In non-Coronavirus related news, I happened to stumble upon an article that was published today. Now usually, I just ignore these things because they're a dime a dozen, but because some of its contents personally relates to me (I did go through 12 years of Ontario's public school system) I thought I would give my honest take on what situation looks like, from an alternative or non-bias confirming angle.
Disclaimer: I am only interested in the truth. I think a lot of people get this mixed message that you cannot question any mainstream narrative without automatically tying it to some extremist belief. I myself am not extremist and think people who throw this label haphazardly are the same delusional people who think Trump is a Nazi for writing his own name on a cheque. Yes, they're out there.
I also want to point out that I do not deny that there aren't real world cases of racism or discrimination. Like at what point, Canada did have their own Ku Klux Klan or that a Black woman couldn't attend a whites only movie theater and has been honored of the $10 bill.
Although in these examples, these were incidents that happened 50+ years ago and is hardly an image of what modern Canada looks like. Well, with the exception of the last part.
But that's for another topic.
So what's the actual issue then? Well, here is a report put out by the very own Peel School Board discussing "racism" in schools. I'm not hiding anything, you can read the report yourself if you want.
It's pretty lengthy and the presentation itself seems to be well researched enough. So what's the problem? Well, the report starts right off the bat explaining just how "diverse" these schools actually are.
I do not disagree with this data and in fact, it does pretty much line up with official census on racial backgrounds. The only thing new is the "10% of students are 2SLGBTQ+". I have no idea where the other letters and "plus" symbol came from. It was just "LGBT" growing up.
Surprisingly though, the actual headline of this paragraph, and what is actually later the big focus of this report is "anti-black racism". Now, I'm not going to hold Peel Schools against this. The report itself is actually suppose to be a response or a catalyst that sparked the investigation to begin with. When I use "surprise" I use it in relation to the other groups mentioned in this briefing. Black is 10% and White is 17%, which technically both makes them "minorities" under this system.
Again, just something to think about.
Ok, moving on, the report also goes to tell us what the actual ethnic breakdown of teachers is, and of course, it gives a completely different story.
Now for completely historical reasons, it shouldn't actually be a surprise that most public staff are White, especially if we take into account those with senior experience although the report itself implies or suggests that maybe this number is too high.
PDSB said:The above graphs bring into sharp focus the absence of demographic diversity amongst school staff and overrepresentation of White teachers at the PDSB, a significant problem that manifests across various school boards in the province.3 The 2016 PDSB employee census data indicates that approximately 25% of PDSB staff are racialized, which is almost the opposite of the demographics of the student body
And the solution of course? More diversity.
PDSB said:International research has found that effective school boards treat diversity as a source of potential growth, rather than an inherent hindrance to student performance.4 A district-wide commitment to a culture of equity, student well-being and achievement is essential for realizing success. Throughout the Review, we learned of many promising and successful initiatives underway in the PDSB that leverage diversity to enrich student achievement and enhance educational experiences. We heard sincere passion, dedication and commitment to equity work from students, staff at various levels of the organization, and community leaders.
Now I find this "research" to be really fucking weird. And I would be really interested in seeing it for myself. I do not recall my actual academic performance being based around the number of black/white/indian students being next to me. I would think that, if someone were to fail physics, math, english, it has less to do with "diversity" and more to do with ones own ability to memorize and correctly answer questions.
But alas, the 'experts' must know more about this than me.
Although I said earlier the report did go more in depth with the anti-black racism, there are still some footnotes for other groups mentioned.
At a quick glance, it mentions there's a big problem with factional fighting among South Asians that teachers ignore, French curriculum materials that is considered "Islamophobic", high suicide rates among the LGBT community, indigenous students being over-represented in suspensions and Latin students being overrepresented in the applied and locally developed credit courses.
What's my response to this? Well, I do wish I could ask the people who first began this experiment, if they actually thought this through, or if they just intend to let future generations carry the burden.
Because I'm not quite sure how we can end concerns about Islamophobia without actually modifying Muslim tenants that doesn't conflict with other beliefs, or why Latin American students are over represented in the locally developed courses when I remember in High School, the choice to do "advanced" was always there if you so choose it.
But more from the report.
In Canadian history, slavery never had a legacy that this report tries to juxtapose as somehow being the source of the school's problems. In fact, Canada being a British colony for most of its life, actually outlawed slavery before we even technically became a country years later. And while there was segregation as pointed out in the beginning of this thread, I am highly skeptical that this is also the explanation for why black students must be dropping out.
You can even disregard both and recall that even most "ethnic" Canadians are actually those who immigrated after 1967. In which case, this only makes the argument hold less water.
Someone who flies from Jamaica to Canada in 2020 but ends up dropping out of school in 2030 is because.... Canada last had slaves in 1833? But of course, I imagine this discussion will shift that it's because the racism is "systematic" or "ingrained". Which again, shouldn't we have similar data for the now minority White Canadians? Or how about the Majority South Asian students?
In another piece, it also mentions the problem with suspensions.
PDSB said:We heard, nearly without exception, the belief that Black students are grossly overrepresented in suspensions. One staff member astutely observed, “you don’t need data; you just need to see who is being sent to the principal’s office”. We heard complaints from members of the PDSB, Black and non-Black, that teachers and principals are not implementing progressive discipline, that teachers and principals escalate trivial issues unnecessarily, that they are involving the police for minor issues leading to arrests and stigmatization of Black children at a very young age, and that Black children are leaving the PDSB because it is not safe for them. We were extremely concerned to hear of many incidents of police intervention in schools. A number of people recounted a particular incident involving a police officer who, present in the school for other reasons and on his own accord, intervened in a situation and handcuffed a young Black elementary student. It need not be said that the result was nothing short of traumatizing for the young student and their family. Unfortunately, this incident is not isolated. Contemporaneous with this Review, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario rendered a decision about a grade 1 PDSB student who was handcuffed by the police after the school called 911 because the school was unable to deescalate the student’s behaviour. The Tribunal found discrimination occurred and that “the [child’s] race was a factor in her treatment by the [police]…when she was placed on her stomach and her wrists handcuffed behind her”.11
I think it's possible that teachers could escalate a situation, but only in the human behavior of wanting to look "right" and not necessarily because it's "systematically" ingrained to target ethnic groups.
I can think back to an incident when I was in Grade 5, and I was chatting with my friend in the classroom but I was a little bit more loudly. My teacher called me out for this (but not my friends, who were also technically disrupting) and we had a back and forth argument. I was a bit pissed but ultimately, it wasn't something I should repeat doing otherwise, what else is a Teacher suppose to do if they feel a classroom environment isn't progressing the way it should?
There's going to be a penalty, and if the behavior is more than a "one time" incident, then you shouldn't be surprised when you are sent to a principals office and apprehended. Also, look at this statement:
that they are involving the police for minor issues leading to arrests and stigmatization of Black children at a very young age
I don't think the simple act of calling the police is enough to get someone arrested. Unless you live in an actual police state, then I think there is another key piece of information missing that changes the narrative that it's simply "racism" behind these suspensions or arrests. Which I believe is what's about to come up.
Unless there is evidence to the contrary, is the takeaway not that schools are racist/targeting specific ethnic groups, but that the actual severity of suspensions are just more reported by certain groups?
I do find it really odd, if not a bit dishonest that in this report, they failed to actually get the suspension data for other groups. The report just comfortably pushes one narrative and even says that it's because the definitions are "arbitrary".
But these explanations are thrown out and instead, just find something else to explain this pattern.
PDSB said:For decades Black communities have complained that their children are inappropriately streamed and, as a result, are deprived of the opportunity to realize their full potentials and to fully participate in and contribute to Ontario’s economy. The level at which a child is streamed either expands or contracts a child’s opportunity for post-secondary education and skilled trades. University is not an option for students in applied level courses. Certain college programs and skilled trades may not be either. We heard from one PDSB math teacher that, when considering future studies and careers, parents and students do not realize it is better to receive a 60% in academic math than a 90% in applied because the student’s options for future educational pathways are greater with academic credits, while more limited with applied credits. Many students told us about feeling undervalued and being mis-tracked by teachers because of teachers’ perceptions about their ability based on their race. What we consistently heard during the course of this Review tells us that too many educators and administrators do not have high expectations for Black students. Many Black students receive inadequate advice on their academic choices and pathways, and by no means are encouraged to realize their full potential.
This one is odd again.
For reasons that should have nothing to do with race, and what should take 1 second to google, if you voluntarily (as in, no one forced you but yourself) take applied classes but are shocked to learn you can't actually get into university with "easier" classes, the solution is to go back and redo them until you get maybe even the 60% passing for advance credits.
But you know, the problem with this goes beyond school. Your career pathway is something you should have been thinking about before you reached Grade 12 and graduate.
As a personal anecdote, my High School years was actually a jack of all trades but master of none. I bet too much on actually applying for all the academic courses but not actually narrowing it down to just one career pathway.
In hindsight, as someone who always wanted to learn everything, I did benefit by having increased knowledge throughout later stages of my adult life.
But from an absolute career building perspective, it was a disaster. Because all that knowledge I learned in school was 99% useless if only 1% mattered for getting the career I wanted.
I still would not blame this on the school system. Because what happens after graduation is not the end. If you ever hear of success stories of people who build multi-billion dollar businesses when they were 30 or 50 years old, then clearly the only thing that matters is personal talent if you wish to be the most successful in life.
In both these scenarios, the report fails to mention if these were A averages in Academic or Applied courses. Major difference because applied courses intentionally have lower difficulty.PDSB said:Students told us that their teachers and guidance counselors did not ask them about their interests or future goals when considering their course selection options. One Black student with an A average told us about waiting weeks for an appointment with a guidance counselor, and when the meeting happened, the student had only five minutes with the guidance counselor and was encouraged to take non-academic courses. A former student, who is Black, spoke to us about their regret in following teachers’ advice to take applied courses and enroll in a vocational program, despite high marks; following that advice left the student excluded from any university options and limited choices in college programs.
But not even this, it shouldn't matter what a teacher or guidance counselor says. Anyone who profoundly does research on their own career choice should be aware what actually requirements exist.
Also, I should point out one more thing.
If there is data based on academic performance, and teachers know that perhaps we can predict which groups are more likely to benefit from being in applied or academic courses, then it's hard to challenge biases that might reflect reality. This is not an excuse of course to say "just dump all "x" group in this class" nor should it actually be mandatory.
Again, without actually comparing academic data, I think a lot of people will be mislead when they see numbers and jump to "racism" or "lack of diversity" being the problem.
Interestingly enough, if you look at regional arts, it actually has the highest percentage that matches the actual black student population, but then these numbers become less consistent once you go from leadership academy to advanced placement.
Now this is getting really long and I'm starting to repeat a couple of the same points so I might just wrap this up soon.
I think there's a "culture of fear" in every workplace, but I blame this just on how power structures work.
I wish they would expand more on the "threats" and why it's automatically linked to white supremacy.
For example, if a student fails a test but a teacher passes the student anyway just based on skin color, then I don't think it's "white supremacy" to disapprove of this. However, if a student clearly passes but is failed for the opposite reason, then I would say "racism" is an appropriate justification.
However, that scenario is split 50:50, and it is up to people who say "diversity increases academic performance" to actually prove that schools themselves are deliberately failing racial students or it's done in disproportionate numbers that explain an imbalance.