School survey angers parents

One parent called it “government psychological profiling.”
The Scarborough mom, who did not wish to be identified, said that on June 11 her 12-year-old daughter returned home from Guildwood Junior Public School with a 124-question survey.

The survey included assertions to which students were asked to strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree or stay neutral.

“One example is one of the questions ‘I’m worried about my future’ and I said, ‘My daughter wasn’t but she is now,’” she said. “She asked me ‘Should I be worried about my future?’”

Another question asks “I like who I am, and I am special to others.”

For a child who perhaps can’t answer with “I strongly agree,” it’s a tough spot to be put in, said the mom.

The survey was issued to 126 schools this year as part of the Model Schools for Inner Cities program. Administrators call it a resiliency survey, used to see, for instance, if children are satisfied with after-school activities in their area.

“We will change our procedures in terms of sending a letter home and asking parents if they wish to take part or not part — that will be up to them,” said Toronto District School Board official Manon Gardner.

The resiliency survey has been given to schools throughout Canada since 2000. Gardner said the point of the program is to identify children living in poverty, “who had needs in terms of nutrition, social wellbeing, emotional wellbeing.”

For the past two years, around 40 Toronto schools received the survey under the program. This year was the first time all 126 schools participated.

The trouble is, the parents had no clue about it.

“The biggest thing was there was nothing sent home,” complained another mother, Christina Doucette.

Employed as a social worker, she found the survey was similar to a detailed psychological assessment.

Some parents, reportedly, retrieved the form with their child’s name printed on it.

“It should be confidential,” Doucette insisted. “It shouldn’t have your name on it.”

Gardner offered assurances the survey is confidential.

“We only talk about the aggregate results,” she said. “We don’t drill it down to individual students.”

At least four parents said their children indicated their teacher allegedly informed them they would fail the class if they didn’t fill out the survey.

“My daughter and her friend both said that the teacher had said if they didn’t fill it out, they wouldn’t pass Grade 5,” Doucette said. “Which is totally inappropriate in itself.”

Upon hearing the allegation, Gardner was surprised.

“I can certainly investigate that, I wasn’t aware of that,” she said. “If the students don’t complete it, then we move on — that’s all it is.”



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