Leading education expert urges Toronto Catholic board to protect Church teaching
TORONTO, Ontario, July 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A leading expert on Catholic education in Ontario has urged the Toronto Catholic District School Board to pass key amendments to its equity policy designed to protect Catholic teaching in the schools.
In a recent letter to trustees, professor and former director of education, Dr. Robert T. Dixon, lauded the board for the fact that the policy makes clear that “the Board … gives pre-eminence to the tenets of the Catholic faith,” but says it is “essential” that the rest of the policy be consistent with that statement.
Dixon is an adjunct professor at St. Augustine’s Seminary who has focused his career on Catholic education in Ontario. His doctoral thesis in 1974 was on the separate school system, and he is the author of “Catholic Education and Politics in Ontario, Vol. IV” and “We Remember, We Believe. A History of Toronto’s Catholic Separate School Boards, 1841 to 1997. “ He has authored affidavits for eight court cases regarding the separate schools’ constitutional rights, all of which were accepted by the court.
His letter comes after the board’s equity policy sparked an unprecedented mobilization of parents who fear that it will give homosexual activists a foothold in order to further subvert already weak Catholic sexual teaching in the schools.
In Dixon’s letter, also addressed to Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto and director of education Ann Perron, he says it is “obvious,” based on quotes from authoritative Church documents, that the equity policy “must be free from any doctrinal error and implemented in the schools in accordance with the teachings of the Magisterium and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”
He says Canada’s courts have treated Catholic schools’ denominational rights “with great care and respect,” and that they have accepted the Catholic curriculum as an “essential element” of the Catholic school, and therefore deserving of Constitutional protection.
Dixon describes one clause of the policy affirming that the Board is “committed to establishing and maintaining partnerships with all members of our diverse Catholic community” as “alarming” in its current wording.
“There is some evidence that [t]here are ‘members of our diverse Catholic community’ who may believe that they are propagating Catholic teaching but who, in fact, are not,” he writes. He urged them to include a statement that partnerships will only be maintained if they are “consistent with and reinforce” the Church’s teaching.
Dixon says he is particularly alarmed by Regulation 9 of the policy, which currently affords students “freedom from discriminatory or harassing behaviour based on religion” (emphasis added).
“As worded, this in effect singles out religion as the cause of discrimination or harassment. This is neither fair nor accurate,” he explained. He suggested it be changed simply to “freedom from discrimination or harassment.”
He praises an amendment that corrects a statement saying students should “see themselves reflected in their curriculum” by stressing “this goal does not extend to recognition of personal conduct or a lifestyle that is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
He also supports an amendment seeking to ensure that student clubs will only be approved if their goals are consistent with the Catholic faith.
However, he says an amendment charging teachers with ensuring that “no classroom instruction would undermine or contradict the teachings of the Catholic Church” is unnecessary due to its redundancy.
“The Education Act lists the duties of teachers which clearly convey that any teacher who does not follow the TCDSB’s curriculum can be dismissed or at least disciplined and warned,” he explained.
The passage of the board’s equity policy earlier this year was considered a watershed advancement of homosexual activism in Ontario’s education system, given that the Toronto board is the last and by far the largest Catholic board to implement the policy as part of the Ontario government’s sweeping “equity and inclusive education strategy.”
In May, parents submitted a petition signed by 2,418 Catholic stakeholders demanding the equity policy be rejected or amended.
See Dr. Dixon’s letter to trustees here.
Most Rev. Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto (ON) M4T 1W2
Tel: (416) 934-3400 #609
Fax: (416) 934-3452
E-mail: [email protected]
(416) 512-3405 [email protected]
Frank D’Amico (416) 512-3406 [email protected]
John Del Grande (416) 512-3407 [email protected]
Tobias Enverga (416) 512-3408 [email protected]
Jo-Ann Davis (416) 512-3409 [email protected]
Barbara Poplawski (416) 512-3410 [email protected]
Angela Kennedy (416) 512=3411 [email protected]
Nancy Crawford (416) 512-3412 [email protected]
Natalie Rizzo (416) 512-3413 [email protected] (Student trustee)