Thousands have taken part in online sex-ed and math consultations, education minister says
|Toronto Star 17 Oct 2018 at 16:21|
Thousands of parents have already responded to the government’s online call for input on sex-ed, math and other school issues, says Education Minister Lisa Thompson.
While she’s “not prepared to share the number, I can tell you we’ve more than tripled the Liberal numbers in terms of the consultations thus far, in two short weeks” since launching fortheparents.ca , she told reporters at Queen’s Park on Wednesday.
“We feel really good about the information that’s coming forward in our first phase, which is written consultation” via online submissions.
“It’s really refreshing — clearly people want a chance to have their voice heard, because they are taking time to comment on all seven” areas the government is asking about.
The PC government had promised the largest consultations in the province’s history after scrapping the updated sex-ed curriculum — after social conservatives complained parents weren’t involved in, nor approved of, the changes. The consultations were later expanded to include math, standardized testing and financial literacy.
“While we’re embarking on this consultation, which has far surpassed that dismal 1,638 responses the former Liberal government generated, we are actually listening to parents,” Thompson said in the legislature.
She later said the second and third phases will soon be in place — online surveys and telephone town halls.
The consultations are to wrap up mid-December.
“We are just testing our digital survey, and we will be hosting our very first town-hall teleconference on Friday for northwestern Ontario,” Thompson said, adding her ministry is “working with stakeholders” to alert parents to what’s next.
The previous Liberal government introduced the new curriculum in 2015, updating the oldest sex-ed lessons in the country. Those outdated lessons , which were taught from 1998 to 2014, are for the most part what kids are now learning.
The 2015 curriculum was implemented after years of hearing from experts — including teachers and doctors — as well as school councils.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said “everyday parents are not engaged” in the Ford government’s consultations, and said it has done a poor job of letting them know online submissions are available.
Former Liberal education minister Mitzie Hunter said “it’s a short period of time to consult on aspects of the curriculum that are really important to people.”
She said the government needs to make public the responses it receives, and must also include educators and school boards “in their analysis of what they hear.”
Also in the legislature on Wednesday, Former Ontario premier and education minister Kathleen Wynne asked Thompson about the government’s plans to consult with school boards, parents, teachers and support staff on a regular basis on all issues.
Thompson said her party is “cleaning up” the mess the Liberals left, and that “the bottom line to all of this is we are being very thoughtful in how we move forward and work with our partners in a thoughtful way.”