Finally, there’s a ray of hope in the Halton District School Board (HDSB). After months of defending the indefensible, HDSB trustees passed a motion asking its director of education to draft a dress code for teachers.
If this dress code requires even a minimum level of professionalism, the infamous Oakville teacher with giant prosthetic breasts will soon have to wear something more appropriate at school. This would be a win for students and parents alike. No school board should allow any staff member to make a mockery of the education system as this teacher has done.
However, it might be a little too soon to start celebrating.
While trustees did pass a motion asking the director of education to draft a dress code, it remains to be seen what the director will actually come up with. Keep in mind that the director of education had previously recommended against any dress code for staff because it would, in his view, expose the board to “considerable liability.”
In addition, it’s important to note that, to this point, the board has steadfastly defended this teacher throughout the entire process. It’s only because of enormous public pressure and a not-so-subtle public rebuke from Education Minister Stephen Lecce that the trustees have finally changed their tune. They almost certainly would not have come to this realization on their own.
The reality is that this incident is merely the most egregious example of the woke rot that has taken hold in many Ontario schools.
This woke obsession with personal identity, especially characteristics such as race and gender, has led to nonsensical policies. It’s why the default response of HDSB trustees was to defend a teacher’s right to wear giant prosthetic breasts in the classroom. They could not countenance the notion that upholding professional standards should supersede the right of teachers to express their personal identities.
Not to be outdone, other Ontario school boards are also eager to showcase their woke sensibilities. Whether it is the social justice math lessons being pushed in Toronto, the lack of consequences for serious misbehaviour in some Ottawa schools, or the blatant pushing of critical race theory in the Waterloo Region District School Board, the damage caused by woke ideology is plain to see.
Parents don’t send their children to school to be indoctrinated: They send them to get a proper education. Students need to learn how to read, write, and do basic math. They also need to learn about our country’s history, master important scientific concepts, and gain an understanding of how our government works. Teachers have enough to do without also making it their mission to indoctrinate their students in woke ideology.
Contrary to what some social justice warriors seem to assume, not everyone thinks the same way on every issue—nor should they. The reality is that students come from diverse backgrounds and often hold different perspectives on controversial issues. If we believe in diversity, we need to ensure that schools respect the diversity of beliefs and values among their students.
It is easy for trustees and school administrators to say they support diversity but then rush to condemn any groups that don’t have the “right” belief system. With this type of attitude, diversity becomes token and artificial.
Establishing a genuine culture of diversity takes more than lip service. It requires a willingness to accept that other people have a right to express their views, even when those beliefs are radically different from your own. This isn’t always easy since there are significant differences between the many cultures and religions found among students and staff members in our schools. But then no one ever said that providing a quality education was going to be easy.
Clearly, the woke rot runs deep in Ontario schools. Getting HDSB to acknowledge that their schools need at least some professional standards is a good first step. However, it’s going to take a whole lot more public pressure to get schools to change direction. Students deserve a school system that provides them with a quality education, not one that pushes them to adopt a particular ideology.
Parents should pay attention to what’s happening in schools. Their voices are needed now more than ever.
Michael Zwaagstra is a public high school teacher and a senior fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.