Exploring draft policy 605
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Exploring Draft Policy 605. Spiritual, Religious and Cultural Aspects of Education. Our Time Together. Share Work To Date Explore “Rights” Build Common Knowledge Hear Voice Clarify Practices Consider Support Needs Fill the Space – Open the Space. Considerations.

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Exploring Draft Policy 605

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Exploring draft policy 605

Exploring Draft Policy 605

Spiritual, Religious and Cultural Aspects of Education


Our time together

Our Time Together

Share Work To Date

Explore “Rights”

Build Common Knowledge

Hear Voice

Clarify Practices

Consider Support Needs

Fill the Space – Open the Space


Considerations

Considerations

  • Board Values and Beliefs

  • Human Rights

  • Constitutional Rights

  • Current Practice

  • Community Expectations

  • Legal Implications

  • Our SD Policy (Draft 605)

  • Supporting Our School Communities


Board values and beliefs

Board Values and Beliefs

  • Transparency

    We value transparent and open relationships that are characterized by the sharing of information and exploration of ideas.

  • Inclusiveness

    We value inclusiveness as the celebration and acceptance of all people.

  • Diversity

    We value diversity in our quest to develop trusting, respectful, equitable and just relationships among participants in our school division.

  • Collaboration

    We value collaboration and cooperative relationships that engage stakeholders.


Human rights

Human Rights

Right to freedom of conscience

4 Every person and every class of persons shall enjoy the right to freedom of conscience, opinion and belief and freedom of religious association, teaching, practice and worship.

1979, c.S-24.1, s.4.


Human rights1

Human Rights

Right to education

13(1) Every person and every class of persons shall enjoy the right to education in any school, college, university or other institution or place of learning, vocational training or apprenticeship without discrimination on the basis of a prohibited ground other than age.

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) prevents a school, college, university or other institution or place of learning from following a restrictive policy with respect to enrolment on the basis of sex, creed, religion or disability, where it enrols persons of a particular sex, creed or religion exclusively, or is conducted by a religious order or society, or where it enrols persons who are disabled.

1979, c.S-24.1, s.13; 1989-90, c.23, s.9; 1993, c.61, s.8; 2000, c.26, s.9.


Constitutional rights

Constitutional Rights

  • Boards of education in the province of Saskatchewan have a right to allow recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the opening of school. That right is entrenched in the constitution by virtue of section 17 of The Saskatchewan Act.


Constitutional rights1

Constitutional Rights

  • In 1905 The Saskatchewan Act created the province of Saskatchewan and brought it into confederation. Section 17 provides:

    17. Section 93 of The British North America Act, 1867, shall apply to the said province, with the substitution for paragraph (1) of the said section 93, of the following paragraph:

    (1) Nothing in any law shall prejudicially affect any right or privilege with respect to separate schools which any class of persons have at the date of the passing of this Act, under the terms of chapters 29 and 30 of the Ordinances of the North-west Territories, passed in the year 1901, or with respect to religious instruction in any public or separate school as provided for in the said ordinances.


Constitutional rights2

Constitutional Rights

  • The North West Territories School Ordinance, N.W.T.O. 1901, c. 29 provides in a section entitled “Religious Instruction”:

    137.No religious instruction except as hereinafter provided shall be permitted in the school of any district from the opening of such school until one half hour previous to its closing in the afternoon after which time any such instruction permitted or desired by the board may be given.

    (2) It shall however be permissible for the board of any district to direct that the school be opened by the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.


Constitutional rights3

Constitutional Rights

138.Any child shall have the privilege of leaving the school room at any time at which religious instruction is commenced as provided for in the next preceding section or of remaining without taking part in any religious instruction that may be given if the parents or guardians so desire.

139.No teacher, school trustee or inspector shall in any way attempt to deprive such child of any advantage that it might derive from the ordinary education given in such school and any such action on the part of any school trustee, inspector or teacher shall be held to be a disqualification for and voidance of the office held by him.


Constitutional rights4

Constitutional Rights

  • Thus, section 17 of The Saskatchewan Act protects any provisions regarding religious instruction that were set out in the named ordinances, and sections 137 to 139 of School Ordinance 29 are the provisions which describe those protected rights.


Constitutional rights5

Constitutional Rights

  • Section 137 outlines the extent of the ability of boards of education to allow religious instruction in classrooms. The first part of 137 limits religious instruction but allows for an exception; that exception to the limits is set out in 137(2) where religious instruction, consisting of the recitation of the Lord Prayer, is allowed at the opening of school

  • Included with limits on the ability to allow religious instruction, School Ordinance 29 also allows students to opt out from the instruction. Section 138 exempts children from participating in religious instruction and section 139 makes it unlawful for any school official to penalise a child who is exempted.


Constitutional rights6

Constitutional Rights

  • The provisions of the School Ordinance are mirrored in The Education Act


Constitutional rights7

Constitutional Rights

  • These provisions might be held to violate the principles of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code because they impinge on religious freedom. This has been the case with similar provisions in some other provinces. However, because The Education Act, provisions are a reflection of the constitutional position, they are likely to be protected.

  • However, when they veer from the constitutional wording (for example including “passage selected from the Bible”) the protection will not be available.


Take three

Take Three

With an elbow partner, take three minutes to share your thinking or curiosities.


Balancing rights

Human Rights

Every person and every class of person shall enjoy the right to education in any school…without discrimination on the basis of a prohibitive ground other than age.

Constitutional Rights

Can direct recitation of the Lords Prayer at school opening and permit religious instruction takes place one half hour before school closes.

Balancing Rights


Authority to decide

Authority To Decide

Rock…Paper…Scissors

Supreme Court of Canada rulings have held that the original constitution which brought Canada and the provinces into being cannot be displaced by the Charter and certainly overrules provincial legislation including the human rights code.

Constitutional Rights supersede Human Rights


What about the neighbors

What About the Neighbors?

  • In 1999 a Human Rights hearing was held relating to a complaint by parents about bible reading and the saying of the Lord’s Prayer in Saskatoon public schools. After reviewing the history of the Ordinances, the actual wording of the provisions regarding religious instruction, and the debates surrounding the adoption of the Saskatchewan Act, the judge sitting as the Board of Inquiry held the following:


What about the neighbors1

What About the Neighbors?

  • The Commission along with the complainants and supporting intervenors have fought the good fight to lay before the Board of Inquiry a legal basis upon which to strip the Board of Education of its authority to allow recitation of the Lord’s prayer in public schools in breach of the Code.

  • In the end, however, any interpretation technique applied reasonably to s.17 of the Saskatchewan Act and the 1901 Ordinance, be it plain meaning construction, legislative analysis or historical reconstruction, leads to a conclusion that recitation of the Lord’s prayer at the opening of the school day is a constitutionally entrenched right.


What about the neighbors2

What About the Neighbors?

  • Thus he confirmed that it is a board’s constitutional right to choose whether or not to direct the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of the school day.

  • Because this is a constitutional right arising from the Saskatchewan Act, that right applies throughout Saskatchewan. It also applies in Alberta as the Alberta Act is identical in its wording. This interpretation, however, does not apply in any other province. This explains the different court rulings in B.C., Manitoba and Ontario


What about the neighbors3

What About the Neighbors?

  • In the Saskatoon case the Board of Inquiry found that the board policy did not actually “direct” the saying of the Lord’s Prayer, but merely left the option open for schools. Because this did not meet the exact requirements of the constitutional protection the board policy was struck down.


What about the neighbors4

What About the Neighbors?

  • The Board of Inquiry interpreted the constitutional guarantees within the strict confines of the 1901 Ordinances. As the Ordinances did not refer to Bible readings at school opening, The Board of Inquiry held that they were not constitutionally protected and did violate the Code. He ordered the Saskatoon Board of Education to refrain from using Bible readings at opening exercises or other times.

  • In other words the Code overruled those provisions in The Education Act which went beyond the Constitution.


Take four pvf sort of

Take Four – PVF (Sort Of)

With a new elbow partner pair off O & K

Share your thinking as follows:

O speaks for 1 minute and K listens

K speaks for I minute and O listens

O speaks for 30 seconds responding to K

K speaks for 30 seconds responding to O

OK – open conversation for a minute


Authority to decide1

Authority to Decide

  • The right to determine whether or not the Lord’s Prayer and religious instruction shall take place is supported in the constitution and currently rests with the Board of Education.

  • When the Ordinances were in place in 1901 there was usually only one school in a district and the decision was made by the local community. When the larger school units were formed in rural Saskatchewan, local community control of this issue was maintained by giving the authority to decide religious matters to the local board of trustees.


Authority to decide2

Authority to Decide

  • Divisions now encompass expansive and diverse geographic and cultural areas. It may be that in one school the local community represented by the School Community Council may wish the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer while in another school that may not be the case.

  • There is nothing within the constitutional guarantees for boards of education which would not allow them to “direct” the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in some schools and not in others.


A word about christmas concerts

A Word About Christmas Concerts

  • Christmas concerts are not specifically dealt with in the constitutional provisions. If they are performed by classes as part of the 2 ½ hours of religious instruction they will be acceptable. The more likely scenario is that they are school–wide productions that are not specifically tied to religious instruction. This does not mean that they are unacceptable.

  • What it does mean is that a school will have to take steps to ensure that such concerts do not impinge on anyone’s rights.


Current practice

Current Practice

Information gathered last spring suggests that we have a variety of practices in our school division regarding the recitation of The Lord’s Prayer, religious instruction in schools and Christmas Concerts.


Community expectations

Community Expectations

  • Expectations in our school division vary from community to community and within the community itself.

  • There are those who advocate for public schools as secular institutions, those who advocate for a diversity of religious perspectives to be taught and those who advocate from a Christian faith perspective.


Take three1

Take Three

With a new elbow partner, take three minutes to share your current reality and any implications you are seeing for your school community.


A look at draft policy 605 spiritual religious and cultural aspects of education

A Look at Draft Policy 605Spiritual, Religious and Cultural Aspects of Education

  • Honors Board Values and Beliefs re Transparency, Diversity, Inclusiveness and Collaboration

  • Recognizes Diversity in Our Communities re Expectations and Practices

  • Is Grounded in Constitutional Law


Say something

Say Something

Choose a partner

Read silently to the designated spot

Each partner stop and say something

Continue until you have had a chance to read the entire draft policy

Something might be a question, a brief summary, a key point, and interesting idea or a personal connection.


A look at draft policy 605 spiritual religious and cultural aspects of education1

A Look at Draft Policy 605Spiritual, Religious and Cultural Aspects of Education

The Board of Education values inclusiveness as the celebration and acceptance of all people. Prairie Spirit School Division supports educational activities related to religious and spiritual practices that reflect the cultural diversity of the community and supports a spiritually safe and positive environment. It acknowledges the values and practices of students and parents of all faiths and respects the rights of its communities.

In this context, the School Division recognizes Hutterian Brethren practices regarding the education of their children, the teaching of Aboriginal cultures and beliefs and the constitutional rights provided regarding the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and religious instruction.

General

Subject to the provisions of The Education Act, 1995, teaching will reflect the values stated above and will occur in an inclusive manner. This shall apply to curriculum, and extra curricular activities including preparation for and involvement in all school concerts, programs and other school community events.


A look at draft policy 605 spiritual religious and cultural aspects of education2

A Look at Draft Policy 605Spiritual, Religious and Cultural Aspects of Education

1. Opening Activities

a. Opening activities shall also reflect the values stated above and may include: opportunities for personal reflection through a moment of silence; writing in a personal journal; students sharing a thought for the day which may include diverse religious, spiritual or cultural readings; and, or the singing of “Oh Canada”.

b. Pursuant to the provisions of the constitution (Saskatchewan Act, 1905) the Board may also direct that the Lord’s Prayer be recited during opening activities.

i) The Board shall complete a review process before directing the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in a school community.

ii) The Board shall undertake the review process in a school community when requested to do so by the School Community Council or, in the interim, by the local board.


A look at draft policy 605 spiritual religious and cultural aspects of education3

A Look at Draft Policy 605Spiritual, Religious and Cultural Aspects of Education

2. Religious Instruction

  • Pursuant to the provisions of the constitution (Saskatchewan Act, 1905) the Board may permit that religious instruction take place during the last half hour of the school day.

    i) The Board shall complete a review process before permitting that religious instruction take place in a school community.

    ii) The Board shall undertake the review process in a school community when requested to do so by the School Community Council or, in the interim, by the local board.


A look at draft policy 605 spiritual religious and cultural aspects of education4

A Look at Draft Policy 605Spiritual, Religious and Cultural Aspects of Education

3. Hutterian Brethren

Prairie Spirit School Division assigns teacher(s) to each Hutterite Colony and provides furnishings, equipment, textbooks and instructional materials consistent with allocations similar to all schools in the division.

Each colony is required to provide suitable facilities for instruction. All operating and maintenance costs are the responsibility of the colony.

4. Aboriginal Teachings

Recognizing the role of aboriginal cultures in Saskatchewan, schools are supported in developing activities and programs designed to educate students concerning aboriginal teachings.


So what

Brainstorm and Pass

At your tables, take a few minutes to brainstorm (as indicated) any thoughts, questions or concerns you may have. What do we need to be paying attention to?

Record the thinking.

Other Perspectives

At your table, identify 3-5 stakeholders who will be impacted by this policy (students, parents, classroom teachers etc) and engage in a conversation from their perspectives (What questions might they ask? What comments might they make?).

Record the thinking.

So What?


Now what

Now What?

At your tables, reflect on your conversations to date and identify the key supports we need to pay attention to as well as ways we, as a system, may be able to provide supports in these areas. Record your thinking.


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