BLACK STUDENTS MATTER
Parents of Black Children Demands
**Updated in June 2021**
Parents of Black Children is committed to ensuring equity and inclusivity in the Ontario Education System. As such, we have sent the following demands to the Government of Ontario and, specifically, the Ministry of Education.
Demand 1: Reform the Education Act
We demand that the Ontario Education Act be amended to identify Black students as having a right to an africentric curriculum that represents them, to include Black experiences in all aspects of education and to assist and promote equitable and equal programs, activities or projects for Black students that are controlled, managed and delivered by Black people.
Demand 2: Investigate Education School Boards who participate in Systems Abuse against Black children.
Systems abuse is the collusion of systems and their conspiring to protect one another by not investigating or addressing issues that are brought to them that affect our Black children and families.
We demand that school boards that allow educators to weaponize CAS and engage in “trite” reporting against Black families be held accountable and investigated both by the CAS and by the Ministry of Education.
We demand that school boards that disproportionately house Black children in specialized ‘reform’ or ‘behavioural’ programs be held accountable and investigated both by the CAS and by the Ministry of Education.
Demand 3: Decolonize The Curriculum
We demand that the Ontario Ministry of Education work with Black experts to decolonize the provincial curriculum. Black Canadian experiences must be built into all school curriculums, K-12, including math, science, social studies in order for teachers to create equitable classrooms.
Demand 4: Eliminate ALL Streaming
We demand that the Ministry of Education eliminate ALL forms of streaming from K-12 to ensure that Black students can reach their full potential.
The elimination of streaming in Grade 9 math is not enough. Streaming needs to be removed in its entirety.
Along with the elimination of streaming, we demand that the Ministry also support this elimination with proper implementation oversights such as oversight from a de-streaming taskforce, training educators for the task of instructing mixed-ability classrooms and creating programs for success.
Wins: In 2020, the Ontario Ministry of Education announced that streaming for Grade 9 math would end in the 2021/22 school year. While Parents of Black Children is happy to see a step forward to end streaming, this is not enough. Streaming starts as early as kindergarten and these new regulations do not prevent streaming in other grades or subject areas.
Demand 5: Police-Free Schools Province Wide
We demand #PoliceFreeSchoolsONWide.
We are in solidarity with LAEN (Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network), Asilu Network, ENI Toronto, BLM TO, JFAAP and HWDSB Kids Need Help in demanding that schools across Ontario, at all educational levels including post-secondary, be mandated police-free immediately.
This includes the removal of any “police in schools” program (e.g. School Resource Officer Program, School Engagement Team program, Police Liaison Officer program, Student Liaison Officer program, Campus Police, Special Constables, etc).
Demand 6: Collect Race-Based Data and Implement External Equity Audits of School Boards
We demand that all school boards (including Catholic boards) across Ontario collect race-based data on student achievement, discipline and experiences.
All publicly funded boards (including Catholic boards) must publicly publish disaggregated race-based data and ACT on the findings of the data collected in collaboration with invested community groups. The Ministry of Education should also create an education data oversight division to rank, monitor, and hold school boards accountable for their commitment to equity.
We also demand third party random equity audits of all school boards take place and that boards be tracked publicly on the findings of their equity audit and held accountable to make the necessary changes in order to impact the experience of Black students.
Demand 7: Train, Hire, and Retain Black Teachers
We demand that universities and colleges with Faculties of Education and Early Childhood Education programs be required to overhaul their faculty training to include mandatory trauma-informed, anti-racism, anti-oppression, and equity-based strategies for teaching curriculum and course requirements for graduation.
We demand that the Ministry of Education and publicly funded school boards (including Catholic boards) hire Black teachers, Black guidance counsellors, Black administrative and front office staff and create a succession plan to retain these Black educators and address attrition.
Of the teaching population, only 1.8% are Black while less than 13% of the teaching population makes up the Education workforce in Ontario.
There is a severe lack of representation across the Canadian school system that requires immediate attention. When black educators are purged from the system, we are reinstating a white-supremacist society.
A diversified educator workforce positively impacts how black children learn, develop relationships and appreciate multi-cultural ideologies. Black educators prepare our students to take on a world that will place limitations based on their skin colour. Education systems must become more inclusive of Black Children who experience increased levels of inequities and inequality (Antonelli et al., 2007).
In recent years, the term “Black” has developed the common references of resistance, cultural identity and shared historical experience. Teachers must be required to expand and engage in intentional and impactful conversations with students relating to their language and concepts of racism and race. Curriculums should include these themes structured around immigration, slavery, human rights battles, passage to Canada, preserving histroy as well as the making of history within the Black Canadian experience. The teachings of contributions made by Black Canadians deserve the same acknowledgment, critical awareness and appreciation as other historical figures and events (Historica Canada, 2021).
Demand 8: Implement Accountability Measures for Teachers Who Exhibit Anti-Black Racism
While last year’s march saw a small win in the implementing of racism and discrimination as a professional misconduct within the Ontario College of Teachers Act, simply adding language to the Act does not go far enough. We demand that the Ontario College of Teachers Act be amended to specify HOW teachers will be held accountable. This involves adding:
- a detailed definition of Professional Misconduct, including anti-Black racism, under Part 5, Section 29, Discipline and Fitness to Practice
- the MANDATORY reporting of anti-Black racism by educators to the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT)
- that the OCT Investigation Committee members have an anti-Oppression and anti-Black racism lens with an equity and Human Rights background.
Demand 9: End Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL)
We demand that educators in Ontario not be charged with assessing the emotions of Black students. We demand that the Ministry Education and Minister Stephen Lecce remove the racist and harmful socio-emotional learning pedagogy from the Ontario Curriculum or assessment guidelines, until such time that all educators across this province practice from an anti-racist lens, centre Black students and are self-reflexive enough to address their own racist teaching practices.
Socio-economic learning (SEL) can be coined as ‘educating the heart’, where teachers mark students on their levels of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision making, and relationship skills. It is said to improve behaviour towards self and others, in school and at home, as well as increasing academic performance, while decreasing aggression and emotional distress. However, SEL has high potential to impact Black children negatively. We know the majority of teachers in Ontario school boards are white women, with no or limited anti-oppressive or anti-racist training to unpack the presence of white supremacy, white priviledge or systemic racism in their schools or boards. According to Donna Ford, “Educational professionals ill-prepared to work in culturally relevant ways with students of color, … teachers, administrators, and policy makers can contribute to and even exacerbate SEL issues for students…” though “adopting a culture-blind philosophy and framework…”.
Demand 10: Implement a Student and Parent Bill of Rights
We demand a primary document for students to recognize and reconcile acts that may harmfully impact their growth and development as future contributing members of the community. The Ministry of Education needs to address the cultural and ethnic backgrounds influencing the quality of education received by students within the Ontario Public School System.
We demand a primary document for Parents to be treated as valued members of the Ontario Education school system and regional school boards. Establishing a clear outline over our role and influence over our child’s education, experience and development.