On School Performance, It is Time London Lengthened its Stride
Jake Skinner Trustee Candidate Wards 7, 8, 9, 10, 13
It is time London woke up to its school performance problem. In the last five years, London public schools have not improved and compared to neighbouring municipalities ranks worse than one would expect (see Jakeskinner.ca/issues). In 2013, London elementary schools scored 5.1 out of a possible 10 points on provincial tests and our high schools scored a 6.0. Recent provincial test results confirm we are not improving or getting worse (see http://www.am980.ca/2014/09/17/27937/). We can do better, our children deserve better. As a candidate for TVDSB Trustee in wards 7, 8, 9, 10, and 13 I have a plan to move education in London forward.
There are a number of important issues facing our board at this time, like the prospect of new school closures; but we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted from the task of ensuring high student achievement and well-being. Nor is it productive to dismiss the value of provincial test results by suggesting they tell only part of the story. Provincial testing is important and is the measure used across the province to gauge whether our children are gaining the skills they will need to succeed in the 21st Century; which is increasingly knowledge-based and global in competition. There is an ancient law which says that we will reap what we sow; our future success depends on the skills we pass on to our children through our education system today, and we must give serious heed to whether we are giving them the skills to succeed or not. This is why I am calling for us to lengthen our stride when it comes to school performance.
If elected, here is what I plan to do:
1. Promote strong and effective Principal leadership. Principals can do this by being firm and purposeful, being collaborative as leaders, exhibiting instructional leadership, monitoring staff performance frequently, and maintaining and recruiting talented staff.
2. Promote a pervasive focus on instruction and learning. This means keeping academics the priority and maximizing learning time.
3. Promote a safe and positive school climate and culture. This means creating a shared vision, an orderly and supportive environment, and emphasizing positive reinforcement to build a positive pupil culture.
4. Create high (and appropriate) expectations for all. This goes for both staff and students.
5. Use student achievement data to monitor progress at all levels. This will be used at the student, classroom, and school levels.
6. Build effective teaching. This means maximizing class time, providing a broad, balanced, relevant and stimulating curriculum, and setting high standards for teaching.
7. Involve parents in productive and appropriate ways. Parents, teachers, and students form a partnership, not an adversarial relationship.
8. And above all, I will promote a positive attitude towards student achievement. It is vital we dismiss doubt and adopt the unwavering belief that pupils can achieve high standards given sufficient time and high quality support; that teachers can teach to high standards, with the right example, conditions, and help; that our expectations for achievement should be high and that early intervention can rescue students who may not be reaching their potential; and that past failures can be replaced by future success as we learn and grow together.
I am a PhD candidate in local government at Western with a Master's Degree in American Studies and a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science. I am a former Regional Planning Commissioner and homebuilder of ten years. I am a teacher and most importantly I am a parent. My wife Vanessa and I are the proud parents of six remarkable children. I know that we are capable of more and it is time to raise the bar and reach our true potential when it comes to giving our children the skills they will need to succeed in the 21st Century.
Voters can get in touch with me in these ways: