Source: Facebook

A Toronto District School Board trustee responded to public outcry by moving a motion to clarify further that teachers won’t be indoctrinating their children with political activism. 

Save Our Schools, an Ontarian not-for-profit organization focused on promoting student achievement and well-being, shared the motion in a post to X, which they said the Toronto District School Board “is desperately trying to bury.”

The corporation described the motion as “a no politics in school motion,” claiming that progressive trustees and staff “hate the idea of this becoming policy.”

The motion on political activism and professional boundaries was introduced by board trustee Weidong Pei.

The motion follows an email from a concerned parent, which was sent on Mar. 11 to each board trustee and several Ontario ministers. 

The email stated that parents expect their children to receive a comprehensive education in a safe and inclusive environment. 

“However, recent incidents have raised significant concerns about the direction of our schools and their impact on children’s mental health and preparedness for the future,” said the parent, whose name was redacted.

The parent expressed concerns about the lack of distinction between personal political views and academic instruction.

The concerned parent pointed towards some children being forced to hide their identities in order not to be bullied or harassed. A Jewish community recently had to rally around a young Jewish student who required protection as it was too unsafe for him to walk to school.

“Furthermore, there is a concerning trend of public speakers using the educational platform under the guise of free speech to promote hatred and political propaganda. This not only undermines the values of critical thinking and respect but also creates a toxic environment for learning,” wrote the parent.

The email requested that ministers and board members create policies prohibiting political activism from being incorporated into teaching practices. 

Following the email, the motion was introduced, which called on the director of the Toronto District School Board to present a report to the Governance and Policy Committee by Sept. 30, 2024. The current director announced her intention to retire on Tuesday.

The report should detail existing policies regarding staff not engaging in political activism, enforcement measures, and recommendations for further enhancements to prevent such activities.

The motion also called for increased transparency within what is taught to students.

“The Director shall create public and easily accessible lists of curricula and resources, and links to the full texts and content of all curriculum resources and tools developed by or in partnership with or provided to the TDSB,” reads the motion.

The motion also called for two things that the director would need to ensure. Firstly, that the definitions of hate, discrimination, and racism remain with no additional definitions added without amending the policy. And, secondly, proposed amendments to the equity and human rights policies are presented to the Board of Trustees for approval, so that the board can ensure the amendments align with the definitions established by the Province of Ontario.

The motion concluded by calling on the director to request that the Ontario College of Teachers issue a Professional Advisory reminding educators to remain professional, neutral, and apolitical in schools, without using their political viewpoints to advance their personal interests.

The TDSB has previously come under fire for the activism of its trustees.

Some TDSB high schools offer a Deconstructing Anti-Black Racism course. Two TDSB trustees previously pushed a motion to create a course that teaches critical race theory, and on how to protest.