BY: KATHY MCDONALD
As I reflect on the joys of motherhood and wait for the four marvelous fruits of my womb to put the final touches on my Mother’s Day breakfast, I am filled with much reservation. The landscape of the city is changing as lawn signs are popping up everywhere like shingles on the ground during a windstorm. Most likely in less than a month our political portrait will we quite different. I find myself wondering the fate of our most precious resource, our children and their education.
We must be reflective parents, caregivers, and practitioners and read, listen and question the party’s policies on education. We must demand that our voices are heard and respected. We must VOTE. It is truly concerning when you hear the advice and sentiment of politicians.
There is the perception that people from the African, Black and Caribbean community don’t vote so invariably our community is ignored. Politicians won’t “waste their time” with our community because we don’t vote. I would like to encourage each reader to be the change in this perception. Whether individual politicians with such beliefs are misguided or there is merit to such a commonly held belief, we as a community must work arduously to change this.
We need to start showing up for our children. I would encourage more individuals to start attending town hall meetings and other forums that require community input. Venture out to the all-candidate debates. At a bare minimum go and read each party’s platform before you vote…. Yes! VOTE. If we don’t vote then we don’t have a voice. If we don’t vote, in my opinion, we should not complain about any shortcomings of our government.
This election our kid’s education is on the line. While we don’t want an ineffective and dishonest government we don’t want a government that will cull great programs and initiative for young people. Ideally, we would like an effective honest government that will put our children and their well-being first. A government that has education as a priority is the best government to have lead this province. We are entering some scary yet exciting times in the education realm and it’s important that we get it right, so the children of Ontario will not be left behind. Our children need a solid education if they are going to be competitive and employable.
Let us not just vote like our parents did without examining the why, the how and the when. I implore you to read, read, read and arm yourselves with credible information. The power is in your hands to make a difference for our kids. Believe it or not, the person that we charge to lead this province can be a game changer for the next generation. At the risk of sounding repetitive, VOTE. Don’t ignore the knock at the door when candidates and their volunteers come around. Be engaged. That’s the perfect opportunity to talk with them and get the answers to your questions.
Here are a few questions you might want to ask the canvassers that you encounter: Would your party be amenable to creating a Ministry of the Child? What is the party’s stance on education? What do equity and inclusion look like for your party? How will you ensure that all students are successful? Do you intend to invest in the early year’s program? What does preschool look like for your party? Will your government commit to an in-depth review of the OCT (Ontario Colleges of Teachers) and the training teachers receive? What about bill 274, what is your parties stand on this? Will you eliminate bill 274? Right now school boards across the province are struggling to find supply teachers to fill all the vacancies by teachers that are absent. Will your government revisit the sick leave policies? Do you think that there are enough teaching assistants to serve to our students? If no how will you address this ? There is a growing increase in mental health in our students, how does your party plan to address these needs? What about teacher safety , stress and fatigue. What initiatives does your party have for the well-being and safety of the staff in the schools? Is your party committed to a curriculum where students can see themselves reflected in their learning? There are many buildings especially those in low income neighbourhoods where the buildings are falling apart. Does your party see fit to address the physical learning environment? Some individuals are calling for the elimination of the EQAO Test, how will your party keep the education system accountable to the students they serve? Bussing, any thoughts? Are you satisfied with the way negotiations are currently conducted with all union and federation groups? Would you finance grassroots parents advocacy groups? What role does the trustee play in advocacy and should the position be a full time position?
Durham parents you can start by attending the boards Evening of Parent Engagement on May 24th from 7-9 pm at 400 Taunton Road Whitby. Parents in Scarborough Tropicana Community Services on 1385 Huntingwood Drive will be hosting an all candidates meeting TODAY Thursday, May 17th from 6-8pm. Parents let us journey together as we seek the best political party that will nurture, protect and put our children’s well-being and education first. Walk Good! Belle Marché!