Parents from across Ontario will finally have the opportunity to have their voices heard on the kind of curriculum their children are taught in school. Premier Doug Ford and Lisa Thompson, Minister of Education, has announced the scope of an unprecedented parental consultation into Ontario’s curriculum.
“We promised to deliver an education system that put the rights of parents first while getting back to the basics when it comes to teaching fundamental subjects like math,” said Ford. “Today we are pleased to say: Promises made, promises kept.”
Starting in September 2018, the Government will engage in province-wide public consultations that will include an online survey, telephone town halls in every region of Ontario, and a submission platform that will allow interested individuals and groups to present detailed proposals to the Ministry.
As part of the announcement, the Premier and Minister shared details about the scope of the consultation, which will include:
- How to improve student performance in the STEM disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math;
- How our schools are preparing students with needed job skills, whether it be by exposing them to opportunities in the skilled trades or giving them the opportunity to improve their skills in increasingly important fields like coding;
- What more can be done to ensure students graduate with important life skills like financial literacy;
- How to build a new age-appropriate Health and Physical Education curriculum that includes subjects like mental health, sex-ed, and legalization of cannabis;
- What measures can be taken to improve standardized testing; and
- What steps schools should take to ban cellphone use in the classroom.
“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,” said Thompson.
The Ministry of Education also released a revised interim curriculum to be used by teachers during the course of the 2018-2019 school year. This will include the 2014 Health and Physical Education curriculum. As well, there will be some changes to the math curriculum compendiums available on the ministry website in coming weeks.
“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,” said Ford. “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.”
To ensure that the rights of parents are respected throughout and following the reform process, the Government will also begin drafting a Ministry of Education Parents’ Bill of Rights. Parents will be asked what elements they want to see included in the Bill of Rights as part of the province-wide consultation.
In addition, the Minister of Education announced she would use her authority under the Ontario College of Teachers Act to strike a Public Interest Committee that will help inform the creation of the Parents’ Bill of Rights while ensuring curriculum-based misconduct issues are fairly dealt with at the college. As a first step to empowering parents, the government is launching a dedicated submission platform — Fortheparents.ca — that parents can use to report any concerns.
The Ontario College of Teachers licenses, governs and regulates the Ontario teaching profession to protect the public interest. As part of this mission the College is responsible for investigating complaints of misconduct or incompetence made against members.
“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,” said Thompson. “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.”