New head of Peel school board vows to support marginalized students

Good set of initiatives, will be interesting to see how they work out through the ongoing evaluation planned:

“Teaching is very much about meeting students halfway through understanding and empathy,” he said. “And some of our students need more from us. They need us to identify, understand, minimize and eliminate the marginalization they experience so they can rise.”

That includes Black, LGBTQ and Indigenous students, and those who live in poverty, he said.

It was Joshua’s first opportunity to introduce himself at the annual back-to-school kickoff held by the Peel board. But it wasn’t long before he was sharing the stage.

…The voices of students who are struggling or feel marginalized “are sometimes difficult to hear,” he said in his remarks. “Our backs go up. We think, ‘have I said this to a student?’ Our discomfort should lead to self-reflection.”

Those voices also underscore the need for more training to help staff meet the diverse needs of the children and youth they teach. In a survey last year, mental health was an area staff requested more help with, he noted. And additional training will be provided to help equip them with strategies to support students with anxiety and other conditions.

In the past year, the board has announced initiatives to address the needs of Black students after surveys revealed many felt excluded, subject to suspicion and harsher discipline, and that they faced lower expectations for careers and university and were streamed into courses below their abilities.

In response, the board presented a plan starting with mandatory bias and anti-racism training for all staff, which begins this fall. It also pledged to revise curriculum to include the history and experiences of Black Canadians throughout, and to create mentoring programs aimed at getting more Black students involved in taking on leadership roles.

It committed to collecting race-based statistics at a time when boards across the province are being encouraged to take that step.

Peel’s first student census to provide that information is expected to be completed by December 2018.

Its first workforce census earlier this year found that while visible minorities make up more than half of Peel Region, only about a quarter of staff and teachers at the board identify as “racialized.”

Joshua says Peel’s 153,000 students need to see themselves reflected in the people who teach them and what they learn in their classrooms.

“If students see themselves reflected in the curriculum, if they believe their identities are validated and their narratives are included they will be engaged,” he told staff last week.

He said the board will be working with York University professor Carl James to measure the impact of the steps it is taking and what more should be done.

“I’m encouraged with the conversations we’ve had, and the fact the board has had these discussions with the community,” said James, who last spring published a major study on the barriers faced by Black students in the GTA.

“They’ve put in place a number of processes that I think should bode well,” he said in an interview, adding that it has the potential to become a model for other boards.

Source: New head of Peel school board vows to support marginalized students | Toronto Star

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: