Teaching Historic and Contemporary Racism in Elementary Classrooms
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Fordwatch 2: the return of the binos

Susan Atkins  – 2023-07-08
Do you remember that former education minister, Lisa Thompson brought in 4 mandatory e-learning credits in March 2019? It gets a little hazy and that's something governments count on when it comes time for the next Ontario election on Thursday June 4, 2026.
Here's Fordwatch 2 - our bid to alleviate the effects of political amnesia. Updated September 22, 2023

Putting the squeeze on hope: the Province vs the TDSB budget

William Paul  – 2023-06-23
The Toronto DSB last night passed a budget built on a foundation of mud: continuous underfunding by the Province resulting in deficits which the Board just can't sustain. Meanwhile the Province looks to be sitting on $22.6 billion 'savings" from the money it doesn't spend on the things it needs to.

More Pride needed at York Catholic DSB

William Paul  – 2023-06-05
A week ago, York Catholic student trustees tabled a motion for “a little shine of light” – flying the Pride flag at the Board office during June. They showed guts, but their votes didn’t count. Trustees kept the Pride flag down.

Education funding: the elephant in the room

Sandra Huh  – 2023-05-23
The Ford government said it was going to make changes to education back when it was elected in 2018. It certainly did - failing to deliver the basic funding needed by schools to get through COVID. Now what's in the future for Ontario schools?

Violence “pervasive” in schools says ETFO

School Magazine  – 2023-05-16
Violence in and around schools isn’t only a matter of young people attacking each other – as awful  as that is. Teachers face the prospect of violence as well, with increasing numbers of attacks against them.

Balanced budget leaves Ontarians behind

From Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives  – 2023-04-10
It bears repeating—properly funded public services do more to improve Ontarians' lives than deficit reduction.

To renew working-class resistance, the labour movement must be democratized

Socialist Project- The Bullet  – 2023-04-04
Neoliberalism has thoroughly eroded trade union militancy, while social movements generally remain isolated in small-scale and resource-poor coalitions. Given the ongoing onslaught against all workers and working-class standards of living, the existing ways of doing things are not working. Recognizing this, in our view, is the only realistic starting point from which to move forward.

Is ABA abuse or are activists pawns in a larger game?

Karen Bojti  – 2023-04-02
ABA, or Applied Behavioural Analysis, is autism’s most common therapy. It’s not without controversy. Conflicts can be bitter. But they can also fracture a community. And in the wings, the Ford government has used them to full advantage to dilute clinical services and make even fewer supports available.

Systemic violence, institutional apathy and the death of 222 school aged students

Ardavan Eizadirad  – 2023-03-28
In 2007, Jordan Manners died from a gunshot wound in the hallway of his school. In the sixteen years following little has been done to address the root causes of violence in schools and racialized communities. Institutional apathy has contributed to over 222 homicides of children since that time. We must address this tragedy.

Martin Luther King’s multiple lanes to multiracial democracy

Maria J Stephan  – 2023-03-13
Martin Luther King Jr understood that no single approach would be sufficient to combat the interconnected evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism. As he said:
“Anyone who starts out with the conviction that the road to racial justice is only one lane wide will inevitably create a traffic jam and make the journey infinitely longer,”

Welcome back Doug!? Not so much…

William Paul  – 2023-02-27
Doug Ford was nowhere to be seen on Saturday at Queen’s Park. But that didn't stop about 1 000 people who showed up to welcome him back to the legislature from a ten-week hiatus. OK - it wasn’t so much a welcome back as a group commitment to oppose his Tory government and all it has done to harm the common good over the past nearly five years.

First Voices: New Grade 11 English courses can support reconciliation and resurgence by centring Indigenous literature

Jennifer Brant  – 2023-02-22
At the beginning of February, trustees from the Toronto District School Board voted in favour of replacing the mandatory Grade 11 English course with a course about understanding contemporary First Nations, Métis and Inuit Voices called First Voices.
This comes as welcome news. Since Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) called for reconciliation education in 2015, the Ontario government has been lagging on prioritizing this.

Richview CI – don’t drop the ball on returning students

William Paul  – 2023-02-10
Two graduate students at Richview CI are trying to come back for a second semester to improve their marks for for university. In light of all the problems of the pandemic, that shouldn't be hard to do. But there's more to the story.

Anti-racism policy – beyond running surveys and ticking boxes

William Paul  – 2023-02-02
People for Education's: "A progress report on anti-racism policy across Canada" has some useful information in it. But it's been a generation since Ontario began to grapple with racism - nearly 70 since the Civil Rights Movement began in the U.S. It's time to expect more than a progress report.

The “Learning Loss” Trap

Editors of Rethinking Schools  – 2023-01-20
In the U.S. politicians are shifting the blame for the Covid-19 disaster from for-profit health and poor government response to schools and "learning loss." It's a handy tool to distract the public, blame teachers and claim that public education is failing.

More cops? Not what our communities need

William Paul  – 2023-01-12
The Toronto Police Service Board supported $48.3 million to hire 200 more police officers. This comes at a time when more and more people are homeless, unfed and unsure about the safety of their kids in school communities. What world does the TPS board inhabit?

Back to school with The Little Education Report

Doug Little  – 2023-01-08
Doug Little - the other Doug - can put Doug Ford, Danielle Smith and Jagmeet Singh in the same article and make it hang together. Here are 3 stories of particular importance to educators and their friends and allies.

Teachers not the cause of York Memorial’s troubles

Jason Kunin  – 2022-12-22
If there is one thing that teachers, students, administration, and the media all agree on, it’s that the forced merger of York Memorial CI and George Harvey CI, two high schools located at Keele and Eglinton, has been an unmitigated disaster. Students are not to blame for this - neither are teachers.

To resolve youth violence, Canada must move beyond policing and prison

Ardavan Eizadirad  – 2022-12-21
Last year, there were 277 firearm homicides in Canada. A report by The Centre for Research & Innovation for Black Survivors of Homicide Victims (CRIB), days racialized Ontarians account for 75 per cent of Canadian gun homicide victims; 44 per cent of those victims belong to African, Caribbean or other Black communities.

If we do not improve standards of living and create genuine opportunities in communities, the cycle of poverty, violence and crime will continue.

Solar schools: students and the climate crisis

Dennis Bartels and Alice L Bartels  – 2022-12-08
It is now widely acknowledged that we need to move to renewable energy technologies quickly to help counter the impending fossil-fueled climate catastrophe. What part do schools play?

TDSB: Don’t bring back the SRO programme

William Paul  – 2022-12-04
The most recent killings and injuries of children in or near our schools is far beyond tragic. They amount to a disaster that counters everything educators, set out to accomplish. It is the dreadful opposite of education and surely, most people understand the awful choice the TDSB faces in trying to figure out what to do. Despite this - they should not bring back the School Resource Officer programme.

TDSB’s new trustees: what are their views on issues?

School Magazine  – 2022-12-01
The challenges are huge for trustees at the Toronto District School Board. The size alone - 583 public schools, 42,000 staff, 247,000 young students and 130 000 more in adult education - would send most people running for cover rather than running for trustee of this huge and unwieldy organization.

But 11 new trustees joined incumbents after the recent municipal elections and we reached out to them about their new jobs.

Ten Years Ago, Chicago Teachers Gave Us All a Jolt of Hope

Alexandra Bradbury  – 2022-11-28
If you feel like your union needs a jump-start—whether you’re a longtime shop steward or just started your first union job—"How to Jump-Start Your Union" is the book for you.

The impulse you have (“This union could be stronger and better, and I want to help change it”) makes you part of a long tradition—what we at Labor Notes affectionately call the trouble-making wing of the labor movement.

Education workers and the public good

William Paul  – 2022-11-20
Stephen Lecce says that "every few weeks, ever so casually, strike notices are being imposed on children, on their working parents and on our economy." Such colossal arrogance from a man who ever so casually tried to break a strike before it even happened.

Ontario education strike fallout: Workers’ anger about economic inequalities and labour precarity could spark wider job action

Michael Mindzak  – 2022-11-15
The effects of previous bargaining in 2019 in Ontario left many in the education sector unsettled. Throughout the pandemic, media coverage has largely focused on student outcomes- and rightly so.

However, over the past few years, education workers have themselves faced similar challenges with pandemic fatigue, limited government support and occupational burnout.

Blink! Ford backs off

William Paul  – 2022-11-07
Doug Ford took another look down the path he was leading his Tories and blinked. Bill 28, better named: Putting the Public Sector In Its Place Act was turning out to be a disaster.

Educators and critical pedagogy: an antidote to authoritarianism

Henry Giroux and William Paul  – 2022-10-24
Critical education could be an antidote to the current crisis of politics, agency, history, and public memory. Educators need a new political and pedagogical language for addressing the changing issues facing a world in which anti-democratic forces draw upon an unprecedented convergence of resources that exercise powerful and diverse forms of control.

Toronto school board trustees matter now more than ever

Debbie King  – 2022-10-04
With public education boldly under attack by a provincial government, the role of Toronto school board trustees should become more important than ever — but it could also become more or less defunct. Newly elected boards of trustees can uphold a subpar status quo, or they can challenge the current system, and help chart a new course for Toronto’s schools.

Truth and Reconciliation Week: learning continues

School Magazine  – 2022-09-26
If you want to learn more about what you can do to teach and talk to students about Truth and Reconciliation week, look beyond the Ministry of Education, whose preoccupation seems to be offering direct payments to parents for tutoring and training for future jobs that may or may not exist. But, there is much out there that teachers and families can use to observe this week as it continues up to Orange Shirt Day this Friday September 30.

Ministry of propaganda dictates what to teach about the death of the Queen

William Paul  – 2022-09-20
York Region DSB stepped in a political puddle just after the death of Queen Elizabeth. Board staff wanted to ease back on tributes because, at about 124 000 students, there could be a wide range of reactions to her passing. The Ministry of Education said "no." Schools must teach about the "many contributions" made by her majesty.

What will new political leadership mean for education across Canada?

Doug Little  – 2022-09-14
Looking for a sketch of what's going on politically across the country? Search no further. Here is Doug Little's take on the life signs of education in each province and territory. There is new political leadership either coming or already in place in many parts of the country. What does that mean for education?

The Nazification of American education

Henry Giroux  – 2022-09-12
The crisis of education in the United States presents not only a danger to American democracy, but also advances the ideological and structural foundations for the emergence of a fascist state. The slide towards lawlessness and authoritarianism is now aided and abetted by educational policies that are repressive and dystopian, wedded to social control and the death of the social imagination

Poke the Tory bear!

William Paul  – 2022-09-06
With an 83 seat Tory majority chosen by 18 percent of eligible voters- you couldn’t be blamed for throwing up your hands and finding a safe place to weather the inevitable assaults on the public good: don’t poke the bear. The thing is - the opposite is true. Keep up the resistance - poke that Tory bear.

The eighteen percent Tory majority: what happened here?

William Paul  – 2022-06-09
There’s something happening here.” But it’s not Buffalo Springfield singing the song and not 1967, another dire time in history – it’s now and it’s Ontario where we have elected the same right-wing government for the second time in a row.

Schools, austerity & privatization in the pandemic era

Paul Bocking  – 2022-05-31
As we look back at the pandemic and look forward to the Ontario election let's remember that insufficient funding led to elementary schools with untenable class sizes and high schools with quad and octomesters. The result: learning gaps, long periods of virtual learning, and ‘disastrous’ hybrid learning in our schools.

We can’t afford 4 more years of Ford: Ontario Autism Coalition

Karen Bojti  – 2022-05-25
Autism advocacy is not for the faint of heart. Sure, we have gotten a lot of attention over the years. But what have we actually managed to change with a Ford government unwilling to listen? We can't afford for more years of obstruction and broken promises.

Fordwatch – Education: an election tool “for the people” to take on the Tories

School Magazine  – 2022-05-20
Governments often end up deserving to be defeated; the Ford government needs to be. It swaggered into  the legislature back in June 2018  with a cynical plan to dismantle fundamental services – “for the people”. If you'd like to see the back of the Tories, here's something you can use: FORDWATCH: EDUCATION with links to all the stories we’ve followed over the past tumultuous years. Updated: June 1, 2022

FORDWATCH

Susan Atkins  – 2022-05-19
Our list of worrisome activities of the Doug Ford government since the end of June, 2018. It's updated regularly. The last update was May 24, 2022

If you have information you'd like to share with us about the comings and goings of the Ford government, please email us at eatomag.18@gmail.com

Ontario election: leaders debate – we check facts

School Magazine  – 2022-05-18
We know the Ontario election, like all others, is about retail politics – how candidates might best appear to be doing what needs to be done without costing their constituents any more than they absolutely have to. We know that platforms have a sell-by date of June 2.

But could ever do with a grasp of the future that extends a bit beyond that sell-by date.

OHRC’s “Right to Read”: a reader’s guide

William Paul  – 2022-04-21
Reading is a human right; you can’t adequately participate in society without it - economy, social connections, political life – nothing. Society requires good, critical readers. The question is, how well are schools doing on this score?

Inside the Chaotic Charter Schools Run by a For-Profit Company

Jeff Bryant  – 2022-03-30
Former teachers and board members say charters run by Accel Schools are designed to fail. Accel Schools is a company that operates schools on an investor-driven business models meant to extract as much profit as possible from bare-bones operations.

The freedom-flipped-on-its-head-convoy: readings for educators

School Magazine  – 2022-02-16
The so-called “Freedom Convoy” is at best about what some people consider to be their “freedom” to put those around them at risk of infection without consequence or responsibility. So - with our bias right out there - here is a list of readings that might help in understanding what's going on. Updated to February 21, 2022.

Schools need to step up to address Islamophobia

Nada Aoudeh and Muna Saleh  – 2022-01-20
The inspiration for this article was born of frustration and heartache following the murders of four members of the Afzaal/Salman family that left a nine-year-old child injured and orphaned in London, Ont., on June 6, 2021.

It also follows ongoing injustice related to state-sanctioned racism of Bill 21 in Québec and a rash of hate attacks in Alberta, most of them targeting Black Muslim women in hijab.

As revenues boom, Queen’s Park tightens the screws

Randy Robinson  – 2021-11-29
Back in March, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy tabled a 2021-22 budget that projected only a slight improvement in revenue over last year. By the time of his Nov. 4 fiscal update, the minister was seeing a revenue increase that was nearly 10% higher than March. Money was pouring into provincial coffers.

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.

“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.

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?

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.

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.

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?