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Simcoe school board trustee requests hard stance against systemic racism

July 9, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Racism and equality have been in focus internationally since the murder of George Floyd in late May.

It has led many institutions who are separate from the police to reflect on their own operations in an effort to identify and eliminate systemic racism.

That work could soon be underway at the province’s Ministry of Education as Simcoe County District School (SCDSB) Trustee Tyler Boswell brought forward a notice of motion at last month’s board meeting.

The motion requests that a letter be written by the SCDSB chairperson to the Minister of Education, asking the Ministry to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism in society and the importance of addressing racism, hate and oppression of all kinds.

It goes on to request a review of all curriculum through a systemic racism lens, making necessary revisions and allocating appropriate funding to school boards to further their equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

“In light of recent events and what has transpired, this notice of motion brings a discussion to the board table,” noted SCDSB Chairperson Jody Lloyd.

“I think the motion identifies some of our priorities as a board, what we feel and believe, but it also identifies the fact that…we need specialized funding to enhance the [anti-racism] programs that we currently have.”

Boswell said it’s important that SCDSB isn’t “passive on the matter” and stands up against oppression.

Superintendent Daryl Halliday noted that the board has installed “equity, diversity and inclusion” in it’s four key strategic pillars, which guide its direction. He said the motion fits in nicely with work already being conducted by the SCDSB.

“Our focus has to continue to be on educating our students and staff about the injustice and impacts of systemic racism and working together to create and maintain safe spaces within our schools and our broader communities,” Halliday noted.

Lloyd said the motion is asking the Ministry of Education to embed initiatives aimed at ending racism directly into Ontario’s curriculum.

“I think that is not just a call that’s coming from our board right now, it has come from other organizations, other boards as well, saying the curriculum needs to be updated to embed this material, so it’s taught from a very young age to our students,” she explained.

“In order to do that and to run programs, there is a cost associated with that.”

It is hoped that this cost is covered by the Ministry of Education. Lloyd said enhanced funding allocated specifically towards anti-racism initiatives is what’s needed.

“This is an opportunity for our board to sort of articulate our position on this,” Lloyd noted.

The actual motion was not formally discussed at SCDSB’s meeting in June but will be debated and voted on at their next meeting in August.

“Trustees have been provided with the notice of motion and I anticipate it will be a very meaningful discussion when it takes place,” said Lloyd.

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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