They were born in Tehran 18 years ago, just four months apart. They weren’t related, nor were their families friends, but in an almost eerie turn of fate, the baby boys ended up in Toronto side-by-side as student trustees for the largest school board in Canada.
The A-plus Persian-born power duo are believed to be the first Iranian-born teens ever elected as student trustees in Ontario. They have just finished one of the rockiest school years in memory, between labor turmoil, political protest and a plagiarism scandal that saw their beloved mentor, Chris Spence, ousted as director of education at the Toronto District School Board.
Another advisor, professor and government advisor Ben Levin, was recently charged with child pornography offences.
Yet the dapper, well-spoken young activists, both heading to university in the fall, have not lost their faith in politics.
“I still think politics is beautiful. For me, it’s really about being the representative of the people,” said Kourosh Houshmand, whose father was a pro-democracy supporter and former health minister of Iran who spent time in jail for his beliefs. His mother is an artist whose great-uncle was the Iranian poet Sohrad Sepehri.
“As for Dr. Levin, I was quite shocked to hear the accusations because I truly looked up to him — I interviewed him for a book I’m writing on the student view of education reform, and I had attended his talks on education, the most recent being about a month ago,” said Kourosh, who also took the fall of Chris Spence hard.
“What the whole Chris Spence ordeal showed me was that you really have to be careful. He was one of the most kind, good-willed people I’ve met, and it was hard to see that happen.”
In a saner world, it would have (and should have).Still, it hasn’t soured him on school politics...