School District 73 plans to investigate after the father of a Valleyview secondary student spoke out about a politically divisive worksheet given to his son’s Grade 10 social studies class earlier this week.
Matt DeFouw told KTW he was shocked and upset to learn from his son that teacher-provided answers to the in-class assignment labeled certain beliefs — such as “a person who is racist” — as right-wing ideologies.
“I could not believe that would be something that would ever be shown the light of day in a classroom,” DeFouw said, adding he felt the assignment was an oversimplification of the political spectrum.
The worksheet included statements such as “a person who believes that women should stay at home and be mothers,” “a person who believes that convicted murderers should be hanged” and “a person who believes that Canada should restrict immigration,” which were all labeled as being right-wing viewpoints.
Answers to “a person who believes the school strap should be abolished,” “a person who believes in higher minimum wage” and “a person who believes that all major industries should be owned by the state” were all considered left-wing thoughts.
“That’s like taking food and saying all food just goes from bland to spicy and there’s no other metrics to the way you can describe food,” DeFouw said.
DeFouw took to Facebook, where he posted a picture of the assignment, titled Political Spectrum Case Studies, which contained his son’s whited out answers alongside the teacher’s answers he said his son wrote down in pink ink.
“This is 1984-esque propaganda at its very worst,” DeFouw wrote on Facebook. “It is essentially molding the next generation of voters to believe that conservatives or people ‘on the right’ are misogynist racists who hate immigrants and want to enact a brutal police state.”
DeFouw also called the school and expressed his concerns with principal Barb Hamblett. DeFouw said the conversation went very well.
“I told her I don’t think we should be teaching divisive identity politics in schools. I don’t think that we should be polarizing students and creating us versus them and good versus bad based on political bent,” he said.
In a letter addressed to DeFouw from Hamblett, which DeFouw also posted to Facebook, Hamblett wrote that she spoke to the classroom teacher about his concerns.
“Although there was no intent to cause confusion for students, the teacher acknowledged that the social studies worksheet did not present a balanced view of the political spectrum and it was an oversimplification of a very complex issue,” Hamblett wrote.
She went on to say the teacher sees a need to revisit the concepts from the lesson.
Hamblett did not reply to a request for an interview from KTW.
DeFouw said he felt the school’s administration handled the issue well.
SD73 assistant superintendent Bill Hamblett (the husband of the Valleyview secondary principal), who oversees secondary schools, told KTW the district’s internal investigation will determine the next steps.
Hamblett said he doesn’t know where the teacher obtained the worksheet, but noted the investigation will involve asking her why she chose it.
“Teachers develop a variety of resources to use in their classrooms — electronic, paper, class-generated discussions, sometimes students generate some aspects of the lesson — so there’s no lock-step process for that,” Hamblett said.
He could not, however, comment on whether the district will look into where the teacher obtained the worksheet.
“It may or may not be of relevance,” Hamblett said.