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Garrett Elliott @garrettelliott
, 57 tweets, 11 min read Read on Twitter
I participated in one of the Ontario government tele-townhall conference calls for Eastern Ontario at lunch today. I took about 4 pages of notes, trying to transcribe everything, so this tweet thread will be really long. Hopefully I don't misrepresent what someone said!
Some people might find some of the comments and opinions expressed on the call offensive. I know I sure did. I'm not going to list peoples' names in the tweets but will keep their city. They all sounded like real people and not robots pretending to be humans.
The call was moderated by Danielle, who represented herself as non-partisan and completely neutral. She made it clear that they monitor language and want to maintain respectful and courteous tones. You do a lot of listening, including to a welcome message from @LisaThompsonMPP.
They encourage everyone, multiple times, to visit and fill out the survey. They want to cover seven topics on the call, which are also listed in the Open Submission section of their website:…
They go through topics one by one. If you want to ask a question or make a comment, wait until your subject is brought up and then press 9. You get transferred over to an agent who gets your name, city, and records your comment. No guarantee you'll get to speak on the call.
The moderator says ALL comments will be documented and will, "feed into the larger consultation" (the website?). There are also quick polling questions between the 7 main topics where you press 1 for yes, 2 for no, and 3 for I'm not sure. Here's what was said on our call:
Poll 1 : Have you filled out the online survey yet? Yes, no, or I'm not sure.
Poll 2: Have you ever participated in a tele-townhall before? Yes, no, or I'm not sure.
Question 1: What is your view on STEM and how should we improve performance on this topic?
Caller from Deep River: My observation has been over the past several years that math skills are declining in students, correlates with current Discovery Math curriculum...
As students reach high school and beyond they are really faltering. Previous government positions have been to examine the issue but not address it. Swing the pendulum back to the middle to mix old school methods with new school methods.
Caller from Kingston: We use PRO Grants in our board for engaging parents and student learning in math. Can you reinstate PRO Grants to help parents and communities continue with these valuable experts/programs?
Poll 3: Are Ontario’s schools doing enough to promote STEM in elementary school? Yes, no, I'm not sure.
There's no context to these polls at all. Like, how much is enough? What are they doing now? Moderator reiterates that they are not scientific polls.
Caller from North Lancaster: was a high school teacher who taught math and tech. Proper typing skills should be instituted in late elementary school. It should be a compulsory component of late elementary school or early high school.
Caller from Durham: has concerns about engaging teens and tweens in STEM because it's hard. He's looking for answers on how to get them interested.
Poll 4: Do you believe students should be learning more about STEM topics at an earlier age? Yes, no, I don’t know.

Again, no context. At an earlier age than what? If I think they should start learning about stem as newborns then my answer is yes.
Question 2: How should our schools prepare students with needed job skills, such as skilled trades and coding?
Caller from Kingston: we have a responsibility to help students prepare for careers and what it means to be an active citizen.
Careers and civics should be re-evaluated because they are very important elements to curriculum.

(these #ygk callers are very good)
Poll 5: Do you believe schools are doing enough to promote skills trade or apprenticeship opportunities? Yes, no, I'm not sure.
Caller fro North Lancaster: retired high school teacher says you could see clearly that curriculum was geared towards graduating students to college or university. There's a lack of blue collar skilled trade workers for high salary positions.....
...that look attractive to broad range of students in skilled trades. Opportunities are being missed because not everyone will go to college or university.
Poll 6: Do you believe it is important for students to learn coding in schools? Yes, no, I'm not sure.
Question 3: What measures can be taken to improve provincial standardized testing?

Caller from Belleville: a parent and teacher, EQAO should be changed. Instead of measuring test-taking skills, measure actual literacy and numeracy skills.
Caller from 1000 Islands: parent and advocate for children with learning disabilities. EQAO focuses too much on results. We need to spend more time on individual children. Need earlier testing and intervention for many students. EQAO testing is too stressful for many students.
Question 4: What more can be done to ensure students graduate high school with important life skills, including financial literacy?

Caller from Kingston: we have a moral obligation to ensure financial literacy. Canadians have too much debt and poor financial practices...
...are not being corrected. We have to educate the next generation so they don't make the same financial mistakes and fall into massive debt, as is evidenced by current statistics on Canadian financial health.
Poll 7: Does Ontario need more standardized tests for its students? Yes, no, I'm not sure.

(and I'm at my tweet thread limit, so I'll try to make another one)
I can continue!
Question 5: What steps could schools take to ban cellphone use in the classroom?

Caller from 1000 Islands: This is 21st century schooling and where society is going. Children need to be prepared and ready to use this technology responsibly.
Caller from Kingston (okay, it was me): agree with previous caller. Rhetoric around banning cell phones troublesome. This technology is part of our lives and we need to find ways to work with it for the benefit of all students.
Poll 8: Should recreational cell phone use be banned during class time? Yes, no, I'm not sure.
Caller from (couldn't hear): cell phones in class are a tool that has been established. Cell phone etiquette needs to be taught at home and in the classroom.
Caller from Hawkesbury: cell phones are essential & public education can help identify and understand their use. We need to teach students how to use them kindly because they will be used regardless. Schools should help explain how to use this technology responsibly and wisely.
Poll 9: Are you concerned by the amount of time children spend on technology devices in the classroom? Yes, no, I'm not sure.
Question 6: How can we build a new age-appropriate Health and Physical Education curriculum that includes subjects like mental health, sexual health education and the legalization of cannabis? This question had the most responses by far.
Caller from (couldn't hear): mental health and sexual health curriculum are sensitive, but the evidence supports early introduction to these topics. Please leave curriculum development to the experts and not special interest groups. The updated curriculum is necessary.
Caller from Pembroke: the 2015 curriculum was 100% age appropriate and we should default back to using that.
Caller from Cornwall: young minds are very vulnerable. Caller references Education Act 264(1)(c):… We should respect those with opposing views, but Christians are feeling that their viewpoints are being mocked as out of date.
Teaching homosexuality at grade 3 level is very aggressive. He requests that lessons on homosexuality in grade 3 be deleted from the curriculum. Discussions on gender identity theory and anal sex be delayed until high school.
Caller from Brockville: as a public health nurse, she wants the curriculum to address current issues like consent, substance use, gender diversity and inclusivity, mental health concerns, and cyber safety. These are real issues that today's youth face.
Poll 10: Do you believe the H&PE should be developed with greater input from parents? Yes, no, I'm not sure.
Caller from Long Sault: it's very important that the curriculum is based on academic precedent and doesn’t violate the Ontario Human Rights Code. All students have the right to accurate information on their physical and emotional health.
Caller from Brockville: an educator and parent. Believes the 2015 curriculum is excellent and should be used. It is comprehensive and prepares students for the world we live in. The old curriculum from, before the internet, is detrimental and is hurting our students.
Caller from North Lancaster: he sees all kinds of obesity in kids today. The lack of daily physical activities is a problem. He disagrees that the 2015 H&PE curriculum is good. What is the motivation to changing the word "parent" to "partner"?
He thinks the former premier had an agenda to bring her own values forward. He thinks we should, "cover some basics and get on with life." Values belong in the home with parents.
Caller from Grenville: a school board trustee who hasn't received a single complaint about the modern curriculum. It is a great springboard for conversation at home. There was so much consultation done that rolling it back is a mistake.
Poll 11: Do you believe that schools provide sufficient support to address student mental health needs? Yes, no, I'm not sure.
Question 7: What elements should be included in a Ministry of Education Parents’ Bill of Rights?

Caller from Kingston: believes it is long overdue. He thinks a bill of rights would offer more streamlined responses to parent concerns.
Caller from Kingston: has had kids in public and Catholic board, good and bad experiences in both. It is imperative that teachers maintain communication with parents at home.
Caller from Durham: parental bill of rights will enable parents to completely disagree with 2015 sex ed nonsense. Only a parent knows for sure what is age appropriate for their particular kid. The whole thing of genderism and sexuality needs to involve the parents 100%.
Poll 12: Do you feel it is important to have a parent’s bill of rights? Yes, no, I'm not sure.
Caller from Kingston: we already have many mechanisms to exercise rights as parents. Instead of creating a huge new document, strengthen some of the things we have in place like allowing Trustees to operate as elected officials and strengthening the education act as it exists...
She worries we would spend a lot of money dancing around things that are already there.
Caller from Ottawa: Agrees with previous caller. Parents have many rights. He has had 4 kids go through the system and has never had a problem speaking with teachers. A total waste of money and smoke and mirrors that isn’t necessary.
Caller from Deep River: believes a parents bill of rights is necessary. Many think because we have these other mechanisms that parents are aware of them and teachers respect them. A document that encapsulates everything and spells it out clearly is very necessary...
The government needs to remember that parents were given the primary right to raise their children. It needs to be a partnership, and it’s not the government’s responsibility to dictate to the parents what is best for their kids.
And that wraps up the call! It was an hour long, and they only took one of my comments and my others didn't make the cut. I was pretty surprised to hear people vocalize their opinions on LGBTQ2S inclusion in the health and physical education curriculum, but they were outnumbered.
If you made it through these 10,000 tweets, I would encourage you to visit and fill out their survey in support of a modern curriculum that makes all students feel safe, included, and represented in 2018 and beyond.
And there are still a few calls left, so you can always dial in to the numbers on and listen in and/or participate for yourself! Visit the website to see times, dates, and the phone numbers to call (depending on where you live).
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