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CAEF letter to Minister Stephen Lecce re antisemitism in schools and school boards in Ontario.

February 8, 2024


Hon. Stephen Lecce,

Minister of Education

Government of Ontario

5th Floor, 438 University Ave.

Toronto, ON

M7A 2A5





Subject : Urgent Call for Re-evaluation of DEI Policies to Address Rising Antisemitism


Dear Minister Lecce;


We write to express our deep concern regarding the significant and troubling surge of antisemitism within our schools and school boards. We want to initiate a dialogue focused on enhancing our human rights policies to effectively combat some of the underlying issues contributing to antisemitism that have become apparent.


The ideologies of anti-racism, anti-oppression, and diversity, equity and inclusion, rooted in critical race theory, (collectively, the “DEI ideology”) have entrenched themselves in our education system. A superficial search reveals that multiple school boards have adopted variations of this ideology, such as Toronto District School Board, Peel District School Board and Ottawa-Carleton District School Boards. Certain aspects of the DEI ideology contribute to the rise of antisemitism and undermine the values Canadians hold dear, such as merit based performance recognition and reward, respect for differences, uniqueness of individuals as opposed to judging people via any grouping, and ranking people on a hierarchy of victimhood.


The DEI ideology oversimplifies complex issues by presuming that outcomes should be equal across all groups and attributing any differences solely to systemic discrimination perpetrated by a dominant group. This framework unintentionally perpetuates stereotypes and fosters an environment where success is unfairly associated with oppression. It fosters a school environment where a child’s race determines whether they are guilty of oppressing and mistreating their fellow classmates.


Particularly troubling is the portrayal of Jewish students, due to their academic achievements, as part of the 'dominant group' guilty of oppression, which erases aspects of Jewish history and culture, including the emphasis on learning and educational achievement, and paints them in a manner consistent with long-standing antisemitic tropes.


We firmly assert that this ideology is flawed.


The premise that outcomes should be identical across groups overlooks the inherent diversity in cultures and people. Maintaining our Canadian mosaic necessitates recognizing and celebrating the natural discrepancies that may exist across various metrics.


The premise that we need to stigmatize and suggest some people, by virtue of their immutable characteristics, are part of an “oppressor” group, in order to provide assistance to the “oppressed” group is simply not true. Surely, our society can work towards providing equal opportunity and access for minorities without limiting access and success to any other group. Indeed, Ontario had been doing this for years prior to the adoption of the DEI ideology.


The premise that the solution to achievement gaps lies in cultural and equity programming, aiming to address alleged systemic discrimination causing these gaps, is fundamentally flawed. This perspective neglects the role of other options, such as that the remedy for low math scores, for instance, might be a more targeted and enhanced math education for those who need or would benefit from it. This misplaced DEI focus has resulted in a misplaced prioritization of resources. Revealingly, there seem to be more professional development activities which assert that math is racist than there are programs related to teaching the new math curriculum.


Aside from these grave concerns, the current ideology has proven ineffective in achieving its goals. Achievement gaps persist, and hate incidents have increased since the widespread implementation of this ideology in 2017/2018.


Our goal is to create an education system that promotes inclusivity, respect, and understanding without inadvertently contributing to the rise of antisemitism or any other hatred. We believe there is a need to revisit the application of this ideology in our schools; that there is a need to focus on our common humanity and interests, rather than pushing an ideology that pits groups against each other in a struggle for power. We believe there is a need to return back to the basics and we were pleased by the enactment of the Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act which seemed to indicate that was the Ministry’s intent. The teaching of any ideology does not really belong in the classroom.


We appreciate your attention to this matter and request a meeting to engage in further discussions to address these concerns and work towards a safe and fair school environment for all our children.


Sincerely,




Andria Spindel, Executive Director

CC Bruce Rodrigues, Deputy Minister, Education

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