Firing Parkdale CI teacher should just be the beginning
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Firing Parkdale CI teacher should just be the beginning

William Paul  – 2021-11-20
The TDSB did the right thing to fire Parkdale CI teacher Gorian Surlan who came to school in blackface. The question now is what will the Board do next to deal with anti-Black racism that permeates our communities?

Parkdale rallies against anti-Black racism

School Magazine  – 2021-11-15
Parkdale parents, students and friends want to know what the Toronto District School Board is going to do about anti- Black racism in their community and throughout the system. They made their point clear on Saturday at a rally of about 200 people organized by Parkdale Against Racism outside Parkdale CI.

Parkdale CI: Students call out the truth of anti-Black racism

D Tyler Robinson  – 2021-11-15
We care about math, so there’s a kindergarten to grade 12 strategy for math. We care about literacy, so there’s a kindergarten to grade 12 strategy for literacy. If we want to address anti-Black racism and make sure we’re not standing out here tomorrow and next week and in different towns across the province, we need a kindergarten through grade twelve strategy in anti-racism and systemic oppression.

Remembrance Day: Flag-raising discussions in Canada pose questions about residential schools and what we remember

Trevor Norris and Frank Deer  – 2021-11-10
Remembrance Day brings up concerns about honouring veterans at the same time as respecting the Indigenous children who died in residential schools. Remembrance Day and the traumas experienced through residential schools are topics that demand thoughtful engagement — especially when explored in schools. Now is a good time to consider what is worthwhile observing and remembering.

Confronting the Right-Wing Attacks on Racial Justice Teaching

Rethinking Schools  – 2021-11-07
The Toronto District School Board posted a page by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre about what is alright to say about Israel and what is antisemitism (see article below). In light of that, here is an article from RETHINKING SCHOOLS about restrictions on the teaching of history and contemporary social reality.

“Let’s Be Honest:” TDSB stifles criticism of Israel

William Paul  – 2021-10-27
What’s going on with the Toronto District School Board?! It looks like it’s teamed up with the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) to outline what is okay to say about the State of Israel and what is antisemitism.

Mathematics and the arts: A powerful, productive, pedagogical pairing

Susan Gerofsky  – 2021-10-12
People talk about the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and how they are connected, but sometimes have difficulty understanding STEAM (STEM plus arts). Mathematics and the arts have equally close connections. Here are some thoughts on using an arts-based math pedagogy.

“Hybrid learning” is not learning

School Magazine  – 2021-09-22
"Hybrid learning" is a misnomer. There is no way to support the idea that learning is taking place in a class run by a teacher who has to teach students at school along with those watching from home.

Hope and a prayer: Ministry’s back to school plan

School Magazine  – 2021-08-10
The Ford government wants it both ways: get kids back to school and spend as little money as possible. The Tories know it's not that simple, but continue to follow that well-worn path.

Anti- Black racism at Queen Victoria PS: how serious is the TDSB about it?

William Paul  – 2021-07-05
After a year and a half the Toronto District School Board has produced a report about a racist letter written to the Vice Principal of Queen Victoria PS in Parkdale. The big question is whether it will lead to action or more rumination. What does the TDSB seriously plan to do about anti-Black racism?


Susan Atkins  – 2021-06-30
Our list of worrisome activities of the Doug Ford government since the end of June, 2018. It's updated regularly. The last addition was April 27, 2021

If you have information you'd like to share with us about the comings and goings of the Ford government, please email us at

Exposing the motive for the sudden wave of attacks on schools that teach critical race theory

Jeff Bryant  – 2021-06-18
In the US, there are moves to attack teachers for teaching historical, cultural or scientific reality. It centres on the politics of teaching critical race theory - the context of history that we see here in Canada surfacing with the so-called Indian Residential Schools. Politicians don't want teachers to teach divisiveness, and they're turning that demand into a way to privatize schools through 'choice.'

Tories use the notwithstanding clause like duct tape on freedom of speech and association

William Paul  – 2021-06-11
Doug Ford isn't about to let a little thing like a court decision stop him from shoring up his prospects for the June 2022 election. So, when the Ontario Superior Court decided that Bill 254 ran afoul of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, he recalled the Ontario Legislature to use the "notwithstanding clause" to override the decision.

The greatest gift was being held accountable for my racism

Kristina Cockle  – 2021-06-08
My very first memory of school is looking around the Kindergarten classroom, worrying that my skin was too dark, and considering the whitest girls to be the prettiest and most desirable as friends. As a five-year-old white child, I had already incorporated the idea of a racial hierarchy.

Quebec’s Bill 21: diversity at the whim of the state

William Paul  – 2021-06-03
Quebec Premier Francois Legault recently got some good new and some bad news. The Quebec Superior Court said that his CAQ government could ban religious dress from public sector workers - just not those in English language schools. What does that mean for education in Quebec?

Where are the children buried?

School Magazine  – 2021-06-01
Where are the children buried? The ones who lie unmarked in other graves - there for convenience, for expediency - for fear of discovery.

TDSB teacher annoys Toronto Sun – gets pilloried for his trouble

Tim McCaskell  – 2021-05-28
Javier Davila is a Student Equity Program Advisor for the TDSB, who supports schools, educators and students in their anti-oppression activities. Last week he found himself in the crosshairs of the Toronto Sun’s right-wing attack mouthpiece, Sue Ann Levy.

Boycotting Occupation: Educators and Palestine

Rethinking Schools  – 2021-05-17
As we republish this article from Rethinking Schools, 192 Palestinians, including 58 children, have been killed in Israeli strikes since Monday May 9. Ten Israelis, including 2 children have died in the latest- possibly - worst violence since 2014. This piece, from 2016 is republished with permission of Rethinking Schools.

Ministry spending more on schools for 2021-22?! Not really.

School Magazine  – 2021-05-13
“Our government is investing more in public education than any government in Ontario history," trumpets Education Minister Stephen Lecce. Given what families, students and staff have gone through for over a year of COVID-19 that would be entirely appropriate. But it's not that simple.

Halton Catholic board to 2SLGBTQ community: “we support you- but ”

William Paul  – 2021-05-06
The message was clear from most Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) trustees: don’t fly the Rainbow Flag at our schools during Pride month in June or any other time. This snub has been widely reported in media, but it’s really worth taking a closer look at the discussion in a nearly 4 hour-long  special meeting on April 26.

Human rights at the TDSB: complex but- surely- possible

Nigel Barriffe and David DePoe and William Paul  – 2021-04-29
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) recently put out a report on the alarming problem of unresolved hate and human rights complaints compiled by its Human Rights Office. Race or race-related grounds is the most frequently reported problem and it can take years to resolve a complaint.

Beginning the journey of reconciliation: Orange Shirt Day in elementary schools

Robin Drinkwater  – 2021-04-21
With the collaboration and support of the Orange Shirt Society, Alberta Educator Robin Drinkwater developed a curriculum for young people from Kindergarten to grade 6 based on Orange Shirt Day, set aside to acknowledge the destruction wrought by Canada's so-called “Indian Residential Schools”

Beginning the journey of reconciliation: an interview with Phyllis Webstad

William Paul  – 2021-04-21
Orange Shirt Day is the legacy of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion that happened in Williams Lake BC in 2013. It is based on the story of Phyllis (Jack) Webstad who attended the Mission in 1973/74 when she was just 6 years old. Nearly 50 years later, Phyllis Webstad continues the work of teaching about Residential Schools.

Ontario’s ‘choice’ of fully online school would gamble on children for profit

Lana Parker  – 2021-04-14
Despite the lack of data outlining benefits to children, the Ontario government is discussing making full-time online schooling a permanent “choice” in public education. This idea is being introduced without adequate research, and stands to become the latest measure that raises inequality and threatens the viability of education as a public good.

The Shock Doctrine and the Tory budget

School Magazine  – 2021-04-05
It’s always time to keep a sharp eye on whatever the Ford government says or claims to do – especially in the time of COVID, as Ontario enters its third wave of shutdowns amidst a blizzard conflicting information. As the government rolls out its budget, there are lots of questions about what it really plans to do to help Ontarians.

Bargaining beyond bread and butter: Teacher unions and the common good

William Paul  – 2021-03-30
One of the most important ideas to take away from the new book "Teacher Unions and Social Justice" is that educators must work tirelessly with unions and their communities if they want to maintain jobs worth going to. Union - community solidarity is what it's all about.

Deconstructing anti-Black racism – a high school course

School Magazine  – 2021-03-24
At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, four TDSB teachers moved the ball forward for anti-Black racism education. Tiffany Barrett, D. Tyler Robinson, Remy Basu and Kiersten Wynter presented a course about the language and history of anti-Black racism, what it means to students trying to understand themselves within it and what change could look like.

Deconstructing anti-Black racism: an interview with the authors

School Magazine  – 2021-03-24
What thinking goes into a curriculum about deconstructing anti-Black racism. The teachers who put it together took time to talk to School Magazine about their thoughts on how they see the curriculum moving out to other students and people's reaction to it, so far.

Ministry memo a major muddle

School Magazine  – 2021-03-18
Don’t plan on any more extra Covid-19 funding; plan on laying off staff. That’s the upshot of a February 26 memo sent by Deputy Minister of Education, Nancy Naylor to directors and financial officials of school boards across the province and it wasn’t reassuring.

Sam Oosterhoff doesn’t belong at the Ministry of Education

School Magazine  – 2021-03-16
Sam Oosterhoff needs to relinquish his position as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education right away. His social conservative views should never have been welcome in a Ministry charged with educating students from widely varied backgrounds to be understanding, broad minded and compassionate. His connection to a group that equates abortion with the Holocaust just underscores his unsuitability for the job.

Tax ‘pandemic profiteering’ by tech companies to help fund public education

Trevor Norris  – 2021-03-15
As the one year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic arrives, it is increasingly apparent that not everyone is having a hard time: Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon earned US$38 billion in profits in the second quarter of 2020 alone. The Guardian reports that Amazon’s share price is up 62 per cent over the past year, and Apple’s 70 per cent.

What’s in a name – change?

William Paul  – 2021-03-05
When the York Region District School Board agreed that it was time to change the name of a secondary school named after 19th century slave owner Benjamin Vaughan, the main question became: How do you do it in an equitable way?

Unpacking NAFTA’s legacy: Mobilizing worker autonomy to resist neoliberalism in education

Larry Kuehn  – 2021-03-02
When the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was negotiated in the 1990s, one question was the potential impact on public education in the US, Mexico and Canada. Paul Bocking’s look at education in the three NAFTA countries 25 years later helps to answer it. The short version is that NAFTA probably had little direct impact on public education, but the neoliberal forces behind NAFTA did lead to some convergence, particularly on the experience of teachers and limits on their professional autonomy.

Virtual School GSAs: Community against Cisnormativity

Arthur Burrows  – 2021-02-25
Widespread transphobia and queerphobia means that many students who want to attend Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) do not do so because crossing the threshold into a classroom meeting may mean outing themselves to the entire school. On the other hand, Virtual GSAs offer possibilities for trans and queer students to form community.

Shock Therapy: Public Funding and the Crisis at Laurentian University

John Peters  – 2021-02-23
Claiming “unsustainable” debts, Laurentian University says it needs to cut professors and programs. Warning other universities that more financial oversight is coming, Ontario Colleges and Universities Minister Ross Romano said that “more dramatic and immediate action” will be needed. This not a new story...

There is nothing unsustainable about Laurentian University. Rather, it and other Canadian universities face governments crying poor while they bail out the rich and gut social programs for everyone else.

Walking the equity talk? Not! York Catholic Board hires white director with 3 years teaching experience

William Paul  – 2021-02-17
The York Catholic District School Board encompasses a fast-growing area with a wide diversity of students and families. Despite concerns of parents, and even a recent strike by students, the board perversely decided to hire a white male with 3 years teaching experience to be its new Director of Education. His main qualification appears to be his corporate experience.

Unlearning biases: The work of generations

Pinder Jhaj  – 2021-02-09
As BC teacher, Pinder Jhaj writes: "...we may celebrate significant days from different cultures, our libraries may finally be carrying books that represent children of different backgrounds, and we have guest speakers and resources at our fingertips to help our students learn about each other’s differences." But we still need to challenge our own biases to make real life at school reflect real equity.

Success Beyond Limits: Students active in their futures

William Paul  – 2021-02-04
So many students moving into secondary school start out pitching from behind. They've been transferred from grade to grade, don't yet have the basic academic skills they need and are adrift in school. Success Beyond Limits is there to give them options for a future that includes them.

Return to school: A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma cloaked in uncertainty

School Magazine  – 2021-02-02
To hear Education Minister Stephen Lecce tell it, the Ontario government is opening up the funding floodgates to make sure all students can return safely to school. At a news conference yesterday, he announced that the Ford government is providing an additional $381 million dollars for school safety. As always there's more to it...

Teacher-Volunteers: Unpaid labour a symptom of precarious work

Michael Mindzak  – 2021-01-19
Over the past decade, Ontario has found itself with thousands of teachers who have been unable to secure jobs in teaching. For many of them, volunteering has emerged as an unpaid way to get into the profession. But what does this say about the value we place on the work of educators?

Pro- Trump rioters storm U.S. Capitol: Educators respond

School Magazine  – 2021-01-14
Call it an insurrection against basic democracy; call it racist, violent and frightening in what it bodes for the future. But the attempted coup against the American government is also a terrific learning opportunity. Here is exactly where the idea of "really useful knowledge" applies.

Can the TDSB walk its talk on anti-racism at Queen Victoria PS?

William Paul  – 2021-01-11
Last June, School published two articles about a racist email sent to the former Vice-Principal of Queen Victoria PS. The TDSB launched an external investigation and put out an update in December. But questions remain about the degree of consultation with the school community.

What’s good for ED: resolutions for 2021

School Magazine  – 2021-01-04
Where to begin? While we were all trying to cope with the repeated shocks of COVID- 19 this past year, our Ontario government was busy. Yes, you have reason to be very concerned. But there were also people out in the community doing good work like organizing opposition to the Ford government. Below, School Magazine has listed 10 New Year’s Resolutions that would improve and respect education in Ontario along with the people who are connected to it.

Teaching in a time of COVID

School Magazine  – 2020-12-17
The best thing that can be said about the situation in schools under COVID-19 is that a vaccine has arrived in the province. Otherwise, "barely hanging on" looks like the most common description of the way things are going. With a government that would never put up the money to keep class sizes down, that's not surprising.

Toronto Catholic board promotes anti-racism plan

William Paul  – 2020-12-10
The Ministry of Education has told school boards to start collecting race-based data about their students by 2023. It plans to to end streaming as well as suspensions for kids from grades K-3. The Toronto Catholic Board has been working on this for awhile and plans to start collecting race-based data by March. The key question is what will change in the schools?

Data or politics? Why the answer still remains political

Rinaldo Walcott  – 2020-12-10
This essay points to a significant gap between calls for race-based data collection and the claim it will lead to better policy making. Instead the paper argues that there is a gap between data collection and the political decision making needed to implement sound policy

Leaked Alberta school curriculum in urgent need of guidance from Indigenous wisdom teachings

Dwayne Donald  – 2020-12-01
In Alberta, drafts of a proposed kindergarten to Grade 4 curriculum for social studies and fine arts were recently leaked to the media and have been broadly criticized by education experts.

The leaked curriculum suggests references to residential schools “can probably best be saved for later when learners are more mature,” for example Grade 9, and minimizes the impact of the schools and their harmful reach in the Canadian colonial context.

Stories of resistance: Resilience in the face of racism in education

Amrita Kauldher  – 2020-11-26
“Teaching is a language … what do we do with the experiences in our classrooms that made us feel too brown?”
I jotted down the quote above by Indigenous author Tracey Lindberg during a keynote speech. I have held on to it since. It has been incredibly powerful in my reflections as an educator of colour. Although Tracey speaks to the painful journey of being Indigenous in Canada’s education system, I am reminded of moments as a student where feeling “too brown” was immense.

Teaching the Radical Rosa Parks

Bill Bigelow  – 2020-11-18
Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery Alabama bus on December 1, 1955. But there was much more to her life filled with activism and resistance; so much more for educators to use to explain how their students need not be trapped by history, but can do something about it.

Ontario’s 2020 budget – a “practical freeze” for education

School Magazine  – 2020-11-13
School boards are strapped for cash, but the $31 billion 2020 Ontario Budget released last week by the Ford government isn’t going to help them much.  According to economist Ricardo Tranjan, of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) it’s essentially a “practical freeze” - one that will likely continue for the next couple of years.

Where is Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT) headed?

David DePoe  – 2020-11-09
What is going on at Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT)? Since a contentious election last spring, it's not clear what stance the union local will take on on the many issues to do with sustaining public education. It's time to clear the air.

Extra pay for TDSB school admins – a tone-deaf move

William Paul  – 2020-11-02
What could TDSB directors have been thinking? At a time when everyone is barely managing to cope with the effects of COVID-19, they decided give Principals and Vice-Principals extra pay for their work over the summer. Are they lost in a bubble?

Charter schools: What you need to know about their anticipated growth in Alberta

Michael Mindzak  – 2020-10-29
In Alberta, the once-radical idea of charter schools, placed largely on the back burner for the past two decades, has been brought back to the fore under Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party (UCP). The party’s Choice in Education Act  came into force Sept. 1, after the government passed it June 24.

Under the new act, individuals will be able to bypass the local school board and apply directly to the provincial government to seek to establish a charter school.

Stephen Lecce scraps hiring rules and wins Snobelen Award

William Paul  – 2020-10-22
Stephen Lecce should win the John Snobelen Create a Useful Crisis Award for excellence in using the COVID-19 pandemic as a distraction for canning Regulation 274 that brought some transparency and predictability into hiring teachers at Ontario schools.

Dumping Regulation 274: The thing about hiring

Thom Corner  – 2020-10-21
Regulation 274 was the Liberal government's effort, in 2012, to shift the power imbalance between principals and school boards on the one hand, and underemployed teachers on the other hand. Not surprisingly, principals called foul, and the Conservative government agrees with them.

In class and online at the same time – really distant learning

William Paul  – 2020-10-16
It's only fair to say that providing any education across the province has become a logistical, expensive nightmare. Some boards are trying a model that divides students into two classes of learners - those who attend school in person and others who watch them.

Digital technology and BC education: Underlying issues revealed by COVID-19

Michelle Gautreaux and Anne Hales  – 2020-10-05
COVID-19 has put the issue of technology front and
centre in Canadian public education. While teachers across the
country have quickly adapted instruction to online formats, it is not the same as the careful, time-consuming process of creating online
courses or activities.

Orange and reconciliation: orange shirt day

School Magazine  – 2020-09-28
September 30 is "Orange Shirt Day" a day of solidarity with Indigenous people across the country to honour residential school children. It is a reminder that reconciliation and education go hand in hand.

COVID-19 Learning pods: an understandable but fearsome step

William Paul  – 2020-09-15
As kids return to school after 6 months, we learned yesterday that there were 313 new cases of COVID-19 reported compared to 33 a month ago. A possible second wave of the pandemic is certainly not going to inspire parents to send their children back to school. But what about the alternatives?

Ontario’s “nearly $900 million” for safe schools is actually much less

Ricardo Tranjan  – 2020-08-28
The Ministry of Education would like you to think the federal government provided $381 million to Ontario, on top of the nearly $900 million provided by the province to support provincial back-to-school plans.
Not so fast. An honest announcement would go like this: the federal government's transfer of $763 million to Ontario schools, greatly exceeds the $541 million made available from the province - once again rescuing Ontarians from their provincial government.

Does the Ford government really believe Black Lives Matter?

William Paul  – 2020-07-08
“First, what we are dealing with, at root and fundamentally, is anti-Black racism... it is the Black community which is the focus. It is Blacks who are being shot, it is Black youth that is unemployed in successive numbers, it is Black students who are being inappropriately streamed in schools, it is Black kids who are disproportionately dropping out…Just as the soothing balm of ‘multiculturalism’ cannot mask racism, so racism cannot mask its primary target.” – Stephen Lewis 1992

Teachers’ unions and COVID-19: time to step up

William Paul  – 2020-04-22
No question - we all need to take individual responsibility for getting through the COVID-19 pandemic. But let's not forget our collective responsibility as organizers and activists. Some education unions understand that their work only increases as times get harder. In Ontario, however, they could do better.

The math proficiency test: a solution looking for a problem

William Paul  – 2020-03-25
Doug Ford has no teaching qualifications or background but thinks he know why grade 6 students might not be making the grade on the annual provincial math assessment. He's decided that aspiring teachers need to be tested in math because they might not know enough about it.

There is no de-streaming without democracy and meaning

George Martell  – 2020-01-09
For the past year and a half School Magazine has concentrated on Doug Ford and the destruction brought about by his government on social services health, cities, transit, the environment, the legal system and – let’s not forget – education.

But there are other serious issues we need to keep our eye on. One of them is streaming kids into programs that limit their options. But is de-streaming, by itself the answer?