Saskatoon Stonebridge-Dakota Sask Party MLA Bronwyn Eyre has a rich history of opining on education and educational institutes.
In 2010 Eyre wrote a newspaper column entitled ‘The Slippery Slope of Sexual Education’, wherein she questions whether Grade 5 students need to be taught the anatomically-correct terminology for the reproductive system, or Grade 6 students the basics on how not to contract a STD.
Eyre then proves her point by sharing an anecdote about how when she was 11, she mistook the change pocket on a pair of shorts for some kind of penis-holder, and decries sex education for teenagers as “not doing much to improve teen self-esteem” or to “promote a greater sense of honour and respect in sexual relations”.
In 2009 she blamed, in part, a lack of stay-at-home mothers for the prevalence of colds and flus in schools. In 2011 she declared climate change science “witchcraft reasoning” and that she hoped global warming would return to the prairies (cause winter, get it?).
“I wish women would talk, dare to talk, about the complexity of (fetal development and abortion) and not have to pretend the fetus was the next thing to an appendix or loose tooth.”
Cause that’s a thing, apparently. I mean, what woman hasn’t tied a string to their uterus and then slammed the door?
In 2014 Eyre defended pro-life and anti-gay fanatic Bill Whatcott’s right to spread his disgusting (and I mean disgusting), hate-filled filth on post-secondary campuses in Saskatchewan, and BC’s Trinity Western University for trying to restrict its students’ sex lives to between married and heterosexual couples only.
In 2016 Bronwyn Eyre was appointed Saskatchewan’s Minister of Advanced Education. In 2017 she was promoted to our province’s Minister of Education.
In a speech she gave in the Saskatchewan Legislature at the beginning of November, Eyre outlined her opinion on the future of our children’s education in Saskatchewan, and it’s just as fucked up as what she’s been throwing down in print for the last eight years.
Problem is, now it’s not just her opinion – it’s her plan.
Here are the more troubling excerpts from that sarcasm-laden speech, which was delivered on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 and can be found in its entirety in Hansard here:
“We have arrived at an important crossroads in education. And when it comes to a broader discussion about curriculum… there has come to be at once too much wholesale infusion into the curriculum… too many attempts to mandate material into it both from the inside and by outside groups…the broader curriculum has become watered down…students are becoming guinea pigs in some cases for whatever is being tried out by the system.”
If I’m a teacher, that’s the part where my head tilts a bit to one side, and maybe I squint my eyes.
“…bottom line, you’re not going to be able to change the world on any social issue if you can’t write properly.”
I’m sorry what? Five seconds ago the curriculum was “watered down”, but now our kids are outright illiterate?
She then continues detailing more reasons our kids won’t change the world, including,
“…if you don’t know that 230 years ago French revolutionaries called their movement Citizenship, or that later Maoists were very partial to school children singing indoctrination songs, or that a key tenet of cultural bolshevism was prominently displaying ideological slogans in schools…”
Oh, I see – we’re not indoctrinating enough communism into the curriculum. There’s that sarcasm in action. So mature.
“My grade 8 son brought a homework sheet home the other day — they’re always sheets…”
Goddamn those worksheets, right?
“…he’d copied from the board the following facts which were presented as fact:”
Facts as fact. Cool.
“…that European and European settlers were colonialists, pillagers of the land who knew only buying and selling and didn’t respect mother earth.”
#recordscratch (in Eyre’s head)
“He asked me if it was okay if he could write that he associated with his pioneer great- and great-great-grandparents…I said yes, of course…”
Oh my god the poor little thing; he must have been so confused. How will he ever bounce back from that kind of trauma?
“…they had known poverty in Norway or Ukraine, or war in Germany, that they had come here and tilled the land that produced food for everybody and loved their families and tried to create whole, stable communities in this province, and had loved it here.”
First of all, what does being poor in Scandinavia have to do with anything?
I freely admit I struggle with the term “settler” and its relatively new negative connotation. All eight of my great-grandparents were European immigrants to Saskatchewan, and I am grateful that their hard work building a homestead landed me where I am today.
However, I’ve also grown to understand that my ancestors, along with thousands of other European immigrants (aka settlers), forcibly displaced Saskatchewan’s indigenous residents (to put it simply), creating a chain of negative events that still feeds the cycle of racism, poverty and lack of privilege (also put simply) plaguing our indigenous population today. And I feel really, really shitty about that. If I could go back and undo my own good fortune so as not to destroy the lives of others I would, but I can’t. Therefore, I do my best to channel my regret through reconciliation, which to me means educating myself, and making sure my kids are educated, about the true context of our personal history and its impact on Saskatchewan and Canada’s indigenous nations, and about the treaties.
But who cares because English was Eyre’s Baba’s second language and the struggle is real, people:
“My two grandmothers went off to school (in Saskatchewan) speaking only Norwegian and Ukrainian respectively, to one-room schoolhouses… And yet one of my grannies became a business owner, what’s known today as a female entrepreneur. The other was brilliant in math.”
Oh for the love of…are we seriously doing this again?
Eyre went down this road last fall, sitting in a room full of Saskatchewan’s Northern and Indigenous residents who were trying, seemingly in vain, to get the reality of their circumstances through her skull. Her response, which she defended in the Legislature, was to compare their grandmothers’ history to that of her own, who she says didn’t have “lunch money” or “running water”.
The implication of that little outburst, of course, being, “and look at me – I’m successful, highly educated, financially secure and ultimately very privileged… what’s your problem?”
Just as, if not more troubling is the fact that Eyre’s more recent speech was given as Saskatchewan’s Minister of Education, in which she is threatening treaty education in the curriculum and broadly and politically condemning teachers, administrators and her own Ministry.
Is it any wonder that the Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation is running a campaign pushing their thousands of members to buy Sask Party memberships to Pick a Premier? If its successful and enough teachers buy memberships, it is entirely feasible that they will do just that – and I promise you it won’t be the status quo.
If I’m a teacher – hell, if I’m a Saskatchewan resident with cognitive thinking skills and even a moderate emotional IQ – I’m buying a Sask Party membership right now and making sure anyone who thinks and talks like what I detailed above hits the backbench and stays there.
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For those of you who care, I’m Tammy Robert. I’m a writer, but pay the bills consulting in media and public relations. Feel free to email me anytime about either at firstname.lastname@example.org.