BY KATHY MCDONALD
The Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System was established in 1992. The commission’s study examined the practice, procedures and policies of the Ontario Justice system. Among the several findings, it unearthed the problem of systemic Anti-Black Racism in the educational arena and examined the impact on Black youth. In the absence of any significant improvement since the findings of this study, the United Way of Peel Region, in the spring of 2015 released the F.A.C.E.S of Peel report (Facilitating Access, Change and Equity in the Systems). Some of the findings suggest that Black youth were inappropriately streamed in schools, Black kids especially Black males were disproportionately dropping out and the rate of expulsion was also disproportionately high for Black students. Numerous studies have been done by various organizations, the issues and problems have been well documented. It is time to ask the hard questions, first of ourselves and secondly of our leaders. This article attempts to challenge both parents and all stakeholders of the educational system to begin to make a committed, serious and real change to address the perceived and real conditions that are hindering academic success of students with a Caribbean heritage especially Black males.
School boards, as an educational body, have a role. I work for you. I can advocate for you. Use me, all residents of wards 3 and 4 in Brampton. I am your Trustee. I will be happy to answer any questions from readers of my column. Send me your questions at Kathy@Carib101.com. Readers, your Trustees work for you. Engage them and get them to advocate for you when necessary. Get involved and hold your School Boards accountable for the instruction, mental well-being and learning of your children. Why not attend a school board meeting?
What are we as parents doing to change these perceived conditions highlighted by countless studies? We, as parents, have a role. I would like to challenge my readers especially the parents to examine themselves as we all are accountable to the youth. Parents, we need to do due diligence and research and access the plethora of resources available to help our kids succeed. Growing up in the Caribbean education was a priority, it was the gate way to escaping and alleviating poverty. Education empowers people and can give a voice to the voiceless. We as a Caribbean community need to return to this mindset. Are we are too busy to get involved in our child’s education?
Do you know the difference between academic or applied? What do they mean? What do they really mean for our child’s future? What programs are best suited for our child’s learning style. At the PDSB we have a strings program as well as advanced placement courses that can be used towards university credits. Did you know at the PDSB we have a first class Truck and Coach facility? Check it out and take an amazing virtual tour. http://www.peelschools.org/parents/programs/regional/truckandcoach/
Have you ever heard of the IBT program? Did you know it’s time to register your child to kindergarten at the PDBS? What is a HSSM? Are you aware of the all specialized programs and the deadlines to apply for them? Bussing is not a reason to select a program for your child. Take a serious look at your child’s learner profile and find the best program to challenge and bring out the best in him or her. A lot of these questions can be answered on the website of your School Board or by simply speaking with your child’s or children’s principal.
When was the last time you called or visited your child’s or children’s school? Teachers, administration and staff for the most part have your child’s or children’s well-being as a priority. A lot of teachers spend countless hours doing professional development to equip their students for 21st century learning. Most teachers have a growth mind set and are lifelong learners. However when you encounter the exception to the rule, have a conversation with the principal, school superintendent or your local Trustee. Teaching pedagogy has changed, the classroom has changed and how students learn has changed, so be informed!
Get involved and do not leave your child’s future solely in a guidance councilor’s hands. Do not get me wrong, most guidance counselors are consummate professionals but who knows your child best? What about that one bad apple? Parents are children’s first teachers and usually know their children better than any educator. Get involved. Our children are the most important investment and the best gift we can give them is an education and help them to be the best that they can be. There are a myriad of studies conducted that prove that when all contributing factors are considered including socio-economic, natural ability, resource availability and the quality of teaching; it is parent involvement that is the greatest contributing factor to a student’s success. So parents journey with me as we work diligently to make each student be the best that they can be. Walk Good-Belle Marche!!