PDSB Accommodation Fact Sheet

Just a quick note that the Peel District School Board, bending over backwards to put the issue to rest, yesterday released a 2-page fact sheet addressing many of the points that have been discussed here previously. I also got a few answers directly from my local trustee.

A few of the facts:

FACT: Trustees have heard and continue to listen to the public regarding religious accommodation.

FACT: There is a significant difference between the Ontario court removal of the Lord’s Prayer and religious accommodation.

FACT: There is no cost or undue hardship in providing accommodation for Friday Prayer.

and one that sounds like an admission to messing this up in the first place by trying to control the content of the sermons:

FACT: Although staff will be supervising Friday Prayer, the board cannot interfere with the practice of the faith.

Whether you agree with what they are required to allow or not, it’s direct and I like how they not only present the facts absolving them of any wrong-doing but end with a example of the contradiction in protesting only in relation to one faith:

It has been frustrating and disheartening to see what is often hatred and prejudice towards a single faith group disguised in a supposed campaign about religion in schools. No one has expressed concern about school-wide celebration of Diwali, or that we provide vegetarian options in food, or post posters acknowledging all major faith days, including Christmas. This is a campaign against Islam — counter to the laws of the Country, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and our board values.

– PDSB “Religious Accommodation: Key Facts” (emphasis mine)

Now, I did contact my local trustee with a few questions, which I think were maybe indirectly answered by the fact sheet. She answered promptly (proving the first fact I quoted above):

Me: 1) Do the participating students leave in-progress school instruction, or is this done during regular school break time (i.e. lunch) when other clubs/activities are held? (i.e. is there the potential to disrupt an in-progress group/team learning activity should they leave.)

Trustee: It is possible that students leave their class during instruction time, during a lunch break, a spare period, or after school depending on the timing of the prayers. There is little or no disruption for students who remain in class. The curriculum continues and those who miss it due to prayer are supported to catch up.

Me: 2) Are there instances where the student prayers are segregated by gender?

TrusteeI do not know whether there are instances of gender segregation. We make a space available to any student who requests religious accommodation, and we supervise the space.

Me: 3) Reading some Board meeting notes I noticed “Director Pontes clarified that the option of student-led prayer is not provided to students of other religions., which seems to match what I see in the Operating Procedure document. Am I reading this correctly that students of other religions may not congregate for student-led prayer?

TrusteeJummah prayers being held in congregation is a requirement of the Muslim faith. Any request for specific religious accommodation is dealt with on an individual basis.

UPDATE 2017-03-24: Toronto Star yesterday covered Wednesday’s Board meeting and the new fact sheet. There were again protesters going bananas and even tearing up a Quran apparently.

19 thoughts on “PDSB Accommodation Fact Sheet

  1. FACT: This advantages one religion above others.

    FACT: This fails to protect students from the religious oppression of their parents.

    FACT: There is no such thing as a child with a religion.

    FACT: Providing this space and time implies agreement with the claim that prayer is necessary in some way, which is FACTually false.

    FACT: vegetarianism is not a religion, but a choice to live without factory-farmed animals, and with a reduced climate change footprint. This is a science-based approach. While there is no obligation for the school to support it, it is of a fundamentally different nature than religion.

    FACT: annual events, or all-inclusive posters, are significantly different than a weekly prayer for a specific religion.

    FACT: opposing Islam is legal, as opposing any religion is legal, as opposing any viewpoint is legal

    FACT: students lose class time for the prayers

    FACT: we can assume the prayers are segregated because nobody seems to care enough to check, despite what we know of Islam and sex segregation

    FACT: prayer is never a requirement. It’s astonishing that the school would even attempt to put forward this argument. Any cosplayer could put forth any reason they need to perform whatever activity. They should be able to prove it is actually necessary. Prayer is not. Ever.

    These people are master obfuscators, I’ll give them that.

    • It honestly astonishes me how you manage to get *EVERYTHING* wrong. I mean, I would have to practice to be that stupid, but you do it with such ease.

      > FACT: This advantages one religion above others.

      FALSE: The only way you could interpret this as “advantaging” Islam is if you deliberately ignore the reality that *all* religions can request similar accommodations, and in fact *anyone* can request similar accommodations even without a religious basis.

      > FACT: This fails to protect students from the religious oppression of their parents.

      FALSE: In fact, if students were *not* allowed to pray in public schools, that would give religious parents justification to not send them there. Allowing students to exercise their Charter-guaranteed right to pray means parents have one less reason to pull them out of public schools and put them in private religious schools. And being in public schools greatly increases their exposure to other ideas – much more than being sent to private religious schools or home-schooled would.

      Besides, your complaint is irrelevant in any case. It is not the job of schools to “protect” kids from the “religious oppression of their parents”. It is to educate them. Math class also fails to “protect” students from any “religious oppression” done by their parents, after all. Along with educating them, the schools simply have to provide the things that kids need to facilitate their education – for example, bathrooms, food (if they’re their for the better part of the day), and the freedom to pursue the things that are important to them so long as they don’t interfere with the education.

      > FACT: There is no such thing as a child with a religion.

      FALSE: You have to believe that kids have no intelligence and no ability to think for themselves to truly believe that. While it’s true that kids may not have the same mental faculties as full adults, that doesn’t mean they’re brainless idiots.

      > FACT: Providing this space and time implies agreement with the claim that prayer is necessary in some way, which is FACTually false.

      FALSE: Both claims made above are false. Accommodating this request does not imply anything except that the school has an obligation to provide anything that *students* think they need. For example, accommodating a request for vegetarian meals doesn’t imply the school thinks that eschewing meat is “necessary in some way”, just that it’s something the student cares a lot about.

      As for the second claim: Prayer is necessary in many religions. The fact that it isn’t necessary for *you* doesn’t mean it’s not necessary for them. We get that you don’t respect other people or their beliefs, but the school board doesn’t have the same luxury to be ignorant as you do.

      > FACT: vegetarianism is not a religion, but a choice to live without factory-farmed animals, and with a reduced climate change footprint. This is a science-based approach. While there is no obligation for the school to support it, it is of a fundamentally different nature than religion.

      FALSE: You seem to think that everyone who is a vegetarian has the same reasons for being one. In point of fact, there are many people who are vegetarian for religious reasons, and couldn’t give a fuck about factory farming or climate change. There are also many people who are vegetarian simply because they feel sorry for the animals, and many simply because they don’t like the taste of meat, and so on.

      > FACT: annual events, or all-inclusive posters, are significantly different than a weekly prayer for a specific religion.

      FALSE: The schedule is irrelevant; it doesn’t matter if religious students want accommodation for a yearly event or a weekly event. If an accommodation is requested, and it can be provided without undue hardship, it *MUST* be provided. That is the law.

      > FACT: opposing Islam is legal, as opposing any religion is legal, as opposing any viewpoint is legal

      FALSE: “Opposing” Islam is legal for private citizens, but it is absolutely *NOT* legal for the state. That’s what secularism is.

      > FACT: students lose class time for the prayers

      FALSE: There are some schools where the prayers do conflict with class time, but in those schools the students are required to make up the lost class time, so no time is lost overall. But in many schools, the students do the prayers during the lunch period, or other free periods.

      > FACT: we can assume the prayers are segregated because nobody seems to care enough to check, despite what we know of Islam and sex segregation

      FALSE: That logic is idiotic. These prayers have been keenly scrutinized for years across Ontario (and probably across Canada, but I only know about Ontario). In fact, we *KNOW* that some prayers were segregated in the past, before any of this became official policy. We *know* of cases where outsiders were coming into the school – parents, usually – and forcing girls to enter through a different door, wear hijabs, and sit in the back. But all that ended when policies started being implemented banning outsiders from coming in to run these prayers.

      Or did it? Are the students now doing the segregating themselves? Under the teachers’ noses? We don’t know *that* yet, because the policies are still being rolled out.

      So long as no one complains there is nothing the school can do. If the school lays down the law that there can be no segregation but the girls just choose of their own accord to sit in the back, what can the school do about that? Force the girls to sit up front?

      We’re still figuring all this shit out. How about you shut the fuck up and let us study the issue, to get real data, instead your bigoted fever dreams?

      > FACT: prayer is never a requirement. It’s astonishing that the school would even attempt to put forward this argument. Any cosplayer could put forth any reason they need to perform whatever activity. They should be able to prove it is actually necessary. Prayer is not. Ever.

      FALSE: You are astonishingly ignorant and narrow-minded. Just because prayer isn’t a requirement for *you*, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a requirement for anyone. Washing your hands twelve times is not a “requirement” for anyone, but some obsessive-compulsives are simply unable to leave the house or function without doing it. By your logic, fuck them, because their ritual isn’t an absolute requirement for everyone. If these students feel that they need to pray on a Friday afternoon, what the fuck business of yours is it? They feel they need it, the school can accommodate that need without undue burden, so what’s the problem? Other than that you’re a bigot?

  2. I live on the west coast of Canada but I have been watching this situation with interest.

    I don’t mind recognizing other cultural/religious events with poster’s etc. as part of awareness of other’s beliefs. However I strongly object to religious practices in public schools on school time. Private schools, not funded by government, are where this belongs. ( I believe the Catholic school system is fully funded in Ontario. That was a mistake in my opinion.)

    I have been studying Islam for several years now after I noticed a sudden increase in women wearing niqabs around town. I don’t know any Muslims so I decided to look into this faith.

    Islam has always considered itself to be exceptional. It is a political system wrapped up in a religion that dictates every aspect of its adherent’s lives. There is very little room for compromise as the Quran is considered perfect, complete, eternal and universal.

    Here are my thoughts about the PDSB ruling.

    Regarding the content of Friday prayers: There is video and written evidence of many Canadian imams saying hateful things about nonbelievers during prayers with their congregations. The Jews are especially targeted. (“Save our mosque from the filthy Jews.”) Is there any assurance that this will not be repeated in school prayers?

    Regarding accommodation in cafeterias: I believe some schools now serve halal food despite the fact that the way the meat is butchered does not meet animal cruelty standards. I also believe there are some issues around food quality standards but exceptions have been made. I presume no pork would be served in case of cross contamination.

    I have also heard via a concerned parent that, during Ramadan, her kids school, which has a large Muslim population, cancels PE because the kids are too lethargic from fasting. Is that not interfering with school curriculum for all students. (Since the kids can’t even drink water I suppose there would be a risk of dehydration. In addition,I have to wonder if any quality learning can occur.)

    Regarding segregation: I have seen pictures of Muslim kids praying in a school auditorium. The boys were on the stage. The girls were on the floor in front of the stage. At the very back of the room were the menstruating girls who were only allowed to watch as they are “unclean” at that time. (Maybe it was an Islamic school. I can’t remember.)

    If anything I have said is not factual please correct me. I do not mean to misrepresent the current situation.

    We are living in interesting times. As much as I would like it to work, I fear that multiculturalism is doomed. I suspect tribalism is too embedded in our genetic makeup and history for now.

    • > However I strongly object to religious practices in public schools on school time.

      The Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not suddenly become null and void the moment a kid walks into a school. This may shock you, but Canadians are free to pray. Yes, they really are. Any time they want, any place they want, any way they want… so long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of anyone else.

      And the government is not allowed to interfere with anyone’s right to pray; not without a *damn* good reason. That’s a requirement of secularism. And if there is something the government is doing that *does* interfere with people’s right to pray, the government is obligated to make a reasonable accommodation for them.

      Note that none of this has anything to do with Islam, so your bigotry is irrelevant to all of this. The same rule applies to all religions, and even to non-religious beliefs and matter of conscience. A secular government must not interfere with peoples’ religious rights without a damn good reason, and if every they do they must provide a reasonable accommodation.

      > Is there any assurance that this will not be repeated in school prayers?

      Yes, the prayers are supervised.

      But even if they weren’t, do you really believe that if there were students making antisemitic or otherwise hateful statements in front of a crowd of their peers, *nobody* would report it to the teachers? Do you seriously believe that there’s not a single decent human being among the Muslims attending those prayers? Or even among the observers?

      > I believe some schools now serve halal food despite the fact that the way the meat is butchered does not meet animal cruelty standards. I also believe there are some issues around food quality standards but exceptions have been made.

      You believe, you believe…. None of your “beliefs” have any basis in fact.

      Some schools *do* serve halal meals, but *all* meat in Ontario has to satisfy provincial health and safety standards, and standards regarding animal cruelty. If you seriously believe that they could get away with serving *kids*… at a *school*… unsafe meat, then your head is *way* up your ass.

      (I suspect your concern about animal cruelty has to do with the claims spread by islamophobes that halal slaughter (dhabihah) requires the animal to be awake and alert when its throat is slit. That is a lie. An animal can be stunned before its throat is cut, and in fact Ontario law *REQUIRES* the animal to be stunned.)

      > I have also heard via a concerned parent that, during Ramadan, her kids school, which has a large Muslim population, cancels PE because the kids are too lethargic from fasting. Is that not interfering with school curriculum for all students.

      If that’s happening, it’s not the school’s fault. The school can’t force kids to eat; certainly not while they’re at home. If the kids are starving themselves to the point that they can’t function in classes, what do *you* think the school can or should do about it? The only thing the school can do is treat it as a health and safety issue.

      Now, you claim that there is a that school cancels PE for *everyone* because of a few fasting kids? Bullshit. Citation needed.

      > Regarding segregation: I have seen pictures of Muslim kids praying in a school auditorium. The boys were on the stage. The girls were on the floor in front of the stage. At the very back of the room were the menstruating girls who were only allowed to watch as they are “unclean” at that time.

      Yes, I have seen those pictures, too. I could even link them. But those were pictures of a prayer service organized by outside volunteers… not the school… *before* the school boards started adopting official policies on how to handle these prayers. In fact, these policies have been adopted *because* of the issues with those outside volunteers coming in to the school and running the services the way they were.

      So yes, that problem *did* exist, but it *doesn’t* anymore. We dealt with it. It shouldn’t be a problem anymore. We are monitoring the situation as the new policies come into play.

      > As much as I would like it to work, I fear that multiculturalism is doomed.

      Multiculturalism is working just fine. The only people who have a problem with it are the bigots who don’t want to tolerate the existence of other cultures.

    • Not only are they supervised, they have to be in english.

      So you saw a picture once but you don’t know where or what is is from….and that is enough to cause you worry? Huh? I’d need more than “I believe”, “I heard from a guy”, “I can’t remember”.

      Read the full fact sheet – it should really cover all of your concerns.

      And people should in no way be worried about missing a few minutes of class a week. Many kids (my own included) miss class for advanced sports training on a weekly basis. Surprise! Nobody complained or protested the non-existent “disruption.” (Ok, ok, the Principal did grumble a bit when I made her let my kid write the standardized test on the make-up day, but I digress)

      • Thanks for your civil response.

        Perhaps I should clarify. When I said “I believe” or “I heard” I was asking for information. I should have also said, “Is that correct?” or “Do you know about this?” You have to remember, I live 3000 miles away so I have to dig for local news in Ontario. Not much provincial news makes it over the Rockies unless it is “big time” stuff from Toronto or Ottawa.

        I didn’t notice the link for the fact sheet. I’ll take a look.

        I’m glad the prayers are in English. Immigrant kids should communicate in English (French) away from home to help with integration. Also, large numbers of Muslims do not speak Arabic. (It reminds me when Catholic services were delivered in Latin way back when and congregants sat staring at the ceiling.) Also it’s a way to monitor for hate speech.

        I am not “worried about missing a few minutes of class”. However prayers will occur every Friday meaning that Muslim kids could miss many sessions of the same class. That could potentially mean extra workload for teachers while they help the students to make up the lost class time. I presume they are OK with this. I noticed that when you asked the trustee about the potential for interruption of “group/team learning activity” he/she skirted around that point. That is something that could potentially affect the other kids in the group. (I hated group projects that received a group mark.)

        It will be interesting to see how this plays out considering the extreme anger demonstrated by non-Muslim parents at the last PDSB meeting. (Scary and so un-Canadian!!) I know a few parents who moved their kids to the Catholic school system to avoid all this. I suspect there will be more.

        My interest in this is purely academic. I am originally from Ontario and I have family who used to live in the Peel District.

        I found the pic of the segregated prayers which I linked below. It did take place in a Toronto public school in 2011 or 2012. See, I’m not crazy!

        Please feel free to comment/disagree. However, please don’t attack me as nothing I have said would justify that.

        https://www.change.org/p/dont-segregate-menstruating-girls-in-public-schools

        • > Perhaps I should clarify. When I said “I believe” or “I heard” I was asking for information. I should have also said, “Is that correct?” or “Do you know about this?”

          Or, yanno, you could have just straight up asked for the information, instead of stating it as a fact and expecting everyone to guess that you really meant it as a question.

          > I know a few parents who moved their kids to the Catholic school system to avoid all this. I suspect there will be more.

          If that’s true, then those parents are in for a nasty surprise.

          Catholic high schools are required to admit non-Catholic students, and Catholic elementary schools are not required but more than half of Catholic school districts do anyway (for strategic political reasons having to do with avoiding justifications for scrapping them). And regardless of the fact that they’re Catholic schools, they still have to follow the law.

          That means that Muslim students can attend Catholic schools, and can request the same accommodation. And in fact, it has already happened (http://www.lfpress.com/2012/09/16/mother-teresa-becomes-first-london-area-school-to-provide-muslims-students-with-a-prayer-room).

          • Indi

            My comment, that you responded to above, was directed at Derek Gray but as I posted it I realized that I didn’t direct it to him. My bad!!. I am old and, as such, I am a bit challenged by internet etiquette and culture.

            I would have never thanked you for your civil response (see above) if it was directed to you, unless I was being sarcastic, because you were not civil.

            Your response to my first post was aggressive, to say the least. This school board issue is obviously quite personal for you, but whatever you have been dealing with is not my fault. I didn’t deserve your response. You know almost nothing about me, my life or my beliefs. I wrote a reasonable, non-inflammatory comment and I got repeated ad hominems back!! (By the way, calling me a bigot is a wasted effort. I know who I am and I don’t accept your diagnosis. People are complicated and, remember, you don’t know me.)

            If you noticed I did indicate in my first post that I would stand corrected if given new information. That should have been a clue that I am not an unreasonable person. However, you chose to ignore that in order to fulfill your agenda.

            After all the nastiness. I thought about not responding and never posting again. Then I thought maybe I should just delete this site from my feed. Then I realized that if everyone did that it would mean that the opinions of the loudest, most hostile and aggressive people would be unopposed. I refuse to be intimidated and have my ideas shut down because, frankly, they are just as valid as anyone’s.

            Aggressive, personal attacks are a good way to shut down dialogue. Is that your aim? Are your opinions the only ones with any merit? If so, why is there a comment section? Maybe it would be better to shut it down.

            Regarding you comment: “Multiculturalism is working just fine.” REALLY??!! To quote you, “…your head is *way* up your ass”. If you’d poke your head out you would realize that the world has some serious problems with a clash of cultures. It is going to be really hard to solve and it’s going to get worse before it gets better (if ever!). You really need to become familiar with the origins and practice of tribalism to appreciate what we are up against. I found a couple of simple articles that I have linked to below. There are more scholarly papers but they are tough slogging for non-academics.

            Have a nice weekend. The ornamental fruit trees are in bloom here. It’s beautiful!

            https://clairelehmann.net/2014/06/20/denying-the-tribe/

            https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/how-risky-is-it-really/201205/how-tribalism-makes-risky-word-even-more-dangerous

        • > … you were not civil.

          Yes, I was not civil. Because you made ignorant and false statements, and although you retroactively tried to pass them off as mere opinions, they were not presented as such. You even admitted that you were wrong! You even said that you had misstated your position and had to “clarify”. Yet somehow that’s still my fault.

          Furthermore, there were other ignorant and false statements that you made in that original comment that I didn’t specifically call out, and that you still haven’t corrected.

          No, you *did* deserve my response, because what you said was ignorant and false. If that wasn’t what you *meant* to say, fine, I acknowledge your apology. But it *is* what you said, and I can only respond to what you say, not what you think you mean.

          You did indicate that you wanted to be corrected, but apparently that wasn’t true… because you were corrected, and you don’t seem to be appreciating it.

          I will *never* be civil to someone who is passing off ignorant and false statements as fact, and I make no apologies for that. If you don’t want to be treated like an ignoramus, don’t make ignorant statements. If you *do* make ignorant statements, whether on purpose or by accident, the correct thing to do is apologize for that… not complain to the person who called you on your ignorant statements.

          So now you’re threatening to unsubscribe from the site because we did correct (some of) your ignorant and false statements, but we didn’t kiss your ass enough while doing it? Fine, go right ahead. If you can’t handle having your beliefs challenged, then this really is no place for you.

          > If you’d poke your head out you would realize that the world has some serious problems with a clash of cultures.

          What does that have to do with the success of multiculturalism? And those links you provided – both just arguing that tribalism is a problem – what are they supposed to prove? Clearly you have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s like I said “public education has been very successful”, and you responded by providing evidence that “lack of education is a problem”. Yeah, no shit.

          We’re all fully aware that tribalism is a problem, thank you very much. You know what’s not a solution to that problem? More tribalism. That is, we’re not going to end tribalism by creating a new “Canadian” tribe – one that excludes “Muslim” and other religious or cultural tribes. Instead, the way to solve this problem is to say that “Canada” is *not* a tribe, that it accepts everyone regardless of whether they’re in a tribe or not, and regardless of what tribe they’re in, and that being part of Canada does not require you to join a tribe or leave whatever tribe you happen to be in. That’s multiculturalism.

          And of course there are *challenges* to multiculturalism. I mean, duh. But the reality is that Canada’s multiculturalism has been wildly successful, so successful that other countries are trying to model it. Multiculturalism is one of those things, like climate change and the age of the Earth, where the popular “debate” doesn’t really reflect the evidence, or the academic consensus. “Everyone” *thinks* multiculturalism is problematic, or that it has failed, or yadda yadda… but the real evidence is on the opposite side.

          This is a report commissioned by the Canadian government in 2010 – the *Harper* administration, hardly the friendliest administration toward multiculturalism – about whether multiculturalism was working. Spoiler alert: it was working quite well. This is a fairly comprehensive report, so it also discusses the challenges of multiculturalism. But the bottom line exactly as I said: it’s working just fine. URL: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pdf/pub/multi-state.pdf

          And here’s an even more detailed academic paper on whether multiculturalism has been a success or failure. Spoiler alert: success. Again, this goes into great detail about when and how it works and fails, and what we need to do to make it work even better. Incidentally, both this paper and the report above note that while lots of people are dumping on multiculturalism, the fact is that it does work. URL: http://www.academia.edu/2392447/Multiculturalism_Success_Failure_and_the_Future_2012_

          Now both of those were by the same guy (a widely published expert on multiculturalism), so maybe you want a second opinion. Okay, here are the proceedings from an Australian conference on multiculturalism. Most of the papers are about Australia (or China), but a couple are about Canada – and not all were actually done by Canadians. But guess what, *all* of them say rumours of multiculturalism’s failure are premature and exaggerated – *all* of them say that multiculturalism in Canada is doing just fine. URL: http://sydney.edu.au/education_social_work/professional_learning/resources/papers/MulticulturalismConference_Sydney2011_Proceedings.pdf

          The above links are all academic papers, so they can be dense, dry reading. So here are a crop of editorials – from sources across the political spectrum – explaining that Canadian multiculturalism works, and why, most providing evidence:

          * https://www.thestar.com/opinion/2007/08/12/multiculturalism_is_a_success_story_so_stop_whining.html
          * http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/multiculturalism-has-been-canadas-solution-not-its-problem/article4330460/
          * http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/samer-majzoub/multiculturalism-in-canada_b_9388576.html
          * http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/09/2013915111722311111.html

          The reality, whether you want to accept it or not, is that multiculturalism is alive and well, and it works spectacularly. Yes, yes, yes, there are challenges. It is not *perfect* and we don’t live in a utopia. Yes, yes, yes, it requires work to make multiculturalism work. But the fact that it is being challenged and that it requires effort to maintain doesn’t change the fact that it *works*, it has worked for a long time, and it will continue to work if we continue to support it.

          • Indi,

            Stay tuned. I am in the process of researching and composing a response which includes your criticism of my comments in my first post. I have some new info which may be of interest. Thank for the links in your most recent response. It saves me a lot of digging.

            I needed to post my most recent comment (“you were not civil”) to clarify who I am dealing with first. Now I know.

          • U r a fucking piece of garbage. Religion MUST stay out of schools. I hope some moslem slits your throat

  3. “No one has expressed concern about school-wide celebration of Diwali, or that we provide vegetarian options in food, or post posters acknowledging all major faith days, including Christmas.”

    I can’t help but imagine the PDSB trustee who said this dropping the mic after it.

  4. Under the Ontario Education Act students must be supervised by a certified teacher and because this has now become a religion class, although not I the Ontario curriculum, that teacher must be qualified in Religion Education. Having an outside preacher (imam) come in and supervise and lead the class is in contravention of the Education Act. Should the teacher choose to supervise that is a different story BUT…that teacher would be putting her teaching licence on the line. Why? Lets say the instruction is done in Arabic and not English? That teacher would not know what is being said and should any type of hate speech take place he/she would be legally liable with a lawsuit either criminally or civil. Could potentially lose their license as well as they were the LEGAL supervisor of that activity. Principals often fail to tell assigned teachers this fact. Parents should be notifying the Peel Boards Teachers Union (OSSTF Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation) I am most certain they will inform their teachers to refuse those work assignments.

    Now you could also have teacher supervisors that are also of the Islamic faith. This should be fine providing they donnot cross the line themselves. The real concern here is if a teacher is found advocating the Islamic or delivering the Islamic faith on your tax dollar then that is not allowed. Complaints for inappropriate teacher conduct in public schools should be made directly to the board superintendant and the Ontario College of Teachers. Teachers can face penalties from fines to suspensions to loss of license.

    What I have seen in European countries with the “migrant situation” is an increase in bullying, fear and hate crimes on children in schools. Now parents of all faith do have the right to inform the Board and tell them that the school is no longer a safe place for their children. If the advocacy of hate is perpetrated I these “mini mosques” as one reporter put it and there is evidence of negative outcome against students in that school community then parents have legal recourse. To avoid potential costly lawsuits I have seen boards offer in home one-on-one education at the boards expense! That’s right, parents that are vocal enough can push to keep their kids home and have a teacher come to their home to deliver curriculum! Several of my colleagues did this with students facing bullying at their schools. Some had experienced extreme anxiety of the abuse! The board paid. Under the Safe Schools policy boards are responsible for the safety of your child from the first bell to the time they leave and even in school approved after school events.

    Finally Grooming, every parent needs to know that children cannot be groomed or conditioned in any way. Whether it be for spiritual or sexual purposes. Parents entrust their children to the school its teachers and administrators. There are laws that govern their actions and responsibilities. Outside speakers have to be approved by administrators and the board for example. A private person cannot for example meet with students on campus unless he/she is supervised by a licensed teacher or administrator who is governed by the Education Act. This is where grooming comes in. If parents have an indication that their children may be radicalized or feel that they are being turned lets say from their Christian Faith toward the Islamic faith then some sort of grooming has taken place during the school day. This may not be acceptable to those parents and this again could be open to lawsuits against the board teachers or administrators! That right! That child is a minor and public schools in the province of Ontario have NO MANDATE to deliver the Islamic Religion or any other religion during your childs education if in doing so can damage, harm or groom that child.

    Lastly, The Ontario Ministry of Education mandated that students be in class at least 110 hours per full course credit. Students attending Friday prayer can potentially be missing the one hour per week on in that scheduled course and chances are it will always be that same class every Friday so potentially on one semester they could miss up to 20 hours of one subject. They can lose that credit. The Peel Board is saying that remedial work is given to catch up the missing work.

    • > “because this has now become a religion class … teacher must be qualified in Religion Education.”

      What are you talking about? How has this become a “class”? – there is no instruction from the supervising staff whatsoever. If there is a chess club – do you call that a “class” and require the supervising teacher to have Grandmaster status? you’re really grasping here.

      > “Having an outside preacher (imam) come in and supervise and lead the class is in contravention of the Education Act.”

      That isn’t what’s happening at PDSB. It’s student-led only.

      > “Should the teacher choose to supervise that is a different story BUT…that teacher would be putting her teaching licence on the line. Why? Lets say the instruction is done in Arabic and not English?”

      Then it is a different story. The staff volunteer as they do with any other student club, there is no coercion. No, let’s not say the instruction is done in Arabic. Because it’s not. the official policy at PDSB is that it must be in English, barring direct quotes from the Quran. So your point is moot.

      > “What I have seen in European countries with the “migrant situation” …Grooming …”

      Wow. way off topic and virtually impossible under the PDSB policy. Would you accuse the teacher of the Math club of grooming people who are not in the Math club? I don’t see that you are making much sense.

      > “Lastly, The Ontario Ministry of Education mandated that students be in class at least 110 hours per full course credit. Students attending Friday prayer can potentially be missing the one hour per week on in that scheduled course and chances are it will always be that same class every Friday so potentially on one semester they could miss up to 20 hours of one subject. They can lose that credit. The Peel Board is saying that remedial work is given to catch up the missing work.”

      In what way is ~20 minutes “potentially” 1 hour? You’re wrong here. The board policy allows for 1/2 hr per week for “advanced musical instruction” for example. Clearly your concern is not about Muslim students making up 20 minutes a week – I can tell you from personal experience that that is fairly trivial. There are many valid non-religious reasons one might miss some class. Do you take issue with any and all absences?

  5. All great comments. I could not resist to put my perspective as a parent of a PDSB school student on ground realities:

    1. Faith Clubs and Prayers, may not be of a financial hardship, they do infringe / intrude into other student’s life. For example: Friday prayer congregation is often visible to other students, school PA system is used to announce prayer rooms and times – unsolicited exposure

    2. Faith clubs i.e. MSA often run general and religion based sessions / workshops / competitions. Recently my daughter’s school conducted a henna workshop and Koranic verses competition. Some of the Asian girls participated in verses competition to win the lucrative prizes.

    Clearly, with the change in demography, faith clubs and prayers in some of the schools has taken a large / communal form. This definitely not in a spirit of “accommodation”, isn’t this a religion organizing in public schools for political reason?

    • Replace “Faith Club” with “Chess Club” (or “Debate Team Club”, or a sport etc. anything else that has regular meetings, competitions, announcements, etc.) Do your arguments still hold – i.e. would you be similarly against those clubs?

      How does one decide the point at which a club is too large to accommodate?
      (I too am a parent within the PDSB)

      Another real example in TDSB: an Extended French program for those coming in with more french experience (but in a non-French-Immersion school) – it has the similar (larger) requirement of pulling some kids from different classes to do it, then making up the lost time of the regularly-scheduled class.

      Seems to me any “club”-like “disruption” argument falls flat.

      • Also – you make a unsupported leap to say “political reason.”

        Also – you seem to be saying that a club can’t be assembled if too many of the students are interested? So if a public school had a mostly Ukrainian population and 80% of the students participated in Ukrainian traditional dance club, you’d have a problem with this also?

    • I would also add to what Derek Gray is saying:

      1) There is no such thing as a “right to not be exposed” to other beliefs. That is complete horseshit, the same kind of crap pushed by homophobes who say they have a right not to see happy gay couples.

      2) The school PA system *cannot* be used as a call to prayer. That would be straight-up illegal. The most that can be done is announcing if a regular meeting room has to be changed for some reason, or announce some religious club’s activity that is open to other students or will otherwise have some impact on them (example: a religious club booked the library for an afternoon for an event). If you have evidence of the PA system or other school facilities being used to promote any religion, report it.

      3) It doesn’t matter how large or “communal” student groups get. So long as they’re not interfering with classes or otherwise creating a disruption, there is nothing wrong with them.

      4) Even *if* some religious group was organizing in the school for a political reason… so what? The students are Canadian citizens (most of them, anyway). They have a constitutional right to organize for political reasons. And they’ve been doing it for generations: everything from student protests against tuition fees, to anti-war protests, to modern-day gay-straight alliances. So long as they’re not interfering with the school or other students, there is no justification for stopping them. And no, the fact that they have a religion is not justification.

      If you’re really worried about a religion becoming political, perhaps you should stop making religion a political issue. Religious groups wouldn’t have as much need to organize for political reasons if their rights weren’t being threatened.

    • Bharati, this is completely normal in Canada during these types of global circumstances.

      The important thing here is not to mark yourself as the parent freak.

      The parent freaks never come out on top in Canada, trust me.

      This is not your path to heroism.

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