Julian Prieto: Fresh solutions for our schools

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      By Julian Prieto

      I am a believer in strong public education. Every child deserves to be exposed to knowledge and a supportive growth environment regardless of the financial ability of their parents. I am running for the Vancouver school board under the NPA banner to offer pragmatic yet ambitious solutions to the challenges of our schooling system. 

      As a teacher, mathematician, polyglot, and recent student, I am passionate about education policy. I was born in Colombia and attended Lord Byng Secondary and Oxford University. I have thick glasses, carry around a 唐诗 poetry book, and still have trouble with my own shoelaces. Yet my experience in governance, both at the board of the University of Toronto, and in Ottawa, has given me a realistic and grounded outlook.

      The tasks of the next school board as I see it are threefold. First it must re-establish good relationships, trust, and sound fiscal stewardship. Last year the provincial government fired the board when Vision trustees bullied staff and refused to pass a balanced budget. I believe that we must rebuild an inclusive environment, and understand that the board not only has an advocacy role but also a governance responsibility.

      The second task is to expedite the seismic upgrading of schools in the district. Safety comes first; it is paramount to minimize the risk to children in the case of an earthquake. My proposal is to build new schools rather than refurbish the old. Where reasonable this is both faster and more cost effective.

      Finally, we must set ambitious and forward-thinking programming targets for the middle and long term. We must address shortages of spaces and teachers. In language electives, we should reflect Vancouver's diversity and offer our students global opportunities. In mathematics, support a new stream for the gifted based on Euclid and Diophantus, in music and arts, innovative ways of funding. For those with special needs, an extra hand.

      Ultimately, I am running to offer ambitious ideas within a pragmatic outlook, as a representative of parents and citizens alike. In the spirit of the great educationalist Maria Montessori, “the correctness test for an education system is the happiness of the child and the doors left open for the future."

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      Julian Prieto is an NPA Vancouver candidate for Vancouver school board.

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