Phys Ed and the ‘Snitch line’

Trustees held another special meeting about the health and physical education curriculum. They discussed ‘snitch lines’ too!

Attendees and trustees heard again from delegations how important it is that the health and physical education curriculum addresses the needs and concerns of all students; that it allows for teachers to teach when the alternative is students talking to other students and getting misinformation or sometimes none at all.

I’ve said it before – 1998 doesn’t account for the world of 2018. It can’t. It’s encouraging that WRDSB’s Director of Education and leadership team are looking at ways to support both staff and students moving forward; maintaining a commitment safety and inclusion and looking at ways to incorporate modern realities into an old curriculum that doesn’t account for them.

Trustees passed a motion that a formal request be made to the Minister of Education to allow the board to continue following the Ontario Human Rights Code and fulfill the WRDSB commitment to inclusion, safety and respect for all students (as set out in the board’s strategic plan) by teaching the 2015 curriculum.

I think the Director of Education and his team were already looking at ways to do this within the mandated interim curriculum – but I don’t see anything wrong with the request.

Trustees can and should voice what they hear from their constituents; they can ask for clarification from the government; they can request that the ministry does this, that and the other, and state why they request it.

What they cannot do is say to their Director of Education, “Ignore government direction and go your own way.”

I’ve said this more than once, but it bears repeating: It’s not a question of inaction or not doing the right thing or not standing up for teachers and students – it is not within the board of trustees’ role to direct or demand against what the ministry says.

The other issue that was raised was about the ‘snitch line’ where people can report teachers.

Boards already have mechanisms in place to address conduct. Anyone with concerns about what their child’s teacher is or is not teaching should go to the principal. If that doesn’t solve their concerns, they can contact their trustees who can help guide them from there.

I think the outright reporting of teachers sends the wrong message and puts them under a microscope. It’s unfair, invasive and a drastic overreaction. Any concerns can be addressed without calling a special hotline.

Parents with objections to certain subjects have a right to be informed and remove their child if they wish. This is something that the previous government promised under religious accommodation but failed to offer for all who requested it.

If you are a parent, or just someone with concerns about what is taught under the health and physical education curriculum, you have a right to voice your opinions – whether you support the 2015 curriculum or not.

There is no question that these issues are important and that the welfare of students is paramount. But I think the Board of Trustees has done what it can up to this point. The rest is up to the government.

I think educators, students, parents and concerned citizens and groups should all have a say in revisions to the health and physical education curriculum.