'It lacks transparency': Critics blast sex-ed consultation format
Caller, you’re on the air, how do feel about the sex-ed curriculum?
What sounds like a talk radio call-in show, is actually the format of a new provincial consultation process on education. It's being conducted over the phone.
Educators are voicing their concerns over a series of telephone town halls intended to help Premier Doug Ford's government determine the fate of the sexual education curriculum.
“It lacks transparency,” explained Robin Pilkey, chair of the TDSB. “You’re not face-to-face with someone being able to have a discussion on what your thoughts are on the issue.”
The telephone town halls give parents, teachers and school boards the chance to weigh in on a variety of topics from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to standardized testing.
During the first conference call in Northern Ontario, several parents and teachers offered their opinions on the health and physical education curriculum, with many expressing their support.
“I believe that the curriculum of 2015 in sex education is something that is absolutely necessary” said Norm from Thunder Bay, who did not give a last name.
Another caller simply said “if it’s not broken. Don’t fix it.”
While the town halls are now underway, educators say they received no formal notification from the Ministry of Education. Many heard about the consultation process on Twitter.
Joy Lachica, president of Elementary Teachers of Toronto, wanted to know more about the process, who will be involved and how the data will be analyzed.
“We are disappointed,” she told CTV News Toronto. “This is a very crucial step … in terms of what will be the future of curriculum in Ontario”
Ford promised to conduct the “largest education consultation” in Ontario’s history through all 124 provincial ridings.
Instead, a total of 27 telephone town halls will be conducted, with school boards clustered by region.
Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath calls it an “insult” to parents.
“This is not the proper way to do consultations,” Horwath told reporters at an unrelated event in Hamilton.
Pilkey expressed her concern about the “limited number” of town halls that will be conducted. She fears some regions have a greater say, while representing a minority of students and teachers.
Pilkey cites Toronto as an example, which only has three scheduled town halls for both the public and Catholic boards, while other areas have more opportunities for fewer students.
Education Minister Lisa Thompson was not available to comment on the consultations, nor did her ministry address the concerns.
Parents are also being invited to email their concerns or comments in or fill out an online survey at fortheparents.ca
The deadline for the consultation is December.