The backlash against Ontario's new health curriculum has left many people confused. Is it radical? Are fundamental parental and religious rights being undermined? All parents want to protect their children, but opponents of sex education are inadvertently doing the opposite. Denying children accurate and inclusive information about their bodies, human relationships and sexuality is not protective; it is irresponsible. Without such information, children are unable to care for themselves and grow into healthy and responsible adults.
Most students can manage their diabetes independently or with minimal support, and they can fully participate in school activities, including gym, field trips and celebrations. However, some, especially very young children with type 1 diabetes, may need trained personnel to help administer insulin, monitor blood sugar levels or supervise food intake and activity. Students with diabetes may also need flexibility in school rules to prevent low or high blood sugar, and, in some cases, may also need help with recognizing "lows" and "highs."
B.C.'s Charter for Public Education is a public owned document, which stands as a testament to everything we as a community want and expect from our public school system. It is a document long forgotten somewhere between the never ending war against our public schools, funding cuts and dragged out court cases.
The curriculum is aimed at preparing kids to navigate the complicated interpersonal and sexual situations in today's hyper-sexualized world. But opponents have latched on to a number of provisions. It should be clearly understood that the new curriculum is not a "How to Manual" and that the state is not promoting a particular relationship structure. Ultimately, the government must do a better job of convincing some parents that it is responding to the changing realities. All stakeholders must feel that at least some of their concerns are heard and validated.
"It is with sadness that we will have to decline the birthday party invitation for your son," one mother wrote me, "as such short notice was given." I felt like I had been punched in the gut. Again. You see, my son Casey has autism, and I had been busily planning all the arrangements for his seventh birthday party for weeks. I wanted to tell her, in earnest, that I had tried, I really tried, to get it right this time.
Under the new curriculum, nay-saying parents have the option of pulling their kids out of sex-ed class. But should they? As a fellow parent of three children in the Ontario public education system, I say no. You can pull your kids out of sex-ed. And maybe one day you will also pull them out of classes that teach about climate change and evolution. Perhaps you don't trust the teacher who might be gay and so you find a way to pull your kids out of his or her class. You are teaching your kids to run from what they fear and instill in them hatred of others. Isn't it better to arm them with knowledge, teach them to respect differences and then trust them?
Canadian teachers love their students and want only the best for them. Our teachers work very hard and conscientiously, but often their best efforts are thwarted by a system that fails to give them adequate training, assigns them to teach subjects they aren't qualified to teach, micromanages their teaching methods and materials, and largely ignores their input. Canadian teachers are not getting the support they need and deserve. But it doesn't have to be this way. Here's how four other countries support their teachers' professionalism and give them a voice.
Something is amiss in Canada. A 2014 UNICEF report compared the health and development of children in Canada with 28 other wealthy nations. In spite of being a G8 country, Canada's children rank number 17th, a status that has not budged in the last 10 years. The question is, why are these problems still so widespread?
If the "Lake of Fire" fiasco that cost the Wildrose the last election is any indication, Albertans overwhelmingly vote against a party that smells of promoting homophobia, so there is no need to seek a "safe middle ground" on this wedge issue. In fact, the "middle ground" is not so politically safe for right wing parties. In two years, it will be far less safe. So why is Prentice talking tough but actually equivocating on an issue for which he clearly has overwhelming public support?
So when the traditional North American holidays roll around, don't expect me to sanitize them. I don't expect my brother-in-law to dial down Hannukah thinking I'd find it offensive. I don't expect my mayor to skip Eid because I don't celebrate it. I look forward to the Chinese New Year parade and so do my kids. They shouldn't stop it because I'm not Chinese.
Some parents, my husband and I included, are eager to ship their kid off to school. But some children need more time to get in the proper mindset of heading back to the classroom. I think with the right preparation most kids can feel eager to head back to the schoolyard. Here are some tips for parents and kids alike to get excited about the school year.
Research in pedagogy shows that children learn much better in smaller classrooms. Tim Hudak, if elected, has promised to increase classroom sizes and the student-teacher ratios. The Ontario elections could very well be a vote on the learning outcomes for millions of school-going children. Tim Hudak, the leader of the Ontario's Progressive Conservatives, is campaigning to increase the classroom size by two to three students and the student-teacher ratio, in addition to numerous other proposed cuts to the Ontario's education system. This may require parents to learn more about learning before they vote on June 12.
When a child's stress levels are too high various systems for thinking and metabolic recovery are compromised. The signs of when this is happening show up in the child's behaviour, or mood, or attention, or for that matter, physical well-being. Canadian children are dealing with far too much stress today.
The fact is our student populations are becoming more diverse, though that's barely mirrored in the staff make-up of most urban schools. And while there is recognition of a need to hire teachers that better reflect the student population, reaching that goal remains a long way off considering the comparably low number of teachers who self-identify as visible minorities. In the meantime, we need to foster culturally sensitive and inclusive schools where student engagement leads to higher graduation rates, the de-glamorization of gangs, and the nurturing of productive citizens of all backgrounds.
I was raised on a dairy farm in Belledune, a small community on New Brunswick's North Shore. By the time I showed up to school in the fall of 1968, the schoolhouse was bordered by a smelter on one side and a fertilizer plant on the other. I started hearing a little voice inside me saying, "Do something!"