For the children

By Sue Tiffin

Published July 31 2018

L ast week the Minden Times ran a story about the Trillium Lakelands District School Board which issued an open letter on July 23 to students staff and parents regarding changes to the public school curriculum under Ontario’s new provincial government.

Prior to being elected now-Premier Doug Ford promised to scrap and replace “discovery” math curriculums and the so-called sex-education curriculum. The curriculums were then scrapped without a replacement and a new school year quickly approaching. Post-election at the last minute the Ontario government cancelled Truth and Reconciliation Commission curriculum writing sessions to update outdated curriculum that does not reflect the experiences of Indigenous peoples.

The TLDSB’s open letter talks about our shared responsibility to our students that it must not be ignored. Our school board was one of about 10 public school boards in Ontario to speak out last week about the hasty changes to the Ontario curriculum.

The TLDSB on the health and physical education curriculum: “Teaching about gender identity acceptance and understanding for our LGBTQ community members sexual health issues including consent making appropriate personal choices and internet safety must continue at home and at school.”

The TLDSB on mathematics: “We will continue to place our confidence in daily and ongoing assessment in our classrooms by our teachers who know our students best. We will continue to seek greater balance in our instruction.”

The TLDSB on Indigenous education: “We believe we have a moral responsibility to teach truth and provide opportunities for reconciliation in our schools.”

Since those open letters were released to the public the Ontario School Board Council of Unions and CUPE representing all four Ontario board systems (English French Public Catholic) have also released a statement via letter.

“We stand with those school boards who have put out statements clearly expressing their unwavering commitment to equity and inclusion in all we do to support students including our LGBTQ students. We agree this is not only a requirement under the Ontario Human Rights Code the Education Act and Board policies but also a moral obligation.”

As parents we might not always feel comfortable with the level of awareness our kids have about the world around them – sometimes that’s because we didn’t have the opportunity to learn about it formally ourselves. We have to accept that our kids are already learning through talk on the playground like we did but also through the completely unfiltered and often toxic world offered through the internet. We have to understand that our kids are potentially being hurt by hearing our conversations about what information we can trust them with and about what we think is normal or not. And we must know that information is power for our kids to keep themselves protected and protect others they might meet along the way. The best way to protect all of our kids is to ensure they are informed with updated factual information from people they respect and trust – ourselves yes but also their educators.

The TLDSB letter states “We have always made decisions with the best interests of our students in mind and we will continue to do so as we move forward into the new school year.”

Thanks to the TLDSB for putting our kids first.

Buy Close By the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce awareness campaign that encourages shoppers to buy locally should be top of mind this week due to last Thursday’s hailstorm that wreaked havoc on Haliburton County. Businesses with outdoor merchandise or product including gardens and farms or those who lost power might be suffering loss and damage caused by the storm. Keep this in mind when thinking about where to put your dollars. Your choice might help ease some of the burden caused by Mother Nature.