Reflections on #VoteEve

On #VoteEve *, I’m usually in a campaign office, surrounded by other volunteers who are furiously trying to finalize our GOTV (Get Out The Vote) plan. I might be screening multiple social media accounts while streaming at least one 24/7 news station. I might be giving the candidate a pep talk; I might be giving other volunteers a pep talk.

Tonight is the first #VoteEve where I am the candidate – and I’m watching my husband (and Campaign Manager), Justin, play a mixed Ultimate Frisbee game at RIM Park with a group of lovely humans who (among other things) have signs on their lawn, donated to the campaign, did literature drops, and have supported me from day one.

I am so humbled the support that Waterloo Region has given me this campaign. From volunteers who helped drop 15,000 of pieces of literature across Kitchener, to those who ran all of the analytics and social media campaigns, to everyone who took a lawn sign – I have been blessed with some of the most fantastic volunteers and supporters. Seriously, I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for all of you and the many ways that you’ve given up your time to help out with this campaign; until I have the words, a simple THANK YOU!!!! will have to suffice. I could not have made it this far without you. So much love to all of you.

To my fellow candidates, thank you to all of the support that you’ve given me. As a first time candidate, I’ve been humbled by the support that candidates have given me (from across the Region, not just in the Kitchener race) and, in my case, a special thank you goes to Ted Martin and Sarah Marsh who have gone out of their way every step of this campaign to give advice, support, and encouragement. I am so thankful for the two of you and proudly voted for both of you.

Finally, I was on the phone with my mom (who, at one point, drove 2.5 hours from Chatham, ON with my dad to do two days of intense lit dropping for the campaign). And just like most parents out there with candidates in the race, she told me that she was proud of me and the campaign that we ran. I told her that one of the things that I’m most content with is that I can tell people that we ran a campaign that my mother could be proud of; I think, at the end of the day, that’s the best reflection I could have on #VoteEve.

* Shoutout to Jayne Herring for the #VoteEve hashtag.

Accessibility for Students in Waterloo Region

Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region has sent out their municipal election questionnaire. If elected, I am committed to ensuring that our students and educational community are supported, no matter their accessibility needs. There are a few of their asks that fall outside of the role of a school board trustee, however, as a citizen, I commit to advocating for these priorities.

According to Statistics Canada, 14% of the Canadian population aged 15 or older reported having an accessibility need that limited their daily activities. While I was unable to find concrete numbers on the number of students in Waterloo Region who have accessibility needs (be it physical, mental or learning-based), the Stats Can number could correlate to 1 in 7 students in Waterloo Region having an accessibility need. We also do not know the complexities of each of these students’ need nor the type of supports they need to have an equitable education.

My sister is a teacher who focused on junior grades before taking a string of long-term occasional (LTO) roles as an elementary resource teacher. There is a backlog (and a steep financial barrier) in the way that we diagnose and understand the complex learning and accessibility needs of our students, even more so for students with additional marginalizations (such as race, class, etc.). We need to ensure that, from in-take to IEP creation, the student is prioritized. On top of this, our classroom sizes are too large and there are not enough educational assistants (EAs) to ensure that the ratio of students to educators is at a level that supports the learning of all students. With a lower ratio of students to educators, educators can take the time and care to ensure that each student is supported, no matter their accessibility needs.

I have listed the Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region priorities and have bolded the ones that fall within the role of a school board trustee.


If elected, I promise to:

1. Engage with the local Developmental Services Ontario office to educate yourself on the housing and support needs of persons with developmental disabilities in our community.

2. Ensure that all demographic and population assessments of our municipality include a category that captures persons with developmental disabilities.

3. Ensure that ‘persons with developmental disabilities’ are specifically identified as a sub-category when determining the needs of ‘persons with disabilities’ in our community.

4. Ensure that 10% of all Planning Act benefits secured from developers is targeted to persons with disabilities.

5. Ensure that housing projects that include people with developmental disabilities will be a priority should you get elected.

6. Work with council to waive fees and development charges for zoning and building application for all housing projects that include people with developmental disabilities? This will reduce cost and provide a vital partnership that CMHC will look favourably upon, if applying for their funds.

7. Ensure that your municipality hires people with developmental disabilities.

8. Advocate for an Inclusion Facilitator for 1:1 camp support for camp programs within your municipality. Note: This currently exists in Cambridge and Kitchener.

9. Ensure that children with learning disabilities are not excluded from access to the services they need. Note: There is a recognized need for children and adults not deemed “complex enough” to meet various criteria (someone with a learning disability is ineligible for developmental services).

10. Ensure access to subsidized public transit for recipients of ODSP. Note: Subsidized bus passes will no longer be available to those with developmental disabilities once the Easy GO cards are implemented.

French Immersion & Waterloo Region

The Record recently published an article on the French Immersion program in Waterloo Region, featuring a variety of WRDSB Trustee candidates, including myself. I am quoted saying:

“We need to address the unintentional or, in some cases, intentional intellectual and class segregation between French immersion and English-only classes,” Kitchener candidate Samantha Estoesta said. “We should not have a tiered educational system.”

Estoesta believes in providing immersion to every student who wants it, but wants people to be clearer on expectations.

“There are multiple studies that demonstrate that French immersion does not lead to bilingual students, and we need to ensure that the guardians enrolling their children into the program understand this,” she said.

As noted above, I believe that every student should have access to French Immersion, however, we need to address the inequalities in the student learning experience – inclusive of any unintentional/intentional intellectual and class segregation.

Jeff Outhit asked each trustee candidate a variety of questions, and I believe that it should be public each of our answers. For transparency, I have given my responses below.


Have your children been enrolled in French immersion or do you plan to enrol them in it?
We are fortunate to have a French Immersion program at the school within our boundary. I plan to enrol our soon-to-be born child in the French Immersion program.

Do you support the program and why?
French Immersion is a key and crucial component of the Ontario educational system – and every student should have access to a French Immersion program if they so wish. While I did not attend French Immersion, I took French classes throughout my educational journey.

Are you concerned about French immersion and why?
There are a few issues that give me concern. Enrolment in post-secondary educational programs to become FI teachers remains low while the demand for French Immersion teachers remains high. This has forced the number of schools that have French Immersion programs to shrink.

I believe we need to be clear about the expectations on the program. Attending a French Immersion program will not guarantee bilingualism. There are multiple studies that demonstrate that French Immersion does not lead to bilingual students, and we need to ensure that the guardians enrolling their children into the program understand this when making this choice. More importantly, we need to address the unintentional or, in some cases, intentional intellectual and class segregation between French Immersion and English-only classes. As noted in your research, there can be drastic differences in the types of supports and individual attention that students receive in French Immersion compared to non-FI classes, along with steep dropout rates from the program. We should not have a tiered educational system; each students should have access to the supports they need no matter the language program they are in.

Do you believe the program should be expanded, restrained or shut down?
There should be a clear assessment of the program. The parents I have spoken to during this campaign regarding FI have expressed their frustration in not being able to enrol their children in a FI program at the school within their boundary, frustration over the difference in supports for students in FI compared to those not in FI, and frustration over the low rate of bilingualism after the completion of the program. I think it would be shortsighted to expand, restrain, or shut down the program without a comprehensive study of the demand, possible intellectual segregation, and any differences in the support for students in FI and not in FI.

If elected as a trustee, what do you propose to do about French immersion, if anything?
If elected, I would propose a study to be done by WRDSB staff to assess the following: the number of students who want to be in the FI program but are not, how many FI teachers would be needed to support FI learning for all of the students who wish to be in a FI program, the cost to staff new FI programs at schools across the Region to meet the demand (if/when found), and a comprehensive study of unintentional /intentional intellectual segregation and tiered experience of students in FI and not in FI. Additionally, I am committed to actively meeting with the families of current, future, and prospective French Immersion students and non-French Immersion students to seek their concerns, questions, and opinions on the FI program.

WRDSB – Kitchener Candidate Forum Answers

Why do/did you want to become a school board trustee? What experience do you bring to the role? How will you balance the time and effort you devote to being a trustee with other commitments you may have?
I want to make sure that every students is provided equal access to a high quality education. Over the last ten years, I have consistently been involved in initiatives, projects, programs and organizations that aim to better the lives of students, not only in Waterloo Region but across the country. After being chosen as one of ten women to receive the Province of Ontario’s Leading Women, Building Communities award for the riding of Kitchener-Waterloo in 2018, I knew it was time to use the skills that I’ve gained from my experience in educational institutions, advocacy and equity roles to support students and educators in the Waterloo Region. As a woman of colour, who is the child of an immigrant, with a variety of invisible and visible marginalizations, I am passionate about equity in education. If elected to be a Trustee for the Waterloo Region District School Board, I promise to tirelessly work to ensure that every student in Waterloo Region is supported and given the tools that they need to have a positive and successful educational journey.

Some of the key strengths that I bring are my communication and public relations skills, expansive facilitation background, my conflict resolution experience (especially in regards to marginalized populations) and background, technical background, and advocacy background. I’m humbled as I reflect on some of the leadership roles that individuals and organizations have asked me to take on over the years, especially in formal committees and boards. I’m a founding and current member of the International Citizen Science Association (CSA)’s Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Working Group, an invited member of the City of Cambridge’s Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee, and one of the lead organizers of Plan B KW. I’ve taken on leadership roles on boards and committees at both the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, inclusive of sitting on the Centre for Community Research, Learning, and Action (CCRLA)’s board. In my day job, I am proud to be a member of the Persons with Disabilities Committee representing teams across Technology Solutions at TD and work closely on Women in Leadership in Technology and LGBT Initiatives for Technology Solutions at TD. Moreover, I’m lucky enough to mentor the co-op employees who work with TD Lab each term and the students and youth in STEM that I get the pleasure of teaching design thinking and ideation skills to through the programs that TD supports. I owe these opportunities to incredible mentors both in and outside of the workplace.

As for time management, I’m a Type A Planner kind of human. However, I am fortunate to know that if I am elected, the first year of being a Trustee would correspond with my maternity leave. I would use this time to really get to know each of the schools in Kitchener, the concerns and successes of each of them, and understand the amount of extra work that I could put in as a new parent. Once I have this understanding, I would be able to adequately understand the best ways to devote my time to the role.

What is the single greatest impact you plan to make for students?
I aim to make each and every student feel like they belong and are supported in their educational journey. The policies, procedures, and political statements that we make as a board will actively signal to our students, parents, and educators how welcomed and supported they are in our educational system. I will advocate that we listen to our marginalized students in all policy and procedural decisions made by WRDSB.

What are your top three priorities?
I have seven priorities: TRC Curriculum and Indigenous-settler relations, systemic and institutional inequality in education for underserved populations, health education, violence in the classroom, the ratio of educators to students, retrofiting and maintenance of our schools, and the balancing of budgets when the amount of offloading of costs from the province isn’t known yet.

What things must we get right in education over the next decade?
We need to really address the inequalities that can be found in the student experience, due to factors such as sexual and gender identity, class, race, religion, and accessibility needs. We need to address the unintentional/intentional intellectual segregation that our students face based on the school (and enrichment program – be it French Immersion, technology, IB, etc.) that they attend.

What is the biggest challenge schools in our community currently face? How do you propose to address it?
That’s a tricky question; depending on who you are talking to, there is a wide range of answers. From talking with parents, students, and educators, some of the key challenges and issues that have come up include: TRC Curriculum and Indigenous-settler relations, systemic and institutional inequality in education for underserved populations, health education, violence in the classroom, the ratio of educators to students, retrofiting and maintenance of our schools, French Immersion access and a perceived two-tier system, enrichment programming access, and the balancing of budgets when the amount of offloading of costs from the province isn’t known yet. Each of these challenges needs to be assessed, involve our communities in the discussion, and we must ensure that we creating an equitable educational system for all.

What do you see as the role of schools and school boards in being responsive to diverse communities and ensuring equity and inclusion in schools?
As a woman of colour, with invisible marginalizations, who is the child of an immigrant, I understand first hand the barriers that prevent and exclude individuals from participating fully in our community. I’m thankful that, since 2013, I’ve either been employed by or co-led organizations where over 75% of my tasks are focused on work that is meant to tear down barriers and increase the participation of underrepresented and underserved communities, inclusive of youth in STEM, women in STEM, LGBTQIA+ in Waterloo Region, accessibility in tech, and individuals new to Canada. I am cognizant of how privileged I am to even run in a municipal election, and hope to represent, if elected to WRDSB, many of the communities that are not represented in the current set of trustees.

Having spent time as an advocate and a lobbyist, I am excited to continue this work and work with our local governments by taking a four-pronged approach: 1. Employing consultants and experts of those maginalizations for all comprehensive research and strategy reports and plans, 2. Engaging with the gatekeepers and elders in those communities respectfully, from the beginning of my term, and committing to relationships built on respect, transparency from WRDSB, and humility, 3. Asking for involvement from those communities, giving them the space and room to voice their experiences and concerns, and not moving forward on decision-making meetings if we haven’t reached quorum on representation from these communities, and 4. Actively seek members from those communities to be involved in WRDBS committees.

What do you see as the role of schools in making sure that all Canadian students understand Canada’s history in terms of First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples? What would you do to support the Calls to Action of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)?
As I have stated publicly, the dismissal and treatment of the Elders a part of the TRC writing sessions is abysmal at best, and an act of colonization at worst. The Elders deserve a public apology, at a bare minimum, with a commitment from the government to complete the writing sessions with the funding that is deserved, necessary, and needed. Even if I am not elected, I will continue to fight for the Indigenous curriculum in our educational system, inclusive of the TRC writing sessions.

Moreover, the last residential schools closed in 1996, the year that many of our newest educators were born. Waterloo Region is situated on the Haldimand Tract, and yet many of our residents couldn’t name the closest reserve nor the nations of the people who called this area home first. With the scrapping of the TRC Curriculum, it is up to WRDSB to create (in consultation with Indigenous communities) and enact policies to ensure that, if the Province does not move forward, we as a school board move forward on acting on as many of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s action as possible.

How much access do you think the public should have to their school board trustees?
Your elected officials should be accessible and you should have direct access to them. I commit to regularly updating the public, be it through blogs, social media, email, or media availability to talk about all upcoming meetings, the things being discussed, and would have a regular call out for feedback to ensure that all voices are represented in those decisions and processes. Even now, my virtual door (as I don’t have a public office) is always open and easily accessible via my website, http://www.samantha-wr.com.

What sort of relationship do you think a trustee should have with fellow trustees and student trustees? How do you plan to support a collaborative environment in the board room?
Trustees should have a working, collaborative relationship that is centred on the wellbeing of our students and educational system. With our student trustees, we should also have a mentorship-centred relationship that would allow for the transfer of knowledge, best practices, and professional growth in their role and respects the unique expertise and viewpoint they bring to the Board. As a trained mediator, I would utilize my academic and professional training to create a collaborative environment in and outside of the board room.

What sort of relationship do you think a trustee should have with the board’s Director of Education? How will this help you in your role of responding to concerns raised by parents and other members of the community?
Trustees and the Director of Education should have an open and transparent relationship that is centred on the wellbeing of our students and educational system. This open and transparent relationship would allow me to express concerns raised by parents and other members of the community, and share the most up to date information from the staff. By having an open and transparent line of communication between the board and the staff, parents and members of the community can receive the information that they seek as quickly as possible and give back feedback regularly.

What sort of relationship do you think a trustee should have with the municipal government?
We need to have a collaborative relationship with our municipal governments. We are only a few months into this new government, and we are already seeing the province offload costs on to municipalities by cancelling grants and programs that would support initiatives needed and utilized by our school boards and educational system. I am sure that we will continue to see the offloading of costs by the province as the next four years progress. We will need to ensure that we are able to deliver the quality of education that our students deserve, both in terms of service and the physical space, while adjusting to the new fiscal realities that WRDSB will face over the next four years. This can only be done by working in tandem with our municipal governments to help shape how our budgets can best be utilized to support our educational system.

How do you plan to promote accountability and transparency at your board?
I’m a professional communicator, facilitator, advocate and artist – meaningful participation is a core element of how I work and live. As someone who has weaseled my way into more than my fair share of meetings to get (as close as possible) an understanding of policy and budget decisions, I commit to being transparent about all WRDSB decisions and processes (unless it breaks laws, statutes or in-camera confidentialities). As stated above, I commit to regularly updating the public, be it through blogs, social media, email, or media availability to talk about all upcoming meetings, the things being discussed, and would have a regular call out for feedback to ensure that all voices are represented in those decisions and processes. Even now, my virtual door (as I don’t have a public office) is always open and easily accessible via my website, http://www.samantha-wr.com.

Can you comment on the value of professional development opportunities for trustees and student trustees?
Some of the best professional development happened during my time as a student on board and committees during my university journey. I actively reflect on the professional development opportunities that I had access to and the skills I acquired. Currently, I sit on a variety of boards and committees and have continue to find the professional development opportunities, be it specialized training, coaching, workshops, etc., continue to be invaluable and some of the best pathways of growth for myself. I also strongly believe that these opportunities have made me a better employee, community member, and person in general.

Can you comment on what schools need to support the full range of student abilities including students with special needs?
My sister is a teacher who focused on junior grades before taking a string of long-term occasional (LTO) roles as an elementary resource teacher. There is a backlog (and a steep financial barrier) in the way that we diagnose and understand the complex learning and accessibility needs of our students, even more so for marginalized students. We need to ensure that, from in-take to IEP creation, the student is prioritized. On top of this, our classroom sizes are too large and there are not enough educational assistants (EAs) to ensure that the ratio of students to educators is at a level that supports the learning of all students. With a lower ratio of students to educators, educators can take the time and care to ensure that each student is support, no matter their accessibility needs.

What should be done to contribute to the overall mental health and well-being of students and staff in schools?
As stated above, there is a backlog (and a steep financial barrier) in the way that we diagnose and understand the complex learning and accessibility needs of our students, even more so for marginalized students. We need to ensure that, from in-take to IEP creation, the student is prioritized. Moreover, this means taking the time needed to humanize the student in this process. This also means creating environments in our classrooms that validate the identities of the students, not marginalize or discriminate. The policies, procedures and political statements that we make as a board actively signal to our staff and students how much we prioritize their mental health and well-being, be it support the 2015 Health and Physical Education curriculum, the TRC writing session, advocating for small student-to-educator ratios to address violence in the classrooms, or prioritizing retrofitting our schools so that classrooms do not reach 47 degrees during a heat wave.

What are your views on the role of technology in teaching and learning?
I am currently (soon to be on maternity leave) the Outreach Operations Manager for TD Lab, TD Bank’s Innovation Lab in Communitech. I spend a significant amount of time in my role facilitating workshops for students across the Region on Design Thinking, ideation, wireframing, Scratch, among other things. I have seen first hand the growth in the students that have access to technology enrichment programming and classes. However, not all students in Waterloo Region have access to these programs and this is often most apparent in schools in neighbourhoods with lower socio-economic status.

If elected, I would propose a study of the current technology enrichment programs and classes run through the Region to assess the following: the successes/gaps/demands of current enrichment programs and classes, which schools are under-served, how many enrichment teachers would be needed to expand enrichment programming to all schools, the cost to staff new technology enrichment programs at schools across the Region to meet the demand (if/when found), and a comprehensive study of unintentional /intentional intellectual segregation and tiered experience of students with access to enrichment programming and those without access to enrichment programming.

What are your thoughts on the use of social media in the classroom and in schools?
As someone who works in technology, I understand the pros and cons of using social media in the classroom and schools. When used correctly, it opens up the world to the students, be it virtually exploring the Great Wall of China, chatting with students in France as a means of practicing their French, or creating their own art galleries using exhibits from the Museum of Modern Art without leaving the classroom. However, social media can also be a beacon for incorrect information, discrimination, cyberbullying, and hate speech. There needs to be protocols in place that allows classrooms to utilize social media while protecting our students from harm. If elected, I would utilize my extensive experience in social media to sit on the Internet Content Filtering Working Committee and work with parents and educators on these creation of these protocols, policies and procedures.

What are schools doing, or what more should schools be doing to be safe and inclusive places for students, e.g., with regard to anti-bullying?
If you look at the type of extracurriculars, leadership opportunities, educational extension opportunities, and the state of the schools in the poorest and richest neighbourhoods in Kitchener, you can see the stark difference in the education that our students receive. We don’t need to do more than a cursory Google search to see the extent of the bullying and isolation that our students of colour, LGBTQIA+ students, and students with accessibility needs experience. We need to address this in a two fold manner: targeting underserved schools and improving their infrastructure, and creating policies that focus on the safety, inclusion and validations of our most marginalized students.

My Health Ed Curriculum Delegation Statement to WRDSB

Tonight, I had the honour of speaking on behalf of Plan B KW at a meeting of the Waterloo Region District School Board. I urged them, in my speech below, to support the validation of our most vulnerable students by refusing to reprimand educators who use their professional knowledge to teach about consent, LGBTQ identity, and medical terms for their bodies. I’ve included my full remarks below.

– Samantha

My name is Samantha Estoesta, a soon-to-be-parent of a child who will attend Suddaby Public School. I also was an attendee at the previous meeting on Health Education and appreciate how quickly the Board has responded to this crucial issue and how the Board continues to work to support our students and educators..

Today, I am here as one of the founding organizers of Plan B KW, an organization in town that focuses on supporting and advocating for LGBTQ youth, particularly those at the margins of society such as those of low socioeconomic status, queer people of colour, and those with visible and invisible accessibility needs. Through our work, Plan B has advocated for this community at each of the Post-Secondary Institutions in Waterloo Region, as a member of the City of Cambridge’s Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee, and a variety of other conferences and gatherings. We are proud to be one of the few organizations that not just advocates on behalf of the queer community as a whole but does specific and detailed advocacy for the particular needs of queer people of colour, inclusive of immigrants and refugees. We proudly are the premier QPOC organization in Waterloo Region and use our organization to talk about key issues such as anti-blackness and Indigenous-Settler relations within the LGBTQ community. Another key aspect of our work is sourcing and providing gender-affirming clothing, be it sourcing significantly discounted or free Binders for Trans folks or offering free clothing and sanitized makeup in our regular clothing swaps. The vast majority of our attendees and organizers are youth still in school, with many of the organizers still or just barely removed from the educational system.

Delegations from the last meeting have already made it clear why the 2015 Health Education Curriculum is critical and life-saving for our most vulnerable students; I’m sure the delegations after me will continue to share these important stories. I am not here to speak on why you should advocate for the continuation of the usage of the 2015 curriculum. Instead, I come to you as someone with extensive experience in the creation of bylaws and policies that centre on diversity and inclusion, particularly in educational environments.

I have read through all of the applicable legislation, bylaws and policies regarding the professional standards demanded of teachers, the responsibilities of school boards, and the rights of our students, inclusive of Ontario College of Teachers Act and the Education Act.

As Waterloo Region District School Board is well aware, there are two key governing documents that are crucial for this conversation:

The Safe School Act, particularly Policy Memorandum No. 128 regarding The School Board Codes of Conduct, and The Ontario College of Teachers Bylaws Section 32 – Professional and Ethical Standards.

As the public may not be aware, Policy Memorandum No. 128 clearly outlines that all members of the school community must:

  • respect and comply with all applicable federal, provincial, and municipal laws;
    demonstrate honesty and integrity;
  • respect differences in people, their ideas, and their opinions;
  • treat one another with dignity and respect at all times, and especially when there is disagreement;
  • respect and treat others fairly, regardless of, for example, race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability;
  • respect the rights of others;

School boards provide direction to their schools to ensure opportunity, academic excellence, and accountability in the education system. It is the responsibility of school boards to:

  • develop policies that set out how their schools will implement and enforce the provincial Code of Conduct and all other rules that they develop that are related to the provincial standards that promote and support respect, civility, responsible citizenship, and safety;

And, again for the public, the Ontario College of Teachers Bylaws Section 32 – Professional and Ethical Standards states that the following are hereby prescribed as standards of practice for the teaching profession:

  • Commitment to Students and Student Learning
    Members are dedicated in their care and commitment to students. They treat students equitably and with respect and are sensitive to factors that influence individual student learning. Members facilitate the development of students as contributing citizens of Canadian society.
  • Professional Knowledge
    Members strive to be current in their professional knowledge and recognize its relationship to practice. They understand and reflect on student development, learning theory, pedagogy, curriculum, ethics, educational research and related policies and legislation to inform professional judgment in practice.
  • Professional Practice
    Members apply professional knowledge and experience to promote student learning. They use appropriate pedagogy, assessment and evaluation, resources and technology in planning for and responding to the needs of individual students and learning communities. Members refine their professional practice through ongoing inquiry, dialogue and reflection.

The following are hereby prescribed as the ethical standards for the teaching profession:

  • Care
    The ethical standard of Care includes compassion, acceptance, interest and insight for developing students’ potential. Members express their commitment to students’ well being and learning through positive influence, professional judgment and empathy in practice.
  • Respect
    Intrinsic to the ethical standard of Respect are trust and fair-mindedness. Members honour human dignity, emotional wellness and cognitive development. In their professional practice, they model respect for spiritual and cultural values, social justice, confidentiality, freedom, democracy and the environment.

Crucially, the Communications Office for the Ontario College of Teachers released a statement to Maclean’s stating that, “If a teacher flat-out refuses to deliver the required program to students, the responsibility is on the employer—in this case, the school board—to report the person to the OCT.”

I beg of the Board to consider having a motion that not only supports our most vulnerable students, but our educators. I urge you all to create one that contains the following elements:

That Waterloo Region District School Board, in accordance with The Safe Schools Act, The Education Act, and The Ontario College of Teachers Bylaws, will:

  1. Will develop a clear and actionable policy, in accordance with The Safe Schools Act and in cooperation with our educators and educational communities, that ensures that educators who teach all applicable Health Education Curriculum that involve current federal, provincial and municipal laws, inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, as per the Canadian Human Rights Act section 2 and 3, and consent and the numerous ways it can be given, as per the Canadian Criminal Code section 153, are protected from professional reprimand and persecution;
  2. Defer to the judgement of our educators, in accordance of the Section 32 of the Ontario College of Teachers Bylaws, in regards to teaching the 2015 Health Education Curriculum instead of the 1998 Health Education Curriculum;
  3. Refuse to report any educators to the Ontario College of Teachers who decline to deliver the 1998 Health Education Curriculum as per their professional and ethical judgement as stated in Section 32 of the Ontario College of Teachers Bylaws.

A snitch line has already been created by the current provincial government and the Ministry of Education; it will be weaponized by those who are unreceptive to the academic, medical and professional expertise behind the 2015 Health Education Curriculum. It is the duty of the Waterloo Region District School Board to use its power to protect its students and educators.

Thank you.