Who We Are
The Curriculum Forward Working Group:
We are a small volunteer group of concerned parents, educators, and community members who united at a general public meeting held in response to the Ford government’s curriculum rollback. Our aim is to raise concerns, provide resources, and advocate for evidence-based, inclusive, and current curricula.
We welcome participation and feedback from parents, educators, community groups, and advocacy groups who share our concern for the quality of education in Ontario.
You may have heard that the current Ontario government has announced changes to the Human Development and Sexual Health section of the Health and Physical Education curriculum. What you may not know is that this snap decision drags our students’ education back to the last century and threatens the safety of our children.
Under the Ford government, the Ministry of Education initially repealed the 2015 Health and Physical Education curriculum and downgraded it to an outdated, incomplete, and exclusionary version from 2010 (much of the same content as 1998), which had no information on crucial health-and-safety issues such as consent, cyber-bullying, gender identity, and sexual orientation. In response to the public outcry against this change, the Ministry of Education has now stated that Ontario high schools will continue to use the 2015 version, and elementary schools will instead use an interim document from 2010, which is an updated version of the substandard 1998 Health and Physical Education curriculum, and does not include the vital topic of consent.
The Ministry of Education also cancelled important curriculum-writing sessions on Indigenous issues such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) revisions and Indigenous languages in kindergarten, as well as American Sign Language (ASL).
The Ford government has completely disregarded the careful consultation with thousands of parents like you, and ignored the well-researched input from experts that helped to create the comprehensive and well-received 2015 Health and Physical Education curriculum. Even more shocking, they have gutted the curriculum without any analysis or forward planning.
To make matters worse, the Ford government has now set up an anonymous complaints website (a “snitch line”) for parents to report teachers who choose to disregard the hasty curriculum changes. This appalling move has created confusion over what may or may not be taught, and undermines the extremely important role that the Ontario College of Teachers plays in ensuring the province’s teaching standards. It also creates fear and mistrust between parents and teachers, who are trying to keep our students safe.
But there is good news.
Citizen groups across Ontario, including concerned students, parents, educators, school boards, health-care professionals, and faith groups have been rallying to show their support for an inclusive, modern, and empowering curriculum.
In addition, two legal-aid centres—Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY) and the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO)—as well as a local law firm are pursuing legal challenges of the roll-back of the Health and Physical Education curriculum. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has also launched a legal challenge to stop this discriminatory downgrade.
We need to move forward—not backward. We need to stand up for the rights of our students. We need to make it impossible for the government to ignore us. We need to make sure that all students in Ontario receive an education that keeps them healthy and safe.
Here is a list of simple, small-yet-mighty actions you can take right now:
- Learn more about the issues (link).
- Talk to your friends, family, and neighbours and share your concerns.
- If you have children in the school system, engage your school community through your School Council. Speak to your Principal and Teachers about your concerns.
- Write to the Minister of Education, the Premier, and your local MPP to let them know what you expect for your students [Current Ontario MPPs] [sample letter].
- Write a letter of support to your school board and your school principal [sample letter 1] [sample letter 2].
- Make a donation to support the legal cases (link).
- Sign a petition (link).
Taking even one of these actions right now can make a difference in our education system. Thank you for helping to protect our children’s future.
If you have more questions or want to find out how to get involved in your area, contact CurriculumForward2018@gmail.com.
The Curriculum Forward Committee