Do your homework on who’s running for school board trustees, say researchers and candidates


When it involves the approaching school board trustee elections, Kate Belair of Wellesley, Ont., hopes folks do their homework on the candidates.

“We have anyone running for school board trustee who would not appear to be very inclusive,” she stated in an interview within the village forward of Ontario’s Monday, Oct. 24, municipal election.

“He’s going to be in a state of affairs the place he might affect our kids’s training, and that is scary as a result of we wish our neighborhood to be inclusive and numerous, and that does not appear to be his coverage.”

Belair stated it is her prime concern on this municipal election and she hopes to listen to from extra folks within the race.

“Just to type of counter that, so we all know we have now our values [represented] for the school board trustee place,” she stated. “Our primary concern proper now’s ensuring he doesn’t get a seat on the school board.”

Belair is not the one one apprehensive concerning the priorities of candidates running for school board trustee. Ben and Jerry’s Canada, the ice cream producer, issued an announcement on Twitter this week telling folks to concentrate to their native races.

The firm says it has issues about “far-right” candidates in races throughout Canada over the following few months. There are municipal elections in seven provinces and territories between Oct. 15 and Nov. 7.

“Make certain your school board prioritizes the well-being of all youngsters, no matter race, gender or sexuality,” Ben and Jerry’s assertion says.

While one one who tweeted at the corporate instructed them to “follow ice cream,” it is commonplace for Ben and Jerry’s to make such feedback.

The firm notes on its web site it has been recognized for supporting different actions, reminiscent of racial justice, LGBTQ rights, marriage equality and land rights in each Canada and the U.S.

Many haven’t got ‘clear idea’ of trustee function

There are 4 kinds of school boards in Ontario: English public, English Catholic, French public and French Catholic.

All voters can forged a poll for school board trustees, whether or not or not they’ve a baby in school. Anthony Piscitelli stated that is one of many vital causes to concentrate to who’s running in trustee elections.

Piscitelli is a professor within the public service program at Conestoga College, a former trustee with the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, and has finished analysis on public expectations of school board trustees.

Anthony Piscitelli is a former Catholic school board trustee who’s a professor at Conestoga College, and researches governance, public opinion, social finance and coverage. (Submitted by Anthony Piscitelli)

Piscitelli revealed a paper on-line in February within the Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, together with Andrea Perrella, a Wilfrid Laurier University political science affiliate professor, and doctoral researcher Adam Payler from the University of Birmingham in England. 

The examine discovered many individuals do not perceive the function of a school board trustee.

“Indeed, it’s clear that a couple of third of respondents wouldn’t have a transparent idea of what trustees do,” the examine says.

Piscitelli stated trustees are important in getting data to the general public, largely dad and mom of kids within the school system. Tasks vary from serving to dad and mom get solutions to some questions they might have, to taking issues from a number of dad and mom to the board for a bigger dialogue on whether or not a coverage wants to be modified.

It’s work typically unrecognized by most people, he stated.

“School board trustees, school boards do not simply do not get that a lot media consideration usually,” he stated. “A lot of the work they’re doing is a bit more quieter. But these strategic instructions and deciding what to focus on is vastly influential.”

Cathy Abraham is a trustee within the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board who’s searching for re-election. She’s additionally been president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association since 2018.

She stated trustees approve each coverage in a school board.

“We have three foremost duties: rent the director, do the finances and do coverage,” she stated.

Policies might embrace approving a brand new gown code for college students or deciding whether or not the Pride flag shall be flown outdoors colleges, she stated.

Portrait of a smiling woman with glasses.
Cathy Abraham, president of the Ontario Public School Boards Association, says trustees approve each coverage in a school board. (Ontario Public School Boards Association/

Other examples embrace when, in 2019, the province instructed school boards they needed to develop a coverage that may permit dad and mom to ask for their baby to be exempted from studying about human improvement and sexual well being training.

At the time, not all boards had a coverage that may permit dad and mom to choose out their youngsters.

As one other instance, in June 2021, Waterloo Region District School Board trustees voted to take away police school useful resource officers from colleges.

‘Lack of understanding’

Trustees can have a huge impact on the tradition of colleges in a neighborhood, Abraham stated.

That’s why she’s involved about a number of the rhetoric she’s listening to from candidates on this election.

“I’ve by no means skilled an election cycle fairly like this with misinformation, with a lack of knowledge about what the function of trustee is, with a lack of knowledge about what actually occurs in our colleges,” she stated. 

“School board trustees are solely there for the well-being of each scholar. We’re not making an attempt to make them be one thing they don’t seem to be. We’re not making an attempt to drive any type of ‘ideology.’ We’re not making an attempt to alter children.”

She stated a latest electronic mail accused her of “making an attempt to persuade little boys that they are all little ladies.”

“And I’m like, what are you speaking about? And these items do not occur. It simply would not occur,” she stated.

‘Draw your personal conclusions’

On the opposite hand, some folks say they’re running for school trustee as a result of they need to get politics and sure ideologies they really feel are being pushed on college students out of the training system — points like LGBTQ points and racism.

Peter Wallace began the web site Blueprint for Canada and is running for a trustee place with the Trillium Lakelands District School Board in Kawartha Lakes, Ont.

He stated he wished to create a platform others may need to run on as nicely. He launched the trustee platform in June and has made tweaks as he is acquired suggestions.

Portrait of man wearing a tie
Peter Wallace is a school board trustee candidate for the Trillium Lakelands District School Board in Kawartha Lakes and created Blueprint for Canada, an internet site that gives a platform to information candidates who need to ‘take away extremist political ideology from the classroom.’ (Peter Wallace/@Peter_in_Canada/Twitter)

“The platform was developed for school board trustee candidates, anyone that may need to endorse the platform both absolutely or partially at their discretion and additionally to teach dad and mom about a number of the points,” he stated in an interview with CBC News.

Blueprint for Canada calls on dad and mom and trustees to talk out about what they name “extremist ideology” within the classroom.

It’s not the one web site with that message — Vote Against Woke says it needs to assist voters discover “non-woke” candidates to assist. The web site defines woke as a time period “popularized by progressive activists who noticed themselves as having (metaphorically) woke up to daring new insights concerning the racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia that supposedly contaminate each nook of western societies.”

Wallace stated whereas he is seen numerous assist for the platform on social media, Blueprint for Canada has additionally acquired some criticism.

“The solely criticisms that we have acquired actually have needed to do with our insurance policies concerning [educational programs about] gender affirming care for minors, which we oppose as a result of we do not really feel that minors have the life expertise or the maturity to make these sorts of selections,” he stated.

Wallace stated he believes it appeals to “centrist reasonable Canadians,” however encourages folks to, “Look on the platform, draw their very own conclusions.”

How to inform if a candidate helps a platform

When a candidate has been endorsed by a bunch — reminiscent of those listed above, a academics’ union, labour council or grassroots neighborhood group — the candidate and the group providing the endorsements will typically additionally share that data on social media and their web sites. Those endorsements may educate voters concerning the candidates and the place they might stand on explicit points.

Voters who aren’t certain the place a candidate stands on points may contact them immediately, both by telephone or electronic mail.

All municipalities have a municipal election part on their web sites that may checklist candidates’ names and, if the candidates have offered it, contact data.

Perrella, who labored with Piscitelli on the analysis into school boards, stated it is vital folks take a couple of minutes earlier than the Oct. 24 election to look into the candidates for school board trustee of their space.

Andrea Perrella, an affiliate professor of political science at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, says it is vital folks take time earlier than the Oct. 24 election to look into the candidates for school board trustee of their space. (Adamski Tomasz Photography/Wilfrid Laurier University)

“A lot of individuals can say, nicely, I haven’t got children in school. Should I care? Well, we’re all members of society and an important a part of advancing society is ensuring that we produce or we graduate college students which might be nicely educated,” he instructed CBC London’s Afternoon Drive host, Allison Devereaux.

“We have a say in that. So it is a part of our democratic course of and it is a part of our membership to this society that we guarantee that we have now good representatives conserving issues running correctly.”


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