13 Dec 2010

Religious indoctrination thrives in B.C. private schools because education ministry does not vet textbooks or courses

The Vancouver Sun - Canada July 8, 2010

Who is policing private schools?

Education ministry doesn't screen what's taught

By Daphne Bramham | Vancouver Sun

It's against the law to teach religious intolerance, sedition, social change through violent action or racial and ethnic superiority in B.C. schools.

These reasonable limits are specifically spelled out in the act governing independent schools. The problem is that they're almost impossible to enforce.

What school administrator -- no matter how zealous or bigoted -- wouldn't have the foresight to warn teachers not to leave that kind of material lying around in case there's a snap inspection? What teacher, regardless of how hate-filled or radical, can't pull a benign lesson plan out at the dreaded moment of an evaluation?

But B.C.'s independent schools can formulate their own full-credit courses. All that the education ministry requires is that the independent school authorities submit a course name and synopsis along with the number of hours of instruction and the intended learning outcomes.

No one in the ministry vets the texts or resource materials. Nobody screens the content. The only people who view the content are members of the external evaluation committee, whose members are not ministry staff. The ministry delegates that work to administrators from other independent schools.

The education minister can ask to see the course materials for these locally developed programs, although no one seems to know whether any minister ever has.

The material is not available to the public.

In response to a freedom of information request, I was told: "The ministry of education does not collect BAA (board/authority-authorized course materials) for any schools and does not possess copies of textbooks."

I had asked for the textbooks and resource materials for the Grades 1 to 12 religious studies at the two fundamentalist Mormon schools in Bountiful, which will receive $1.7 million in government grants this year. Their combined enrolment over the last five years has risen to 432 from 262.

I asked because I have some taped sermons preached by Warren Jeffs, the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which runs Bountiful elementary secondary school (BESS). It has 230 students and gets $961,497 in government grants.

"The people in Sodom and Gomorrah were so evil the men started to marry the men and the women started to marry the women, and this is the worst evil you can do next to murder," he says in one. "In fact, it is murder. Whenever the people do that sin, then the Lord destroys them."

In another, Jeffs says, "If you marry a person who has connections with a Negro, you would become cursed."

Jeffs's doctrine is not taught at Mormon Hills, which was started after Bountiful split over Jeffs's leadership. During the split, Winston Blackmore, who now heads Mormon Hills, complained to the independent school inspector that racism was being taught at BESS.

I also have copies of fundamentalist Mormon texts predating Jeffs that have similar sentiments about blacks and homosexuals and that not only deny the equality of women, but question the authority of the government.

But set aside the fundamentalist Mormon schools. They are not alone in teaching locally generated courses. Others also create and teach courses without any meaningful oversight. And while enrolment in public schools is declining, private schools are growing at a rate averaging 1.1 per cent a year over the past five years. Some 70,705 students now attend private schools that range from religious schools (Catholic, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hare Krishna and others) to Montessori.

One of Canada's highest profile hate-speech cases involved public-school teacher James Keegstra. He was convicted of inciting hatred of Jews after a parent read her son's notebook, went to the library, did research on the Holocaust and complained to the school board and police. Keegstra had been teaching there for many years.

But at private schools, parents are less likely to complain about course material. Most choose to send their children there specifically because they share the beliefs espoused by the school and its administrators.

As for the teachers, many private schools hire only people with shared beliefs. Many of the teachers for these locally developed courses don't have university degrees or belong to the B.C. College of Teachers. Many have temporary certification from the inspector of independent schools on the basis of the principal's recommendation. Then, after two years and with the principal's recommendation, the inspector can grant permanent certification.

It's a potentially perfect circle. Administrators approve locally developed courses that are taught by teachers whose jobs may depend on their shared beliefs (and the administrator's favour), who pass the beliefs on to children of like-minded parents. Oversight comes as rarely as once every two years from external evaluators (often similarly minded colleagues), who have a long checklist to fill out during a two-day inspection that's almost always scheduled well in advance.

Children should not be taught hatred, sedition, treason and violent societal overthrow.

But if the government won't police what is taught in taxpayer-funded schools, who will?

This article was found at:



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1 comment:

  1. Looks comprehensive!

    I have 550 Warren Jeffs FLDS Audio Cassettes.

    10,000 pages of FLDS Text on their doctrine!

    Emails from "winkie" Winston Blackmore!

    Yep, I have opinions too!

    fincenMIB on most blogs