Students Have the Right to Read
Many parents have contacted me with concerns about student literacy levels and other fundamental competencies. I share their concerns. I see declining literacy levels in the first-year courses I teach at university as students arrive underprepared for the critical thinking, reading, and writing skills required to succeed. I coach public school students and witness the struggles of students with learning disabilities or who face discrimination. Parents, students, and others have the right to be concerned. Education Quality Accountability Office (EQAO) data from 2018-2019 shows that almost one third of Grade 3 students fail to meet Ontario writing standards. While numbers for Grade 6 were better (18% did not meet literacy standards), the data for students with disabilities is ominous: on average, half of Grade 3 and Grade 6 students with special education needs did not meet provincial standards. Moreover, the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) February 2022 report, Right to Read, states: “Ontario is systematically failing students with reading disabilities and many other students” (p. 2).
Education is my life’s work. I am running for OCDSB trustee because we must urgently transform the ways that students undertake learning. The OHRC recommendations to address the literacy challenges we face are clear and we must implement them. We must also commit ourselves to collaborating with students and helping them take charge of their own learning paths. I will work with fellow trustees to think outside the box and look at alternative models for supporting our students. Diversity, equity, and inclusion policies need to work better to support students with disabilities and special education needs, eliminate discrimination, improve student mental health, and engage students in community/environmental projects that cultivate care and belonging. I am convinced that we can democratize learning in ways that enhance the creative and critical thinking, collaboration, and communications skills that students need to realize their full potential.