27 Aug 2008 Fighting the “Disease of Apathy”
Update> Read the National Post story on the Corren Agreement “When Jill wants to be Jack” here.
Parents, Teachers, and Leaders Meet to Respond to the Corren Agreement
On a dark and gloomy August evening, a group of concerned citizens met together in Surrey, BC to discuss what could be done now that the BC government’s agreement with a homosexual activist couple to change the education curriculum is considered binding. Although serious, the atmosphere in the room was far from dark and gloomy. After talks from Len Remple (Parents for Democracy in Education Society, which organized the meeting), Ron Gray (leader of the CHP), Bill Vanderzalm (former Premier of BC), Dan O’Hara (State Deputy of the Knights of Columbus for BC and the Yukon), and Ted Hewlett (BC Parents and Teachers for Life), the audience took part in a lively discussion about where to go from here. The consensus was unanimous: action is needed and we all have a role to play.
The Corren Agreement was made in April of 2006 in response to a complaint that two activists brought to the BC human rights tribunal. They demanded that more content be put in the curriculum that was favourable towards homosexuals and other forms of “gender diversity.” Instead of allowing the tribunal to decide the case, the BC government made a secret deal with this couple, without any consultation with parents or the public, that gave them unprecedented access to change BC’s education curriculum, from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Parts of the agreement are already in effect and other parts will soon be.
The agreement includes a government promise to make it difficult, and even forbidden, for parents to take their children out of classes that they find morally offensive. According to the BCPTL, “an indication of the potential secrecy that may surround delivery of the changes envisioned in the Corren Agreement comes in Social Justice 12. Under ‘Considerations for Program Delivery,’ on Page 14 of the draft IRP, we read this curious sentence: “Ensure students are aware that their parents may have access to the schoolwork they create only insofar as it pertains to students’ progress.” We cannot help but wonder, ‘What does this mean? Does this mean that certain assignments (given though not counted for assessment) are to be kept secret from parents? If so, what type of assignments would they be?'” Readers can get an idea of some proposed changes by reading the draft version of the teacher’s guide “Making Space, Giving Voice.”
Many people who care about this send their children to independent schools. Shirley Bond, the Minister of Education, sent a letter to the independent schools claiming that this agreement would not affect them. But, as was made clear at the Surrey meeting, this is an empty promise. The School Act requires that the learning objectives must be taught. Since the learning objectives are affected by the Corren agreement, it does not make sense that this will not affect independent schools as well, regardless of political promises.
This agreement is a slap in the face to BC parents and teachers who rightly believe that the state should not be telling them what their children should or should not learn. But now that the agreement has been made, what can be done? The meeting led to a number of action suggestions:
1) Hold your MLA accountable for this decision. Let them know your opposition by giving him or her a phone call, email, or letter. Even better, meet with them and respectfully show your disappointment about this agreement. As Ted Hewlett explained, “without the parents protesting, we are weak.” Politicians, school boards, and others need to realize that this concerns many citizens in BC. Be part of a movement to urge that our perspective be given equal consideration as the curriculum is rewritten.
2) Bring this issue forward at future all-candidate meetings (municipal and provincial elections are coming up soon).
3) Get others informed about what is going on. Talk about it with teachers you know and encourage them to be courageous in abiding by their conscience and faith. Write letters to the editor and bring this issue forward in your local school. Encourage people to sign up for the newsletters from the organizations that are responding to this.
4) Let the Parents for Democracy in Education (PDE) know that you are willing to help out and ask them for suggestions. They will be organizing more meetings in the future. Email [email protected] or phone 604-308-9887.
5) Donate to PDE and BCPTL because they do this work on a volunteer basis and struggle to produce resources, keep websites updated, host meetings, and do whatever it takes to stay up on this issue.
6) Parents of children in public schools can use the “Parents Directive Regarding the Education of their Children” from the BCPTL website.
picture 1: Ron Gray, Dan O’Hara, Bill Vanderzalm, Ted Hewlett, and Tom Landers pose for a picture after the evening discussion.
picture 2: Len Remple chats with Bill Vanderzalm.
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