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Danielle S. McLaughlin

Director of Education Emerita, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Danielle McLaughlin was the Director of Education for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust from 1988 to 2016. Recipient of the 2010-2011 Law Foundation of Ontario Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship, she spent the first 6 months of 2011 as a visiting fellow at the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor. Danielle designed, developed and delivered CCLET’s Teaching Civil Liberties and Civil Liberties in the Schools programs that each year engage thousands of students from kindergarten to high schools, to faculties of education, to law schools in lively discussion about the conflicts of rights and freedoms that affect everyone who lives in a democracy. She is co-author of the That’s Not Fair! stories, written for civic engagement of young children Danielle's book for kids 7-11 Kids Can Press is now available. A regular blogger about education and civil liberties at the, Danielle believes that the best answer to a difficult question is usually another question.

Between 1997 and 2001, in addition to her educational and administrative duties, Danielle represented the Canadian Civil Liberties Association on the Toronto Police Services Board sub-committee on Race Relations.
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Who Watches The Watchmen And Teaches The Teachers?

This may come as a shock to some readers: Teachers are human beings -- nearly all of them. This means that, like the rest of us, they make mistakes, behave badly, and sometimes just lose it. It also means that, like the rest of us, most teachers are basically good and honest people who work hard to do a very difficult job. But some are not. And the ones who are not should not be teaching.
04/08/2016 05:27 EDT
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What's Worse Than Skipping School?

What should a society that values education do when children refuse to go to school? Should they punish the adults in the family who do not seem to be able to control the child's behaviour? Should they punish children for refusing to take advantage of a benefit they are obliged to accept?
03/21/2016 11:28 EDT

Who Gets To Decide Who You Are?

If an event, program, or institution is created to support a specific group of people, who determines the membership in and the rules to be followed by that group? Does it matter whether the group identifies itself as disadvantaged? What if others see the group as privileged?
02/12/2016 05:06 EST
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Academic Freedom Belongs To The Easily Offended, Too

We have heard so much about students who want a "safe space" in which to learn, when what they seem to mean is that they refuse to face any unpleasant new ideas or contrary opinions. But professors? Could we be seeing a new wave from those in authority who would like to be protected from the noxious views of students?
01/12/2016 05:52 EST

How Far Should We Go to Accommodate Religious Requests?

Last week, a woman travellingon a Porter flight from New York to Toronto was asked to move to another seat to accommodate an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man. The woman was very upset. She said that the man never looked at her nor spoke to her. It may be rare for Porter Airlines, but our public schools, like our airplanes, trains, busses, theatres and other public venues are facing a an increase in such requests.
07/30/2015 01:27 EDT

Remembering A. Alan Borovoy

Alan Borovoy was my friend, my mentor, my boss, and my most worthy opponent. He drove me nuts. Since his death from natural causes in May, there have been hundreds of words written to describe Alan's...
06/29/2015 04:34 EDT
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How This Teacher Made a Difference

This is the week when we are supposed to say thanks and farewell to our teachers. They and our children now get a well-deserved break from each other. With any luck, we will have a chance to reflect on teaching and learning, before it all starts again in the fall.
06/23/2015 07:55 EDT

We Are Not Protecting Our Children by Shielding Them From the Realities of Sex

The new Ontario health and physical education curriculum, which has been the topic of much anger and debate, has the health and safety of all of our children as one of its primary goals. While I agree that children are in need of protection, I would like someone to explain how refusing to educate children could in any way protect them. Certain adults are keeping their children home to protest the new curriculum that will be introduced this coming fall. What will happen if we divide our students into two groups -- those who receive sex education and those who are being "protected" from it?
05/08/2015 05:12 EDT

Strip Searching a Quebec Student Violated Her Rights

Last week, a teenage girl who was suspected of harboring drugs while in her Quebec school was taken by her female principal and vice-principal to a room where she was ordered to remove ALL of her clothing, including her underwear. I am continually struck by the notion entertained by certain people, including rather a lot of school administrators, that young people are not rights-holders.
02/22/2015 11:31 EST
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Why It's Important That Laws Can and Do Change

Our classes often look at cases and circumstances where a decision must be made about what happens to people's bodies, and indeed, to their lives. Do students who do not yet have the right to vote care about such issues? My experience is that they care deeply and passionately. They are profoundly interested in fairness and justice -- and they are waiting for us to listen.
02/13/2015 01:03 EST

We Must Teach Kids That Free Speech Has More Than One Side

So much has been written about the cartoons published in the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. But should main stream print media re-publish them? What if children see the images? What then? Or, alternatively, should we actively show them to our children? If we want our children to live in a democratic society, we had better teach them that freedom of expression has two ends to it.
01/13/2015 12:33 EST

Teaching Newcomers How to Complain

I heard a story this week about a civics lesson. It did not take place in a high school. It was a lesson both learned and taught by some elderly newcomers who were participants in a civic awareness project. Along with learning to speak English and finding out about the systems and the laws of Canada, these folks are being challenged to engage with their new communities.
11/14/2014 04:31 EST
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Why Do Schools Implement These Ridiculous Rules?

A rule that has an unclear or ridiculous purpose is, on its face, unfair. A rule that cannot possibly achieve its purpose is pointless. A rule that has more negative than positive effects is unfair and undemocratic. Discipline or punishment that does not address the behaviour it purports to correct is tyrannical.
10/10/2014 06:05 EDT