My Passion for Education

"As a parent living in your community I naturally want the best for my children. I pledge to continue to improve on Guelph’s progressive education policies in a fiscally responsible manner. I passionately believe that fostering more involved partnerships between schools, families, and community resources is one key area we must work on. A better educated community helps everyone in Guelph, not just parents. Better educated students and lower high school drop-out rates result in healthier, more vibrant communities, and improve a region's economic outlook. This is why education is an important concern for everyone."

Dear Wards 1 and 5 Constituent,

My name is Mark Bailey and I am proud to have served as a public trustee for 11 years now, having spent the majority of these years involved both locally through my role at the Upper Grand District School Board, and provincially through various roles at the Ontario Public School Boards' Assocation. I am seeking re-election this October for a fourth term.

Please find below a few of my personal highlights over my career as a public school trustee. Please check out my Issues page for descriptions of issues I am passionate about, and answers I have given to constituents who have Contacted Me.

Highlights of my time as a Public School Trustee:

Past Chair of the Board: I am priviledged to have been elected by my fellow trustees for a total of five terms as Chair of the Upper Grand District School Board. My role as Chair involved being the public spokesperson for the board, making sure that public meetings are run efficently, respectfully, and effectively, and working closely with the Director of Education to ensure that the budget and strategic directions determined by the board are implemented according to board decision. I chose this past December not to run again for Chair to allow for new leadership to grow within the board in case I had chosen not to run again for trustee.

Past Vice-President, Ontario Public School Boards' Association: I have three times been elected by trustees in Central West region to represent seven different school boards at OPSBA's executive council table, and three times as a senior Vice-President by the association' Board of Directors. I have been a strong voice at the executive table, specifically around labour relations, 21st century learning, and student mental health. I have chaired regional meetings, executive council meetings, and have done so attempting to foster a welcoming environment and a shared vision.

Chairing the province's discussion on 21st century learning technologies: I worked with a hand-picked group of trustees from around the province to determine the appropriate role of technology in schools. We particularly studied the changing nature of communication and entertainment technologies, and whether such technologies can potentially be employed to engage student learning. The result of our work, 'What If?', was so well received that it led to personal speaking engagements around the province, including CBC and Global News interviews. The work of our committee prompted the Ministry of Education to set up a working table to continue the exploration that we started. The technology work you currently see in schools is a direct result of our work.

Chairing the Education Today editorial board: It was my privilege to be selected to guide the editorial board for three years in the publication of Education Today, OPSBA's provincial magazine dedicated to issues in public education. I also assisted the effort towards digitizing the magazine, to be made available online. I set the agenda of the magazine in past years to focus mainly on issues involving preparing our students for the 21st century, on mental health, and on environmental issues relevant to our students.

Other Involvement: I'm a current Director of the MacDonald Stewart Art Centre, past President of the Old University Neighbourhood Residents' Association, past Director of the Edward Johnson Music Foundation, past Director of the Upper Grand Learning Foundation, and have served on several UGDSB sub-commitees.

What I would like to continue to accomplish as a trustee:

Student Engagement: My top priority will continue to involve exploring strategies to further engage student learning in the classroom. Research has demonstrated that at around grade 6 or 7, a significant percentage of students become disengaged from classroom learning and begin to engage heavily in activities such as social networking and video game play. Given the difficulty in competing with such activities, how can we employ the technologies that students are using in their day-to-day lives to help re-engage them in classroom learning? The UGDSB is making significant strides in this area and I would like to continue my involvement to ensure that the technology that our students are using in their everyday lives plays a direct role in their classroom learning as well.

Learning Equity: I will continue to advocate and lobby for greater equity in our board, so that every child regardless of socio-economic status, or racial background, has an equal opportunity to succeed. For me this is the heart of public education.

Environmental Issues: I will continue to advocate for environmental initiatives to play a more prominent role in school construction and classroom learning. It is becoming more apparent that we are leaving a signficantly changing climate to our children, and we must equip them to prevent further change and deal with the consequences. Again, I am proud of the strides our board has made in this regard, and plan to continue this push.

Mental Health: I will continue to advocate and lobby for greater mental health resources in our boards, so that we invest the resources necessary to identify and assess potential problems early on in a child's life. Recent studies are reinforcing the link between student 'wellness' and academic achievement, and the earlier potential problems are diagnosed the greater the chances for successful treatment. Financial investments made in a child's life are a fraction of the potential costs for recovery as an adult. From a financial point of view, improving a child's mental health outcome can now be directly linked to their contribution as a taxpayer later in life. From an ethical point of view, addressing the mental health needs of our children is absolutely the right thing to do. Again, our board is moving quickly in the right direction in this area, but there is much work still left to do.

I'll end by stating that the greatest reason I wish to run again for re-election is that I have both of my sons currently enrolled in the public education system, and I believe the changes I can help implement over the next few years will affect their education experience directly. I plan on standing up for them and their generation of students to see that they receive the best quality education possible in this country.

Thank you for taking the opportunity to visit this site. Please do not hesitate to Contact Me if you have any questions or ideas concerning education or my candidacy, I would love to hear from you. I will post your questions in my Issues section.

Sincerely Yours,

Mark Bailey


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