London party

Candidates from London-area school boards endorsed by ‘anti-awakening’ parent group

A website that claims to endorse ‘unawakened’ candidates running for Ontario school board races pledges to continue delivering its message ahead of Monday’s municipal election, despite violating school board advertising rules third of the province.

Local school board races, including those in the London area, are now part of a concerted effort by Conservative lobby groups to roll back policies aimed at tackling systemic discrimination, a CBC News investigation has found.

The normally sleepy competitions for directorships have been very busy this year with church groups, political parties and self-proclaimed “anti-revival” organizations involved to an unprecedented degree.

There are eight candidates in this region who are backed by the group Vote Against Woke, which claims to be run by parent volunteers. Those running the website did not respond to CBC London’s request for comment, and some applicants we spoke to were unaware they were on the approval list.

“I am deeply concerned about the direction our elementary and post-secondary schools are headed,” writes London School Board candidate David Sabine on his website. He is one of the local administrator candidates on the Vote Against Woke endorsement list.

“Our children are indoctrinated by radical and militant ideologies such as critical race theory, controversial sex ed curriculum, gender identity theory and a troubling white (sic) privilege agenda,” wrote Sabine.

David Sabine is a candidate for the position of administrator of the TVDSB in wards 1, 11, 12 and 14 (David Sabine/Twitter)

Another candidate, Paul Gray, writes on his campaign website, “Let’s restore the bounds of common sense on topics like sex, racism and politics…Children should no longer be subjected to panic politics like school and playground closures, mask mandates and segregation based on what medical procedures they have or don’t have.”

Vote against Woke “canceled”

On Friday, the group Vote Against Woke moved its list of recommendations from its website to a Facebook group and a Google Doc, saying they had been “cancelled”. In fact, they violated Ontario’s third-party advertising rules, which state that any organization wishing to endorse or promote a candidate must register with the appropriate municipality.

“Although we are parent volunteers, we have been advised (sic) by the municipal clerks that our recommendations cannot continue on a hosted site unless all individuals register with every municipal election clerk in Ontario. , which we are not willing to do,” the band wrote on its website.

In the United States, right-wing lobby groups have poured millions into local school board races.

Advocates for the trans community across the country say they fear local campaigns are contributing to anti-trans rhetoric. Some candidates used transphobic rhetoric and presented inclusive sex education as an attempt to indoctrinate children.

They say kids shouldn’t learn genders and non-binary pronouns in school, for example. Another London candidate wants pride flags removed from schools, calling it “political symbolism”.

“I believe there is too much sexualization of our grades in primary school, and I would like to see sexualization removed from our classrooms for grades in primary school, because they are just not not mature enough to handle this,” said London board candidate Claire Roberts. , which is backed by the group Vote Against Woke, told CBC News. “Reading material that is overt with sexualization should not be encouraged in our elementary schools.”

Claire told CBC she was unaware of the endorsement and doesn’t like being typecast

Administrators have a ‘limited role’

Some of the candidates seem to have a poor understanding of what local administrators actually do, said Bill Tucker, a former director of education who now teaches at Western University.

“Administrators have an important role in education, but they have a limited role because the curriculum is basically determined by the Ministry of Education in each of the provinces of Canada,” Tucker said. “Administrators have very little say in what is taught or how it is taught in schools.”

Trustees have three primary roles: hire their local director of education, develop a budget, and advocate for children and parents in their communities, Tucker said.

There has always been resistance from some parents who want school to be more about going back to basics rather than discussing broader issues in society, said Bill Irwin, who studies and researches fields of education at Huron University College.

“There has always been a role for public education to provide civic education, but how far that education goes in what makes a good citizen seems to be the question here,” Irwin said.

People in Canada are seeing heckle school board meetings in the United States and parents there objecting to mask mandates, sex education and the way race is taught, and they think they have the same influence here, he added.

“There is some confusion that if people can do it in the United States, we can do it here. strategic, like school boundaries. That’s what they’re responsible for.”

Ultimately, Irwin thinks there’s a perception that things change without alignment with some parents’ values, and that governments dictate what values ​​children should have. “A push-pull relationship between parents and educators has been around for a long time, but I think ultimately the anti-wokism movement will be disappointed,” he said.

There might be disruptions at the school board meeting, but it won’t make much of a difference to the curriculum and the classroom, Irwin added.