School trustee elections important
It’s strange how priorities change. What is more important to the individual parent: the education and welfare of her child or the tax policy of the federal government? While both are important, this is not always borne out by the relative interest that people take in local versus national election campaigns.
Perhaps they should think again, especially in light of the emerging issues in education, when schools threaten to become the new battleground for the promotion of values and ways of living that are not acceptable to the majority of parents. While the Ontario government recently announced that values such as honesty and respect will be part of every child’s education, what does that mean, exactly?
In British Columbia, many parents are worried about the values the schools will inculcate. B.C.’s minister of education has given two private individuals the unprecedented privilege of exerting influence on the development and content of the provincial curriculum. As a consequence of a May 2006 settlement between the B.C. government and two homosexuals, Michael and Peter Corren, the latter have been given the right to provide input on the curriculum that now must include mention of homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle choice. Many parents in B.C. have expressed grave concerns about this turn of events. Concerned Parents of B.C. is petitioning the provincial government to guarantee all parents will have equal access to the process of curriculum review, development and implementation. They wish to have the government confirm the primacy of parents in the education of their children.
There are similar rumblings in the public school systems of Manitoba and Ontario. Nor are Catholic school systems – systems that a great many non-Catholic families put their children in to protect them from certain political and moral agendas – immune from these pressures to make room for the homosexual agenda in the schools. Subtle and not-so-subtle efforts are underway to soften resistance to the gay lifestyle being accepted or even promoted. The 2004 Marc Hall fiasco in Ontario brought into relief the orchestrated challenge posed to the Catholic school systems by radical proponents of a gay lifestyle within the high school environment. What impact will Kathleen Wynne, a open lesbian who is the new education minister in Ontario, have on the province’s curriculum?
The upcoming municipal elections give voters an opportunity to have a say in how their schools are governed. School trustees remain an important, if sometimes neglected, group of elected officials. While they may no longer control the raising of funds by setting the mill rate for property tax rates in support of their school system, they still have responsibility to administer the large funds that are allocated to their boards by the provincial government, and more important, they can still set policies and give direction to their systems.
What should a ratepayer take into account when voting for a trustee? Issues may differ from province to province and from town to town, but voters will want to have an understanding of what the candidates perceive their roles to be and what the candidate is committed to doing about potential challenges that face their school systems – whether internally from their own parent communities and teacher unions, or externally from the ministry of education, human rights commissions and media.
To assist Catholic school board supporters, Campaign Life Coalition Catholic has generated a questionnaire intended to both qualify candidates and inform the voters as to what they should look for in a candidate. In a series of questions, the candidate is asked to respond to a statement or call to action, for example: “public promotion of total fidelity to the official moral, social and dogmatic teachings of the Catholic church and opposition to teachings and attitudes in the school setting that undermine respect for and the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.” (The full questionnaire appeared in the October 2006 edition of The Interim on page 12 and included other questions on curriculum resources, textbooks, guest speakers, school activities, rights of custodial parents, etc.)
The preamble of the questionnaire made the point that “education is of crucial importance to families and to the general well-being of societies.” Voters should consider the election of trustees, the stewards of the school systems, as vitally important and worthy of careful scrutiny.
So much is at stake – perhaps the whole future of our society.
Voters interested in more information on the questionnaire and trustee candidate responses can phone Campaign Life Coalition’s Jeff Gunnarson at (416) 204-9749 or 1-800-730-5358. Also, see the chart on page 6 for a list of those rated pro-life by Campaign Life Catholic.