Back in the spring it seemed like everyone had an opinion on the sex-ed curriculum that rocked Ontario. The reaction from parents and indeed the general public swung on a pendulum from panic and fury to bewilderment and utter disbelief. Children kept home by parents in protest filled the news and numerous parent groups were reportedly set up to oppose the changes. Whether incensed by the decision to teach children about multiple genders and sexual gratification or astonished by overreactions to a fact-based, more informative program, there was no sitting on the fence on this one.
So it may come as a surprise to learn that as children went back today after the summer vacation, schools have reported that enrollment numbers are not down and no more home schooling has occurred than usual. Business as usual, then?
A spokesperson for the Waterloo Region District School Board, Lynsey Meilke, said to The National Post: “We have not seen an increase in home schooling requests and there have been no requests indicating that their decision is a result of the new revised health and physical education curriculum”.
While some parents will undoubtedly choose to home school their children in the wake of the new curriculum, the Peel District School Board claim not to have noticed an increase in withdrawals or inquiries. Jeff deFreitas, a spokesman, said in interview that there was no significant increase in the kinds of calls they would already expect to be dealing with, adding: “There’s not a mass exodus here.”
It begs the question, has summer mellowed out troubled parents and given them a chance to reevaluate? Did a summer full of wall-to-wall kids activities and zero me-time give moms and dads a less-than-perfect insight into home schooling? Or is this just the calm before the storm?
DeFreitas noted that it will take a few weeks into the term before class lists and enrolment figures can be finalized so there is a possibility that these numbers could increase.
Home schooling in Canada documented by the Fraser Institute is shown to be on the increase, but these figures may not necessarily denote a growing dissatisfaction with the way children are being taught. Many other factors including disability, special circumstances and remote living areas have had a hand in this growing trend.
But before Katherine Wynne and the other parties involved in drafting the new curriculum can breathe a sigh of relief, an article from The Globe and Mail may suggest that not all is plain sailing just yet. The paper reports that almost half of the population of Thorncliffe Park was absent from its first day. Earlier this year the school saw nearly all of its pupils removed from class in a protest staged by parents in the Spring.
It’s a case of preaching to the converted for Thorncliffe, as Ontario’s education minister has now said that any parents still uncomfortable with the syllabus being taught in public schools may pull their children from class.
Despite complaints that there has been a lack of consultation in the changes made to the curriculum in the province, Premier Katherine Wynne, says that many groups and organizations have been informed. “This is the most widely consulted upon curriculum in the history of the province,” said Wynne.
The debate will no doubt rumble on but hopefully a resolution will arise which ensures that children do not miss any more valuable learning time.