I am pleased to confirm that I have the support of Peel Education Workers United. Please see the attached notice received from:
Felipe A. Pareja, Vice-President, Peel Elementary Teachers’ Local.
Click this link: ETFO Endorsement 2018
This endorsement is based on my responses to a questionnaire developed by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). The full questionnaire and my responses are included below for your review.
(Note: Questions 1 & 2 were for identification of Candidate)
3. Candidate Background (current occupation, past occupations related to the position of trustee, community and volunteer service)
Self-employed Consultant – Environment, Health & Safety. Volunteer work/Community Involvement: Advocate since 2008 for restructuring of math delivery to an ‘All School Year Long’ format (see: www.educations-matters.info). Volunteered with Brampton Health Coalition (Re-build of Peel Memorial Hospital), Habitat for Humanity, Fair Vote Peel, active at GTAA meetings regarding airport noise. Was a Cub Scout Leader. A graduate of the University of Guelph, B.Sc. in biological sciences. Over 30 years experience in environmental, health & safety, industrial quality assurance and regulatory affairs.
4. What concrete steps can (and will) you take in collaboration with your trustee colleagues to advocate for needs-based funding in Ontario’s public education system, with a view to ensuring equity in every school and classroom?
Given the current Provincially mandated funding formulas and grant allocation systems, I am most certainly committed to advocate in favour of needs-based funding in order to most equitably distribute available funds. Funding formulas are blunt tools. Analysis of the facts will guide myself and colleagues to fine tune funding allocations to ensure equity of opportunity. My desire to become PDSB Trustee is rooted in my strongly held belief that public education is a profoundly important public service that is a foundation for economic success both individually and as a community. Public education is fundamental to the success of our democracy, ensuring engaged and knowledgeable citizens. I am willing and able to work toward continuous improvement of this institution. I will be responsive to the needs of the constituents and provide strong advocacy for both individual and Board wide concerns.
5. How will you work with your trustee colleagues and school board staff to advocate for the elimination of standardized testing and a much-needed increase to funding curriculum development and classroom resources (e.g. teaching and learning technology, specialist teachers, support teachers, teaching assistants, professional student services personnel)?
I believe the first step in dealing with standardized testing is to de-politicize the way results are reported and interpreted. Currently, an incremental year to year rise or lowering of test scores is either hailed as success or decried as failure. The usefulness of the standardized test as an assessment of the overall system seems to be lost. A misguided goal of ever rising results may lead to un-necessary stress for students and teachers alike.
6. What can (and will) you do to press for the introduction of an Ontario-wide ‘standard of good repair’ for public education infrastructure? How can you contribute to the effort to eliminate Ontario’s current $15 billion school repairs and maintenance backlog?
An Ontario-wide ‘standard of good repair’ for public education infrastructure is a goal I will certainly fight for as a basic necessity. I will advocate to our local Provincial MPPs and, as appropriate, Federal MPs as well, in order to obtain sustainable funding levels and appropriate funding for infrastructure projects. I will speak against the promotion of austerity agendas and vilification of taxation which serve only narrow, short-sighted political goals. We all want prudent fiscal management but policies that are ‘penny wise and dollar foolish’ are a bane on our society.
7. Would you support inviting PDSB staff input, through a system-wide survey, in order to gain a comprehensive picture of how learning technology is being used in the system, where and how the inventory of this technology is distributed, how this technology is being purchased, and how to ensure fair and equitable access for all staff and students?
Yes, I would support this initiative. I would hope that PDSB staff input is currently being included in the decision-making processes. If not, this will be corrected.
8. What would you do to ensure that public schools remain open and serve as hubs for communities and neighbourhoods in Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon?
I support this absolutely. This is one of my campaign goals and was also included in my 2014 campaign. This is one of my long-held beliefs. I will advocate for this principle and support initiatives introduced by other Trustees.
9. What steps do you intend to take to address increasingly violent and aggressive behaviour on the part of students in worksites across the system?
I am in favour of continuing to have “school resource officers” present at Peel Schools. However, this program needs to be supported by appropriate training for officers and a real bona fide complaint system to address concerns of students and parents that have had interactions with the officers. Bullies are a major concern. Students who are bullied must be taken seriously and not put into positions of vulnerability by inadequate dealing with the bullies. Looking at better supervision of students while on recess and lunch is key to helping stem the spread of bullying behaviour.
10. How do you intend to work with your trustee colleagues to address and effectively mitigate the issues that led to such significant bussing delays during the 2017-2018 school year?
The long-term solution is a policy of smaller, community schools with walkable school boundaries. This configuration minimizes the reliance on bussing and works toward having schools serve as community hubs. The probable cause that results in these bus driver jobs remaining un-filled is due to a combination of low pay, lack of or poor benefits and un-desirable working conditions i.e. split-shifts etc. Simply granting the bussing contract to the lowest cost supplier is not the best policy. There must be performance clauses and penalties.
11. How do you intend to work with your trustee colleagues to mitigate the damage and uncertainty that the next four years of Conservative government in Ontario will surely bring?
I am cautiously hopeful that behind the rhetoric, the Conservative government in Ontario wants the best for all citizens and, in our case, students. However, if decisions are made that negatively impact the PDSB and students we Trustees must remain forthright and speak truth to power.
12. How can you work to improve the morale and job satisfaction of all staff in the system, to the benefit of all stakeholders?
We must ensure that the PDSB is a progressive and inclusive employer where employee feedback is encouraged and valued within a culture of continuous improvement.
13. Where do you stand on the issue of the repeal of the 2015 Health and Physical Education curriculum?
I am against this repeal. The introduction of 2015 curriculum was long overdue. This curriculum was well researched and vetted by many stakeholders. This curriculum is needed to prepare our children for a safe, healthy and balanced life.
14. What concrete steps can (and will) you take to ensure that the PDSB continues to address issues of equity and inclusion (including, but not limited to, acts of hate directed at any group based on a prohibited ground, truth and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, inclusion of 2SLGBTQ+ students and their families, the rise of Islamophobia, anti-Black racism)?
I have been a long-time financial supporter of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association since I believe this organization to be the pre-eminent voice in Canada in support of human rights. They consistently speak in support of civil liberties at all levels even when other supposed advocacy groups have remained silent. I will look to some of their policy ideas to bring to our school board. I will bring an open mind and willingness to listen and empathize with people striving for inclusion and equity. Educating our students is a key factor in ensuring equity and including these topics in the curriculum, such as the 2015 Health and Physical Education curriculum, is very important.
15. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: students’ learning conditions are directly connected to employees’ working conditions? Please elaborate on your position.
I agree with this statement. I believe in a holistic view of organizational health. All parts are inter-connected. If a malaise exists in one part, the whole organization will be less than what it could be.
16. In the spirit of ensuring that labour relations between the board and employee groups remain positive and collaborative, do you support the concept of improving and increasing communication between trustees and employee unions when grievances are filed with the board?
This is an excellent idea. Open communication allows for everyone to listen to and understand the other side of the issue. This is how grievances can be solved.
17. What are your views on locking out board employees during bargaining/negotiations? To what extent do you agree with education workers’ right to strike?
I would not support the locking out of board employees during bargaining/negotiations. Lock-outs only hurt our students who should not be used as bargaining chips. I support the right to strike for education workers. In the event of stalled negotiations, I would support the use of binding arbitration.
18. Would you support giving the winter holidays to 12-month employees instead of requiring them to work additional hours to cover the usual three- to four-day shut-down?
I do support this idea. This is a very important family time and many private businesses give this time off to their employees without requiring additional hours. If we want to keep harmony, this is a positive step.
19. What are your thoughts on contracting out and/or privatizing board services currently provided by unionized employees?
I do not support the contracting out and/or privatizing of board services. I view this practice as regressive and puts short-term savings (if any) ahead of long-term stability provided by employees who are committed to their workplace.
20. When decisions are made or approved by the board’s senior leadership team that have the potential to significantly impact practice within the PDSB or student success, to what extent do you feel that: a) those decisions should be made based on data/analytics gleaned from system-wide surveys or studies; and b) you should be consulted and involved in this decision-making process?
I will always insist that a decision of this type be based on thorough review of data/analytics from system-wide surveys or studies. Of course, the Board Administration must present their case for such changes to the Board of Trustees for approval before implementation.
21. How will you be financing your campaign? Your transparency on this question would be appreciated.
At this time, my campaign is self-financed. I am open to receive funding from like-minded individuals.
22. Over the next term of elected office, what actions and specific goals do you feel would be important to supporting and strengthening the role of public school boards in Ontario?
Since 2008, I have advocated to the PDSB for a return to ‘All School Year Long’ math instruction for Grades 9 and 10 students paired with Physical Education in an alternating ‘A/B Schedule’ format. This initiative has had the support of several trustees and has been proven in GTA schools to improve the math skills of students. With my election, I plan to push forward with the adoption of this initiative. Once this has been achieved, I will put forward plans to deliver music and languages in the same format. I presented to several school councils to raise awareness and support for this restructuring. My advocacy efforts have re-affirmed, within PDSB, the principle that school council meetings are public meetings.
23. How can you work with your trustee colleagues to ensure that there is open and ongoing dialogue with each of the board’s employee groups?
I will commit to and encourage other trustees to foster open and ongoing dialogue with each of the board’s employee groups with a focus on ‘Root Cause Analysis’ to solve problems and resolve conflicts.