Ford vows to re­vise sex-ed

Ontario PC leader to make changes to math cur­ricu­lum, tie univer­sity funds to free speech

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - ONTARIO NEWS - AL­LI­SON JONES and LIAM CASEY

TORONTO — Doug Ford vowed Tues­day to scrap and re­place Ontario’s sex-ed cur­ricu­lum and Dis­cov­ery Math pro­gram if he wins the elec­tion, saying the prov­ince’s Lib­eral premier has turned schools into “so­cial lab­o­ra­to­ries.”

The Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive leader an­nounced three ed­u­ca­tion prom­ises ahead of Wednes­day’s of­fi­cial start to the provin­cial elec­tion cam­paign, in­clud­ing ty­ing post­sec­ondary fund­ing to free speech.

He did not pro­vide de­tails of how that process would work, but said uni­ver­si­ties are sup­posed to be a place where peo­ple ex­change ideas and have re­spect­ful and re­spon­si­ble de­bates, but too many schools are putting lim­its on that.

The sex-ed cur­ricu­lum sparked con­tro­versy, par­tic­u­larly among so­cial con­ser­va­tives, when the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced it in 2015. It was the first time the cur­ricu­lum had been up­dated since 1998 and in­cluded warn­ings about on­line bul­ly­ing and sex­ting, but pro­test­ers ze­roed in on dis­cus­sions of same-sex mar­riage, mas­tur­ba­tion and gen­der iden­tity.

“For too long the Lib­er­als have ig­nored Ontario par­ents,” Ford said Tues­day. “They have in­tro­duced the sex cur­ricu­lum based on ide­ol­ogy — a cur­ricu­lum that teaches sen­si­tive top­ics start­ing at an early age.”

Ford said in a news re­lease that un­der Premier Kath­leen Wynne “our schools have been turned into so­cial lab­o­ra­to­ries and our kids into test sub­jects for what­ever spe­cial in­ter­ests and so-called ex­perts that have cap­tured Kath­leen Wynne’s ear.”

He wouldn’t say at a news con­fer­ence Tues­day what parts of the sex-ed cur­ricu­lum he takes is­sue with, only that par­ents were not con­sulted enough.

Ford dropped an an­ti­sex-ed ad­vo­cate as a can­di­date over the week­end af­ter ho­mo­pho­bic state­ments she made were brought to light by the gov­ern­ing Lib­er­als. Tanya Granic Allen had also run for the party lead­er­ship and threw her base of so­cial con­ser­va­tive sup­port to Ford.

Granic Allen called her re­moval a “be­trayal” of so­cial con­ser­va­tives, and she said she hoped that Ford would at least prom­ise to re­peal and re­place the sex-ed cur­ricu­lum.

NDP Leader Andrea Hor­wath crit­i­cized Ford’s pledge on sex-ed, saying the old cur­ricu­lum the Tory leader is vow­ing to bring back was the same one in place when her now 25-year-old son was in school.

“There’s no doubt that cur­ricu­lum needed to be up­graded, New Democrats sup­ported that,” she said. “I think Mr. Ford may be con­sid­er­ing drag­ging our prov­ince back­wards on this front and on many other fronts.”

Ford also said that with half of Ontario’s Grade 6 stu­dents not meet­ing a provin­cial math stan­dard, schools need to get back to the ba­sics.

“Kids used to learn math by do­ing things like mem­o­riz­ing a mul­ti­pli­ca­tion ta­ble and it worked,” Ford said. “In­stead, our kids are left with ex­per­i­men­tal dis­cov­ery math. That hardly teaches math at all. In­stead, ev­ery­one gets a par­tic­i­pa­tion rib­bon and our kids are left to fend for them­selves.”

In April 2016, Ontario an­nounced a three-year, $60-mil­lion math strat­egy that puts an av­er­age of 60 min­utes per day of “pro­tected math learn­ing time” in the cur­ricu­lum for stu­dents be­tween Grade 1 and Grade 8.

The fol­low­ing year, only half of stu­dents in Grade 6, and 62 per cent of those in Grade 3 met the provin­cial stan­dard in math. The dis­mal re­sults prompted Premier Kath­leen Wynne to an­nounce the prov­ince would look at over­haul­ing its math ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram.

DAVE ABEL/TORONTO SUN

Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford speaks af­ter the provin­cial lead­ers de­bate in Toronto on Mon­day.

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