Running for public office was not something I ever expected to do. But too many people I meet express concern about the state of education in Ontario. I am their advocate.

PLEDGE YOUR SUPPORT FOR JOHN WAKELIN

Let Teachers Teach READING, WRITING and MATH

Discuss POLITICS at home

After graduate studies in politics, I completed my law degree. I’ve been a Whitby resident for 25 years. My children were educated in Whitby’s public school system. I’m a husband, father, local business owner and employer.

Running for public office was not something I ever expected to do. But too many people I meet express concern about the state of education in Ontario. I will be their advocate.

There is a sense among many of us that our education system may have an “agenda” beyond teaching our kids the academic subject matter they will need to excel vocationally. 

The law requires the DDSB to promote a “positive school climate” that is “inclusive and accepting” of all pupils. I agree. But the DDSB has interpreted this as mandating that they monitor and train teachers and students in a U.S. based approach to “diversity, equity and inclusion”. Many teachers, parents and residents have expressed serious concerns about the Board’s approach. Many teachers are afraid to speak out against such policies even though they may disagree with them or feel they are in fact divisive. Many parents feel that the policies of the DDSB have become inherently ideological and political, but their concerns are met with denial by some in the school system.

My message is that the citizens decide what is or isn’t “political” not the teacher’s unions or the school board. 

Exclusion or lack of acceptance scars children. We all know this. But how we create an “inclusive and accepting” school climate is something best decided by Whitby parents, and not by reference to American education policy fads.

Inclusion may be best served by promoting affiliation, teamwork and belonging among individuals with different backgrounds, rather than by training children to focus on differences.

I believe that children of all backgrounds or identities should be taught in an environment that presumes acceptance, while continuing to protect all kids from bullying (including online).

Levelling the playing field in society can best be achieved by testing and discovering excellence early, unlocking and facilitating our kids’ talents, and creating pathways for them to connect with the networks they will need to succeed vocationally. Children living in challenging family circumstances should have the same shot at high vocational achievement as those more fortunate. 

I believe that armed with self-discipline and an excellent education (which Whitby teachers already deliver), no barrier or obstacle will ever stop our kids from achieving their goals. Suggesting the contrary to any child is abusive and counterproductive.

Teachers should be teaching core vocational skills training. They should not be training kids to adopt the Board’s or their own personal values, views or politics. Those topics should be discussed at home not in school.  They are none of the school board’s business. 

I believe our schools have been inclusive and accepting for many years despite, not because of, the Board’s policies. I believe that teachers in Ontario generally need better protection from politically minded administrations, unions and boards.  Among their colleagues or online, teachers should be free to speak out against bad ideas and express their own views without fear of reprisals.  Teachers must be safely allowed to blow the whistle on policies or practices they feel are harmful to our kids.

And I believe that a majority of our students, parents and teachers would agree. 

School is a place for learning the skills of tomorrow, not about obsessing over politics. 

Families are free to teach their kids their own values and narratives. At home.  School should always be a “no politics” environment.  

I will keep an open mind. I want to hear from teachers and parents.  I want to discuss how to find and improve the trajectory of all the promising kids who are dealing with challenging circumstances.  I want to match kids with behavioural challenges with talented strong teachers with a gift for understanding, handling, and reaching them.  I want to ensure that kids with special needs don’t get written off but get more attention to core academic and vocational training to achieve their best.  I want more attention on core financial aptitudes and an elevation of skilled trades preparation (including basic small business education).  I want to help high achievers from all backgrounds get an equal shot at success as they all deserve.

I am offering to provide scrutiny and reassurance that our schools are teaching their kids the core subject matter that they need to succeed, in an environment that promotes optimism, and tacitly expects togetherness, tolerance and acceptance (without the need for politics!). 

I have spent decades acting on behalf of clients in court. I would now like to represent all of you within the School Board. For those who have concerns I will be your advocate within the education system. 

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