Ontario’s PC government has announced its plans for province-wide consultations on developing a new school curriculum, while putting in place an interim one that incorporates the sex education curriculum taught until 2014.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is also warning there will be consequences for teachers who don’t follow the interim curriculum.
“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 statement.
“We will not tolerate anybody using our children as pawns for grandstanding and political games. And, make no mistake, if we find somebody failing to do their job, we will act.”
Some teachers have vowed to continue teaching the controversial 2015 sex education curriculum brought in by the Liberal government of then-Premier Kathleen Wynne. Her government’s curriculum was criticized by a large number of parents for a lack of consultation and what they considered age-inappropriate topics, such as talking about masturbation and presenting it as a normal activity and “one way of learning about your body.”
Earlier this month, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario declared that it will “vigorously defend” any teacher intending to teach content from the 2015 curriculum.
As part of its enforcement, the government will draft what it calls a Ministry of Education Parents’ Bill of Rights, and ask parents during the consultation process what should be included in the bill of rights.
Parents can also use a newly launched website, Fortheparents.ca, to report any “curriculum-based misconduct issues.”
Education Minister Lisa Thompson said she would use her authority under the Ontario College of Teachers Act to create a Public Interest Committee to help in the crafting of the bill of rights, and ensure that any curriculum-based misconduct issues are “fairly dealt with at the college.”
“Based on the feedback of the Committee, our government will be prepared to take regulatory and legislative action to ensure that the rights of parents are protected,” Thompson said in a statement.
“Our end goal across all of these activities is simple: create an education system that respects parents while preparing our students for success. That’s what we were elected to do.”
According to the ministry, upcoming changes to the math curriculum will be announced in the coming weeks.
The government plans to hold parent consultations across the province through an online survey, telephone town halls, and a dedicated submission platform that the public can use to indicate what they like to see in the new curriculum.
The consultations will start in September, and will include topics such as how to improve student performance in fields such as math and science, learning life skills like financial literacy, health and physical education curriculum including sex education, and banning cellphone use in the classroom, among others.
“We expect and look forward to a robust discussion on each of these items—and this input will be used to shape our decisions for the 2019-2020 school year,” Thompson said.