School board trustees a vital part of coming city election

Morgan Gallagher
Queens Park/City Hall Reporter

The Oct. 27 municipal election is not just about the race for Toronto mayor and council.

Toronto will be electing 34 school trustees across two school boards, a position often overlooked but vital in the view of educators and many parents of school-age children.

School trustees are intended to provide a direct link from government to schools and give schools the tools they need to help students smoothly transition from high school to post-secondary education.

Humber sits astride the boundary between Ward 1 and Ward 2. In all, according to the city of Toronto,19 candidates are running for two trustee positions, one each on the public and Catholic boards.

Not all candidates feel that the current curriculum is benefitting students.

“The current system is very lax. It has many issues. The problem with the curriculum is that they focus too much on marks,” Ward 1 public school trustee candidate Dahir Galbete said.

Galbete believes that by eliminating the use of province-wide standardized testing, such as the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) standards and literacy tests, students will receive a better experience.

“I believe that we should not use standardized tests to measure a child’s academics. We could minimize them. What we need to do is put emphasis on a well-rounded curriculum that focuses on arts and trades,” he said.

Some candidates in the race for school trustee disagree.

Chris Glover, running for re-election as public trustee in Ward 2, believes that the current school curriculum is preparing students well for post-secondary education.

“I think that generally, (high school) prepares students really well for post secondary education. More than 50 per cent of our students go to college or university right out of high school. Our graduation rates are way up and our EQAO scores have been steadily climbing over the last decade. I think students are academically really prepared,” Glover said.

Glover acknowledges that there is always room for improvement.

“I want to have every student to learn keyboarding (typing). I think it would make their work far more efficient. We’re always focusing on things that need to be improved,” he said.

There are students who feel otherwise. Shannon Weatherup, a recent University of Guelph-Humber graduate, felt that her time in high school did not prepare her for post secondary education.

“I found that there was way more work and reading involved and high school did not really prepare me for that. I also found that in some of my classes all I was marked on was one assignment and 2 exams, and in high school, if you messed up on one assignment it is not a big deal, but in university it was,” Weatherup said.

Weatherup found that the biggest shock transitioning from high school to college was the way the classes were set up.

“I found that in first year, when you had those assignments that were worth 30 per cent, it was hard to figure out what exactly they were looking for, in order to get 100 per cent on that assignment.”