After Ontario Premier Doug Ford made good on one of his more controversial campaign promises and scrapped the recently-updated sex education curriculum in the province, sending it back to a 1998 iteration, many teachers and other concerned parties said they would continue to educate children with the more robust 2015 program. Now that the school year is almost upon us, the Conservative government is taking a firm stand against any teachers who might stray from the curriculum okayed by the province.
“We expect our teachers, principals and school board officials to fulfill their obligations to parents and children when it comes to what our students learn in the classroom,” Ford said in a news release.
“We will not tolerate anybody using our children as pawns for grandstanding and political games. Make no mistake, if we find somebody failing to do their job, we will act.”
And how will they keep tabs on the thousands of teachers running classes in the province? A Big Brother-type reporting system that encourages parents to report teachers they know to be teaching outside the revised sex-ed curriculum.
The province announced the creation of a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” that will include a website on which parents can submit specific complaints against individual teachers who aren’t following the curriculum. The news release also included two websites and a hotline parents can call if they believe “their child’s teacher is jeopardizing their child’s education by deliberately ignoring Ontario’s curriculum.”
— Marieke Walsh (@MariekeWalsh) August 22, 2018
Ford has announced that the new sex-ed curriculum will be developed with a focus on input from parents. In the meantime, the government has released an “Interim Edition” of the program that includes elements from 2014, 2010 and 1998 which will be followed by Grades 1 to 8. According to an email from Ford spokesperson Simon Jefferies sent to CBC, the high school curriculum will not be changing in the interim.
In 223 pages, the Interim Edition does not contain the words “gay,” “LGBTQ,” “same-sex” (except in reference to same-sex education groups) or “consent.”
Teachers, the Ontario teachers’ unions, parents and the other political parties have all spoken out against the curriculum change and the new reporting system.
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation president Harvey Bischof said that the “implied threat” from the Conservative government will make teaching even the 2015 sex-ed allowed in high schools difficult since teachers will be in fear of some sort of retaliatory action for the topics they cover. The OSSTF previously said they would protect teachers who choose to continue teaching the 2015 curriculum.
Similarly, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario Sam Hammond called the complaint line “unprecedented, outrageous, and shameful” and “a blatant attack on the professionalism, the profession judgement, of teachers.”
Doug Ford & the Minister of Ed calling on parents to file complaints against Teachers. Unprecedented, outrageous, and shameful! This is a blatant attack on the professionalism, the profession judgement, of teachers.#shame @@ETFOeducators @OFLabour @CanTeachersFed pic.twitter.com/T9jvOseSrz
— Sam Hammond (@etfopresident) August 22, 2018
2018 and the word “consent” is not noted, not once, in the the Health & Physical Education Curriculum Interim Edition & Ford has promised that if teachers talk about consent, he “will act”. #Shame on this government! @ETFOeducators @CanTeachersFed
— Sam Hammond (@etfopresident) August 23, 2018
[THREAD]: We knew Doug Ford was going to force teachers to use an outdated #sexed curriculum.
What we didn’t know was that he was also going to create a government-funded snitch line so people can attack teachers who dare to teach about consent & the LGBTQ community… #ONpoli pic.twitter.com/mDRowuA627
— Ontario Liberal Party (@OntLiberal) August 23, 2018
A hotline for reporting on teachers who continue to use the modern curriculum.
— Green Party Ontario (@OntarioGreens) August 22, 2018
The revision of the sex-ed curriculum is part of a broader revision of the entire Ontario curriculum and policies including cell phone use in the classroom, math, financial literacy and job skill preparation. Parents are encouraged to have their say about the changes which are projected to take affect come the 2019-2020 school year.