Christian Group in Canada Sues School System for Not Handing Out Lesson Plans in Advance

There’s a new Christian Right group in Toronto with a specific focus:

A religious advocacy group is taking the Ontario school system to court arguing that public schools need to provide “advance notice” of their teachers’ lesson plans so that parents can vet what their children are allowed to learn.

There is a disturbing trend in Canada’s educational system which is seeing inherent parental rights get trampled by a belligerent, government ideology. This state ideology seems determined to eradicate all traces of judeo-christian morality from society, and is using our schools to achieve that goal.

Riiiiight. That’s the threat the Parental Rights in Education Defense Fund was formed to combat.

What’s their proof of this?

In Quebec, students must take a class called “Ethics and Religious Culture” which doesn’t preach that Christianity is the best religion of them all.

In Ontario, there’s an initiative called the “Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy” which is basically a way to make LGBT students feel more accepted.

So they’re fighting back against threats that are not really threats by demanding advance copies of lesson plans on behalf of a “concerned parent”:

In a Friday release, the newly-formed Parental Rights In Education Defense Fund announced they were teaming up with a “beleaguered parent” to sue school authorities for refusing “to provide reasonable accommodation for his family’s religious beliefs.”

“The parent seeks nothing more than to be given advance notice so that he can either withdraw his children before the lesson, or prepare his children in advance for what they may be taught,” wrote the group.

They make it sound like every lesson in school could be anti-Christian… I don’t know what they’re talking about. I just wrote up my lesson plans for tomorrow. I see no problem with it:

(Kidding, kidding…)

Besides the fact that the schools aren’t teaching anything “anti-Christian” in the first place — unless you’re one of those people who think “tolerance” is a dirty word — this is just a bad idea in general.

1) Teachers don’t always write lesson plans in advance. If a teacher has a great idea right before class starts, I want that person to act on the idea, not feel bound to whatever was written in advance.

2) Teachers rarely stick to the lesson plan. Things happen in the classroom and you’re forced to deviate from the plan all the time. So even if parents were sent these in advance, they’d do little good.

3) If parents want to know about the general curriculum, there are plenty of opportunities to talk to the teacher about it — at the beginning of the year, during conferences, by reading the syllabus, etc. Teachers have department heads and principals looking at what they’re teaching and how they’re teaching it; they don’t need hundreds of parents micromanaging everything they do.

By the way, the entire Ontario elementary and secondary curriculums are already online. Maybe the Christian group should have done a Google search before filing a lawsuit?

Just to be clear, if sensitive issues are going to be discussed in the classroom, I think teachers should inform parents about it in advance so they can take whatever actions they see fit. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. These parents want every lesson plan for every class in advance so they can decide if their kids can handle it.

Allowing this would open the door to parents removing their kids from the classroom if they’re learning about evolution or birth control, not just reading books by LGBT authors.

If they want that much control over the curriculum, you have to wonder why they’re not homeschooling their kids in the first place.

(Thanks to Amy for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • MutterC

    Give them the lesson plans, but charge them for the cost of making/delivering them.

    When parents are swamped with 15-20 lesson plans per week, at 2-5 pages per plan, and they are being charged $1 per page, this sort of religious nonsense will dry up quickly.

  • Rich Lane

    I always put my lesson plans for the week on my class blackboard site on Sunday night.  By Friday they usually bear little resemblance to what actually was taught.

  • Cormacolinde

    But what if you try to teach the devil-inspired set theory!

    Or even worse, contradict the bible by saying pi isn’t equal to 3?!!?!

    • Quintin

      Pi equals 3, if you ask any physicist. The bible says it’s 3.0, and there any physicist will disagree.

  • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

    You….you….gave two non-equal points the same descriptor.  I am shocked!

    • OverlappingMagisteria

       Bonus question: Is Point N adjacent to, or diagonal from Point O?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JBAMPHNDKNSKDNVTY3VRYGWMYQ Jack

      NOTHING IS SACRED ANYMORE!

      • Coyotenose

         DOGS AND CATS LIVING TOGETHER

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          MASS HYSTERIA!!!!elebenty!

  • David McNerney

    (God)^2 = -1

    Solve for God…

    • JasmynMoon

      This made my day. I want this on a shirt.

    • Mark Hunter

      Love it

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

      It’s times like this that I really hate being math-impaired.

      • Stev84

        Imaginary numbers. With real numbers you can’t take the square root of a negative number. But multiplying the imaginary unit “i” with itself results in -1, i.e i² = -1. Or in other words i = sqrt(-1)

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

          Thank you, and others, for the explanations.  I had emailed my mathematician hubby and he explained it to me… I get the explanations, but my non-math mind is still resisting it.  :-)  But I like the message of the equation quite a bit.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
      • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

        You weren’t alone. I thought I got the joke, but I’ve been known to put my foot in my mouth when math is involved. Thanks for the explanations, all. :)

    • Philo Vaihinger

      God = i.

      • Philo Vaihinger

        I suppose I should read before I post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aaron-Scoggin/100000044792747 Aaron Scoggin

    Sounds like they should hire an actual teacher to show them how education works. What this supposed “parent” really wants to do is do nothing and expects the teacher, who already has enough to do and prepare, to do all of the work in the education process. 

    That being said, trying to do this in a country that actually has good morals and tolerance… Well, good luck.

  • Wayne

    You should have made it a pentagram.

  • Good and Godless

    You used “meters” conflicting with the wholesome  biblical measurement like “cubits” which allows for a less precise answer to be correct.  The obsessive with precision lends credibility to Atheism.  

    You could have asked for the answer in German “rutes” 6.6666667 and pushed the envelope a little more.

  • Collin

    I’m assuming it’s a regular pentagon? 25m.  Sorry, saw math and couldn’t resist.

  • Baby_Raptor

    If you don’t want your kid learning facts that may challenge your brainwashing, home school them. 

    Also, the idea of “judeo-christian morality” is laughable. There’s nothing moral about the bible that wasn’t stolen from something older. 

    • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

      More to the point, it’s not specified that it is a regular pentagon, so the only correct answer here is “I don’t know”.

      • Baby_Raptor

        Confused me for a minute. lol

  • Barbara

    “If they want that much control over the curriculum, you have to wonder why they’re not homeschooling their kids in the first place.”

    They don’t want to peacefully homeschool their children. It is the goal of these lunatic fringe groups to turn public education into a forum for godliness (but only the god they worship, of course). It is not enough for these people to pigeonhole their own children’s learning; they ultimately desire to suffocate the entire student population with the ignorant teachings of their Bible. 

  • dorothy30

    i used to feel smug and think that this stuff only happens in the US bible belt. No longer. Wake up fellow Canadians – the fundies are feeling threatened, and they are mobilizing and lashing out everywhere. If you doubt me, read Armageddon Factor: the Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada by Marci McDonald.

  • http://www.emilvikstrom.se/ Emil Vikström

    “Ethics and Religious Culture” sounds like a really valuable course. We had a similar one at my high school where we learnt a lot about different religions and cultures. The teacher was an atheist himself but he gave fair and neutral descriptions of all the religions covered in class. I think everyone should have such a course some time during their education!

  • Ibis3

    I wish that, whenever topics like this came up, people wouldn’t write off the kids so easily (e.g. by saying “If you don’t like what’s being taught, just pull the kids out and homeschool them/send them to a faith school.”). Children have the right to be educated properly. They are not their parents’ property. I think we should be fighting to protect the children of these parents by ensuring that neither homeschoolers or attendees of private schools can opt out of the public curriculum (add to it okay, but not avoid it). 

    • Jules

      Excellent suggestion Ibis3!
       
      You are right…children are NOT their parents possessions. I raised my children to hear both sides of the story, i.e. christian teachings and secular teachings,and taught them to question everything and make their own choices.

      Interestingly enough…they all do well in life, are happy and successful, have loving families, never been in jail or do drugs, are healthy, great parents, and all athiests.

    • Mike Higginbottom

      In the UK the education of children is the responsibility of the parents. They can elect to enlist the state to perform this function by proxy, but they still maintain the responsibility to ensure an adequate education. This seems eminently sensible to me; children are not the property of the state either after all.

      On the narrower point of adherence to curriculum, I’ve been homeschooling my daughter for the past three years and this year we’re starting formal prep work for GCSEs (usually taken at around 16 years old). I have to say, now we’re on a timetable, following a set curriculum, the light has gone out of our education journey to some extent. For example I’m having to resist the temptation to allow extended cross-curricular wanderings (e.g. anaerobic respiration -> structure of glucose -> carbon chemistry -> petrology -> watching a documentary about the decommissioning of a North Sea gas rig -> Greenpeace/Brent Spar/Clean Seas Act -> financial costs of environmental protection). That was a great day, stuffed with exuberant learning but we can’t afford that kind of luxury this year.

      My hunch is that we’re getting a more focused and possibly more efficient storage of information by following the curriculum but it sure as hell ain’t so much fun.

      • Ibis3

        Perhaps I was being too specific (or not specific enough)? When I said that parents ought not to be able to opt out of the standard curriculum, I wasn’t referring to day-to-day teaching choices, but overall standards. A “graduate” of homeschooling should have the same basic education of graduates of public schools: i.e. they should have knowledge of evolution, sex ed, world history, critical thinking, and cultural diversity, as well as all the less “sensitive” subjects.

        They can elect to enlist the state to perform this function by proxy,
        but they still maintain the responsibility to ensure an adequate
        education.

        Sure, but how can we tell if the education is, in fact, adequate? The only way is to set standards and make sure that home- and private schooled kids are meeting them at regular intervals. It only makes sense to base these standards on those already set for kids in the public system.

        There are thousands (millions?) of kids not getting that adequate education because their parents are feeding them lies and hiding the truth. Those parents are not performing this function responsibly, and that amounts to child abuse.

  • C Peterson

    Just to be clear, if sensitive issues are going to be discussed in the classroom, I think teachers should inform parents about it in advance so they can take whatever actions they see fit.

    Not a good idea, unless the discussion deviates from state (or other government) standards. Who is to say what qualifies as “sensitive”? It’s just asking for problems for a teacher to make that kind of determination.

    Bottom line, if the material is covered by standards, it can be presented. Without advance notice. If an individual parent is concerned about what their child will be taught, that parent can always go to the teacher and ask. But no teacher should ever have to expend time or effort describing their lesson plans to anybody other than the school administration.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

      As I said in a post downstream, we were notified when the 5th grade teacher was doing a section on evolution.  We also received one when the 6th grade teacher was discussion reproduction because it might contain “sensitive material.”  Heaven forbid the 6th graders hear words like “egg” and “sperm” (they never even mentioned penis or vagina).  It’s incredible that the religious are holding the school system hostage to their beliefs!

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.gwinn Don Gwinn

    “What do you think?”
    “I think there’s always free cheese in a trap.  What do you think?””I think a plan is just a list of things that don’t happen.”

  • Cortex_Returns

    This is nothing more than an intimidation tactic. Of course the parents would hardly look over the lessons after the first semester or so, unless they for some reason have way too much time on their hands. What this would do is make teachers paranoid about their work, and second-guess everything they do. 

    It’s really sad to see that some parents have such an antagonistic attitude toward their kids’ teachers. I have to wonder if it’s more than just opposition to LGBT rights at work here, and if it’s an expression of general distrust for the education system among a subgroup of the community. 

  • peter g

    Just like building prisons we don’t need to pave the way to privatization, this is the way to pave the way to the school voucher argument.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Maybe we should give teachers a microphone with a 5 second time delay like you get on live radio, so a panel of parents can listen in with their hands hovering over the red ‘CENSOR’ button.  And the kids can be listening with headphones, watching their teacher’s lips move like a badly dubbed Kung Fu flick.

    Just follow the plan Mr. Mehta, just follow the plan.

  • MegaZeusThor

    Bury them in lengthy lesson plans. Make it explicit that there are multiple options the the lesson plan may take, including incorporating current events or other last minutes options.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

    We got a notice in 5th grade from my son’s public charter school that they would be doing a “short lesson on evolution,” and the teacher gave parents an option to ask their children to be excused.  I was appalled, quite frankly.  My son said 5 kids left the classroom during the lesson.  When I asked the teacher about it, she said she had already had requests that evolution not be taught at all from a large group of parents, so rather than omit it, she gave them that option.  She confirmed that the number of kids who left represented about half the families who had complained to her.

    Oh… I live in “liberal mecca” (according to my mother) Oregon, SW of Portland, or as I loving refer to it, the Northwest Bible Belt (TM).

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      That would go a long ways towards explaining the abysmal understanding of evolution in this country.  It’s getting to the point that Creationists have so distorted evolution that Genesis really will make more sense.

      I think in that situation, I’d want to have a short chat with the teacher to make sure the teacher understands that evolution isn’t http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wdi_u1ZenRw

    • Glasofruix

      My biology teacher in high school discussed evolution very thoroughly with us and when she talked about creationnism she described it as completely idotic belief that shouldn’t even be mentionned in the 21st century, let alone taught in school. But i live in Europe, i’m not even sure religious folks in here believe that crap.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

        I was about to as you how long ago that was that a teacher said creationism is idiotic, because I’m sure a lawsuit would result from that now, but seeing that you are in Europe explains it.  I so want to move from this country to one that sees science in a positive light and isn’t afraid to say church doctrines are nonsense.

    • Barbara

      That is just sad. By now, teaching evolution should be a no-brainer in publicly-funded education. When I was a child, evolution was a hush-hush subject, with my public school teachers promoting only creationism, right down to the sentiment that dinosaurs never existed (because it wasn’t written in the Bible). We cannot allow religious belief to interfere with real learning. It is detrimental to society. 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

        My mother said she was taught dinosaurs never existed in the 40s.  I was amazed they would ever have done that!  Then again, they also slapped lefties with a ruler to make them write right-handed and had daily prayer 3 times a day (in a public school).

        So I guess, in a way… a very small way… we have progressed since then.  Now, the religious among us want to regress, but at least they admit dinosaurs were real, even if they DO insist they coexisted with humans and were vegetarians.  [eye roll]

        That is also why we are now doing an online charter school at home that appreciates math and science with no religious training whatsoever.

      • allein

        I learned evolution in high school biology and no one blinked an eye. I never knew this creationism ‘controversy’ was a thing until at least after college, I think when I was working in a bookstore and started seeing books about it. (I even went to a private, religiously-affiliated college (Brethren Church) in rural Pennsylvania, too; the issue never came up in my biology class there, either.) I live in New Jersey, and I’m always surprised when I see my state pop up in these sorts of news stories because the issue was never even on my radar when I was in school (graduated HS in the early-mid 90s).

        I didn’t quite know what to say when my uncle saw me reading Dawkins’s Greatest Show On Earth a couple years ago and said “Evolution is impossible.” He’s a retired teacher, too (taught math, at least, and not biology…) Religion’s not a big topic of conversation in my family so I never even thought that people I’m related to would think like that. Now I’m older and I realize he’s probably not the only one. But I really don’t want to verify that hunch.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

    We got a notice in 5th grade from my son’s public charter school that they would be doing a “short lesson on evolution,” and the teacher gave parents an option to ask their children to be excused.  I was appalled, quite frankly.  My son said 5 kids left the classroom during the lesson.  When I asked the teacher about it, she said she had already had requests that evolution not be taught at all from a large group of parents, so rather than omit it, she gave them that option.  She confirmed that the number of kids who left represented about half the families who had complained to her.

    Oh… I live in “liberal mecca” (according to my mother) Oregon, SW of Portland, or as I loving refer to it, the Northwest Bible Belt (TM).

  • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

    Hey Canadian Christofacists. Suck it up, buttercup. Your belief in an angry, genocidal sky fairy doesn’t trump everyone else’s rights to a decent, fact-based education.

    I will watch you get crushed in court, with relish. And mustard, eh.

  • onamission5

    Even after growing up immersed in this mindset, I still have a hard time connecting the dots that get one from “doesn’t specifically teach my religion as fact” to “is trying to obliterate my right to my religious beliefs.”

    The disconnect, it burns.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthonyjwmoss Tony Moss

    Radio host John Moore said “If this sounds reasonable to you, imagine if it were white supremacist parents wanting advance notice of any discussion of the Holocaust because they don’t think it happened and don’t want their children being taught that it did…”

    Mind you he’s a godless commie liberal obviously.

  • Chris_Boyd

    Hement, I am OUTRAGED at your pentagon problem posted above. It is absolutely INSULTING that you would ask students to find the perimeter of a pentagon like that and NOT state that it is a REGULAR pentagon.

    Despicable.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Sorry! You’re right. That’s what I get for drawing something up in 30 seconds.

      • Chris_Boyd

        Yeah, well, sorry just isn’t good enough, jolly roger! To think that I should have to expose my child to something so offensive were he in your classroom is…

        Hang on a second…

        WHAT DID YOU WRITE AROUND THAT PENTAGON?!? Is that “NOGOD”???

        Hement, in my 35 years on this planet, not once have I been left so shaken to my very core with anger as I am right now. How DARE you…I mean, really…How VERY dare you use the letter “O” to represent two different points??? Are you trying to draw circuits or something? If so, you SUCK!!! ARRRRGH!!

        Seriously though, I am going to ask Darwin to forgive you, to which the response will be “……….” because his soul doesn’t exist any more.

  • Jeff

    Wait a minute, you wrote “Pentagon” in your lesson plan. Is that not a reference to the United States?….the president of which is, according to many tea baggers, a Muslim!  Is your lesson plan therefore not some  subliminal anti-christian rant?   It’s you pentagon-teaching radicals that are gutting our schools of Christianity!….:)

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    NOGOD?

    Shouldn’t that read DAGON?

  • http://askanatheist.tv/ Becky

    The curriculum map in online and they are suing for lack of reasonable accommodation?!?!?  I had an administrator who required daily scripted lesson plans from all of her teachers.  Nobody was able to comply 100% (she used noncompliance by folks she didn’t care for to administratively transfer.)  Your 1, 2, and 3 are all spot on.  This is a ridiculous request that cannot pass the bar of “reasonable”.

  • OntarioTeacher

    I have personally spoken to the plaintiff.  He is not asking for lesson plans in advance.  He is only asking to be notified if any topics from a very small list are going to be covered.  If a parent had a child in your class who was not good at algebra and asked if he could be informed of when algebra was going to be covered so that they could get a tutor, of course you would provide him with this information.  Why should it be any different just because he is Christian and he want to know when issues of sexuality are going to be discussed ?


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