Two women smiling and clapping at a meeting.


I’m Becoming “That Mom”: Why I Finally Entered School Politics

Sep 7, 2017

I can still picture Mr. Gordon in his round reading glasses and cheap short-sleeve shirts, pacing through our desks with the open pages of his paperback folded over his fingers. His mouth puckered in titillation as he decoded Shakespearean verses: "All the world's a stage...". I loved the metaphor of this particular monologue: the idea of a lifespan examined in acts.

One man in his time plays many parts, but we parents often adopt several roles at once. This school year, I expect to perform in the uncharacteristic role of Parent Council Mom. I've shied away from school drama and politics in the past, but now feel challenged to step up and take the stage.

I'd considered the parent council years ago when my daughter first started school, but didn't fancy myself the popcorn-selling or face-painting type. So fundraising and council meetings were assumed by the usual circle of stay-at-school moms and I fulfilled my parental duty with an arm's length of raffle tickets at the spring fair.
Then, at the end of last school year, I found I had more to offer my school community than a silent auction bid.

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It was late-June when news spread of changes to our downtown school's status and funding. Valuable programs, support services and subsidies came seemingly under threat. I, like most parents, learned of the changes not from our school administration, but from one fired-up mother-of-three and her grassroot efforts to inform every mom, dad and caregiver on the after-school scene.

I was immediately concerned about the impact this change would have on the quality of education for the children who needed the programs most, including to some extent, my own daughter. The stage had been set.

I can't, in good conscience, watch a team of ill-informed executives direct our inner-city children's educational experience.

Together with a small ensemble of mighty moms, I took up the fight. For my part, I spent the final weeks of June distributing letters to parents; contacting local news reporters; and explaining the disheartening situation to my democratic seven year-old. On the last day of school, our ensemble sat face-to-face with members of the school administration and district board, supported by a surprise turnout of concerned parents and community members seated in the wings.

Elected members of the parent council recited reports and data aloud. Catchment areas, resource allocation, and school board org charts were all new to me. As involved as I was in my daughter's school life, there was evidently more than book fairs, skating trips and 3:30 p.m. schoolyard happenings to concern myself with. While I downplayed my performance in the new political story, friends and neighbours applauded it. I was tagged and thanked online, celebrated at my local coffee shop, and stopped on the streets by parents (many of colour, like myself) who having seen the plot unfold, wanted to know what's next.

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Entering this school year, I feel the curtain's been pulled back. Important decisions are being made behind-the-scenes and I can't, in good conscience, watch a team of ill-informed executives direct our inner-city children's educational experience. Not without hearing from parents like me.
So what's next is me considering a more formal role on the parent council, where I can represent those who don't have, or don't want, speaking parts. And yes, I may become one of "those parents" who talks budgets and sells popcorn, all to ensure that my daughter's school experience is 'as I like it'. When all is said and done, this may be one of my greatest acts yet.

Article Author Debbie King
Debbie King

Read more from Debbie here.

Debbie King (aka SUPAFITMAMA) is a Toronto-based masters athlete, influencer, freelance writer, wife and mother of one. At age 42, she is training toward her goal of becoming a 2020 World Masters Athletics track and field champion. In her work as a writer and influencer, Debbie creates powerful content and connections in female fitness, sport, wellness and culture. Body positivity, inclusion and representation are strong themes throughout. As a regular contributor for CBC Parents, she explores a range of healthy living topics for individuals and Canadian families. Follow her journey at and on Instagram and Twitter.

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