Racism Is 'Rampant' In Schools & Ontario Must Do Better Says Black Educator

Ending streaming in schools is just "a step," says Warren Salmon.
Racism In Ontario Schools Is 'Rampant' Even If Streaming Ends, Says Black Educator

Ontario has made "a step in the right direction" but more needs to be done, says a leading Black educator. The province announced on July 6 it's ending education streaming after acknowledging it disproportionately affects racialized students. However, the president of the Ontario Alliance of Black School Educators (ONABSE), tells Narcity that there's a long way to go to curb the "rampant" racism in Ontario schools.

Minister of Education Stephen Lecce shared the decision to put an end to education streaming, including the division into applied and academic courses, on Monday, July 6.

The move is aimed at ending what Lecce called a “systemic, racist, discriminatory” practice.

In a phone interview with Narcity, Warren Salmon, president of ONABSE, acknowledged the province has taken "a step in the right direction."

However, he insisted, as someone who experienced streaming himself decades ago, that this needs to be just the beginning.

“A number of things, like having a more culturally inclusive curriculum,” Salmon noted about what else needs to happen in the province.

He also stressed the importance of having teacher-educator staffing that is "more reflective of the student population," as well as the need to decrease the number of suspensions and expulsions laid on Black students.

Black students in the Ontario school system are also "disproportionately" funnelled into Special Education rather than being gifted, Salmon says.

“Black students are disproportionately streamed to Special Ed. as opposed to Gifted, so that’s another area that needs to be addressed and worked on,” he shared.

In one highly-publicized recent incident, Peel District School Board faced scrutiny after an investigation from Lecce's team found that Black students are sharing accounts of the racism they face, according to the report.

And Salmon reiterates that it's vitally important to recognize that racism is "rampant" in schools across Ontario.

“Racism is rampant in the school districts and its not just Peel," he stressed.

"It’s many school districts within the province of Ontario and include in that Catholic school districts, which are oftentimes under the radar and not being really examined in terms of what's going on under those districts as well," added Salmon. 

The Peel report found that "too many" educators and administrators have no faith in their Black students and in many instances even give them bad advice on academic choices.

In another recent incident, which incidentally occurred at a Catholic school, a teacher was allowed to continue her work after claiming she felt comfortable saying the N-word, once she had apologized for doing so.

As Salmon suggests, it seems there's a long way to go.

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