Peel District School Board reveals plans to take on anti-black racism in new school year –

Less than a year after a Peel District School Board (PDSB) report showed that black male high school students feel they experience bias and racism regularly at school, the board has revealed a number of measures meant to tackle the problem in the upcoming school year.

Starting in September, trustees, principals, managers and otherseniorboard staff will receive mandatory anti-black racism bias awarenesstraining.

“One-off training, especially when you’re looking at mindset changes around anti-black racism… it isn’t all of a sudden you get the training and then you get it. We know there has to be ongoing conversations,” said Poleen Grewal, superintendent of curriculum and instruction at the PDSB.

Poleen Grewal says changing the mindset of staff to ensure a more inclusive environment will take some time. (Ministry of Education)

Grewal said theboard hopes to extend that training to all teachers in the 2018/2019 school year.

The Peel board will also host a symposium to inspire black student leadership the second of its kind and establish anadvisory council of community representatives and parents which will meet throughout the year to discuss the success of the initiatives and give feedback.

The new measures announced by the Peel board are part of their response to the “We Rise Together” report released at the beginning of the 2016 school year, which polled a group of 87 black male high school students about how they felt at school.

The students said they felt that many non-black students were afraid of them and that teachers expected them to “mess up” because of the colour of their skin.

Grewal said those results were unsurprising, but hard to hear nonetheless.

“It’s always hard to hear when you know there are students in your schools that feel the marginalization,” she said. “It’s not something that anybody wants for kids.”

Four grade 12 students on being black in a peel region school1:46

Students had also saidthat theydidn’t see themselves reflected in the PDSBcurriculum or staff.

As a result, Grewal said, PDSB is looking at integrating the experience of black Canadians into the curriculum, and four black principals are taking the lead on the “We Rise Together” action plan.

Another damning report this one released in the spring, and created using data from the PDSB as well as other Greater Toronto Area school boards found that a higher proportion of black students were being streamed into applied rather than academic courses, limiting their post-secondary options.

York University professor Carl James, the report’s author, will work with the PDSB to monitor how black students are doing.

This batch of initiatives is just the beginning, said Grewal.

“We have an almost three to five year action plan we’re looking at implementing,” she said, adding that the PDSB is also looking to do similarly focused projects with Indigenous education, LGBTQ youth and students living in poverty.

“I like the focus on particular groupsbecause that’s when you’re doing real equity and inclusion work,” she said.

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Peel District School Board reveals plans to take on anti-black racism in new school year –

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June 21, 2017   Posted in: Black Racism |

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