BC Corren Agreement
Taking Back Our Schools: The hijacking of the BC education system
Update: Check out www.takebackourschools.org for the latest information on this issue.
By Mark Penninga (First printed in Reformed Perspective, December 2008)
It’s bizarre. Few other words describe the outrageous nature of a legal agreement made in 2006 between the BC provincial government and a homosexual activist couple that has resulted in profound changes to the entire education system. But as outlandish as it is, now is the time for independent schools and other provinces to take measures to stop the Corren Agreement from impacting them. And now is the time for all parents and citizens to take back our tax-funded schools.
Peter Cook and Murray Warren have been long-time political activists promoting homosexuality in BC. Already back in the 1990’s Warren, a school teacher, was promoting books featuring same-sex couples in elementary school libraries in what became a big Supreme Court case (Chamberlain v. Surrey School District). Cook and Warren (who have since “married” and combined their names to now call themselves the Correns) were also involved in the legalization of same-sex “marriage” and were one of the first same-sex couples to adopt a child.
The Corren Agreement originated with a 1997 complaint that the couple filed with the BC Human Rights Tribunal. They complained that the public education system discriminated against homosexuals because of a lack of information about them in the curriculum. But instead of allowing justice to take its course (if that is possible in the now infamous tribunal) the BC government approached the Correns to settle the complaint before a decision was reached. This settlement is commonly referred to as the Corren Agreement.
Broadly speaking, the agreement is composed of three parts. First, it states that the Correns, along with their self-chosen group of “experts,” get to provide their own guidelines which will be used to ensure that every Integrated Resource Package (curriculum documents) shows inclusion and respect for sexual orientation and diversity. The purpose of these changes is to promote acceptance and celebration of alternative lifestyles. This applies to all subjects and all grades. Neither kindergarten nor math classes are exempt.
Second, the agreement has resulted in an entire new class ambiguously called Social Justice 12. The agreement states that “One topic of study within the Social Justice IRP will address issues of sexual orientation/gender identity.” This class is supposed to be optional. However, when the Abbotsford school board recently changed its mind about whether to offer the class, the Correns quickly slapped them with a human rights complaint.
Third, the agreement requires that parents not be allowed to pull their children from any of these classes to provide an alternative delivery of the issues being addressed. Students must take part, the only exceptions being for Health and Career Education K-9 and Planning 10. It doesn’t matter that parents will object to these lifestyles and ideologies. It will not be up to them to decide what is best for their children.The provincial government has sided with the Correns and has forced this on the students in the entire public education system.
Now What? How Do We Respond?
Since this is a legal agreement, it is binding. The agreement contains a clause that allows for changes to be made, but only upon mutual consent between the provincial government and the Correns. Sadly, it has been over two years since the agreement was made public and very little has been done. In general, many public school parents either don’t seem to care or are silent. And many citizens who do care already send their children to independent schools. The Reformed church community is particularly disengaged from the public school system. As a result, we can easily be tempted to ignore the Corren Agreement and write it off as another example of our secular society going astray.
But is this the way we should respond? The command to love our neighbour must translate into action regardless of whether the issue we are responding to is affecting us yet. Being a salt and a light requires our participation outside of our church circles. We must be a voice for truth and must speak up for the vulnerable, in this case children in the public school system. This should be consistent in all aspects of our lives, private and public. If we only care when it affects “our” independent schools then our self-serving attitude is no different than the rest of the world. We should care about the public schools not just because we fund them with our tax dollars but because we love our neighbours who are in the public system. Lord’s Day 12 also reminds us that being a Christian means living as a prophet, priest, and king. Surely prophets have a duty to proclaim the truth amidst a society that is turning its back on God. And kings have the task of fighting against the Devil, whose work we see so evidently in this plot against children.
It has been encouraging to see some members of the Reformed community taking action. For example, one individual from an ARPA group in Surrey volunteered his time to build a new website (www.takebackourschools.org), in conjunction with ARPA Canada and other political action groups, to increase awareness of this issue and to promote action. ARPA Canada has also been involved with news updates and action items, in an effort to get the Reformed churches involved.
If self-interest is what is required to spur us to further action, readers should be aware that independent schools may be affected by the Corren Agreement in the not-so-distant future. A read through the legal agreement reveals very little that would limit its reach to the public school system. Since independent schools have to abide by the provincial curriculum to receive partial funding and academic recognition, it is understandable that there will be pressure from the Correns and others to make the agreement apply to independent schools as well. In fact, the Correns have already made it clear that this will be their goal. Added to that, a provincial government representative has stated that independent schools will be exempt…. “for now.” It seems very likely that the homosexual activists will not stop at the public schools. We can expect to see a human rights complaint launched against independent schools in the future. Does that make us want to respond now?
Do you live in a different province? That doesn’t mean this won’t impact you or your children. Human rights commissions exist across the country and homosexual activists learn from each other’s successful strategies. What worked in BC will probably work for them in any other province. The point is that we should all be concerned and get active regardless of where we live or whether it is impacting us now.
How Do We Respond?
Here are some suggestions to consider:
- Pray – bring this matter to God and ask Him to help us and to protect children and schools from evil ideologies.
- Don’t get angry. This is not a reason to vent about homosexual activists. The roots of the problem are much deeper than the Correns. The Corren Agreement is but a symptom of a much bigger issue. The problem is that parents are forfeiting their responsibilities as the primary caregivers of their children. Others are all too happy to take over and influence children according to their own agendas.
- Spread the word. Encourage other people to get informed by passing on this article or pointing them to www.takebackourschools.org to learn more about this agreement.
- If you have children in the public education system, consider making use of the parental directive available at the Take Back Our Schools website.
- Hold your MLA accountable. In BC another election is coming up soon. Make sure that this issue gets raised at all-candidates meetings or if you get a chance to meet the candidates.
- Write a letter to the editor of your newspaper. Keep it short and don’t get angry.
- Write a letter or make a phone call to your MLA (or MPP). You can find their contact information at www.ARPACanada.ca. Remind them that parents retain the responsibility of raising their children, even when the child is in the classroom. Parents entrust schools with their children. The state should not be imposing an ideology that is contrary to the beliefs of parents and students. And they should never be making secret deals to appease activists at the expense of their children.
- If you have more time, take part in a small group in your area, organized by BC Parents and Teachers for Life (see www.bcptl.org for more information).
- Consider getting more involved in the community. It can be in a small way (show up to public events) or in a bigger way (run for municipal office or as a school trustee). Letting our lights shine requires that we be involved with others, not just our own church community.
- Stay tuned to www.ARPACanada.ca for updates on this matter. Subscribe to our free publication, the e-Luminary. And call us if you need further assistance or suggestions (1-866-691-ARPA).
Reason for Hope
Issues like the Corren Agreement can get us down. But we need not despair. We know that God remains in control of all things, including our children’s education. This is all part of a spiritual battle and we know who has ultimately won. Our Lord reigns. He wants us to be a voice for grace and truth, just as He demonstrated to us in His life on earth. The Corren Agreement is no exception. It is an opportunity for us to show love for our neighbour as well as to exercise our prophetic and kingly calling by standing up for the children in the education system.
Mark Penninga is the director of ARPA Canada. Go to www.ARPACanada.ca for a transcript of a presentation that was given on the topic of parental rights and responsibilities in regards to the Corren Agreement.