BLIZZARD: Races for school boards heat up


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With voters heading to the polls on October 24, this is the second and final part of columnist Christina Blizzard’s look at the Toronto public school administrator races.

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Often overlooked during municipal elections, school board races get carried away. Here is our second look at some of the races for seats in the Toronto District School Board.

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Ward 14, Don Valley East

Frank Chu holds two degrees in social work and serves newcomers, children, youth and adult learners as a frontline worker and administrator in the social service sector. He was a relief foster parent for 10 years supporting treatment homes for hard to reach populations.

Frank Chu is running for Public School Trustee in Ward 14, Don Valley East
Frank Chu is running for Public School Trustee in Ward 14, Don Valley East Photo by Getty Images /Toronto Sun

Farzana Rajwani moved to Toronto from East Africa with her family when she was a child. Her mother, a newcomer with a limited understanding of the school system, realized she was struggling. Her neighbors helped her come up with a plan to help her succeed. She then earned degrees and worked in the nonprofit sector. She wants to use this experience to empower students in today’s school system.

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Abdi Yousuf is an employment manager at CultureLink Settlement and Community Services and host of a radio show about the experiences of newcomers to Canada. It supports parents’ right to choose a “balanced” curriculum in health and physical education, parent involvement, special education, and mental health education. He also wants traffic to be reduced in school districts.

Karen Hyman says she will hold the provincial government accountable for its recovery plan for learning and providing physical and mental health supports to students. She says condo development has led to overcrowding in classrooms, and she will ensure the neighborhood has full access to capital funding, so kids aren’t bused out of district schools. .

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Ward 15, Toronto-Danforth

Sara Ehrhardt fought to save her child’s school swimming pool and to save nurseries from cuts. She works for the Ontario Public Service and holds degrees in engineering and public policy. She will work for safer schools and advance equity, inclusion and social justice.

Sara Ehrhardt is running to become a public school trustee for Ward 15, Toronto-Danforth
Sara Ehrhardt is running to become a public school trustee for Ward 15, Toronto-Danforth Photo by /Toronto Sun

Matt Farrell is vice president of operations for TOLive, a city agency. He has a background in labor relations. He has also held contract lecturer positions at post-secondary institutions.

He believes that substantial savings can be made by merging the Catholic and public systems into one system in each of Canada’s official languages, and asserts that the savings from such a merger would fund smaller class sizes.

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Ward 17, Scarborough Center

Candidate Muhammad Waseem Qadeer has been involved in organizing sports and cultural events for youth and seniors.

He is a software developer with a degree in computer engineering and a master’s degree in artificial intelligence. Among other policies, it would hold regular town hall meetings to hear the concerns of students and parents. He would also work to bring more after-school programs to schools.

Muhammad Waseem Qadeer is running to become TDSB Trustee for Ward 17, Scarborough Center
Muhammad Waseem Qadeer is running to become TDSB Trustee for Ward 17, Scarborough Center Photo by /Toronto Sun

If elected, Opa Hope Day says it will remove “all educational material that directly or indirectly contains the blame and shame of critical race theory.” It would also speak to teachers who blame students’ academic performance on ancestry, ethnicity, race or gender and honor the rights of guardians and parents by recognizing them as the first educators. She has a business background and works for the City of Toronto Parks Department.

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Candidate Zuhair Sayed would like to see greater financial responsibility at the TDSB. He believes that better management of the board’s budget would enable him to reduce class sizes. He runs his own business and says the experience managing payroll and balancing the books gives him the experience to bring financial responsibility to the board. He worked with city and U of T administrators as president and CEO of the Scarborough Campus Student Union to organize the PanAm Athletics facility bid.

Candidate Kareem South believes that to improve student well-being and achievement, there must be meaningful engagement between students, parents and educators. South has a master’s degree in public health. He played professional basketball with the Edmonton Stingers in consecutive championships. He is currently a mental health professional and community organizer.

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