In my opinion the word Trustee means to inherit the responsibility of preserving the integrity and values of an institution that has been carefully handed down to us through the generations by our ancestors, and then make sure that institution and its values will continue to exist, intact, for long into the future.
The job of a Catholic School Trustee in particular is to ensure high standards of quality are maintained in our schools, safeguard our Catholic faith and moral teachings, and ensure that our schools are safe, fair and virtuous places where student learning can truly flourish.
1) What does it mean to "bring Christ back into the classroom"?
A: One thing it does not mean we do is try to turn every class into religion class. At this stage of the pandemic recovery when they are just trying to play catch-up with students academically, teachers do not need to feel burdened with huge new spiritual responsibilities imposed from the top down, because their job is already tough enough. Teachers should not be expected to be priests, political agents or social activists.
What it does mean we do from the top, at the board level, is set the tone to ensure our education system remembers its unique Catholic identity - that which sets us apart from the public board and gives spiritual meaning, spark and purpose to the lives of our staff and students. Parents send their children to the Catholic system with certain expectations about the culture and values being promoted. Along with regular physics they want the correct metaphysics to guide us. Let’s make sure they’re not being misled. Let’s cultivate the soil so a faithful Catholic ethos can flourish naturally and organically from the bottom up!
“We are so concerned with our children’s schooling [and worldly success]; if only we were equally zealous in bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord… This, then, is our task: to educate both ourselves and our children in godliness”
— St. John Chrysostom
2) Can you give an example of what you mean by Political Ideologies?
A: You can currently find examples of political ideologies on the Waterloo Catholic District School Board's own official Glossary (Click here). Here are two examples from the Glossary:
"Critical Race Theory"
"Critical Race Theory considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies take up but places those issues in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, and even feelings and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step by step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, enlightenment rationalism, and principles of constitutional law (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001)."
"Co-conspirators are individuals who are willing to put something on the line to use their privilege to disband systems of oppression. In contrast to allyship, co-conspirators do not just educate themselves about systemic injustice and racism, they take personal risks to pursue meaningful action (Love, 2019)."
3) What's wrong with pushing Political Ideologies?
I believe that without a high quality education fostering independent thinking, we are automatically locking away the potential of human beings, and in this sense education is not merely a serious matter, it’s actually a matter of life and death both for souls and for a society. I have written a lot about civilizations and economies and how they can collapse in my academic career, and I know that ours will face a very uncertain future if we don’t start opening this potential back up again in our children. We can do this in part by getting partisan politics out of our shared civil institutions and not teaching our children radical, divisive or easy ideological answers to the immensely complex problems of our world. We are capable of so much better as a species. That’s also how we can begin to restore lost faith in our governments which have been shaken so terribly by the pandemic. Let’s stop trying to make our overworked teachers into activists or politicians and let them get back to the pure joy of teaching.
“Young people need to be able to distinguish between helpful and injurious knowledge, keeping clearly in mind the Christian’s purpose in life.”
— St. Basil the Great
4) Are you concerned about bullying in our schools?
A: As someone who was repeatedly bullied myself in school, I have zero tolerance for any type of bullying. I believe it is fully possible to end the malicious scourge of bullying in schools while maintaining a Christian atmosphere. There are many facets to the problem but here are just two ideas:
a) First, by empowering bullying victims with the right to stand up for themselves. One of the reasons I believe bullying continues to persist is the bureaucratic tendency in schools to treat the bullied with the same disciplinary measures as the person bullying them. Students should be empowered with the right to stand up for themselves in situations where staff are not present, safe in the knowledge that doing so will not affect their academic standing because the context of the encounter will be heavily taken into account.
When incidents of conflict are reviewed by staff, the student who initiates the abuse would be treated more seriously, especially if there is a pattern of abuse established across multiple students. Supporting and empowering bullying victims to stand up for themselves will help stop repeat bullying and reduce the number of bullying incidents staff need to spend time reviewing in the long run.
b) Second, teaching students that mastering their own personal self-discipline is the ultimate antidote to controlling their urge to bully. A cornerstone of board policy should be teaching students that physically and spiritually, they are each divine temples of the Holy Spirit and so they must always have self respect for themselves and their classmates. The uniquely Christian concept of forgiveness must be the default response to conflict. Therefore bringing Christ back into the classroom will be key to restoring safe learning environments for all.
5) Why do you think parents need to be consulted as valued
partners in education?
A: This matter is so important it is actually part of the Catholic Church's own Code of Canon Law as it relates to schools, viewable on the Vatican's Official website: https://www.vatican.va/archive/cod-iuris-canonici/cic_index_en.html
"Can. 796 §1. Among the means to foster education, the Christian faithful are to hold schools in esteem; schools are the principal assistance to parents in fulfilling the function of education.
§2. Parents must cooperate closely with the teachers of the schools to which they entrust their children to be educated; moreover, teachers in fulfilling their duty are to collaborate very closely with parents, who are to be heard willingly and for whom associations or meetings are to be established and highly esteemed."
Would you handle it differently?
A: This sort of inappropriate hyper-sexualization does not belong anywhere near children, in our schools or in the classroom, especially at a Catholic board. Childhood innocence and the sanctity of children's souls are some of the most blessed and beautiful things in our world and I will passionately defend them!
For this reason, I also question why various sexualized terms and acts are also being promoted in the Waterloo Catholic District School Board's own official Glossary (Click here):
"Drag King is a person (often a woman) who appears as a man, often in reference to an act or performance. This has no implications regarding gender identity or sexuality"
"Drag Queen is a person (often a man) who appears as a woman, often in reference to an act or performance. This has no implications regarding gender identity or sexuality"
What do sexualized acts and performances have to do with the education of young children in our supposedly Catholic school system?