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School peace groups

John Pendergrast — May 1983

Peace has become an issue in the Toronto school system, in classrooms, In staff and student lounges, in Home and School Associations, in teachers’ unions, and at the Toronto Board of Education itself.

There are, in fact, almost as many groups concerned with peace and disarmament as there are places within the educational system to express this concern. The following list of groups are intended to provide a point of entry for those who wish to become Involved, The Thinking and Deciding in a Nuclear Age Advisory Committee, which existed for about a year as an unofficial committee (the Ad Hoc Survival Committee) was last month given official sanction by the Toronto Board of Education. The Thinking and Deciding Committee approaches the nuclear arms issue from an ecological and pedagogical point of view. In 1982, it was active in organising conferences at OISE and at the Bloor Street United Church and in arranging a two day workshop on nuclear issues for Metro teachers.

As an official Board of Education Committee, the mandate of the Thinking and Deciding Committee is to gather and write material for a curriculum on nuclear and general ecological issues, and to research techniques for dealing with controversial issues in the classroom. The Thinking and Deciding Committee is composed of trustees, Board of Education administrators, teachers, and other resource people involved in education. It is not seeking to expand its membership at present, but hopes to provide other groups with information and assistance at the Board of Education. For further information, call Trustee Fiona Nelson at the Toronto Board of Education, xxx-xxxx, (days).

Educators for Nuclear Disarmament grew out of the teachers’ workshop organised by the Thinking and Deciding Committee and, to some extent, the two groups have overlapping memberships. END provides speakers for workshops and debates, encourages classroom activities and school assemblies devoted to nuclear issues, assists In disseminating curriculum materials, maintains a presence at major demonstrations, and urges different levels of government to take antinuclear positions. END seeks a broad membership and includes teachers from all over Metro. Meetings are held once a month at the Toronto Board of Education. For further information, call John Pendergrast, xxx-xxxx (evenings) or Bruce Johnson, xxx-xxxx (evenings).

Teachers for Social Responsibility is composed mainly of Separate School teachers and approaches social issues from a religious perspective. TSR does not confine itself to nuclear issues, though they rank high on its list of concerns. TSR organises workshops and provides speakers on request. For more information call Ted Schmidt, xxx-xxxx, (evenings).

Parents for Peace (P4P) grew out of a parent-run session of ‘Thinking and Deciding in a Nuclear Age’, and was formally established in January, 1983. Its major emphasis is on the special concerns of parents in a nuclear age, including ways of dealing with children’s anxieties about nuclear destruction, the introduction of peace and disarmament Into the school curriculum, and the desire of parents to become better Informed on nuclear issues.

Present activities of P4P include the organisation of workshop and panel discussions for parents, the distribution of a newsletter to Home and School Associations, and the development of resource kits for use in parent-run meetings on Nuclear disarmament. Parents for Peace is also currently negotiating with the Toronto Board of Education Library to establish Nuclear Issues as a special topic, like Women’s Studies, with a separate acquisitions budget.

Parents for Peace is organised as a loose federation with a central body which meets once a month at the Toronto Board, and with separate area committees which are based on the area divisions established by the Board. Parents for Peace it eager for new members. For further information call Joe Vise. xxx-xxxx (evenings), or Katie Kaufman, xxx-xxxx (evenings).

Youth Committee for Peace is in its second year. At present its membership it about 200, mainly drawn from secondary schools. YLP has two goals-education and action. It has been very active in organising and attending anti-nuclear demonstrations, and has distributed flyers in the schools and organised teach-ins as far away as Windsor. For further information, call Simon Parker at xxx-xxxx (evenings).

The Ontarlo Secondary Sehool Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) is a teachers’ union of long standing, and not a peace organisation.

Nevertheless, OSSTF has interested itself in the nuclear issue through some of its committees, and District 15 (the city of Toronto) recently passed a unanimous motion urging the Toronto Board to establish a nuclear issues curriculum,

All of these education-oriented groups support each other in a multitude of ways, and do so within an atmosphere of encouragement from established educational institutions, an encouraging sign for those who look to education as the source of a healthy society.