A similar parent empowerment movement is needed in Ontario, where students are suffering due to extended school closures and parents are witnessing a concerning trend of schools allowing woke ideology, rather than hard facts, to shape what children are learning in the classroom.
Premier Ford continues to champion these families on key economic issues. He just announced an increase to the minimum wage and is making it easier for new immigrants to have their professional credentials recognized in Ontario.
Unfortunately, Ontario’s Ministry of Education does not support parent empowerment. Education Minister Stephen Lecce is a woke liberal in conservative clothing who has turned his back on parents. Lecce offers the kind of virtue signalling that Ontarians came to expect from the previous Liberal government, and very little in terms of real solutions that would benefit children.
Premier Ford needs an education minister who will collaborate with parents to take on the unprecedented challenges facing Ontario students. The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table reported in June that the average Ontario student was behind by up to three months in key subjects like math, reading and writing.
A recent Harris Poll commissioned by Express Employment Professionals found that more than four in five Canadians are worried about a “lost generation of students” that will lack necessary skills because of school disruptions. That same poll found that four in 10 Canadians do not think the country is doing what’s needed to help kids recover and adjust to school disruptions.
GrantMe — a Canadian education technology company — reported similarly troubling findings in its October survey of more than 1,000 Canadian students. Of the Grade 11 and 12 students surveyed, over 80 per cent indicated that remote learning has affected how prepared they are for university, and 72 per cent said they may have to settle for a lower-ranked university as a result.
It’s clear that school closures harmed the working middle-class families who can’t afford the tutors, academic supports and extracurricular activities that wealthy families can. Yet Lecce’s ministry has no solutions to offer. He closed the schools in Ontario longer than any other province, but failed to address the harms those closures caused to students.
Since last summer’s announcement that Ontario will de-stream Grade 9 math classes, the Ministry of Education has rested on its laurels and taken to promoting critical race theory to children and teachers, as if denigrating our country will help anyone. Worse, Lecce didn’t bother to lift a finger when school board administrators in Ottawa and Waterloo banned books that critical race theorists don’t want us to read.
Supporters of Premier Ford should not be discouraged. Ford Nation is capable of incredible achievements when parents are empowered. And politicians standing up to school boards will bring together Ontario’s diverse communities. Virginia’s parent empowerment movement just elected its first black woman lieutenant governor, Winsome Sears, and first Hispanic attorney general, Jason S. Miyares.
For the Government of Ontario to do right by moms, dads and their kids, Premier Ford will need to address his ministry of education problem.
Jamil Jivani is an award-winning lawyer and author, who serves as the Government of Ontario’s first-ever advocate for Community Opportunities. He also leads a youth-focused research nonprofit, Road Home Research & Analysis, which is supported by the Pinball Clemens Foundation, and hosts a weekly radio show, “Tonight with Jamil Jivani” on Newstalk 1010.