It has been over two weeks since our new Minister of Education, Lisa Thompson (@LisaThompsonMPP, on Twitter) stated (six times) regarding Health and Physical Education, “in September, teachers will be using the 2014 curriculum.” As yet, there has been no official directive issued from the Ministry of Education to school boards in this regard, and the current 2015 HPE curriculum remains posted on the Ministry of Education web site. We are now just 3 weeks out from Labour Day, and the pending return to school.
In fact, just today I noted the following posted to Twitter:
Thirty public school boards have now made public statements in response to the proposed roll-back, along with statements of support for the current 2015 curriculum from an additional 32 religious, legal, health and education organizations. Check out the Statements on the Rollback of the HPE Curriculum as collated by Andrew Campbell (@acampbell99, on Twitter).
As uncovered in my previous post, Clarifying the Ontario Health and Physical Education Curriculum, the curriculum in place in 2014 (March 25th, to be exact, as uncovered via The Wayback Machine) was The Ontario Curriculum, Health and Physical Education, Interim Edition, 2010 (revised). Were the Ministry of Education to follow through on their rollback to “the curriculum teachers were using in 2014,” one would assume that this would be the document they would reference.
I decided it might be instructive to do a bit more digging and see if I could find the document that was released PRIOR to the Interim Edition, 2010 (Revised), given that the Interim Edition was the re-release of the 2010 (Revised) document that caused considerable consternation.
Back to The Wayback Machine
A bit of poking around by paging backward on The Wayback Machine from edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/health showed that the first appearance of the previously controvertial 2010 (Revised) document occurred between December 2009 and January 2010.
Following the initial January 2010 release, the 2010 (Revised) document lived on the Ministry of Education website for a period of several months of calm, before a sudden condemnation caused a media fury in late April, and resulted in an abrupt about-face by then-Premier Dalton McGuinty. The 2010 (revised) document was withdrawn, and a couple months later the Interim Edition, 2010 (revised) appeared on the Ministry site. It is this curriculum version — essentially the 2010 Health and Physical Education document with the 2010 Human Development and Sexual Health section removed and the 1998 Growth and Development section inserted — that would be “the curriculum teachers were using in 2014.”
As part of this research, I came across a very interesting paper by David Rayside (University College, UT), presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association, Concordia University, Montreal, June 2010: Sex Ed In Ontario: Religious Mobilization and Socio-Cultural Anxiety. The paper documents in very significant detail the various pressures in play at the time and the significant work done during the period 2007-2009 in preparing the 2010 (Revised) version.
Here are only a couple of excerpts:
From the beginning these discussions included Catholic educators, who seemed no different from public system educators in the numbers of them calling for change in the sex education component to HPE. The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association had become an advocate for greater attention to LGBT issues, and did not shy away from advocating change in elementary schools. They recognized how much information students were getting about sex from outside the school, and most of them agreed that bullying and harassment based on sexual difference required concerted attention. There are no indications that Catholic educators consulted over the new curriculum were out of alignment with those public school educators who were calling for significant updating of the approach to sex education.page 7, Sex Ed In Ontario: Religious Mobilization and Socio-Cultural Anxiety.
After the January 18th posting and distribution, silence followed. Many many people knew about the curriculum; thousands had been involved in consultations; hundreds of school board officials in both Catholic and public systems knew about it and then received copies of it in January. Some would already have sent the new curriculum through the system to ensure adequate preparation for September.page 10, Sex Ed In Ontario: Religious Mobilization and Socio-Cultural Anxiety.
If you are interested in understanding (as I was) more of the background and behind-the-scenes political forces, I recommend the paper to your attention. Suffice to say, this one paragraph says a lot:
On the morning of April 20th, 2010, veteran anti-gay evangelical crusader Charles McVety issued a press release denouncing a new Ontario sex education curriculum, and calling for protest against it. Fifty-four hours later, Premier Dalton McGuinty withdrew what were seen the most controversial sections of the Health and Physicial Education document (HPE) for a “re-think.” This was an unusual and embarrassing reversal for a Liberal leader widely viewed as strategically canny.Page 2, Sex Ed In Ontario: Religious Mobilization and Socio-Cultural Anxiety.
1998 to 2010 to 1998 to 2015 to 1998?
Now, it was interesting to note that I was unable to obtain an active link to the initial release from 2010 (Revised) document. Unlike the 1998, 2010 Interim Edition (revised), and 2015 (Revised) documents, the short-lived 2010 (Revised) document is not archived on The Wayback Machine.
However, the file name in the URL gave sufficient direction to lead me via a simple Google search (look for health18curr2010.pdf) to a copy of the actual document still available on a third-party website.
In trying to understand what was controversial enough to be withdrawn in 2010, and what might now be controversial in 2018 again three years after the implementation of the 2015 document, I have done a document-by-document comparison of the contested sections of the documents: 1998, 2010 (Revised), Interim Edition 2010 (Revised), and 2015 (Revised).
You can click on the image above to get a full-screen view of the comparative PDF, but essentially there is clearly a forwards and backwards battle underway with the safety of Ontario’s children at stake. If the current government has its way and officially rescinds the 2015 curriculum, then the old Growth and Development section will once again be in force, throwing that component of Ontario Health education back to 1998.
That 62 stakeholder organizations, including The United Church of Canada Ministers, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Ontario Principals’ Council, The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, Registered Nurses Association Ontario, Anishinaabe Nation, Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, Ontario Public School Boards Association, Catholic Principals’ Council, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Ontario Federation of Home and School Associations, Association of Ontario Midwives, Ontario Physical and Health Educators’ Association, and 30 Ontario public school boards, have come out in support of keeping the 2015 curriculum should give this government serious pause before they send us back 20 years.
Sadly, should Minister Lisa Thompson rise to the challenge and respond to the very real need to provide educators with greater clarity around the “2014” curriculum, she need only copy the text from either the first or third columns of the comparison table, and paste it into the fifth column, which I have relabeled in advance as “Ford/Thompson 2018.”
With that simple act, coupled with a quick cover memo to the Directors of Education throughout Ontario, she would make her throwback 20 years to the 1998 curriculum complete.