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My statement on Mayor John Tory’s endorsement

I am immensely proud to report that Toronto Mayor John Tory is endorsing me for school trustee for Scarborough Southwest.

As I reporter, I covered Mayor Tory both at City Hall and at Queen’s Park. What I learned in the years I was writing about him was that he is a man of immense honesty and integrity. I was not always kind to him in my commentary, but he was always gracious, never rude and always treated me with respect. In return, I have the utmost respect for him.

He is someone you can disagree with without being disagreeable. He listens to others’ views carefully and when he has given his word on something, he keeps that promise.

I am thrilled that he has chosen to endorse me for TDSB school trustee in Scarborough Southwest. I am the only person running for the school board across the city that he is endorsing and that means a great deal to me.

 

My statement on school safety

All children have the right to a safe learning space. I support reinstating the Student Resource Officer program that was cancelled by the Toronto District School Board last year.

In the National Post in January of this year, columnist Christie Blatchford reported on an exhaustive research study that has demonstrated conclusively that young people feel safer in schools where an SRO is present.

“Students benefited one way or another by having an SRO, regardless of their gender, or whether they’d ever been arrested or stopped by the police, or whether they had been victimized.

 “All students … indicated that they felt significantly safer at school and less stressed and anxious” after five months’ exposure to the SRO,” Blatchford reported. 

“And the more contact a student had with an SRO, the more likely he or she was to see the program in a positive light — and fully 75 per cent of the students felt safer because of the SRO,” she said.

Blatchford reports that the 258-page analysis, done by two Carleton University professors and their PhD students, shows unequivocally that students overwhelmingly feel safer in school — and even report sleeping better and feeling less anxiety — with SROs.

If a student doesn’t feel safe in the classroom, he or she will not learn. As a trustee, I will do my utmost to ensure that all students in all schools are able to study and learn while feeling safe and secure. 

Fishing for votes at Bluffers Park

My former Sun colleague Sun-Ann Levy dropped by Scarborough Southwest to see how the school board election campaign is going. Here’s her take.

https://www.pressreader.com/canada/toronto-sun/20181014/281582356594027

School board: The forgotten race

Children are our most precious resource and our future.  We must work to ensure they get the best public education possible. So why is no one paying attention to the school board race that is so vital to the education of our young people?

BLIZZARD: Spotlight has missed school board races

Kind words from John Snobelen

Former Education Minister John Snobelen shared some thoughts about me in the Sun today. Check it out here.

SNOBELEN: Familiar faces hit the election trail

My statement on the math curriculum

Going door to door in Scarborough Southwest, I’m hearing from parents who are worried their children are falling behind in math.

More than half Grade 6 students in this province did not meet the provincial requirements in math. That’s not their fault. That’s not their teachers’ fault.

The blame lies squarely with the curriculum. 

It’s been failing our students years. Over the last decade, there’s been a steady slide in math scores.

Teachers I’ve talked to have spoken of their frustration with a curriculum they know just isn’t working.

When smart kids stumble over simple arithmetic and don’t know their times tables, it sets off alarm bells.

When I was a journalist, I interviewed Dr. Anna Stokke, a University of Winnipeg Math professor who pushed for change in Manitoba.

“People think they want to teach creativity and problem-solving and all that sort of thing from the top down.

“Those are all really good things. We want students to be able to problem solve and think creatively, but they can’t do that unless they have a solid foundation to work on,” she told me several years ago.

Several years ago, she and other math professors started the Western Initiative for Strengthening Education in Math (WiseMath). They were successful in petitioning the Manitoba government to have times tables and standard arithmetic teaching restored to the curriculum.

She told me “terrible textbooks” are party of the problem. Part of the problem, she said, are the “terrible textbooks,” this province uses.

“The big focus is on using multiple strategies for coming up with simple arithmetic.”

Stokke uses the example of multiplication tables. If a child is asked to calculate 8 x 7 and doesn’t know the answer, the new math teaches them complex methods to come up with the answer.

They’ll be told to calculate 4 x 7 — and then double the answer – a ludicrous and convoluted way make an easy calculation

I’m no mathematician, but I do know I use the times tables I learned as a child every day. I use them when I go to the supermarket. I use them when I balance my bank account. 

I’m not suggesting we go back to the old way of kids sitting in rows learning by rote. We need a balanced approach – with children taught the basics they will need for the rest of their lives in a creative fashion.

My statement on the sex-ed curriculum

The province’s health and physical education curriculum – commonly known as sex-ed – is an issue many parents care about and raised as I have gone door to door across Scarborough Southwest.

I have read the entire curriculum and have a vested interest in keeping children safe: My grandson will be entering the public school system before long.

We must educate young people to protect them from on-line stalkers  and sexual predators. They need to be able to understand their bodies and discuss issues such as gender identity, consent  and cyber-bullying.

The new curriculum was introduced without meaningful consultation with parents. That caused hostility and anxiety among groups that did not fully understand its content. It also became overly politicized when the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne chose to hold a vote on it in the Legislature. This turned the curriculum into a divisive and partisan political document, which it should never have been.

The math curriculum does not get voted on in the Legislature. The geography curriculum does not get voted on in the Legislature. It is inappropriate, therefore, for the sex-ed curriculum to be voted on along party lines.

In the past, the Toronto public school board was able to develop parts of its own curriculum, within provincial guidelines. The sex-ed curriculum is an example of why we should revert to that model. Toronto District School Board should produce programs that are appropriate to urban schools and tailor-made for Toronto.

Young people need to have access to information that will keep them safe and families need to have a comfort level with what their children are being taught.

The director of the Toronto District School Board has issued a directive confirming that teacher prompts in the 1998 curriculum allow teachers to address issues from the updated 2015 version. And I support that! 

At one time, sex-ed was an issue that was addressed only by the family. In many instances, that is no longer the case. In the complex world of social media, students need to be taught the knowledge of how to navigate through an often difficult and perilous cyber world. While some parts of the new curriculum were, in my view, not age appropriate, I believe with small tweaks it can work for everyone. 

Scarborough Southwest is a community with a great deal of cultural and religious diversity. Schools must teach sex-ed in a way that respects that diversity and consults with parents every step of the way.

Curricula are living documents that are constantly being up-dated. With consultation and co-operation, we can create a new and better curriculum that will keep our children safe while respecting parental rights.

Who Am I? Why Am I running for trustee?

  • Award-winning journalist
  • Covered school board, City Hall and Queen’s Park for the Toronto Sun and Sun Media
  • Former President of the Parliamentary Press Gallery at Queen’s Park
  • Awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for her contribution to Canada
  • Serves on her condominium board
  • Former warden at her church

• Mom and grandmother

If elected, I will:

  • Put kids first – not politics
  • Be a strong voice for Scarborough Southwest at the school board
  • As a fiscal conservative and work to protect your tax dollar and make sure it’s spent wisely
  • Work with all students and parents to ensure the safety and well-being of young people in their schools
  • Work as a fiscally responsible person to protect your tax dollars and make sure they are well spent
  • I am not a member of any political party and will work with all residents to ensure their concerns are heard
  • I will be a full time 

I care passionately about children and education. I will work to ensure all young people get the quality education they need and deserve to succeed in a competitive global economy

Christina Blizzard for School Board Trustee

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Dear Residents of Scarborough Southwest,

My name is Christina Blizzard and I’m running for School Board Trustee.  Please follow this post for information about my platform.

Thank you,

Christina Blizzard

Following the Wolfpack

There’s no better way for a little old lady to spend a Saturday afternoon than watching young men run around in short shorts.

If you haven’t experienced Rugby League, take yourself down to  Allan Lamport Stadium to catch a Toronto Wolfpack game – soon.

It’s fast-paced, bone-jarring and immensely good fun.

I was surprised when the Wolfpack arrived in Toronto. While Rugby League is firmly established in the UK, particularly in the north, Toronto is the only North American team.

In the UK, there are two distinct forms of rugby. Rugby Union, where 15 players are on the pitch at any time and Rugby League with 13 players.

More than other sport, though, it’s class that defines the two kinds of rugby. Rugby League is very much a working class sport. 

Rugby Union is played at universities and supported by the professional class. Well-to-do players have no need to be paid to play.

Rugby League is a professional game played predominantly in the north of England. Historically, they were working lads who needed an income to put food on the table. There was once a snobbism between the two games: Union fans frowned on a paid professional rugby league

What propelled me to Lamport Stadium was a Wolfpack game against Hull Kingston Rovers. My parents were both from Hull, a gritty port city in the east coast of Yorkshire. We proudly followed Rugby League. (Full disclosure, though, we supported the other Hull team, Hull FC, and not Hull KR. The whirring I heard throughout the game was my late father spinning in his grave.)

It’s a take-no-prisoners game, where players wearing very little protective gear take each other on with bone-crunching tackles. North American footballers swaddle themselves in massive amounts of gladiatorial armour. Not these guys.

While the game appears similar to North American football, in fact the game is more readily comparable to hockey, with  its speed and sheer physicality. Wolfpack owners took a risk investing in a transatlantic version of  rugby league two years ago. I suspect they recognized Canadians like their sports with a side order of red meat.

Just as the hockey player’s toothless smile is a badge of honour, so broken noses and assorted facial scars are viewed with pride as war wounds by rugby players.

The Wolfpack lost to Hull KR, but it was fierce and close – 28-22.

In 2018 the Wolfpack competed in the Betfred Championship for the first time. Having finished top of the league during the regular season, they’re two games into a post-season campaign for a place in Super League. The post-season, or “Super 8s The Qualifiers,” consists of the top four teams of the Betfred Championship and the bottom four teams of the Super League breaking off at the end of the regular season to compete in a mini league of their own. Teams play each other once in a round-robin format, with the top three teams securing a place in the Super League for next season and the bottom three teams a place in the Championship. The fourth and fifth placed teams then compete in a one-off, play-off game dubbed the “Million Pound Game”, with the winner going to the Super League and the loser to the Championship. The Wolfpack currently sit third in the standings with five postseason games still to play.

The Wolfpack is proving to be a big T.O. tourist attraction. One Hull visitor told me that as many as 400 KR supporters came over for the game. All of which makes it easier for Canadian fans to learn the game. In the UK, northerners are known for their openness and their blunt talk. They’re proud of their game and happy to explain it. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, ask a visiting Brit. Chances are, they’ll be happy to explain the intricacies. 

So for those of you who enjoy an afternoon watching large, muscled, sweaty men in very small shorts – and be honest, who doesn’t? – Wolfpack games are just the ticket.

They stay true to their working class roots. At the end of the game, players do a victory lap to thank the fans for showing up. They’ve been known to show up in the beer tent afterwards.

They play the London Broncos September 1.  Tickets are reasonably priced, it’s easily accessible and immense fun. And they’re Toronto’s most winning team right now. Let’s cheer them on. See you in the Den.

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