and during my tenure to ensure that these types of issues no longer happen at that organization. The TVDSB needs to build a plan to address current issues (and seek funding to address these issues from all levels of government) as well as a long term plan to ensure that this level of disrepair does not happen again. My stance on this issue is very similar to the one presented by Amanda Stratton – http://www.amandastratton.com/fixourschools
Run Pilot Projects
Working with other levels of government, our universities and colleges will improve the outcomes in our schools. We can run pilot projects that allow us to assess the impact of implementing different services in our schools. An example would be to investigate the impact of having high quality breakfast and lunch provided to students in some of our schools. Another idea would be to test the impact of Mindfulness and Meditation exercises with children in a select number of schools. Projects like these would let us know the impact of such changes to see if the cost is worth the improvement in grades, as well as other quantitative and qualitative metrics. Running these projects would allow us to assess different changes to our system and their relative cost. Any pilot projects should take into consideration different socio-economic backgrounds and operate with a strong multi-variate analysis to ensure that we have the outcomes we desire. This would allow our schools to offer the best “bang for our buck” in delivering results for our students.
Let Our Kids Grow
For those parents that want their kids to have the opportunity to grow and experience the world without their direct supervision, I will support initiatives at our schools that are similar to those developed by letgrow.org. Having schools adopt Before and After-School Free Play, keeping the gym or playground open until dinner with no organized activities—just kids learning how to make their own fun and develop the social skills and executive function it takes to keep a game going.
Open Source Course Content
The school board should create a collaborative open source environment to allow teachers, parents and interested parties to develop and improve teaching curriculum, material and content. We have a tremendous amount of talent in our teachers, students, and parents, as well as in our province’s universities. Let’s create a common location that will have all course material for all grades collaboratively developed online so that teachers, parents and our community have access to use and improve all teaching material.
We should consider creating videos with dedicated teachers to complement the materials created. This will allow parents to easily access the material and aid in the education of their children. Any content missed could be easily linked to by the teacher and sent to parents to help their kids stay up to date on all material.
Collaborate with other School Boards
Let’s work with other school boards and organizations to collaborate and find economies of scale. This will help reduce costs and increase the quality of materials and the quality of education we provide to our children. This collaboration will save money and add value. We also need to work with other organizations to share knowledge and ensure best practices are followed at all levels of our organization.
Increased collaboration with community partners
We need to work with community partners to increase the quality of education in a more robust manner. We can work with NGOs (Non-governmental organizations) and other government organizations to follow up and ensure any child at risk gets all of the support they need to be successful in their goals.
I believe that the school board should put as much of their data as possible into the public domain in a machine readable format. If possible de-identified information should also be added to this in a safe manner. The full breakdown of repairs, lists of library books, etc should be part of this open data initiative as long as the information is currently tracked it would be reasonable to release it to the public.
The Finnish Model
I believe that teachers should have a large level of autonomy in deciding the work that will be done in the classroom. This will create a better sense of satisfaction from our teachers and allow them to fully engage with their students in a manner that will help increase the impact of our education system. In the role of trustee I would generally choose to have more autonomy for teachers when those types of decisions are made.