On Thursday, September 29, 2011 a multi-faith, multi-ethnic group held a press conference in Markham. All the participants were given two minutes to speak on the all important issue of protecting parental rights in this provincial election.
Peter Chen, of the Toronto Chinese Catholic Task Force, moderated the meeting, with excellent work from Edwin Lok as MC. The panelist were as follows: Raphael Wu from the Toronto Chinese Catholic Taskforce, Gwen Landolt from Real Women of Canada, Mobeet Khan and Qamrul Khanson from the United Front Canada, Rev. Dominic Tse from the Chinese Christians and Teresa Pierre from the Ontario Catholic Parents Asssociation.
Also present were Sue Suh from the Korean Christians, Jeff Gunnarson from Campaign Life Coalition, Dr. Theresa Hum from the Toronto Chinese for Chinese Education and David Kong from the Toronto Chinese Catholic Taskforce. Reporting on the event were LifeSiteNews, Omni television, Chinese programming representatives from Salt and Light Television and Fairchild Television. Noticeably absent were representatives from the mainstream media.
Mr. Chan made very clear in his opening remarks that the press conference was about informing parents/voters about their rights. It was not about backing any particular party or candidate. He stressed that parents are primarily concerned with supporting their family and children.
Each speaker, some even spoke in Chinese and Korean, made a strong appeal reminding the politicians and the electorate that parental rights in education are fundamental. The Liberal Equity policy threatens parental rights, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. The panel expressed serious concern that their communities were worried that voters had no say in a policy that can reshape our society and our very culture. Some also stated that they objected to the over-sexualized curriculum with an emphasis on promoting a number of sexual orientations. Others noted that a problem has been that these drastic changes in education have neither been voted by nor communicated to parents. In short: the Liberals have been lees than transparent with their Equity policy.
An example of the Liberal failure to tell the whole truth about the policy can be found in a recent email by Ontario English Catholic Teachers' association, (OECTA) sent to its members. Consider this observation, "To date the Liberals have shown the most interest in talking about its education record (in a television commercial Premier McGuinty touts its changes including smaller class sizes and full-day Kindergarten) and in proposing new policies, including expanding teacher education to two years (a proposal which OECTA lauded in a news release), expanding summer educational programs for students, supporting more after school programs for children and reducing post-secondary education tuition fees by 30% for families with an income less than $160,000."
The above distortion of the truth is why the press conference was so important for parents who want the facts, not political spin. The Liberals are not being honest with parents and voters. Otherwise they would have to tell the truth about the erosion of parental rights in the Equity policy. Smaller class size are an illusion if you look at the grades above grade 2, after September 30, when the class sizes can be stretched to whatever size the principal decides.The Liberals would tell you that most children are not ready to leave home for the stress of all-day kindergarten.
Teacher education, as all teachers who have been through it know, is generally wholly inadequate so expanding it to two years just increases its ineffectiveness, if student teachers get more of the same. Summer education for students has always been available but has also become a way for students to fast track instead of its real purpose, to remediate. If the Liberals were honest, they would tell you that after school programs are not the answer to a tired and stressed child's life but perhaps suggesting more flexible work hours for parents so they can be home for their children after school. They would tell about the billions it's going to cost in early education, an idea which has no conclusive research saying that it's beneficial to learning or to the health of children.
Voters and parents should be thankful to those who organized this press conference. The event demonstrated that the Liberals are not really interested in the truth of their record on education. Voters, on election day, have a clear decision to make in order to protect parental rights and their children's education: Vote the Liberals out. And thank God for a unified statement on the Equity policy from this multi-faith and multi-ethnic press conference. This is the REAL meaning of equity and inclusive education.