Our History

Years of campaigning for quality publicly funded education!

Campaign for Public Education is a monthly assembly composed of the members of community groups and organizations representing students, parents, ethnic and “racialized” communities, school trustees, educators and education workers. More than 50 such groups have worked together over many years. The Campaign for Public Education has struggled for nearly a decade to rebuild public education in Toronto.

In 1999 following the Harris’s government’s city amalgamation the enormity of the attack on public education became clear. This necessitated people beginning to work together.

In September of ’99, there was a union/parents groups alliance meeting which was know as the September Group. Over the following year they worked with the short-lived Toronto Education Assembly and wrote for a publication called Board Watch.

In October of 2001 Toronto Parents Network, the Toronto Federation of Chinese Parents and the Parent Community Network, CUPE education workers and teachers federations adopted the name of Campaign for Public Education in a united fight against the Harris / Eves education funding cutbacks.

In an intensive campaign from 2001 through 2003, some of the actions taken by CPE:

  • Launched a massive “Need to Succeed” campaign across the city
  • Distributed “Need to Succeed” lawnsigns which blanketed neighbourhoods from Scarborough to Etobicoke and North York to downtown.
  • Rolled out a green ribbon and green flag campaign at Toronto’s schools.
  • Supported parent groups and coalitions (Music, pools, seniors etc) which rallied and organized across the city to save programs and services
  • Coordinated major demonstrations held outside the TDSB’s College St. offices
  • Successfully pressed TDSB trustees in June 2002 to defy the Conservative government by refusing to pass a balanced budget which would further damage Toronto’s public education.
  • Conducted training seminars across the city on how to build effective school councils.
  • Rallied concerned parents and communities against the government-appointed Supervisor at the TDSB.
  • Launched a legal challenge claiming the violation of the Education Act with the Government’s appointment of a Supervisor.
  • Interviewed and endorsed progressive trustees candidates in the run up to the 2003 municipal elections.
  • Organized a pre-election “Goodbye to Education Cuts” Queens Park rally and played a critical role in electing a new provincial government and a
  • “Pink Slip” rally to welcome in the new Liberal government with a clear list of expectations.

Since October 2003 CPE has:

  • Convened three annual city-wide “summits” beginning with the 2004 “Our City Our Schools” Summit with the Mayor, city councillors, school trustees and 250 delegates; “Rebuilding or City Schools” in 2005 and the pre-election “Fair Funding Now!” summit of 2006.
  • Effectively lobbied with parents and community groups for expanded community use of schools.
  • Trained newcomer Canadians in understanding & gaining access to our school system
  • Produced & distributed 2 budget booklets on school maintenance & on school staffing
  • Trained CPE members in effective methods of lobbying for public education
  • Lobbied the Minister of Education for full time trustee salaries.
  • Advocated for more open and democratic school board governance.
  • Ensured public education became a central issue in the Parkdale-High Park by-election
  • Organized a legal briefing on the provisions of Bill 78 for school board trustees.
  • Entered a major “Crisis in Toronto Schools” display in the Labour Day parade.
  • Held two CPE planning forums and over 35 monthly meetings of CPE
  • Held more than 20 press conferences with parents, trustees, seniors, and organizations representing racialized communities.
  • Met with key city councillors, school trustees & MPP Kathleen Wynne
  • Interviewed 21 candidates for school trustee & studied voting records of 22 incumbents.
  • Endorsed and coordinated support to candidates in all 22 TDSB wards and in 4 wards of the TCDSB
  • Coordinated election lawn-sign production for 16 CPE-endorsed candidates.
  • Alerted communities to trustee elections via a city-wide ad campaign in the community and ethno-racial community press
  • Assisted the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto’s Schools@theCentre forum to build wide support for schools as community hubs.
  • Studied & analysed 2006 trustee election results & identified key lessons for the 2010 municipal elections.
  • Launched a fall 2007 member train the trainer module to help Toronto groups and communities examine the election reform referendum and it’s implications for the voice of public education advocates in the Ontario legislature.