Do you have to be poor to work for the poor?

This morning, a friend and colleague posted on Facebook about some of the tensions he experiences as a community activist. Without posting the exact status, his words hinted to multiple issues in social justice work: making enough money, having enough influence, working too many hours, etc.

In response to this, I posted this excerpt from Carmel’s McConnell’s book.

As an activist in my twenties I believed for a long time that having cash was an inherently bad thing. That I couldn’t justify having personal comfort in terms of a nice place to live, or decent clothes while others lived in poverty. My duty – I thought – was to change the world and that could be done only while wearing clothes from thrift stores and jumble sales.

Then I read something about how your duty is to help the poor, not join them in their poverty. And it struck me that the time I was spending just trying to survive was time that I could be using more effectively to make changes in the world. So I changed how I thought about earning a good wage and got a great job… and, suddenly, I was able to do loads more… I found that by thinking different thoughts about money I was able to go from being poor and angry to tired to being relatively rich and calm and only tired because I chose to work hard on something that matters… And the best thing is by working from the heart and being passionate about social change and business success I’ve deposited both hard cash and moral dollars.

Spiritual and material enrichment.

– Change Activist: make big things happen fast by Carmel McConnell.

A penny for your thoughts? Would love to have some dialogue on this via my blog comments!

Photo by Tyheem Uno.

Parental Voice in Education – Breaking the hierarchy, beyond the school walls

You’re a parent and have concerns, ideas, and suggestions regarding your child’s education, the local school, or perhaps the Toronto District School Board at large.  Who do you talk to?

Traditionally, you would approach the teacher or principal. Some of you may even be part of the advisory committees.  Is this the only way?

What about if you don’t have time to call in or drop by the office? Many of us struggle with daily responsibilities and meeting immediate needs.  Where do you find the time and space to have your voice heard?

Arguably, most parents do not see the giant hierarchy of the school board. They don’t necessarily come into contact with the administrative and executive staff.  But if the changes you seek and the questions you have require dialogue at that level, what do you do?

Your ideas can get lost in the hierarchy. I’m here as a direct link.

 

Most parents may think they can bring their concerns up to the Principal level. But the puck does not stop there. Did you know that the Board of Trustees have a ton of influence on what goes on in Toronto schools? They essentially decide what initiatives and projects take priority.

Trustees should be your advocates.  As a Trustee for Scarborough-Agincourt, parents can talk with me. I will open the doors, both online and face-to-face, to make sure you can access me in whatever mode works best for you.  Trustees are to develop and maintain meaningful relationships with parents, students, staff, educators, and community members/organizations.

Vote for me so you can have real dialogue with someone who can influence the direction of public education.


I’ve heard many parents advocating to maintain city services in Toronto for the sake of their children. I urge you to continue to be more vocal, especially with education.  I’ve heard parents urge city councillors and Mayor Rob Ford to listen to the needs of the people they serve.

I’m here to listen, talk, collaborate, plan and advocate
on your behalf for your child’s education.

 

Let’s continue the conversation:

 

Curious to see the full TDSB organizational structure? See it here.

 
 

The new year brings a new trustee – my campaign begins…

On our first day of 2012, I would like to share an important message with you.

It is with the overwhelming support of my family and many colleagues, friends, and mentors that I will be running in the by-election for Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Trustee for Ward 20 – Scarborough-Agincourt.  I am excited & encouraged for the next two months of campaigning.  I hope you will come along for the ride.

Over the past few months, I have considered the range of career opportunities available after graduation. Anything and everything under the sun has been suggested- from oversea teaching gigs, employment with local boards, to tutoring.  I’ve considered continuing my studies or entering the private sector.  As some of you may know, I have not been 100% convinced that one opportunity was better suited for me than another.

I have spent the last two years navigating and switching between my identities as student, teacher, educator/mentor, researcher, community member, and advocate.  Yes, I am a multi-purpose, multi-identity stakeholder in education.  Becoming the Trustee for Ward 20 would allow me to continue this often messy, complex, yet invigorating work.  This time though, it is beyond informal conversations with peers or teachers – it is with the stakeholders themselves and with some weight in decision-making.

My reflections, learning, and experiences have always brought me back to the big picture, the critical implications of our definitions, practices, and values of teaching, learning, and education.  Would you agree there is dissonance in what is and what could be?

We all know we’ve got work to do.  Let’s get the votes.