Engaging the community leads to better schools

 

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By Matias De Dovitiis

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Our neighbourhood does not have the same quality of schools as other parts of the City. We need to do better. Getting our students and our parents to participate more in their school communities is an important step that we need to take in order to return our schools to where they need to be.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has just released test scores and many of our schools did not do as well as schools in many other districts in both the Grade 9 Mathematics and Grade 10 Literacy Tests. There are many reasons for this, but our schools need to be more engaged in order to turn this around. In order for this to work, increased engagement can’t just come from students, teachers and administrators, but parents and community members also need to be more involved in their children’s school lives. This is critical.

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Safety first in our schools and our roads

By Matias de Dovitiis

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Last year, the school year in the Downsview community started off with a tragedy.

 

On the first day of school, Violet Liang, a high school student was hit by a truck and killed as she was crossing the street on Lamberton blvd.

 

We should remember this event and learn from it to do honour to Violet.

 

As school starts again and as construction and City traffic bottle, we as drivers should remember that we share the road with children, bicycles and other drivers. As a community, we should also learn from it to avoid such accidents from happening again.

 

With this in light, the City of Toronto started a number of actions to rethink school zone safety such as lowering speed limits around schools, creating more signs to warn drivers they are in school zones and improving their designs, pavement markings, as well as meeting with the school boards to determine safety concerns, educational measures for students and more.

 

These actions were started at the request of Councillor Anthony Perruzza, who asked for a report and started the ball rolling late last year.

 

For the community around Sentinel Rd., the effects were two fold. Last year, we added a crossing guard at the intersection at Lamberton Blvd., and Sentinel Rd. The office of the Chief of Police expedited the process due to the circumstances and the crossing guard was added almost immediately after the request was made.

 

Secondly, a new pilot project called “Watch your Speed” will be starting this fall. The City is purchasing a number of portable speed measuring display signs. There have been a few of these around, but the city will be purchasing more of them. Importantly, the location at Sentinel Rd., and Lamberton Blvd., will be one of 10 locations in the City of Toronto to get one of the displays on an almost permanent basis. It was chosen, because of the accident that occurred last year.

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The project will last a year and start this fall, by late October or early November. It will help to remind drivers of the school zone driving speed.

 

Importantly, there is a possibility of expanding the project to other areas. As construction and congestion in the community pushes traffic into more residential areas we need to start looking at ways to make our roads safer.

 

One of the things that the school boards should be doing is rethinking how we transport our children. The TDSB only offers school bus services to students in grade 5 or under if they live more than 1.6 km away from the school they attend.

 

For a 10 year old, with the way traffic in the City has grown, that distance is starting to become more of a danger.

 

It is about time for the school to rethink the distance requirement. We need to think about the dangers that these distances create for school children, particularly to younger children.

 

Why I decided to run for TDSB Trustee in York West

by Matias de Dovitiis

I registered to run for the Toronto District School Board in York West, because this is my home. It is where I live and work and it is where I want to make a difference.

Over a decade of community building has taught me the value of hard work and the importance of giving back. Running for Trustee is an important personal commitment to my community and it is a challenge that I hope to turn into opportunities for many of our students.

As a first generation Canadian, raised by a working single parent, I share many of the experiences of many in our city. A good quality education is the only thing that allowed me to find a path to personal accomplishment. I think we owe it to the next generation to give them the same opportunities and that is why I am now a trustee candidate.

In York West we need to do better for our students. They are not getting the same quality education that other students are getting and I want to change that. We have greater needs, but fewer resources to abate those needs. These structural inequities need to be challenged. The waste in the system needs to be reinvested in the classroom.

To my mind, education and the access to quality education is the thing that has helped to build this country. In Toronto, we have over 150 years of history providing public education. We have a public education system that is older than almost every other place on Earth. This makes Toronto one of the leaders in the world. This helped to make this country a place of greater equality and a better place to live. Now the system is being eroded by mismanagement at the same time that its resources are reduced.

We need change to give young people better chances in life.

We need to go give our students a sound education that teaches them the skills and work ethic that will lead to personal success, but we also need them to participate and take pride in the community.

This is why I have spent much of my free time organizing after school programs, bursaries, scholarships, tree plantings, mentoring programs and supporting a myriad of projects and activities that foment access to education and civic engagement by our youth. We need to open more doors for them.

I have carried out this type of work for years. Now I want to do it at the school board to make more of a difference. It is important work. I hope to be up to the task.

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