Teacher Being Investigated for Comments on Critical Race Theory Says She Will Stand Her Ground

By Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.
May 16, 2022 Updated: May 16, 2022

A former high school teacher who is under investigation by the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) for her comments opposing the promotion of critical race theory in schools says she’s determined to pursue her case until it’s resolved fairly.

“I’m going to fight this until the end,” Chanel Pfahl told The Epoch Times. “The more they come at me in an unfair way, the more I feel that it’s important for me to stand my ground.”

“Actually, the more that this goes on, the more my resolve kind of gets strengthened,” she adds. “I really, really think that there is a need for educators that can go into a classroom and be impartial.”

Pfahl, who is represented by a legal team from the Toronto-based group Democracy Fund, said a response to the allegations has been submitted to the OCT.

It all started in February 2021 after Pfahl, 29, posted a comment and video link on a private teachers’ Facebook group in response to another teacher’s post asking the group to share Black Lives Matter resources to be used in class for Black History Month.

“I just said that we should not be indoctrinating kids. We shouldn’t bring this critical race theory stuff in,” the science teacher said. “I pointed out that in certain places in the world right now, like in Britain, it is actually illegal to teach these ideas without offering a balanced opposing view.”

The video Pfahl posted was of British Conservative MP Kemi Badenoch rising in Parliament in October 2020 during the BLM protests to condemn critical race theory (CRT) in schools and assert that the Tory government “stands unequivocally against critical race theory.”

CRT is a Marxist philosophy that claims social relations are a class struggle between oppressors and the oppressed—specifically labelling white people as the oppressors and all other races as the oppressed.

Pfahl said her intention to share her perspective was not welcomed by some in the group. Within minutes after her posts, she received backlash from at least 10 teachers, with some comments accusing her of upholding “white supremacy.”

“I didn’t think there was anything controversial though in what I said. I actually was looking forward to having a good conversation, engaging with some of these teachers,” she said.

“You would expect teachers to be the type of people that are open-minded and that are able to engage with these other views.”

A formal complaint was immediately lodged against Pfahl that led to a month-long investigation by the MonAvenir Catholic School Board. In March 2021, she was suspended for a week without pay. She is currently appealing that ruling through her union, but her arbitration date is not until May 2023, she said.

On March 15, she was informed by the OCT that they too had begun an investigation after the same complainant, who is a teacher, escalated the complaint to the college. Pfahl, who quit her position in August 2021, said her teaching licence is at stake.

The OCT said it could not provide details about Pfahl’s case.

“By law, we are unable to comment on any individual cases nor can we confirm whether any investigation is ongoing,” said spokesperson Andrew Fifield in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times on May 16.

“Matters related to professional misconduct are guided by the Ontario College of Teachers Act.”

According to the OCT’s disciplinary process, if a complaint is referred to its discipline committee, a three-member panel will decide the case. If the panel finds a teacher guilty of professional misconduct or to be incompetent, it may, among a number of actions, direct the college’s registrar to revoke the teacher’s teaching certificate; suspend the certificate for up to two years; or impose terms, conditions, or limitations on the certificate. For findings of professional misconduct, the panel may also impose a fine of up to $5,000 among various additional penalties.

Adverse Effects of CRT

Pfahl said the teaching of CRT has an adverse effect on children’s well-being and the way they view society.

“Students who learn CRT start to see the world in a way that’s very cynical, in a way that’s very negative for their own resiliency and sense of empowerment in the world,” she said.

“Regardless of whether the child is white, black, or somewhere in between, or whatever, what they learn is that society is built in this way that’s fundamentally unfair.”

Pfahl added that CRT has the effect of disempowering black children and filling white children with guilt.

“Black kids are taught that they’re oppressed and unless they really change society and become activists, they will always be victims and will have a hard time getting far in life because everything in the world is set out against them,” she said.

“White kids learn to feel guilty for something they didn’t do, something their parents didn’t do, and their grandparents probably didn’t do it either—it’s guilt based on assumptions about your ancestors, due to the colour of your skin.”

In an article she wrote in April, Pfahl argued that although the United States, and Canada to a lesser extent, have a history of racism that cannot be denied, CRT’s approach to “achieving social justice” is done in a “flawed, counterintuitive way” that rejects “common humanity.”

“It is explicitly opposed to liberal principles like individual rights and civil liberties,” said the article, published in Woke Watch Canada, a newsletter featured on Substack for parents and teachers concerned about “radicalism in schools.”

“[Common humanity is] the very approach that has allowed us to overcome racist attitudes and race-based discrimination in the West to the degree that we have.”

Pfahl said the reason schools are eager to push the CRT curriculum is that on the surface it seems like a worthy endeavour.

“This progressive ideology that’s taking over is just covered in such pretty language—the ideas seem compassionate, noble, and exciting,” she said in the interview.

“It makes people feel like they’re leading the charge on this new civil rights movement, and nothing could be further from the truth.”

Pfahl stressed that it is crucial for teachers to stay impartial and teach their subjects without pushing political ideology in the classroom.

“I think we’ve lost touch with the fact that education is no longer education if it’s politically motivated,” she said.

Isaac Teo
Isaac Teo is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.