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Gerrit Theule

 
GERRIT THEULE: WHY I WANT TO BE YOUR SCHOOL TRUSTEE- BY-ELECTION NOV 26

By Gerrit Theule, November 10, 2011

Gerrit Theule
www.theule.ca
880-1598

Hello readers of the Winnipeg Jewish Review! My name is Gerrit Theule and I wanted to write to you today about the upcoming Winnipeg School Division Trustee by-election and why I am the best choice to elect as your Trustee this month.

To begin with, this is my home, and more than that, my community: I was raised here, I went to Grant Park High School (where I met my wife, Dr. Jennifer Theule), and my family and I are very active in the community from the oldest to the youngest: my Zadie (Lawrence Singer,) lives in the Simkin Centre, and I actually have children in the school division. To put it plainly, I have as much or more at stake in the successful running of our schools as anyone; Not just as an elected official, and not just as a parent, but as a member of our community.

Because I'm not only a parent but a member of the community you can take solace in knowing that I'm not using this as a political stepping stone. The reason for this by-election is because some people think that a School Trustee position is a good way into Federal or Provincial politics. I believe that school trustee is a valuable and important position in and of itself. I'm not here looking for another job, as a politician or in education; I've never sought another public office, or party nomination, I'm not here as a teacher with any potential conflicts, and my volunteer and professional experience with our public schools shows that I am the most qualified candidate for the position.

Even before my children were a twinkling in my eye I was, in the twelfth grade (back in 1997-98,) a student representative to the Division's advisory council while at Grant Park, and once I had children I was out in public schools working for UNICEF Canada as a representative on their Halloween campaign. When my son started at Ecole Laura Secord School I joined the Parent Advisory Council, where I am now the Chair and I have added to that responsibility by representing my son's school to the Division's French Advisory Council.

But where do I stand on the issues? It's easy to talk in generalities like "finding new ways to do things" and "representing and listening to constituents" but I come to the table with ideas. Here are a few:

- I intend to hold the Provincial Government accountable for their promises in the last Provincial election: It's laudable to offer to eliminate property taxes and cap K-3 class sizes but it's another thing entirely to do it properly. These ideas need to be sufficiently funded by the Provincial Government so that not only do the home owners and property tax payers of WSD not get stuck holding the bag, but so that our schools don't end up holding classes in portable trailers or busing children across the city when schools run out of physical space.

- I intend to re-open the discussion about the Comprehensive Assessment Program (C.A.P.). The Program takes teachers out of classes for weeks at a time, interrupts learning, costs the division a ridiculous amount of money in substitute teacher costs, and in the end, doesn't tell us anything that the teachers don't already know and that the division isn't willing to do anything about with any kind of meaningful ability tracking. It's never more telling than when unionized teachers and right-wing think tanks all think that something is a bad idea.

- We can't ever lose sight of the fact that our first responsibility to children is to keep them safe. Keeping them safe could mean focusing on traditional safety issues where we need to make sure that those students who want to learn can learn while those that need help finding focus can get the help that they need. It can mean stronger guidelines on safety for contractors who work in our schools: A school in our division just last month suffered a near-catastrophic fire as a result of renovations being done. Our children's safety should take priority and our policies should reflect that. It should also mean helping families prepare their children for real-world safety issues like alcohol and drug situations. As a parent these are the issues that worry me the most: almost no children will see a weapon at school but a substantial and growing number will be faced with a peer pressure situation before (and after) they graduate. Helping families to help their students make good choices should be foremost in our minds.

To sum up readers, when you go to the polls this month, (and there are a number of advanced poll dates if the election date of a Saturday is an issue,) I, Gerrit Theule, am your responsible choice. I encourage you to head to my website at
www.theule.ca for a more in-depth look at my positions and ideas but the things to know are that I am in it for the right reasons, I have lifelong experience with Winnipeg School Division, and I have a stake not just in our schools, but in our community. Trust Theule for Trustee.

 
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