What standards should public officials be held to?
What actually makes someone unfit for public office?
Their actions? Ideas? Personal failings? Public ones? Does it take a breach of public trust, and if so, what does that look like?
A high-ranking Canadian official, Benjamin Levin, just plead guilty to 3 of 7 charges of pedophilia. (This Canadian example can help us ask an important broader question.)
The three charges he admitted to were: 1) making written child pornography 2) making available child pornography, and 3) counselling a person to commit sexual assault on a child.
Counselling a person to commit sexual assault on a child? Yes. Thinking he was talking to a single mom, rather than law enforcement, he was coaching this “submissive single mom with 8 and 14 year old daughters.” How was he coaching her? In no uncertain terms, and with specific steps (tears being a necessary component) he was teaching her how to sexualize her own young daughters.
In online conversations, he also claimed to have sexually abused his own three daughters when they were as young as 12. (There is no evidence that he ever had actually done so.) He claimed he wished he also had a son, but he’d abused some boys as well as his own girls. “Mr Levin also stated that he hoped his daughters would “share” their own children (his grandchildren) with him.” (More complete details here and here.)
What kind of job did a such a monstrous person hold? Several, actually. Pretty important ones, too.
For one thing, when he told people online he was a University Professor in Toronto, this was true. He was a professor in the University of Toronto. And also the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.
(OISE is a Teachers’ College, a place where teachers receive proper instruction on what should guide them as teachers, pedagogically and one would expect, in some sense, ethically.)
But wait, there’s more. He has also been the Deputy Education Minister for Ontario, and Manitoba. (Deputy Minister of not one, but TWO Canadian provinces.)
He was a real “go-to” guy. He even travelled the world as a lecturer.
So now what? Should we be concerned about what influence he has had? Concerned about what policies he might have left his fingerprints on as a chief educator?
The big controversy right now is a new curriculum that is being rolled out. This new curriculum has — among other things — a revised Sex Ed policy, with some controversial features.
Critics are concerned that children will be introduced to explicit ideas at too early an age, including, shall we say, sexual options beyond the merely reproductive kind.
This is the same Curriculum that was pulled off the shelf by the Premier’s predecessor because it was too controversial. Now Kathleen Wynne (the new Premier, herself the former Education Minister, and who appointed Levin to a role in her transition team) is using her now untouchable majority to force this curriculum through.
Some suspect that this may be at least partially motivated by the fact that Wynne, herself a lesbian, has reasons of her own to support such changes.
The Deputy Education Minister — claims Wynne — had no part in crafting this new curriculum. She’s insulted that anyone would even suggest otherwise.
Really, Ms Wynne?
Mr Levin himself claimed to be responsible for everything they do, in a newsletter, and a memo. (As reported here) This seems to include the expanding of two genders to a more “equitable and inclusive” six.
Said Levin, “I was the deputy minister of education. In that role, I was the chief civil servant. I was responsible for the operation of the Ministry of Education and everything that they do; I was brought in to implement the new education policy.”
I shudder to even imagine what impact he might have had on other teachers he sent out to, *ahem*, “educate” our children in the Public system.
Now for the questions this situation raises.
Have we, in our efforts to avoid “preaching morality” to our children, unintentionally created a void that is being been filled with preaching a rival “morality”?
Are we ignoring the biases of those who write our curriculums? (They have wide-reaching effects on our children, and our future.) Are we even paying attention? At what cost?
It’s time we ask some pointed questions, here.
1. What is the ultimate goal of education? (job training? indoctrination? ability to reason?)
2. What things (legitimately) need to be taught to our children?
3. What things are beyond the State’s authority to teach?
4. What do we do when they overreach?
Because, as I have said before. Levin’s behaviour is not the first moral failing we’ve seen in the public education system. He’s just higher up the ladder than any other ones who’ve been caught.