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Ontario Is Ending 'Discriminatory' Academic & Applied Classes In Grade 9

Lecce says it disproportionately affects racialized kids.
Streaming In Ontario High Schools Is 'Discriminatory' And Will End, Promises Lecce

Ontario's education system is getting another shakeup and high school is going to feel a whole lot different. The provincial government has now decided to put an end to "applied" or "academic" streaming in Ontario high school. Education Minister Stephen Lecce shared the news on Monday, July 6.

Although a date hasn't yet been set for the change to take effect, Ontario high school students and their families will no longer have to worry about what stream they'll have to pick.

“The time is now to end this practice and start giving racialized kids in schools a fair chance at success,” said Lecce to the Toronto Star.

The minister insisted that Ontario is actually the only area in Canada that still separates students into what are ostensibly hands-on "applied" or university-/college-focused "academic" levels in Grade 9.

Lecce emphasized that it's one of the few “systemic, racist, discriminatory” practices in the province’s schools and that it must change.

He also noted that studies and school board data have shown that far more Black, Indigenous, and lower-income teens are "streamed" into applied classes in comparison to others.

According to the Star, that means those kids are nearly four and a half times more likely not to graduate from high school. 

The CBC shares that the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) had phased out applied and academic streamed courses for both Grade 9 and Grade 10 recently.

TDSB found that before that, only 40% of their students who took "applied" classes would graduate during the next five years.

A 2017 study using TDSB data reported that only 53% of Black students were in "academic" programs, compared to 81% of white attendees and 80% of other racialized students, per CBC.

The Star notes that Ontario also intends to ban the suspension of young elementary school students. Research suggests that also hits Black students disproportionately hard.

However, while Lecce was praised by some groups and observers for his comments, other people seemed less enthused. 

#FireLecce was trending on Twitter in Toronto on Monday, although the hashtag was already doing the rounds on social media over the weekend before his interview was published.

This isn't the only update to Ontario's education system that Lecce has announced recently.

The province's math curriculum for Grades 1 to 8 will now include coding and personal finance starting in the new school year, a change that brought its own supporters and detractors when it was announced two weeks ago.

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