Colleen is someone who knows how to get things done. I know that she will work hard to make our schools better. I'm voting for Colleen!
— Pat O'Connor, resident
WHY AM I RUNNING?
I believe that communities, all levels of government, schools and families should all work together to better the educational experience and facilities for our children and our communities.
I believe that decisions related to the school system need to be driven by best choices for children.
I am not the type of person to sit on the sidelines and complain. I prefer to take action and initiate change. I am passionate about my beliefs, and I have put that passion to work while working together with others to achieve a goal. I know how to get things done in the school system, and I can put that knowledge to work for the students, teachers, and parents of our Ward.
As a parent and a volunteer I have worked hard for the best interests of not only my children, but all the students of Queenston School. As a Trustee, I can continue doing that for all the students in the Ward.
Hearing from residents of the Ward about what is important to them is essential, but I also believe that the expectations of elected officials include leadership on issues.
My main concern is to ensure that our education system makes the best choices for our children. The issues I believe are important, which will be dealt with over the next few years, are:
- ATTENDANCE AND GRADUATION RATES
- SERVING THE EDUCATIONAL NEEDS OF CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
- COMMUNITY FACILITIES
- SCHOOL DIVISION BOUNDARY REVIEW
I think of two issues with respect to accountability: “no fail/no deadlines” (accountability for our students) and standardized testing (accountability for our system).
- No fail: we do not do our children any favours by advancing them a year where they very possibly will continue to be challenged and could face further failures and frustrations. We need to trust and support our teachers as professionals in their decisions in the classroom. With support for the students we can create respect for our education system at all levels and create the foundation for ultimate success with our children.
- No deadlines: we also don’t help our children by failing to enforce reasonable deadlines. It does not properly prepare them for the work force; it places an unnecessary burden on teachers, and it sets students up to fail if they continually defer projects until the very end. On a sports team, children learn important lessons about accomplishment, responsibility and consequences for actions and decisions - why should the school system be any different?
- Standardized testing: I believe that standardized testing helps enforce a standard across the school system and provides valuable information for individual schools, to help hold teachers, administrators and Trustees accountable to the standards set for them.
ATTENDANCE AND GRADUATION RATES
The real issue is how to make a child value getting an education, and value getting high marks over low marks. Crucially we have to find a way to reward the ‘A’ with something that the student perceives as a reward, while motivating all students.
The school as an institution cannot do that without a strong and supportive family standing behind the child. It is a cliche but nonetheless true that children are our future. It is also true that the key to this future are happy homes with loving parents who set high expectations. Children are a critical part of the future of our community, and their successes will become our successes. We need to help children become net contributors to our community and society.
Schools also play a crucial role in raising happy and productive adults. As a Trustee, I can help schools do this well.
I believe that schools need to provide (a) opportunities to learn; (b) a safe environment for learning, and (c) reasonable and appropriate services for kids with disabilities.
SERVING THE EDUCATIONAL NEEDS OF CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
Parents of children with special needs know their children best and need to be intimately involved in the decision on how to educate their children. Over the last decade there has been a push to integrate children with special needs into the classroom. Not all parents of these children agree that inclusion is always the answer, and in some cases classroom resources are overstretched to the detriment of all children. We need to work with parents and schools to ensure our children with special needs get the best possible education in the most sensible manner possible. We can’t decide that without the involvement of parents and I support a formal process to engage those parents in this situation.
We have an infrastructure deficit in both our school buildings and our community centres, both of which are starting to be addressed. As we plan to address those issues, I believe that there is an opportunity to plan together to share facilities where it makes sense.
For instance there are situations throughout the Division (and our city) where schools are near community centres. Does it not make sense for both the school and community club to explore developing one gym that can serve both organizations? We better serve the needs of our children and our community in a proficient cost-effective manner.
My experience with the Queenston School community gym project taught me that once we start working together to understand our common issues and needs, we will find solutions that work for all of us. Let’s put that type of thinking to work for all of us!
SCHOOL DIVISION BOUNDARY REVIEW
While certainly requiring more research, there are 37 school division operating right now, and that alone makes me question whether or not that is the best use of our scarce resources. When analyzing the collected research, we need to ensure that we can continue to address the many and varied needs of our students throughout the system before taking action.