I have this…policy…I don’t, as a rule, weigh in on an issue until I have as many facts as I can get my eyes on. Ben Levin is a name that should be familiar to Ontario residents with school-aged children. The disgraced former deputy education Minister for both Ontario and Manitoba, and former professor at U of T pleaded guilty and was convicted of “making written child pornography”, “making available child pornography” and most shockingly, “counselling a person to commit sexual assault upon a child.” Horrible offences all to be sure. Levin’s sentencing is scheduled for April 13, 14, and 15. I hope his human sentence takes a cue from his sentencing hearing, I hope it is long.
Let me be clear when I say this. There is no justification for Levin’s crimes whatsoever. He did them, and he’ll be punished.
It is too bad, however, that ad hominem fallacies have become a good way to make a point. In school, I was taught that fallacies were a bad place to root an opinion or an argument, then again, I didn’t go to journalism school…
In the last few weeks, many folks have taken issue with Levin’s involvement in Ontario’s new Health and Physical Education curriculum. Allegations about exactly how much input he had into the actual content are flying all over the Internet. Regardless of how much or little input he had, whether he was truly only an administrator or was the chief author doesn’t change the actual content of the curriculum one iota.
It’s important because the curriculum has been widely available in full for some time now and, to my knowledge no single reliable sexual assault advocacy group had raised any red flags about the content itself. Attacking Levin’s character might be easy, but it doesn’t make a compelling case to oppose a curriculum.
Don’t go crazy on me yet.
Is Ben Levin a dangerous man who should never be left alone with children again? Yes. Would I ever allow him to be in the same room as my own kids? Of course not. Not even if he repents and becomes a believer, because sin has consequences in real life, and as parents we are to guard our kids. But again, as there has been no outcry from reputable children’s advocacy groups regarding the actual content of the curriculum, it’s not a sufficient reason to oppose it.
As many (many) of you have pointed out, any curriculum is just a guide. The actual teachers have a great deal of latitude in the actual teaching of the material. Some teachers are better than others. Some teachers do have an axe to grind. That’s why it’s important, critically important, for parents to be involved in our kids’ schools and schooling. My wife is already asking how to become a member of the PTA, and our oldest isn’t in school yet! Get to know your kids’ teachers. Respectfully ask them about things that concern you as a parent. Learn to be proactive rather than reactive. Most teachers will accommodate religious beliefs, (The curriculum text actually requires this) especially if the conversation is respectful and winsome. Some teachers may not, at least then, you’ll know, and you have other options if that is the case. I think, however, you will find that most teachers are fine, and probably just as uncomfortable talking about sex to a bunch of strangers kids as you are talking about it to your own.
Ben Levin is an easy target, we can take shots at him over our news feeds and feel better about ourselves while not doing anything concrete to help, and guard our kids in real life class rooms. Get involved, talk to your kids’ teachers.
Many people are opposed to this curriculum, if you are one of them, that is your right. I don’t like everything in it myself (contrary to popular belief) but the reality is that since we live in a highly sexualized culture, kids in the information age are going to learn about sex. They will probably learn earlier than we did, that’s a result of the culture we created for them. As parents we need to be proactive, and we need to know our kids and their teachers because we are the primary educators, unless and until we abdicate that role.
If you’re opposed to the curriculum, be opposed to it because you’ve read it, be opposed to it because of its actual content. Don’t be opposed to it because of what fear-mongering, reactionaries say and repeat without thinking.
This post originally appeared at The Eganville Follower.