Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Political Indoctrination Does Not Belong in Publicly Funded Education

Here is a story from The Toronto Star (sigh, yes I'm still reading that socialist rag) that describes how the Toronto District Shooolboard plans to put aside all that boring reading, writing and arithmetic and get students involved in left wing politics. They make is sound like the children themselves will come up with the issues and ideas - as if the teachers would never influence them to get involved in say promoting homosexuality instead of advocating a pro-life position on abortion.
"Toronto District School Board students will be expected to contribute more to their communities under a new ''social justice action plan'' unveiled yesterday by education director Chris Spence.

The initiative will see every school in the board take on one local and one global social justice issue -- such as poverty, equity and environmentalism -- in order to "create awareness of how students can be empowered through their leadership to make a difference in their world," according to Mr. Spence.

"When I visit schools and talk to kids and staff, they're all engaged in this kind of work. Now we're raising the bar in terms of expectation and saying this is part of what we want to stand for as an organization," he said in an interview with the National Post. "When you put these kinds of issues in front of kids, they will run with it and go places."

The launch of the plan comes on the heels of the announcement that students and staff at the TDSB's 550 schools raised more than $625,000 for earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

It's that kind of concerted response to a calamitous event such as the Haiti earthquake that TDSB chairman Bruce Davis says is indicative of the kind of change students can make.

"I call it leadership by children. It's the kids who go home and say, 'Hey, this isn't right. We've got to do something.' That is so powerful," Mr. Davis said.

"We have 550 schools so you're going to see 550 different responses to this call for action. It could be something around poverty in their neighbourhood or the city. It could be something around homophobia. It could be something around racism or how newcomers are treated. We really need schools to, first of all, challenge our kids. We're giving them licence to do something."

Annie Kidder, executive director of People for Education, agrees the board's plan is an opportunity for students to affect change, but said the wide definition of "social justice" may present difficulties.

"I can foresee some bumps along the way," said Ms. Kidder, whose organization is a parent-led advocacy group that tries to improve public education in Ontario's English, French and Catholic schools.

"One person's version of what social justice is may not agree with someone else's. There are disagreements," she said. "It may push some buttons but in a way that's the most interesting part. It will force young people to think about things."

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