LEVY: Toronto school trustees ignorant to how politicized the classrooms are
LEVY: Toronto school trustees ignorant to how politicized the classrooms are

If there was ever proof that the Toronto District School Board and its unions are steeped in woke progressive rot, it’s the great efforts made by trustees this past week to dispense with a motion to remove politicking from the board’s schools.

The biggest cheerleader to continue politicking — the majority of it in the past seven months rabidly antisemitic during class hours and using board resources — was Jewish longtime trustee Shelley Laskin, who yet again proved she has been in office far too long.

The motion — brought forward by courageous trustee Weidong Pei before the policy and governance committee — called for a report, (just a report for heaven’s sake!), to trustees by the end of September that sets boundaries for teachers and other staff to put an end to the use of classroom time and board resources to engage in political activism.

It also asks the board to provide guidelines that would prohibit public speakers visiting schools from engaging in political activism under the guise of free speech and bar staff from incorporating political activism into their teaching practices.

This kind of motion was long overdue considering union-driven political activism has been part of the board fabric for years and years — whether it has been fighting Mike Harris, pushing gender ideology and critical race theory, or most recently supporting Hamas.

Trustees on the committee even admitted they receive hundreds of emails every year opposing the politicization of the TDSB classrooms. Not that they’ve done a damn thing about it.

Trustee Michelle Aarts, another with a PhD who seems to lack solid reasoning skills and hates anyone with an opinion other than her own, said she gets emails like this every year. The most recent, she claimed, were “transphobic.”

“These bigoted voices are louder every year… they’re from extremist groups,” she said.

The politicization all came to a head following Oct. 7. Trustees and the board’s activist director have turned a blind eye to high school students leaving class to protest; to the bullying of Jewish students at school; and especially to the pro-Hamas activism in the classroom.

Jewish students and teachers have felt that no one has their backs. Academics have taken a back seat to political grandstanding.

Not surprisingly, the motion lost seven to two, voted down by the cabal of progressives who have facilitated the rot. 

Associate director Leola Pon – whose salary jumped from $213,519 in 2022 to $280,657 in 2023 (in my view to buy her loyalty) – claimed the motion was a “vast overreach” and “not appropriate or necessary” considering TDSB has a “very strict set of policies” to ensure educators know their boundaries.

Who is she fooling? You can have all the policies in the universe but if they’re not enforced – as has occurred under the stewardship of education director Colleen Russell-Rawlins – you have radical teachers essentially thumbing their noses at the idea of respect for all students.

Before the motion even came to the committee on May 29, Laskin (who doesn’t even sit on the committee) made it known to anyone who would listen that she didn’t approve of Pei’s efforts to return classrooms to some sanity.

In an email to a Jewish constituent, obtained by True North and in similar comments to the committee, she said as a Jewish trustee she is against the motion.

She called the language in the motion “far right” and said it would only “further divide” board students. (I’m not sure how much further they could be divided).

Then laughingly, as if she was operating on a different plant, she claimed that they have a “complaints protocol” to deal with inappropriate staff behaviour and that the board addresses “bullying and harassment” against all identifiable groups.

“Teachers already understand their professional boundaries,” she sniffed snarkily. “The ethical standards are clear.”

Then she – with gall typical of an entitled leftist trustee – contended that they need “more resources (money)” from the education ministry to deal with these “difficult conversations.”

I reached out to Laskin to ask why she threw her own community under the bus. She contended that I’ve “misrepresented her views” on this issue.

“I am deeply disturbed that incidents of antisemitism continue in our schools that leave Jewish students and teachers feeling vulnerable,” she said. “I know we must do more to combat antisemitism, and all hate in our schools. I just don’t believe this particular motion was the way to go about doing it.”

Then she claimed to me that she has “publicly fought against antisemitism and all forms of hate” and continues to do so.

That said, I don’t recall her standing up against any kind of the antisemitic hate we’ve seen in TDSB classrooms since October.

That’s because, as the acrobatics around Pei’s motion have yet again proven, these trustees are beholden to the largely antisemitic unions who protect bad teachers.

Trustees pander to the loudest voices, no matter whether they’re doing the right thing, and most are not insightful enough to understand how DEI enables antisemitism.

As Laskin’s behaviour showed, they bully those who challenge the status quo.

When someone like Aarts talks about extremist voices, she really should examine her own behaviour – which is totally out of touch with the silent majority.

This is yet another reason why the ministry should take over the board and clean out the progressive rot.

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