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Married Tamil Trustees Make TDSB History

Education, politics and policy have long been part of dinnertime discussion at the home of Parthi Kandavel and Anu Sriskandarajah. But those topics will likely now dominate their every waking moment.

The pair made history last week as the first married couple elected as trustees to the Toronto District School Board, with Kandavel re-elected in Ward 18 (Scarborough Southwest) and Sriskandarajah winning in Ward 22 (Scarborough-Rouge Park).

“(The board) is probably a place where we’ll agree on more than at home,” jokes Kandavel, seated next to his wife at the dining room table in their two-storey home in northern Scarborough.

“We still have trouble figuring out what time the garbage should be taken out,” laughs Sriskandarajah. “So this might actually be easier.”

“We don’t know how it will play out. This will be new for us and new for the board,” says Sriskandarajah, one of 12 new faces elected to the 22-member board, which serves 246,000 students in 583 schools.

The couple say they share a similar vision when it comes to improving public education and ensuring all children have access to the same opportunities. But they differ on strategy. He tends to be more direct with people and more bold in his approach, whereas she’s more diplomatic and conservative.

“We definitely have different personalities, but I think it’s complementary,” she says.

Both are passionate about education. Kandavel, 36, is a math teacher at a private independent school in Scarborough — trustees are prohibited from teaching in a publicly funded board in Ontario. And Sriskandarajah, 32, is a York University professor in the Child and Youth Studies Program, where many of her students are aspiring teachers. When doing a PhD in sociology, her doctoral research focused on marginalized youth in her ward, and last year she co-authored a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) Teaching and Learning Report for the TDSB.

***Read the full story original published on TheStar.com.***

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