School trustees set board policy direction and budgets and represent the interests of the community, parents and students in their constituency.
Several community candidates are seeking election and re-election in the upcoming municipal polls on October 27.
Share columnist, Murphy Browne, who is running for a second time in Toronto Centre-Rosedale after being unsuccessful four years ago, promises to advocate for an inclusive curriculum if elected.
“You don’t find us there,” said the former co-chair of the Organization of Parents of Black Children. “The contributions of racialized people and even First Nations People are a footnote.”
The Ward One (Etobicoke North) candidate for councillor in the 2000 municipal elections and the New Democratic Party (NDP) representative for Don Valley East in the 2003 provincial polls, Browne says she has the background and experience to advocate for parents, students and residents of the ward that has been her home for nearly three decades.
“To be an effective trustee, one needs to have a passion for being involved in educating our next generation and also ensuring that adult learners are included,” she said. “It is also important to remember that the education system is not solely about academics.”
Small business owner and St. Michael’s Hospital counsellor, Chris Moise, is also a trustee candidate in Browne’s ward.
“I believe in providing equity and access to education from early childhood through to adulthood,” he said. “I also believe in restoring and renewing a well-rounded curriculum that includes the arts, trades, physical/health education, libraries, nutrition education, science and the environment.”
Lifelong Scarborough East resident, Roxanne Wright, said Ward 22 constituents are concerned about reports of trustees abusing their spending privileges.
“I believe that elected officials, particularly those involved in education, should conduct themselves in a professional manner and be positive role models for our students,” said 29-year-old Wright, who has a degree in criminology and justice studies from the University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology. “My focus will be on the school board’s most important mandate which is ensuring that each student receives the very best education that can be provided.”
A self-employed entrepreneur, actress and professional model, Wright is a coach and mentor at the East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club and a Toronto Parole Board volunteer.
Born and raised in the Jane-Finch community, Tiffany Ford understands the challenges that young people from marginalized communities face in the school environment.
“The opportunity to directly influence change for better schools and accessibility to quality education, provide transparency and promote a holistic approach in serving our young people in York West is something I must pursue at this time,” said Ford, who is attempting to replace long-time Ward 4 trustee, Stephnie Payne, who is not seeking re-election.
The holder of a communications & sociology degree, the former Jane & Finch Concerned Citizens member founded the Ford Global Group and Beyond at Risk, which aims to dismantle negative connotations associated with the term “at-risk”.
Personal Support Worker, Sandra Forsythe, has advanced several reasons for seeking to become a public school board trustee in Ajax South Wards 3 and 4.
“Even though education is a human right, our education seems to be disappearing and our students, teachers and community stakeholders aren’t able to do anything about the problems we face,” the Durham Community Action Group chair said. “I want to see more integrity, accountability, transparency and leadership that’s inclusive.”
Last year, Forsythe challenged the Durham District School Board to collect data on learning disabilities and ethnicity of expelled and suspended students. The mother of five also advocated for 10 students to be re-enrolled into Durham high schools so they could complete their Grade 12 education.
North Ajax Wards 1 & 2 contender Patrice Barnes’ two children are enrolled in the Durham District School Board system.
“That makes education a priority in my life,” said Barnes, an event and project manager. “Every child deserves an advocate and every parent deserves a voice. I will be that advocate’s voice in municipal government.”
Brampton Wards 3 and 4 candidate, Kathy McDonald, is not fazed by her first foray into politics.
The married mother of four children and past chair of the Carabram Caribbean Pavilion views family and education as pillars of a successful society.
“I’m running to be an advocate for parents, students and the community,” said McDonald, who was a parent council chair for a decade. “I am passionate about assisting each child to realize their full potential. I would also like to promote a partnership with the school board and parents as we work together to make the learning experience of Peel’s students exciting, dynamic and relevant.”
Toronto District School Board trustee, David Smith, is among the incumbents seeking re-election.