Implement Anti-Racist Education in Ontario K-12

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We need a proactive and ongoing in classroom anti-racist education from kindergarten to grade 12. The Ministry of Education has not just the opportunity but the responsibility to lead future generations to be inclusive, respectful and celebrate the multiculturalism that makes Canada beautiful. Students need ongoing social justice courses and in-depth social studies discussing Indigenous People, Black People, LGBTQ+, Immigrants and Refugees. 

Children are living empathy and compassion they have an understanding of what’s fair or not. There’s urgency to make this shift now in a safe space where kids can ask questions and have resources to unbiased information.

« For those of you who are unaware, the Ministry of Education in Ontario issued directives to the Peel District School board after a third-party review of the board looking specifically at anti-Black racism.

Among the findings was this nugget that Black students are only 10% of the secondary school population in Peel but make up approx. 22% of suspensions. Mix that in with the abysmal teacher diversity gap and lack of culturally responsive teaching strategies and you have the perfect anti-Black racism storm » @alyssagtyghter 

Canadian history is laced with racism and prejudiced, let’s change our future by providing tools with proper education to our children.

Edit to include: It’s never too early to talk about race."Adults often think they should avoid talking with young children about race or racism because doing so would cause them to notice race or make them racist. In fact, when adults are silent about race or use "colorblind" rhetoric, they actually reinforce racial prejudice in children. Starting at a very young age, children see patterns — who seems to live where; what kinds of homes they see as they ride or walk through different neighborhoods; who is the most desirable character in the movies they watch; who seems to have particular jobs or roles at the doctor's office, at school, at the grocery store; and so on — and try to assign "rules" to explain what they see. Adults' silence about these patterns and the structural racism that causes them, combined with the false but ubiquitous "American Dream" narrative that everyone can achieve anything that they want through hard work, results in children concluding that the patterns they see "must have been caused by meaningful inherent differences between groups." In other words, young children infer that the racial inequities they see are natural and justified. So despite good intentions, when we fail to talk openly with our children about racial inequity in our society, we are in fact contributing to the development of their racial biases, which studies show are already in place.” (Dr. Erin Winkler, 2017) from @theconsciouskid

Edit 2:

Below is a working list of recommendations to start the anti racist reform in Ontario schools. 

1) Undertake a third-party, holistic review of Ontario’s curriculum, hiring process, and student body administration to search for areas of potential improvement in the fields of equity, inclusion, and diversity. Mandatory and ongoing anti-racist training for teachers and staff.

2) When revising curriculum or any reform regarding anti-racist education to include organizations such as Native Women’s Association and Black Lives Matter (Toronto Chapter) to tackle anti-Black and Anti-Indigenous work. There are a wealth of organizations supporting racialized people and doing anti-racist work and education.

3) anti racist Black or racialized educator on staff at every school. Someone that will maintain staff accountable for their training and support students with peer relations and antiracist courses.

4) Include updated at least half of books and works in history, social justice and social science by Indigenous and Black authors into the curriculum books such as Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga, 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph, The Skin We Are In: A Year if Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole.

5) The inclusion of an antiracist classes starting at Kindergarten. There is much research available supporting children learning about race as soon as possible. These conversations need to be done by a Black, Indigenous or racialized educator. There are 100s of books including picture books that can assist such as Lila and the Crow by Gabrielle Grimard, The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad  and S.K. Ali, Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, and many more.

6) anti-racist education needs to include information regarding immigrants and refugees through an empathetic lense.

7) classroom and library must include books and works by Indigenous, Black and racialized authors among the regular rotations. No more sections of books to be brought out only for Orange shirt Day and Black History Month. These books need to be the new mainstream. Kids need exposure and representation.

8) starting in Kindergarten conversations and celebrations of holidays regardless of having someone who celebrates in attendance. Representation matters and this act of inclusion fosters understanding, respect and acceptance of our peers. Recently the Minister of Education Stephen Lecce admitted there are also anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim attitudes and behaviour in schools.

9) Allow racialized children to start groups with allowance for allies to join. It is a place where they can connect with people living similar experiences and fosters a sense of community and inclusion with each other with support from allies.

10) Have speakers from Indigenous and Black communities to discuss Black Lives Matter, Residential Schools and white privilege.

Currently our curriculum offers simplistic multicultural education and history that is not current to our living world community. I invite you to search the current curriculum in its entire vague descriptions and strands. This document doesn’t support the truth and current information Black, Indigenous, children of colour and all children deserve.

Below is a copy of a report done by the Centre of Race and Culture funded by the province of Alberta in 2013:

“This report provides examples which edmonton school Districts can draw from as they develop strategic plans for moving from policy to action.

there are more districts with policies in place than there are effective implementation initiatives. that said, districts across canada have a diverse set of programs, documents and resources; as well as expert staff which Edmonton schools can use as examples to move their policies on anti-racism, equitable, and inclusive education forward.”