Parental Control Over Education Issues is Becoming a Run-Away Train

Educators recognize the need for parental involvement in their children’s education and not just in signing agendas and ensuring work gets done (although that is a very valuable contribution to a child’s success at school).  We love our parent volunteers and participants in school events.  Such behaviour truly reinforces a good attitude towards learning and self-esteem in kids.

Now, onto the focus of this blog. I remember when my daughter was in grade 4 and I received a form letter from her teacher informing me that the sex education unit was about to be taught in class, and if I didn’t want her to participate, I could have her withdrawn from class during that time.  And you know what?  I actually gave that serious thought.  I thought 9-years-old was a little young for a child to be studying human sexuality and reproduction.  I didn’t want her to lose her childhood innocence.  I look at that perspective differently now. I received the same education starting in grade 5 and it didn’t  forfeit my childhood.

I thought the letter home was sensible and a good preparation for families to be aware that their child would be learning about “where babies come from.” This was the school’s means of communicating with families about curriculum.  In the public school system, however, parent advocates are becoming fanatical about teachers sending letters home to the family whenever certain words, phrases, or perspectives in curriculum will be taught.  For instance, there are certain parent-run advocacy groups, who “appear . . . to be irate about gay students,” and cannot tolerate gay and lesbian clubs in public schools.  They want to know if these words, that is, gay and lesbian (shhhhh!), are being used in class and if so, will the teacher be promoting homosexuality.  Hence, should a lesson be scheduled that includes homosexuality, or the use of the word homosexuality, the classroom teacher must send home a letter to families in advance, giving them the option to pull their children from class.

Heather Mallick, a reporter for the Toronto star, states in her column that sinful issues include “evolution, social acceptance of gays and lesbians, birth control and “environmental worship.” PEACE Hamilton (Public Education Advocates for Christian Equity)  provided a form list of things that angry parents can demand their children not be exposed to in class. The “traditional values letter,” being sent out by some Muslim parents in Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park area, “includes situational ethics, Satanism, new age beliefs, bestiality, homosexuality, birth control, abortion, the encouraging of infanticide and the notion that condoms might help ward off disease”.

After I wiped the tears of laughter out of my eyes, I found myself posing the same question as Mallick, who teaches bestiality?And the ongoing debate between evolution and God (something PEACE has not initiated) is a curious one.  I am a Roman Catholic teacher teaching in an RC school and I fully support the concept of evolution.  There is too much valid scientific evidence proving the existence of Cro-Magnum Man, Neanderthals, and other pre-human species to argue the point. I really like the Lucy story, hypothetically explaining the first semi-humans to begin walking upright.  Cool.

In all seriousness, the angry coalition of parents is demanding that teachers send home  form letters to parents every time the aforementioned subject matter will (or might) be taught to students. Thus, the teacher must advise specific students to leave class for 20 minutes, or go home, and others to put on noise-cancelling headphones (that will work well with the school policy of not using cell phones, iPods and other distracting technology in class). And I love the implication as to using noise-cancelling headphones.  It’s reassuring to know that my teaching is nothing more than noise. Thank you for that.

So far it is only the public schools that are beginning to make noise about these blasphemous issues, but often where you have the origins of a movement in one school system, you end up with some influence over another.  Hopefully this won’t happen in Dufferin-Peel.  I can’t see my board taking up such a foolish and clearly prejudiced movement in its schools.  But should it ever come to that (and that is a long shot, at best), I’d better get my computer updated and the cartridge replaced in my printer.  I’m going to be using a lot of overtime typing form letters about classroom vocabulary, where instead I could have been grading children’s work, or preparing materials for the next day’s lessons.

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  • Peter Lounsbury (@lounsbury720)  On January 5, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    A fallacy is an argument that is essential introducing the wrong question into a debate. Everyone does it, but they really are not helpful if you’re trying to tackle complex issues that involve religious beliefs, ethics, morality, sexuality and other societal hot button issues that need to be handled in a way that addresses an issue rather than promoting an agenda.

    In the article the writer used a couple of straw man arguments and whether he/she knew it or not did so on both ends of the argument. I suppose that is balanced and therefore more fair than using the bully pulpit of national media, but it still misses the real fix for all of this stuff regardless of the topic.

    If you look up the word liberal in a dictionary you’ll find that a liberal is described as someone who is tolerant, not bigoted, open minded, pragmatic, able to evolve socially and more or less all of the qualities that should be in every good citizen. Problem is that in reality liberals are intolerant of nothing or nobody except those that disagree with them, which if you look it up is the definition of a bigot. So putting the widely used perceptions we have for or against words like this and putting aside a need or desire to win, whatever that means in this case, let’s talk about the issues cited…

    Sexuality isn’t just a class or a program designed to reduce pregnancy, as it also is about actually having sex. With who? When? At what age? Same sex? The discussion is only limited by the sensibilities of the folks who watch these things and apply counter-pressure to what they feel is inappropriate. What I was talking about just a minute ago.

    I’m an American but we share something very common and very relevant with Canadians… When you trace our history back to how we settled the land over 200 years ago, we formed communities that drew like minded people to live in the same area, go to the same churches and even speak the same language in some cases. Culture was not just transferred from here to there, but it also grew and evolved (think of our accents in comparison to the English colonists who first arrived in the New World). For many and complicated reasons in some cases that all changed in time as people from diverse races, ethnicity, religious beliefs, political ideals, and visions about what society even is began moving from these diverse communities and into cities; largely looking for work after the industrial revolution.

    That is not going to change, I think we can all agree on that. But what we need to look at is the notion of forcing people to hold the same values, beliefs, morals and motivations based upon national concerns by the political powerful, when we should be allowing communities to grow into pockets of ethnic (etc, etc) diversity, and our national government should be there to ensure that the rights of people to live in communities with like minded folks never lose their right to be themselves as their “Prime Directive”.

    If we did that in particular we wouldn’t be having so many of these heated discussions that produce solutions that somebody is going to hate and somebody is going to love. Rather than rewarding a top down political power structure to use the force of federal law to beat this undefined diversity into everyone. The problems will not get better until we wake up and accept the fact that freedom means that you don’t force others to see it your way, or having to accept things that run contrary to your beliefs; especially when it comes to how we raise our children. Freedom means I’m free to believe and do what I feel is important within the limit of the law, and that I don’t feel the need to make folks
    “over there in that community” see and do it my way.

    We live in an age that has forgotten what freedom is, and unless we get our our heads screwed on right, we will find out the hard way that these children we keep using like bats to make points, won’t know what freedom is and have no compunction whatsoever to defend it. Ultimately, it will be our undoing if we don’t grow up and teach the next generation what freedom is and what the alternative looks like.

  • gothrules  On January 6, 2013 at 2:54 am

    Thank you very much for a sincere and thoughtful reflection to my blog. That is very encouraging. I must ask where in my blog I made a straw man argument. Ugh. If i did then ought to clear up any misunderstanding on ,my part or yours. Ah yes. The sex thing. In our Catholic elementary school we have to keep it very basic, careful, in a purely religious context. The chapter is called God created life – Human Sexuality. There are no explicit words such as “penis” or “vagina” so I’m not really sure how kids make the connection how the sperm gets to the egg (I’m serious). Sex is only for making babies, you know. That’s reality (hooo boy). You must be married and the hint that same sex sexual relations even exist is an unmentionable. It is unrealistic and there are many things wrong with it on many levels, but then again, there are people who would say that children who are 9 years old and older aren’t prepared to learn about that sort of thing. Personally, I joined the website It Gets Better in support of people who are gay, trans, etc and their painful journeys during adolescence and their teens. I love that statement freedom is you don’t force others to see it your way. The public school system welcomes people of much diversity, as it should. However, it doesn’t work the other way around. Our public schools are not allowed to say the word “God”, to read any books that mention “God”, to say Merry Christmas (its Happy Holidays), there are no easter eggs – they are spring spheres. I have no problem welcoming people into our ever-changing society and allowing these people to practice their beliefs. I have a problem with their arrival cancelling out established beliefs and practices.

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