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MPPs need to help, not criticize: Op-Ed

Markus Winkler on Unsplash
Markus Winkler on Unsplash

It has been six months since a US opinion show first reported on a teacher working at Oakville Trafalgar High School. In the subsequent months, the school, its learners, and its staff have been subjected to relentless threats and harassment.

A recent article in the Toronto Star painted a grim picture of morale at the school and a community of parents who are desperate for students' school lives to return to normal. It's a lofty goal for learners and educators who have had three consecutive years fraught with disruption.

That's why I was disheartened when I read the statement from area MPPs Stephen Crawford, Effie Triantifilopoulos, and Natalie Pierre, specifically their comments around abdication of responsibility and lack of leadership.

Over the past six months, there has been a clear lack of leadership, but it's not come from the Guelph Line offices of our board.

Our government has highlighted the need for continued quality education. After six months of silence on the issue, our leaders have not lent a helping hand to the director and his team but have instead chosen to butt heads and publicly denigrate their capabilities.

Only now, following two incredibly contentious and well-attended Board meetings and the drafting of a proposed policy, have our "leaders" chosen to weigh in, admonishing our board for a lack of leadership.

For these supposed representatives of our communities, who could have offered political assistance, legal advice, or governmental support, or direction to the Ontario College of Teachers, their actions instead suggest political opportunism from a party that hasn't had many wins to celebrate lately.

The board deserves grace. Our schools have consistently been top performers in academic achievement. In 2022, EQAO scores were significantly above provincial math, reading, and writing averages. To put it in the succinct words of the director, "I don't believe there is a public board in Ontario that's doing better than we are."

The numbers back up the director's statement. According to the Fraser Institute's 2019 Report Card, HDSB high schools outperformed other boards in the region, averaging a score of 7.7 out of 10, compared to 6.4 in Toronto, 7.5 in York, 6.9 in Durham, and 6.3 in Hamilton-Wentworth.

Halton's schools are a shining example of the potential for educational excellence in Ontario. The most recent report cards have Halton performing even stronger, reaching an 8.03 in the most recently published card.

The invaluable contributions of the HDSB staff, our school staff, and administrators are how we achieved the exceptional quality of education in this area. It's a big part of why Halton continues to be such a desirable place to live and grow a family.

For these area MPPs to choose now to raise their voices, to tack on to a Cabinet minister's statement without saying anything of substance, that is an abdication of responsibility. That's demonstrating a lack of leadership. You’re deciding to voice your opinion after six months.

Be part of the solution. Don't create more problems for a board doing its best for our learners.