Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Toronto District School Board should focus on learning, not activism

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It seems the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) still hasn’t learned a very important life lesson.

Earlier this year, one of the TDSB’s “social equality program advisers” was caught spreading anti-Israel propaganda to his teachers. The content of this teacher falsely accused Israel of apartheid and promoted the Boycott, Divide, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Firstly, TDSB took the incident seriously and suspended the teacher. Sadly, it did not take long for the school board to reinstate this teacher to his post without any reprimand. So much for taking a stand against anti-Semitism.

Now TDSB is at it again. On 24 September, the school board appointed author Desmond Cole as keynote speaker for a gathering of over 600 teachers. The direct theme of Cole’s presentation was anti-black racism. Unfortunately, Cole turns away from what he has prepared and engages in a passionate attack against Israel.

Among other things, Cole accused Israel of engaging in “anti-population colonialism” and repeated the anti-Israeli slogan “Free Palestine”. To be clear, the Free Palestine movement is opposed to the existence of Israel, and if the movement had its way, the nation of Israel would not even exist.

It should go without saying that public school teachers should not be forced to listen to a presenter who preaches anti-Israel propaganda. One can only imagine how uncomfortable this presentation must have been for the Jewish teachers who were in the audience. He should never have been a victim of this rhetoric.

In fact, Cole’s presentation caught the attention of several Jewish organizations. For example, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) issued an official statement condemning Cole’s anti-Israel statements. FSWC policy director Jaime Kirzner-Roberts didn’t take any punches in his condemnation.

“There has been an alarming increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the TDSB and its schools, and Cole’s remarks contribute to the generalization of anti-Semitism in the education system. It is time that the TDSB was repeatedly traumatized by recent events. be held accountable for allowing such expressions of exclusion and discrimination while failing to protect our Jewish staff members.”

If TDSB truly believes in fighting racism, it needs to stamp out any anti-Semitism that rears its ugly head. This means stopping your teachers from spreading anti-Israel propaganda and it also means making better choices when bringing in guest speakers. TDSB employees and students from all backgrounds deserve a safe and inclusive learning environment.

Fortunately, TDSB has a way to do this. Rather than making social justice activism the focus of teachers’ professional development, school boards should focus on helping all students acquire the fundamental knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life.

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For example, the science of learning is clear that background knowledge is the key to reading comprehension. Immerse all students in a content-rich learning environment and they are more likely to become fluent readers. Combine this with a solid phonetic approach to reading instruction in the elementary grades and TDSB students will benefit. Why is this non-controversial topic not in service?

Now, consider the benefits of providing teachers with professional development that actually helps students become effective readers. Students will not only find it much easier to learn new things, but the sense of accomplishment in the teachers will improve significantly. After all, there is no greater reward for teachers than seeing their students succeed.

Such business development will have the added benefit of keeping TDSBs away from unnecessary disputes. Instead of worrying about what might happen in their next service, TDSB administrators can focus on what matters most – student achievement and how teachers can achieve that meaningful goal.

The reality is that students feel the most acceptance and a sense of belonging when they are in classrooms where real learning is taking place. When problems arise in students’ behavior, teachers can deal with them on a case-by-case basis. This is much better than trying to implement a pre-packaged anti-racism program that may not be relevant to every situation.

This does not mean that controversial issues should not be discussed in class. far from it. Rather, when students are in the process of being well educated, they are better equipped to tackle challenging and controversial topics. The time to discuss Middle East conflict is after students have acquired sufficient background knowledge, not before. Knowledge is the key to dispel ignorance.

TDSB needs to focus on learning, not activation. Anti-socialism has no place in any public education system. Good education systems should have a very high place in the system.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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Michael Zwagstra is a public high school teacher, a senior fellow at the Frontier Center for Public Policy, and the author of “A Sage on the Stage: Common Sense Reflections on Teaching and Learning.”

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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