This fall, Ontario will be reverting to a version of the 1998 sex-education curriculum. This means that students will now be taught from a curriculum that no longer covers consent, sexting, cyberbullying, same-sex relationships, and gender identity. While the government has recently walked back on their decision to completely scrap the curriculum, they have not made clear which elements of the current curriculum will continue to be taught.
In addition to repealing the 2015 curriculum, the provincial government has ceased efforts to incorporate Indigenous content into social science curriculums. Education is a central part of the Truth and Reconciliation process, and Ontario needs to do more to acknowledge the culture and heritage of our Indigenous people.
Lyra will use her position as a trustee to lobby the provincial government to bring back comprehensive sex-ed and Truth and Reconciliation. She will also support teachers who continue to teach essential material from the 2015 sex-ed curriculum.
Evidence from ontario schools shows that marginalized students don’t have the same education outcomes as their peers. Racialized, disabled, and LGBTQ+ students have higher rates of suspension/detention and are less likely to graduate. As trustee, Lyra will ensure that the OCDSB collects data on marginalized students to develop a better strategy to help these students succeed.
Fair Funding for Schools
We need to make “have” and “have-not” schools obsolete.
Not all schools are able to raise the same funds for their students through their PTAs and alumni associations. This translates into fewer opportunities for student enrichment. Guest speakers, field trips, and well-stocked libraries are often taken for granted, but can make all the difference to a student’s school experience. Lyra will work to increase funding to low-income schools in the OCDSB to bridge the gap.
Schools are a central part of every community, and communities should have a say in the decisions that will affect their schools.
The school board has not always taken the interests of communities at heart. This was especially evident in the closure of Rideau High School: a school with the most diverse populations in the city. Rideau High School offered unique programs for Aboriginal students, ESL programs, and had close ties with the Somali community. This school was a point of pride for its students and the surrounding neighbourhood.
School board trustees should be expected to open a direct line of communication with their communities, and their votes at committee meetings should be public so they can be held accountable. Lyra will lobby for a more transparent school board.
Lyra will advocate for a gender-neutral bathroom in every school in the OCDSB that is easily accessible to students. Queer and trans youth are put under undue stress in being forced to use bathrooms in which they either feel unsafe, or that their gender identity is being undermined. All students should feel safe and accepted in our school.
Life Skills in Schools
Too many students leave school feeling unprepared to live as adults. Schools should offer students the opportunity to learn essential skills that they will need as they gain independence, such as filing taxes, taking out a loan like a mortgage, and budgeting.
Not all schools have the same access to printed resources. Lyra would like to negotiate a program to facilitate easy books between the OCDSB and the Ottawa Public Library.
Minimum Standards for Trustees
As it stands the position of trustee does not have a clearly defined set of responsibilities. This ambiguity makes it difficult for communities to hold trustees accountable when they are not meeting their needs. Lyra will advocate for a clear definition of the role and minimum expectations of a trustee.
Appointment of an Ombudsperson for the OCDSB
Having a neutral third party to investigate allegations of misconduct will ensure an unbiased result. Many large organizations have them to ensure a public access point for concerns and to create accountability by ensuring all legitimate complaints are taken seriously.