“WAIT-AND-SEE” PO­SI­TION ON FORD SCHOOL CUR­RI­CU­LUM PLANS

Tribune Express - - ACTUALITES/NEWS - GREGG CHAMBERLAIN gregg.chamberlain@eap.on.ca

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.”

Le­gal chal­lenge

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

—pho­tos four­nies

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.

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