OCDSB Trustee Candidate – Zone 10
Dear Residents of Zone 10:
My name is John Bitzan, and I’m running for OCDSB Trustee for Zone 10 (Somerset). I hope I can count on your support for some needed positive change over the next four years. If elected, I will work diligently with my fellow Trustees to put the focus back on your children’s education.
As a father of three young children, I know firsthand how challenging the past two and a half years of interrupted schooling and childcare have been for parents. In my view, an ideal school board trustee is one who is devoted to improving the educational experience for the children attending school in their district. I am not a politician or future politician. I am a concerned parent. If elected Trustee, I would put the educational experience of your child at the forefront of every decision made.
My goal as a Trustee will be to ensure that we have productive meetings that best serve your needs. The OCDSB should not become a platform where Trustees engage in political grandstanding and ideological fights unrelated to our children’s education and well-being. As your Trustee, I pledge to focus my attention on you:
I will LISTEN to parents and students, paying special attention to any concerns you may have about bullying, discrimination, or negative incidents at school. Whether your children have special needs, are gender- or neuro-diverse or members of a minority community, or perceived as “special” in some other way, everyone has a fundamental right to be safe from harm in school.
I will PROMOTE student achievement in all areas of development with a focus on learning skills, including but not limited to responsibility, cooperation, and initiative.
I will VOICE your concerns in Board discussions, relaying your questions to my colleagues and Senior Staff while seeking answers on your behalf. In recent discussions, I have heard from parents who feel unheard by Administrators when seeking help with serious issues, including concerns about hateful language and threats of physical harm. I would like to implement a user-friendly program which documents concerns and questions.
In the past month, I have also heard from parents who are uncomfortable with the premises of what is often called “gender ideology.” Some parents are concerned about or confused by the Board’s gender-affirming policies. Others may object to the very idea that gender is self-defined. I support parents who take initiative in respectfully engaging administrators and the Board on gender-related policies and educational content. We can be champions of inclusion and diversity and still believe that parents should be brought into the conversation if their children express a desire to be addressed by a different pronoun, as long as there is no reasonable expectation that doing so would result in harm to them. Above all, more dialogue is needed in this area to build trust.
I will ADVOCATE for rich hands-on, in-class learning experiences, supporting special education programs, whether for gifted students or those with learning disabilities or special needs.
Lastly for me, advocating for students also means opposing any proposal to impose mask mandates in schools. I believe parents and students should be informed of risks and make choices regarding their personal safety and comfort on their own. Compulsory masking (“mask mandates”), especially when imposed on healthy children who are at low risk of serious illness from Covid-19, remains a controversial intervention whose effectiveness is still under scrutiny. It is my view that we cannot force children to wear face coverings while the rest of society is free to do away with them.
Thank you for your support,