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Woke teachers openly preach as common-sense colleagues are silenced

Woke teachers openly preach as common-sense colleagues are silenced
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Promoters of decolonization, social justice and ‘anti-oppression education’ enjoy the support of the education system

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One of the more egregious examples of the politicized Canadian classroom can be found in the halls of L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. There, the classroom of an anti-oppression curriculum specialist is coated with social justice posters: ones that decry colonialism, ones that inflame racial politics and one that even likens prostitution to regular physical labour.

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It’s not appropriate for a public school. Still, it’s the kind of teaching that school systems across Canada are either turning a blind eye to — or worse, encouraging. And when they face criticism, it’s they who claim to be the victims, despite their use of tax dollars to pre-treat students with certain political beliefs.

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Criticism has very much confronted L.A. Matheson and its pro-social-justice, anti-capitalist teacher, Annie Ohana, now that web sleuths have stumbled upon it. Ohana has taken enough negative commentary online in recent days to warrant a visit from CTV News. Her primary critic, a former teacher named Chanel Pfahl who herself was ostracized from the profession for daring to question the growing fervour for identity politics in schools, stands accused of causing danger to the class.

“She seems to be making a lot of assumptions that were simply based on misinformation, lies, and in fact, puts myself and other teachers and students and my community in danger,” Ohana told CTV last week.

Defending her methods, Ohana says she’s just helping to create “empowered citizens that can speak up for themselves. Elsewhere, she’s insisted that her students are just learning about “critical thinking.” Which would be believable if the classroom included political posters from across the left-right spectrum.

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Alas, no. There’s a Palestinian flag, but no Israel flag is visible. There are progress pride flags but no thin blue line flag. There are denunciations of colonialism but no posters honouring Sir John A. Macdonald or Queen Elizabeth II. There’s a Canadian flag — over which the text, “No pride in genocide,” is printed. Critical thinking would involve teaching students to contemplate more than one perspective.

A quick glide through Ohana’s social media posts reveals the expected. She transparently can’t stand conservatives: “The Republican Psrty is  are rooted in exclusionaty White Supremacist brliefs. Their token measures will never be enough or make any kind of sense,” (sic) she posted in September. As far as other issues of race and gender, she’s predictably radical: “the systemic transformation could not come sooner,” she posted to X in 2021, above the text, “The future is non-binary.” There’s a mountain of material to behold, but it points to one thing: a deep commitment to promoting the ideology of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to students and poisoning any pride they might have for their country.

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Ohana claims, and CTV accepts, that she’s the victim of a witch hunt due to the sudden barrage of online criticism she’s received for her classroom decor and public profile. But she still has her job, and we can infer from just how loudly she proclaims her positions and from her years of activity on social media, the support of her school and board. In the institution’s eyes, she doesn’t appear to be doing anything wrong — even if members of the public see a political agenda and feel it’s inappropriate.

This is education in 2024, though. The B.C. education department effectively requires gender ideology to be promoted in public schools through a program called “SOGI” (short for sexual orientation and gender identity). Meanwhile, mandatory Indigenous education has been introduced, and it’s doubtful it will provide a nuanced view on the history of colonialism. Other provinces have similar pressures: Ontario is a prime case, having scurried to implement anti-racism policies in recent years, which has paved the way for more identity politics from school administrations.

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The teachers who support DEI will be fine; it’s teachers who question it that are likely to be at risk. Pfahl’s experience is a testament to that.

To a lesser degree, it was felt by a Halton high school teacher I spoke with this week. She had been in a professional development session at a teacher’s conference when the facilitator explained to the room that the use of a certain evaluation method for students fit the school board’s decolonization, anti-oppression and anti-racism framework.

The teacher asked what this meant — and was met with frustrated explanations about the oppressive nature of Canada and its colonial history. At no point was it explained how these things pertained to education.

“I want to know specifically what that looks like, what that feels like, and what that sounds like in a classroom,” she said. “And again, (the facilitator) just reiterated her definitions of decolonization, saying to me, ‘I don’t think you understand what decolonization is.’ And I said, ‘I do understand. I’m very confused about why.”

The teacher felt strain in some relationships with her peers afterward, and one colleague even rudely refused to work with her on a project, insisting that the teacher might be a safety risk to students. It was a demoralizing experience.

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“Ten years ago, I very much believed in equity,” she recounted. “I would attend anytime a workshop or professional development came out. (This was) before COVID, when it was very enjoyable…. I went through a phase where I was very interested in anti-Black racism. And I was interested in LGBTQ+ education. I attended all of those workshops and I was very much in it.”

Things started going “a little bit sideways” for the teacher when a professional development session used Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility as a source (the book contains numerous racially-charged claims). Politically-motivated instruction only got more common from there, to the discomfort of the teacher.

“We’ve moved away from having professional developments that are based on how to improve literacy, how to improve critical thinking, how to differentiate instruction in the classroom,” she said. “In other words, how to teach versus what to teach.”

Ohana can post about her political opinions safely online and expect the full backing of the system. Meanwhile, our anonymous teacher can’t use her name publicly for fear of the risks that come with. That should tell you something about the actual problems in education — something that CTV hasn’t seemed to have noticed yet.

National Post

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