One local school trustee is not impressed.
Stephen Binstock, the Trustee on the Trillium Lakeland District School Board for the town of Bracebridge, says the announcement of a “snitch line” for parents is not a positive move by the Ontario government.
Following the announcement by Premier Doug Ford that a hotline had been created for parents to report any teachers not teaching the 1998 Health and Physical Education curriculum, Binstock says he is troubled by the prospect of parents being at odds with teachers on the issue.
“Everything is built on trust in life,” he says. “I’m not sure the approach used by any organization or government to create snitch lines is the most positive way to go when you are facing challenges.”
A former teacher himself, Binstock, who was acclaimed for his second term as Trustee for Bracebridge, says while he might not agree with the policy brought by Premier Ford, as an elected board member and a public entity he feels the law must be followed.
“The province and the country are built on the rule of law,” says Binstock. “If the duly elected government decides to have a particular policy and we (the board of Trustees) are a public entity then we have an obligation to follow the law.”
Binstock points out that as a trustee he is one of nine voices on the TLDSB board and they do not make day-to-day decisions. They look after governance and how day-to-day decisions get made. He also notes the issue of the new versus old Health and Physical Education curriculum is not even on the agenda for a board meeting coming up this Tuesday.
He goes on to say that when he hears both the previous Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne and the current government claim that consultation has been done, he for one has never been asked for his opinion during his time as a trustee. “Over the three years of the new curriculum I never received one phone call,” he states.
He believes the new Ontario government may have thought things through but he thinks it has been all too fast. “Think it through,” Binstock says of the new government. “But from where I sit it’s creating stress for parents, guardians and what about all those parents and guardians who have not spoken yet and don’t want the 1998 curriculum.”
“They made the decision first and now they are going to consult,” he says plainly. “That just doesn’t make any sense to me.”
As a trustee, Binstock says he is a liaison to the community, and he will take phone calls from parents, but he stresses there is a method to registering concerns or opinions with the board and it starts with the teacher and progresses up the chain of command from there. “It’s called customer service,” he says succinctly. “I want to be there for the parent and listen to their concerns and I will move that concern along to the appropriate superintendent and we go from there.”