School board trustee candidates wanted!
If there is a position on the municipal ballot that is both unrecognized and misunderstood, the school board trustee is it. The mayoral race receives tons of media attention with a section on the Toronto Star website and front page editorials while school board trustees have a more difficult time getting a piece of the action.
It's undeniable that the mayor is an instrumental position in setting the agenda for the City of Toronto, but school board trustees are no less important: Toronto District School Board trustees juggle $2.7 billion in public funds, while their Catholic counterparts handle nearly $1 billion. All trustees make essential decisions that affect Torontonians, from what is done with school facilities and swimming pools to the utilization of programs and teachers. Therefore, trustees impact the vitality of our city's - and country's - workforce for current and future generations. They are extremely important, and are one of the most local and accountable levels of government we have.
Too bad most people either don’t know or don't care.
Turnout for trustee elections in Toronto is abysmal: 6 of the 22 wards (nearly 30 per cent) currently have only one candidate, and many areas have yet to see some fresh blood for decades. The same trend goes with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, with only 7 out of the 12 wards currently having one candidate. That’s over half the wards!
Many trustee candidates will not only have to campaign for their own cause, but will also have to educate the public about the position, as most voters simply don't even know trustees exist. Even when they do acknowledge a trustee’s existence, they have little idea about how effective their trustees really are. Some trustees are rotting away as long-time incumbents, becoming so detached from 21st century education that they don't even know what USB keys are. Others may either listen to or scorn the students, who are undoubtedly the most important part of any school Board.
It's time to revitalize school board trustee elections.
the public is a first, but so is encouraging more appropriate candidates: ones
who are fresh out of the system and know what works and what doesn't work. It's
not a full-time position, so candidates can still juggle daytime
commitments like post-secondary education or even a job.
Though there is a somewhat steep learning curve, trustees who don't come from political backgrounds are especially valuable. When one speaks of schools, one speaks also of health, mental disorder, equity, and the whole spectrum of education - the immense variety of backgrounds that trustees come from make the whole board more forward-thinking and flexible. The pay is modest, but the potential for change is immense.
Being a school Board trustee is an opportunity to give back to your community and positively impact the future of Toronto.