Archive for August, 2016

In the Public Eye (pt 2)

Posted: August 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

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Back in October of 2013, one of my first blog posts was about Toronto’s Mayor – the late Rob Ford. I commented about his personal life and how that affected his position as Mayor of one of the largest cities in the world. To sum up: It was my position that when you’re a public figure, what you do outside of your profession directly impacts your career.

I stand by this. Now, I am not, nor will I ever be, as public of a figure as Rob Ford was, I believe that my actions outside of the classroom directly affect my career, my workplace, and my students. In short, I am careful with the way I behave – it’s not like I’m all that crazy anyway.

As of this month (Aug/2016), Nadia Shoufani (a teacher in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board) was suspended with pay for speaking at an event in Toronto last month (Jul/2016). She spoke in support for Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a group classified as a terrorist organization by the Government of Canada (publicsafety.gc.ca).

I’ll admit, I am slightly torn.

My initial reaction: I was happy that Ms. Shoufani was suspended and, ideally, she should be fired too. She teaches young and impressionable minds (she teaches elementary school) and though she may not speak on this subject in-class, her actions outside of the classroom affect her students.

My reaction afterwards: I don’t know exactly what was said by Shoufani at the event, so it is possible that she was not advocating violence (as we often associate with terrorist groups…hence the name). Moreover, if they are a classified terrorist group, why is it that they were even allowed to host an event in the first place? It is possible that Shoufani was simply exercising her freedom of speech – as long as no public harm or threat of violence was issued. Right?

Therefore, I am torn. On the one hand, the Government of Canada must have a good reason for classifying such a group, but on the other hand, there is a bit of a slippery slope here. At what point can Ms. Shoufani speak her beliefs without the threat of suspension and/or termination from her profession? At what point is the private life of a teacher separate from their public life in front of his or her students?

I believe I have landed back on my initial reaction – I need to trust that my Government has classified correctly and justly and that Ms. Shoufani should then be careful with which groups she associates herself with. Moreover, if she’s willing to risk being a part of such a group, then she needs to be prepared for the consequences.

Two Quick Thoughts:
1. 
The above incident reminds me of Shawn Simoes – a young man fired from Hydro One back in May/2015 for yelling ‘FHRITP’ on camera at a Toronto FC game. Hydro One eventually fired Mr. Simoes for not adhering to company conduct. They hired him back in late 2015.
2. An idiot phoned into AM640 to comment on the Shoufani situation and said that civics (and politics, in general) should not be taught in schools because teachers always try to force their beliefs on their students. He went on to say that it is “hard to find two conservative kids graduating these days.”