Four days until the campaign is over & I wish I had documented more of my experiences on my blog. It has been eye-opening running this “grassroots” campaign & I’m sure after February 27, I will blog extensively about the experience.
From Day 1, I have been knocking on the doors of Scarborough-Agincourt residents not only asking them to vote for me, but to chat about their experiences, ideas, and concerns around education. This has been the foundation of my campaign. We talk about student support, parental involvement and community consultation in broad terms but what do those truly mean?
My platform has refined and continues to refine on Scarborough-Agincourt’s diverse needs. I know this list will grow & change. Yet one thing is for sure. Our newcomer students are in desperate need of additional support in our schools.
I have spoken openly about continuing to advocate for more of our allocated ESL dollars to be spent on ESL. However, newcomer students need more than ESL. Newcomer families need more than translations and services that help them understand our school system. Newcomers need more than referrals.
I can write chapters about the experiences of our newcomer families here in Scarborough-Agincourt, seriously. & I will share this openly and vocally as Trustee. Though imagine, these families and these students have limited access to support specifically because language is in and of itself a barrier. Specific to this campaign, these newcomers do not even have the opportunity to vote to support a candidate who can advocate for their children.
Newcomer families in Scarborough-Agincourt have no vote but their voices are dying to be heard.
If you are unaware that there have been two ongoing Toronto District School Board (TDSB) by-elections in this city, you could hardly be blamed. You aren’t the only one. The by-elections in TDSB Ward 17 (Don Valley East) and TDSB Ward 20 (Scarborough-Agincourt) have largely managed to fly under the radar in a city that has so recently faced three general elections, a federal by-election, and constant political strife at City Hall between the Mayor and his political adversaries.
The two seats became vacant when Liberals Michael Coteau and Soo Wong were elected during the previous October’s Ontario general election in Don Valley East and Scarborough-Agincourt, respectively. While both have become key members of Premier McGuinty’s Toronto team of MPPs, their old seats at the TDSB have become the focal points of two of the most hotly contested by-elections in the school board’s history. Boasting an impressive thirty-one candidates between the two wards; it would be needlessly complicated to break down the platform for each and every single candidate. That said; there are a few who have managed to break ahead of the pack.
Just a little southwest, Ward 20 has managed to mimic the formula put forth by Ward 17; that of a small number of candidates managing to stand up above the crowd. Chief among them is Monica Batac. Attracting far more media attention than any other candidate in either race, Batac is running on her experience as a teacher with the TDSB and a researcher with the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education. She has built her campaign around prioritizing English as a second language education. However, the most interesting piece of her platform may be her commitment to study the feasibility of opening a trilingual school in Toronto.