#Ontario; #Education; #Streaming; #Discrimination; #racism
Ottawa, Jul 6 (Canadian-Media): After many years' requests by educators and advocacy groups to end the practice of academic streaming in Grade 9, the Ontario government says it will eliminate this system, media reports said.
Stephen Lecce. Image credit: Twitter handle
Through the process of streaming, students must choose to pursue either an "academic" or "applied" track when they begin high school.
Black and low-income students have been affected by this system when it comes to graduation rates and the chance of going to a post-secondary institution.
In an exclusive interview with the Toronto Star, Ontario's Education Minister Stephen Lecce called streaming a "systemic, racist, discriminatory" practice.
"It is clear there is systemic discrimination built within the education system, whether it be streaming of racialized students, suspensions overwhelmingly targeting Black and Indigenous kids, or the lack of merit-based diversity within our education workforce," Lecce said in a statement issued to CBC Toronto Monday.
Students and teachers deserve an education system that is "inclusive, accountable and transparent...and equally empower all children to achieve their potential," said Lecce.
The full plan to eliminate streaming which will be rolled out shortly, is expected to take effect by the 2021-2022 school year, said a spokesperson for Leccer.
Ontario is one Canada's few place that continues to separate students into the hands-on applied stream and the post-secondary-track academic stream as they start high school.
A 2017 report led by York University professor Carl James found that Black teens in the Greater Toronto Area were being streamed into applied course tracks at significantly higher rates than other students.
John Malloy, director of education at the TDSB, Canada's largest school board called the change "necessary and complex" and said "much support and accountability" would be required to ensure success for students.
James cautioned that streaming has been so ingrained in Ontario's secondary school system, it will take time and work to ensure it doesn't continue in more subtle ways.
"Since, culturally, there is the whole idea of streaming, we're going to have to have teachers — and students and parents, as well — start to rethink what it means to place students into a classroom where we're trying to capitalize on their abilities and strengths, and not be streamed into what teachers and others think are their abilities and strengths," he said.
Ontario's NDP education critic Marit Stiles called the move "an important first step" and added that her party will be "watching closely for details" as the policy is rolled out.
The practice of suspensions for students in junior kindergarten to Grade 3 that has been shown to disproportionately impact Black students, would also banned, said the Ministry of Education,
The 2017 study by James reported that 42 percent of all Black students in the Toronto, York, Peel and Durham school boards had been suspended at least once by the time they left high school.
The ministry says it will also ensure that educators who make racist comments or behave in a discriminatory way are appropriately punished.