Anthony Furey: The Standards in Canadian Schools Are Slipping at a Rapid Pace

By Anthony Furey
Anthony Furey
Anthony Furey
Anthony Furey is vice president of editorial and content at True North Centre. Full disclosure: Anthony Furey announced on March 21 that he is joining the Toronto mayoral race.
February 4, 2023Updated: February 4, 2023


Last fall, many candidates for trustee in municipal races across Canada—mostly in Ontario and British Columbia—ran on what was broadly described as anti-woke platforms.

They warned against the politicization of the school system and an erosion of standards that pushed kids more towards an activist mindset than to developing the well-rounded skills they need to succeed in life.

Not many of these individuals won, but I argued at the time that the mere presence of this slate of candidates was something of a beachhead moment. Canadian parents and community members felt compelled to get back in the game and reclaim their school boards from radical activists. While they may not have won that time around, they’d serve to inspire and energize a fight that would only come back stronger.

An interesting thing has happened though since those elections were held. Those candidates have unfortunately been vindicated because their predictions are turning into a reality.

In just the past couple of months, we’ve seen a whirlwind of changes happen in our schools that shows the quality of our education system is collapsing in real time before our very eyes.

There are so many examples, it’s hard to know where to begin.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is ground zero for a lot of the problems. A big issue is rampant violence in schools that isn’t being addressed because of activist ideologies. The situation got so bad at one Toronto high school that some students created a hit list of teachers to assault, and now staff use a buddy system to walk to their cars at the end of the day.

This spurred a conversation about bringing back School Resource Officers—police who are assigned to be at a school throughout the day to both keep the peace and act as mentors and big brothers/sisters for the students. But the board held public hearings where activists stepped forward to yet again denounce all police as racist and scare off defenders of the program.

But that’s far from all that’s plaguing the TDSB. The board put forward a controversial student survey that asked both elementary and high school students questions about their sexuality, gender identity, and whether or not they knew about transgender practices like breast binding and penis tucking. The survey has since been shelved.

The Waterloo school board put forward a similar survey, and when a parent went to a meeting to demand to know why staff were asking prying questions of a sexual nature about his young daughter, the staff sent out a letter to all parents denouncing him.

Meanwhile, the Halton school board, also in Ontario, sent out a memo banning spirit days and wacky hair days for a whole grab bag of politically correct reasons: they’re ableist, racist, colonialist, etc.

Back to the TDSB. They’re now aiming to replace Grade 11 English and the teaching of Shakespeare that year with a course that focuses only on indigenous authors. While most parents are likely fine with having a couple of books authored by First Nations writers in the curriculum, the problem is that activists are pushing this explicitly because they want to elbow out long established writers. They’re more interested in tearing things down than building things up

Then there’s the public board in Ottawa, which was ground zero for trustees who just couldn’t let go of COVID-19. Despite knowing that less than 10 percent of students were choosing to wear masks, a couple of trustees forced a divisive vote to mandate masking for all students and staff. Thankfully it lost, but it was worrisome that it lost on a tie.

We can debate these issues individually, and it’s only natural that reasonable people will disagree on some of these items. That’s not the problem. The problem is that there are so many subversive agendas being pushed upon the public education system in such a short period of time.

And subversive is the key phrase. It’s clear that the voices pushing these issues are part of fringe collectives that are only seeking to further niche political agendas.

This is not about pursuing excellence in education for children of all walks of life. This is not about including all kids and providing support for those falling behind, which all parents and educators support.

Parents are clueing in to what’s going on and they don’t like it. More and more people are talking about it. As the public education system has turned into a playpen for activists, it’s become a mess.

Those trustees who ran on these issues in the fall offered a timely warning.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.