/School board issues open letter regarding curriculum changes 

School board issues open letter regarding curriculum changes 

By Chad Ingram

Published July 26 2018

The Trillium Lakelands District School Board has issued an open letter tostudents staff and parents regarding changes to the public schoolcurriculum under Ontario’s new provincial government.

“Over the past several weeks there has been widespread speculation andopinion in mainstream and social media about recent decisions by thenewly elected government” the letter reads. “This includes informationabout changes regarding the Health and Physical Education (HPE)curriculum mathematics instruction and the cancellation of theIndigenous Education curriculum writing that was to occur in July. Wewant to clarify our position with each of these issues since many arewondering what September and the upcoming school year holds for usall.”

Since his majority win in early June Premier Doug Ford has announced that aplanned Indigenous curriculum will not proceed and the PC governmenthas also revoked the sex ed curriculum put into place by KathleenWynne’s Liberal government in 2015. Until a new curriculum is draftedthe plan is for students to learn the previous one which was instituted in 1998 when they return to school in the fall. However that plan has drawn criticism since the old curriculum does not deal with issues such as consent gender identity and Internet safety. Ford has said therewill be public consultation in the creation of a new sex ed curriculum.

“With regard to the HPE curriculum and more specifically concerns about the so called ‘sex ed’ component we understand an additional review willbe undertaken by the government” the letter reads. “Reports suggest4000 respondents took part in the previous review which essentiallyequates to less than one respondent from every elementary and secondaryschool in the province. We will certainly participate in that review ifgiven an opportunity and we encourage you to personally engage in anyway you are able. All voices need to be heard on this issue and it isour hope that the views of TLDSB our staff students and parents willbe given consideration as part of the upcoming review. In the meantimeour shared responsibility to our students must not be ignored. Teachingabout gender identity acceptance and understanding for our LGBTQcommunity members sexual health issues including consent makingappropriate personal choices and internet safety must continue at homeand at school. We will continue to seek ways to teach our students these very important lessons through the various curriculum guidelines wefollow. We will of course respect the direction the government haschosen to take always remembering that the curriculum guidelines in any subject are viewed as a starting point to teaching learning andassessment and that there are always additional avenues we can follow.”

Ford has also promised to change Ontario’s “discovery math” curriculumwhich focuses on critical thinking about mathematical concepts puttingconcept before procedure. Discovery math has been criticized by someand standardized test scores in math have dropped throughout theprovince during the past several years.

“In mathematics we like many other boards continue to struggle onstandardized assessments” the letter reads. “It is important toremember that external assessments are intended to be a snapshot ofstudent achievement. We will continue to place our confidence in dailyand ongoing assessments in our classrooms by our teachers who know ourstudents best. We will continue to seek greater balance in ourinstruction. This may mean additional practice opportunities forstudents balanced with appropriate  amounts of group and independentproblem solving. To suggest one size or strategy will solve our mathchallenges would be irresponsible and is not something we havehistorically done in TLDSB. Our curriculum services teams will continueto build on our work in mathematics and continue participation inprofessional learning opportunities that come our way.”

The letter also indicates that Indigenous education will continue within the area served by the board.

“In TLDSB we have made enormously positive strides with regard toIndigenous education” it reads. “This is something we are very proudof and will not retreat from.”