The Modern Agenda in Public Education
What your kids are being taught is cause for concern.
Sunday, November 07, 2021
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This past week we saw a major upset in US politics where several state elections provided a referendum on the Democrats progressive social agenda including in public schools. This is what the Wall Street Journal had to say about these events on November 3rd:
Glenn Youngkin’s victory in the Virginia governor’s race on Tuesday is a political thunderclap that should warn Democrats about their ideological overreach...
The rebuke to Democrats was also clear in New Jersey, where Republican Jack Ciattarelli was neck-and-neck Wednesday morning with incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy. Ciattarelli won back suburban counties in a huge voter swing that pollsters didn’t see coming in a state Joe Biden won by 16 points.
Youngkin, a businessman and first-time candidate, defied the historical trend by winning a state that has been trending Democratic. The GOP hadn’t won a statewide Virginia race in more than a decade, and Biden beat Donald Trump by 10 points. The decisive swing vote had moved away from the GOP in the suburbs around Washington, D.C., Richmond and Virginia Beach.
Youngkin clawed back enough of that vote to defeat former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and sweep the other two top statewide offices. He did so by focusing on quality-of-life issues such as education, public safety and the cost of living. He didn’t shrink from disputes over culture and school curriculum, but he didn’t approach them as a zealot. He didn’t run a single immigration ad that we heard about, a contrast with the Trump era. He talked like a normal human being.
The Republican was helped because this time the zealotry was on the left. McAuliffe, a centrist when he was raising money for Bill and Hillary Clinton, indulged every obsession of the party’s dominant progressive wing. Keep schools closed, ignore parental objections to teaching critical race theory in schools, and call Youngkin a “Trumpkin” with sympathy for white supremacists. McAuliffe closed his campaign by appearing with Randi Weingarten, the teachers union chief who fought to keep schools closed. There’s a political mood killer.
As the Wall Street Journal noted, voters also pushed back against the left wing agenda in New York City, Buffalo and Minneapolis where the death of George Floyd took place. It would seem that a lot of people in American are not happy with the direction that the Democrats have been pursuing, especially with education.
In a somewhat related event north of the border, concern was also raised with children's education regarding the removal of so-called “harmful” books from some school libraries in Ontario, Canada. We can expect that the same agenda is playing out in other western countries as well (as we have heard in recent months, this is certainly the case in the United States). Under the headline "Books deemed 'harmful to staff and students' are being removed from region's public school libraries", one local media site reported on October 26th that:
The Waterloo Region District School Board is undertaking a multi-year review of its library collections to identify and remove any texts deemed “harmful to staff and students.”
…“We recognize as our consciousness around equity, oppression work and anti-racist work has grown, we recognize some of the texts in some of the collections that we have are not appropriate at this point,” Shantz said. He explained how the board developed a framework last year for reviewing its collections in elementary and secondary school libraries.
“We’ve done a great job over the years of adding collections that promote the diversity both of our workforce and our students and our community as a broader point, but we haven’t spent the concentrated effort that we need to spend on ensuring that we’re removing inappropriate or texts that are questionable and don’t have the pedagogical [teaching] frameworks that we need,” Shantz said.
Under the heading, "If 'harmful' books are coming out of school libraries, tell us why", another local media site, The Record, reported that:
Officials are planning to remove books from school libraries. But we haven’t been told which ones will stay, which ones will go, or how it will be decided…
So unfortunately we don’t know who will be reviewing the library items, and we don’t know the criteria by which a book will stay on the shelf or be discarded.
This matters. The library is a very important place in a school, where a child can find out about something or explore a point of view, all in relative privacy.
Understandably, the public would like this process to be transparent, but we can reasonably assume that the criteria will be guided by Ontario's equity and inclusion philosophy which was formalized in 2009:
Ontario's Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy, first launched in 2009, aims to help educators across the province better identify and remove discriminatory biases and systemic barriers to support the achievement and well-being of all students. These barriers — related to racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination — may prevent some students from reaching their full potential.
In other words, traditional values are to be considered "discrimination". The traditional roles of father and mother, regarding work and home life, are considered "sexism". It was Kathleen Wynne, a liberal lesbian and former premier, who put this liberal education strategy in place, introducing a progressive agenda in public education in Ontario. "In 2001, Wynne helped pass a measure encouraging public schools to purchase teaching materials reflecting the presence of gay and lesbian parents in modern society" (Reported August 17, 2001. "Union vote on gay texts angers parents' groups; 'Flabbergasted' they were not consulted before decision". Toronto Star). Then, when Wynne was Minister of Education (2006-2010), "Ontario's Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy" was launched (see A Message from the Minister of Education, p. 4). Finally, when Wynne was Liberal Premier of Ontario (2014-2018), her agenda was put into school curriculum:
In February 2015, her government introduced changes to the sex education curriculum, which has not been updated since 1998, in public schools. However, these changes were met with controversy and criticism not only by the opposition parties but among parents and conservatives; in one instance, some schools were empty as some parents pulled their children out in protest of these changes.
These changes resulted in a sudden increase in an interest in homeschooling as parents desperately looked for an alternative means of education. They did not want their young elementary school aged children being taught Wynne's ideas. This caused a political backlash at the time, but in reality little has changed.
What of public school libraries? What is informing their policy? It is much the same. School libraries are in harmony with the agenda promoted by Canadian School Libraries, a charitable organization advancing school library "learning commons" in Canada. As their web site explains, "A learning commons is a whole school approach to building a participatory learning community. A Learning Commons is about changing school culture, and transforming the way teaching and learning occur." Indeed, a change in culture is what is taking place.
Selecting Resources Through an Equity Lens
It is important that when we are selecting resources we use an informed equity lens and framework… In doing this, we are amplifying the voices of people and communities who have been and continue to be marginalized due to oppressive structures.
Canadian School Libraries promote Equity-informed selection and so provide "Critical Considerations for Assessing Resources" to add to libraries (i.e. ones that align with their race and identity theories):
Who is represented in the resource in terms of race, ethnicity, class, gender identity, and ability? Is this diversity represented in main characters, or relegated to minor or token roles?
How accurate are representations of the diversity of experiences of the range of religious, ethnic, cultural groups, and individuals from diverse backgrounds, lifestyles, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression?
Does the resource reflect current contexts for understanding history, society and culture?
History doesn’t change, but perspectives on history change radically over time as more is uncovered and more voices are represented. Student inquiry should be informed by current perspectives.
So, resources which highlight main characters (not minor ones) with non-traditional characteristics, particularly regarding race, gender or sexual orientation are prime candidates for additions to the modern public library. We are all for accuracy, but when we see history being re-interpreted through a new lens, with modern theories and philosophies about race and identity we get concerned.
Canadian School Libraries promote Equity-informed weeding and recommend to "Consider Weeding Resources that are MUSTIE" (an acronym for what they believe are smelly books that should be pulled out of libraries and essentially banned or burnt). Books that do not satisfy their inclusion criteria are said to be "Misleading" (M), i.e. "Factually inaccurate; obsolete information; contain racial, cultural, or sexual stereotyping. In other words, the resource no longer matches current guidelines for selection. This is the most important reason to weed." So, a book which portrays a traditional father and mother would be considered "sexual stereotyping" by a zealous librarian following this framework and tossed. Since the book has been labelled "misleading", it will not appear in a library book sale as it might have in times past. It will be recycled!
Collectively, such resources:
are representative of the many religious, ethnic and cultural groups and their contributions to our heritage;
are representative of the experiences and perspectives of individuals from diverse backgrounds, lifestyles and sexual orientation, and portray gender, cultural and racial inclusiveness;
reflect the Waterloo Region District School Board position on sex equity, race and ethno-cultural relations
The practice of weeding resources from libraries is not new, but the agenda that has been adopted in this practice has changed in line with the underlying strategy, one which is opposed to traditional and Biblical values.
So, what has happened in the US with the elections and the education issue has shined a light on this issue. It is not the political consequences that we are interested in here, it is the threat of this agenda to God’s truth, to our families, and our children. This agenda is a war against the family and will bring further moral and therefore societal decline.
The same thing is happening in Canada and other western countries as well. We ought not to allow these ideas on race to be taught to our children. Our children should not feel they are more or less because of their skin colour. The problem we have is human nature, and this is something that the commentators on both sides miss. As God said at the time of Noah, "the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth" (Gen. 8:21).
The Bible teaches that "God that made the world and all things therein... and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed..." (Acts 17:24,26). God did not make a difference between people based on skin colour. As a consequence of the rebellion against God at Babel, the division that was made was by language:
Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth... (Genesis 11:7-8).
By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations (Genesis 10:5).
This division is removed with sin when we are adopted into the family of God:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:28-29).
The ultimate solution to this problem will not come from man's attempts to bring equity. The solution will come with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ:
He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth… (Isaiah 11:3-4 NAS).
Nonetheless, as a consequence of our nature and a departure from the ways of God, much evil has been done in His name and this was prophesied long ago (2Thes. 2:3-4,8-9):
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God...
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders…
Condemning colonialism, as is now being done, misses the root of the problem. The colonial influence brought good as well as evil. In Canada it is the residential schools that have arisen as a major issue. The way people were mistreated, with forced conversions and abuse, must be acknowledged and condemned. In no way is this excusable. But, it is also consistent with the sins of the Roman Church and this is in line with what Paul prophesied to the Thessalonians.
As we consider this issue we would do well to heed the words of the prophet Isaiah:
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20).
The values which are guiding policy makers are not Biblical. They are anti-God, based on human reasoning and human wisdom.
God made men and women equal, "submitting to one another in the fear of God" (Eph. 5:21; Gal. 3:28), but also gave different roles to each. Therefore, we do not find female priests in the Old Testament, or apostles in the New Testament. At the beginning God designed the family in this context as part of His eternal purpose to fill the earth with a holy people. Sadly, the majority do not see fit to acknowledge God and have rejected His will (c/p Rom. 1:19-32). The future we want for ourselves and our children will determine how we respond to these things.
Thank you for joining us again this week for another edition of the Bible in the News.