Doug Ford’s new “sex-ed snitch line” – a website and hotline that people are supposed to use to “express concerns about the curriculum being taught” in schools – has been a hot topic since news broke to the general public yesterday.
Seen by some as a new reporting mechanism and others as an aggressive move designed to bully teachers and inflame the culture wars, the “snitch line” caught many people by surprise – including the people administering it.
According to www.ForTheParents.ca, the website Ford’s government set up to collect these complaints, reports generated from the site will be collected monthly and shared with the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT).
The OCT is the credential agency that registers teachers, and so naturally it handles standard, run-of-the-mill complaints about teachers. I contacted the OCT to ask them about how these new curriculum reports will differ from the standard kind. In response, they gave me the following statement:
“The Ontario College of Teachers ( www.oct.ca ) works to protect the public interest. The government’s announcement affirms that parents and the public can express concerns regarding our members with respect to professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity by way of our online complaints process. Our process is and has been public and is based on the principles of fairness, reasonable timing and openness.
The College looks forward to meeting with Ontario’s new Minister of Education to discuss the College’s role and that of its Public Interest Committee as it relates to the development of a Parents Bill of Rights and its relation to our complaint, investigation and discipline process. [emphasis mine]
As additional information becomes available, the College will ensure that the public, including parents, Ontario Certified Teachers and employers are informed.”
One thing you’ll notice here is that the statement does not actually answer my question. When I asked again, the OCT was unable to comment and referred me back to the statement.
But check out this line: “The College looks forward to meeting with Ontario’s new Minister of Education to discuss the College’s role and that of its Public Interest Committee as it relates to the development of a Parents Bill of Rights and its relation to our complaint, investigation and discipline process.” I asked the OCT to clarify – does this mean that the Premier’s office and the Ministry of Education never even consulted with the OCT about this reporting line?
In response, they only pointed me back to that same line in the statement.
I also called the Ministry of Education to ask if they had indeed consulted with OCT before announcing this new reporting approach, and I also asked for a complete description of what would be different about the curriculum reporting process. The Ministry’s media relations coordinator took my questions, and said she’d get back to me. I asked her to do so by the end of business today. So far no answers have been forthcoming.
ForTheParents.ca also uses a boilerplate privacy disclaimer. As of 9:49 PM last night, the website boilerplate privacy inaccurately described the privacy process (see image here – it’s since been updated and corrected). The office of the agent that is explicitly referenced in that boilerplate was also unable to answer questions about the site and referred me to the Premier’s office.
At this point, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the “snitch line” is actually just a slapped-together website with no actual policy associated with it, and that nobody involved in administering it has actually been told about it. In which case – what IS “ForTheParents.ca” for? And who decided to create it?
I emailed the Premier’s media relations team, and left a voicemail on their office and a message with their reception desk. As of the time of publication, neither they nor the Education Minister’s office have answered my questions.