Knowing Ward 20 versus living in Ward 20

I’ve participated in two all-candidates meetings/debates so far with the TDSB Trustee election.  I find it quite surprising that I often am the only one representing specific community needs & interests here in our Ward.

I do not talk broadly about initiatives I’d like to see in our schools.  I do not only talk about educational research or provincial/board policies. I speak specific to addressing the needs of our students, families, and communities.

I am often asked if I live in the Ward and have been quite open the fact that I don’t live here.  I am finishing my Master program at OISE/University of Toronto, so that has required me to live downtown for the past two years until April 2012.

Despite the fact that I do not live in the Ward, I have made it a key priority to learn about our schools, our families, and Ward 20 in all its diversity. These conversations started my campaign & will continue as your Trustee.  Clearly I have not been able to knock on all doors.  I want to continue to do so.  I want to talk with you.  Your stories, experiences, questions, concerns, and ideas are what I bring forward as your Trustee.

Even in the midst of pounding the pavement, I always try to answer your calls, emails, have extended conversations at your door, or meet you for coffee or tea.  & for those who I’ve befriended already, we will continue the conversations after February 27 regardless of the outcome.

Vote for me, a true community-oriented and community-grounded voice focused on supporting our students and improving our schools.

Newcomer Families in Scarborough-Agincourt – No vote, no voice?

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.

Who will listen? Who will take action?

Eye opening, I tell you.

Media coverage #5

Jordon Glass

“BREAKING DOWN THE TDSB BY-ELECTIONS”

February 15 2012.

Excerpt:

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.

 

Read the full article here.

Media Coverage #4, includes interview

Here’s a Digital Journal feature article about me, my platform, and some of my perspectives on TDSB & the Trustee role, written by Andrew Moran.

TDSB Trustee candidate Monica Batac wants to innovate classrooms
Full URL: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/319209

Excerpt:

During municipal elections, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Trustee contests usually do not garner much attention from voters or media outlets, but that could change this year as two by-elections are being held in Ward 17 Don Valley East and Ward 20 Scarborough-Agincourt.

Ward 20 voters will have 14 candidates to choose from on Feb. 27, including an exuberant Monica Batac, a classroom teacher who is completing her Master of Teaching degree at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute of Studies in Education.

DigitalJournal.com spoke with Batac to find out what makes her qualified to become a school trustee, understand the importance of such a position, what the TDSB can do to improve education and public awareness of trustee elections.

Read full article here.

Media coverage #2 – campaign

Ontario educator and blogger Doug Peterson wrote this article on me, entitled “Yoga and Politics.”  Some of the things he highlights: how we met, my experiences and perspectives, my social media and technology use, and what I bring to the table as Trustee for Scarborough-Agincourt.

Excerpt:

The use of social media just at election time is disingenuous.  I know that it’s a relatively new phenomenon to some but I think that I would really have a great deal of respect for someone who promises during her/his campaign to stay connected after the election to provide information directly to we taxpayers.  In fact, anyone who promises to live-tweet or live-blog during debates on bills would be guaranteed to get me to look strongly at their candidancy.

Even more impressive would be someone who is a known user of social media to spur conversations, debate issues, take a stand, etc. BEFORE the election.  For them to have a position already established and then to slide over to election mode would be the best possible scenario.

Voters in Scarborough-Agincourt have that opportunity in candidate for board of trustees, Monica Batac.  Monica is a an established social media user.  I first met her at the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia where she was just another Ontario Educator in the pack of us that learned and dined together.  At the time, she was going to school to get her Master’s Degree in Teaching.  We met up again at the ECOO Conference in Toronto.  What I particularly like about these events and the Ontario Educators that went to these two events is that the conversation is certainly not an echo chamber.  In our discussions, we talk and push each other to think about the WHYs that go with what we’re doing.  That is so helpful.

It was with a smile that I read that Monica was planning to run in Scarborough-Agincourt.  Monica has strong ideas and opinions about education and isn’t happy with the status quo.  I think that she’s perfectly placed to take on the challenge of representing people in that huge school district.

Many who head into political office do so with a machine behind them.  Monica’s working to build a social machine.  Whether it’s through her Facebook fan pageTwitter account, orpersonal website, she’s doing her best to build community to help spread her message.  Reading the content recently, she does have friends and followers, but not necessarily in Scarborough-Agincourt.  Hopefully, that grows as she heads towards the February 27th election date.  She did get a little bit of traditional media coverage which can be a challenge in a by-election.

So, how does a first time politician get money to run?  There have been a lot of fund raisers that I’ve heard of before but how about attending a Yoga Class together?  Is this a sign of new thinking to come?  Her friend Colin Harris already has blogged about her thoughts of planning and expecting excellence.  These are the sorts of things that we need driving education towards the future.

It would be terrific and a positive sign for the future that candidates who know and use the technology are taking the time to get elected and move the educational system forward.  I just wish that I could vote for her.

See full article, click here.

Social Media and Parental Involvement

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how we engage with parents at classroom and board levels.  I recently posted about how I seek to make a clear, direct path and link between parents and myself as Trustee.

I know many educators who use email, Twitter, class blogs, websites, Facebook, and other on-line platforms to share information with parents.  I must make clear the distinction between using social media to merely transmit knowledge and using it to create, develop, and maintain dialogue.  Colleague Lorna Costantini discusses this distinction:

Are teachers using SM to ask parents what they think? Is it being used to seek advice from parents? Are we using Facebook and twitter to maintain two-way communications? Are we providing training for parents on how to respond and engage using these tools? Is it the already engaged parents who are engaging now using SM? How many parents are connected with smart phones, computers the Internet? Is there any data to support how many parents know how to use these tools. I want to hear overwhelming that SM is being used successfully to engage parents but in general I don’t think it is. I need to be bang on in writing about tools for parents of teens so can you share your thoughts on how best to do it?

I believe we must

  1. Share information with parents using social media
  2. Train parents how to use social media
  3. Develop collaborative and transparent dialogue with parents using social media

Full article by Lorna Costantini can be found here.

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.

 
 

Media coverage on by-election

Hi all,

I wanted to share this article about the upcoming by-election with information about some of the candidates – including yours truly.

Trustee by-elections are anyone’s race. by Moira MacDonald. Toronto Sun. Jan. 10, 2012.

Excerpts:

If you want to see what a difference no incumbent makes, take a look at the growing list of trustee by-election candidates in Don Valley East’s Ward 17 and Scarborough-Agincourt’s Ward 20.

There’s the heavy smell of opportunism in the air for both races, but there’s the whiff of idealism too. Political neophyte Monica Batac, 24, is finishing a master’s degree in teaching this spring, but says the experience taught her education needs advocatesat the political table too. She plans a “grassroots” campaign in Scarborough- Agincourt, including how she fundraises. Next weekend she’s part of a “karma” Bikram yoga class where proceeds will go to support her trustee bid.

“I don’t have a campaign manager, I’m writing my own content,” says Batac, who has a special interest in how to use technology in education. “It’s not easy. I’m an underdog — but I have the best of intentions.”

 

 

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.