“WAIT-AND-SEE” POSITION ON FORD SCHOOL CURRICULUM PLANS
Both of the English school boards for the Glengarry-Prescott-Russell riding are taking a wait-and-see approach to recent announcements from Ontario’s new premier about curriculum plans for schools in the province.
Last month Premier Doug Ford announced a “temporary rollback” to an older form of the health and sex education curriculum for all schools in the province. Officials for the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) and the Catholic District School Board (CDSBEO) both indicated their groups will wait and see how the new Progressive Conservative government makes good on the premier’s promise for a new public consultation process on revising the health education curriculum, including dealing with sex education for students at both the elementary and secondary school levels.
“We are in a wait-and-see position for the moment,” stated Jeff McMillan, UCDSB chairman, adding that districts are waiting for “clear direction from the Ministry of Education about any changes” for the health and physical education curriculum, though he noted that students today need “a strong and modern curriculum” to prepare them for success in the real world.
“The UCDSB expects any curriculum,” stated McMillan, “whether it is mathematics, social studies, or science, to be current and aligned with modern realities, including our rural realities. We have the same expectations for the health and physical education curriculum used in Ontario schools.”
CDSBEO Chairman Todd Lalonde had a similar comment. He also noted that the Catholic school board follows a curriculum plan that incorporates the Catholic Christian faith.
“Both the current and previous health and physical education curriculum were taught in Catholic schools through a Catholic faith lens,” Lalonde stated in an email. “Ontario Catholic schools, including the CDSBEO, receive curriculum through the Fully Alive Program, that is sponsored and developed through the Catholic Bishops of Ontario, in collaboration with Catholic school boards, Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, defended the government’s decision in an email statement to EAP.
“During the election campaign, we made a clear promise to replace the entirety of Ontario’s current sex-ed curriculum with an age-appropriate one that is based on real consultation with parents,” indicated Simard. “When Ontario voters chose their new government, they did so knowing that this was our intended course of action. We want to hear and consult parents as to what they believe should be included in the sexual education curriculum.
“The final decision on the scope of the new curriculum will be based on what we hear from Ontario parents. While these consultations occur, we are reverting to the full health and physical education curriculum that was last taught in 2014. This curriculum leaves ample space to discuss current social issues and it is only temporary.”
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has since mounted a legal challenge to the government’s decision and is seeking a court order to keep the 2015 version in place until the Ministry of Education has developed an actual replacement for it. CCLA Executive Director Michael Bryant described the Progressive Conservative government’s approach to dealing with health and sex education curriculum in Ontario as “a dogwhistle of homophobia dressed up as a consultation.”
—With notes from Caroline Prévost
Le premier ministre Doug Ford a ordonné le retrait temporaire d’une version plus ancienne du programme d’éducation sexuelle et de santé pour les écoles de l’Ontario et a annoncé la création d’un site Web spécial où les parents et les élèves peuvent déposer des plaintes anonymes contre les enseignants. Jeff McMillan, président du Upper Canada District School Board, et Todd Lalonde, président du Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario, rapportent que leurs groupes sont en attente pour le moment.