#OntarioEducation; #Racism; #Inequality; #Black; #Indigenous
Ottawa, Jul 12 (Canadian-Media): In its efforts to to advance equal 0pportunities for all students to succeed, new detailed changes in education system were announced Jul 9 by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Jamil Jivani, Ontario's Advocate for Community Opportunities, that will help break down barriers for Black, Indigenous and racialized students, media reports said.
Doug Ford. Image credit: Twitter handle
"Above all, our government will not tolerate racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia or hate in any form in our schools...to promote equality in education, we will ensure students from all walks of life are set up for lifelong success," said Ford in a news release.
"To racialized students in Ontario: we see you, and we value you. We will stand with all students on this journey to advance respect, dignity, and opportunity," said Lecce in a news release.
As part of the plan, the government is proposing beginning Sep 2020, through Bill 197, COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020, to eliminate discretionary suspensions for students from kindergarten up to Grade 3 with serious offences in mandatory suspensions.
2018-19 suspension data reveals that over 65,000 elementary and secondary students in Ontario were suspended during that school year.
The government's commitment to providing $3.5 million to support the Black and Indigenous grad coach programs would provide wrap-around supports for students who are at risk of not graduating.
As part of the plan, Ontario government would start in September 2021 the process of ending Grade 9 streaming into applied and academic courses and instead introduce a new foundational Grade 9 math course for September 2021.
"We must recognize that today's changes are the result of our government and community members working together," said Jivani in the news release. "In particular, parents in Ontario's Black communities have been a powerful voice for change, providing their unique insights in how suspensions and streaming have disadvantaged black students. Thank you to every parent and community leader who engaged with us in this process."
The Ministry of Education's proposed additional anti-racism and anti-discrimination training before the end of the calendar year and government is currently in consultation with teachers' federations, education workers' unions, and trustees' associations on the implementation of this critical initiative.
The Ministry of Education is providing, through the Grants for Student Needs program (GSN), a projected $40.9 million to help school boards implement suspension policies, including the hiring of professional staff.
School boards can use portions of their $10 million in new mental health funding to provide students, educators, and staff with the resources and training needed to implement the new suspension policies.
Ontario government had launched on June 24 the Premier’s Council on Equality of Opportunity, will provide advice on how young people can overcome social and economic barriers and achieve success.
All school boards in Ontario will be required to collect race-based data by January 1, 2023, in accordance with the Anti-Racism Act and Anti-Racism Data Standards.