Friday, October 19, 2012

2012 School Board Election: Issues


Halifax Regional School Board

Today was the last day of advance online and phone voting for our municipal election. I'm voting in person on Saturday at a nearby Elementary school. I'm looking forward to the walk with my daughter, even though she'll be covered up because it's supposed to be raining.


I'm pretty sure I know who I'm voting for when it comes to the Mayor, but I have SEVEN choices for Council, and of course two for School Board.





Of the seven council choices, two have held the position before (My Municipality just reduced the number of districts as a cost saving initiative), and one goes to my church. It's a really hard choice because there are so MANY choices. SEVEN!

I've mentioned in a previous post that there are only two choices for School Board in my district, and I think I've made my decision, and it wasn't an easy choice. There's not a lot available online from the candidates or elsewhere that details their stances on all the issues.

Graham Judge doesn't have either a highlighted section of his blog or a tab which shares in one easy place his stance on the issues. You have to read through his posts to see his opinions.

Gin Yee makes it slightly easier for the voter to see his opinions because he has a tab labelled Platform. It doesn't hurt that he has held the job for the last two terms and knows what the voter wants.

There is a citizen group in Nova Scotia called Students First Nova Scotia, which aims to promote the needs of the student first in Education. They apparently sent out a questionnaire to all the candidates to see how well their beliefs matched with the groups, but they did not post the results on their website, which personally I would have found enlightening. A few candidates posted their results online, but neither of my choices did that I can find.

The questions posed to all School Board Candidates were on a scale from Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree, or No opinion. They were then given a space to leave a comment and expand on their answers.

I will not share Mr. Poole's answers, as he is not running for my district.


PART A – Statement of Principles
Better schools begin with you. To truly transform education in Nova Scotia, to create a system that puts
students’ needs first, we need parents, teachers, administrators, politicians, and citizens from across the
province to come together, recognize the problems in our system, and work together to overcome them.
We believe:
 Great teachers can make a tremendous difference for students of every background; all children
deserve great teachers.
 Students should not need luck to get a good education; every family should be able to choose an
excellent school.
 Public dollars belong where they can make the biggest difference; we must fight ineffective
programs and bureaucracy.
 Parental involvement is key to improved student outcomes, but the entire community must be
engaged in the effort to improve our schools.
I agree with 3/4 of these statements.


PART B - Core Principles
Please read each of the short statements and indicate your degree of support for each of those principles:
PUT STUDENTS FIRST
Education should be first and foremost about the student. No two students are the same and so our system
must be flexible and adaptive to the needs of every child.




EMPOWER PARENTS
Every family should have the information and access to choose among quality schools. No student should
be forced to attend a low-performing school or be taught by a low-performing teacher.


ELEVATE TEACHING
Great teachers make a difference for children of all backgrounds. All children deserve great teachers.



RAISE STANDARDS
The surest road to mediocrity is lowered expectations. Standards and expectations should be at the highest
level for everyone: students, teachers, administrators, parents and the community.






SPEND WISELY
Administrators should use resources efficiently to ensure sustainable spending that puts students first.
Schools should be managed through structures that ensure a focus on student results rather than adult
interests.



PART C - Opinion of Students First Nova Scotia and Its Mission
Please Check ONE:
______ I AGREE with the goals and objectives of StudentsFirstNS
______ I AM INTERESTED in learning more about StudentsFirstNS
______ I AM UNDECIDED about StudentsFirstNS
______ I AM UNABLE TO SUPPORT StudentsFirstNS







And these were just the issues of this one parent group. there are so many other issues being thrown around.
-making math and literacy a priority: We had low scores last year in the province on standardized tests.
-bottled water in schools.
-busing (lower distance, and subsidize bus passes for those not included)
-school boundaries
-school closures
-the role of technology in the classroom
-physical education in the schedule daily
-moving grade 9 from junior high into senior high.
-promotion of french immersion
-class sizes (caps)
-anti-bullying programs
-limit split classes
-designate official walking routes which all have sidewalks, safe paths.
-more crossing guards
-snow days


As with every election, it really depends on what is important to you, and what the candidate has to say about that particular issue. Since my daughter is only 8 months old, I'm not as yet that invested in the small issues, but as a teacher (albeit one without a classroom), there are issues which do effect me.

Let's see what happens on Saturday!

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