By Judy Pham
Black Lives Matter (BLM) Toronto staged a school “walk-out ” on Monday at York Wood Library Theatre in Toronto to protest racism towards Black students in the school system.
The protest was in response to a York University report which found that Black students are twice as likely to be enrolled in applied instead of academic courses compared to their counterparts from other racial backgrounds. And they are more than twice as likely to have been suspended from school at least once during high school..
The report which came out last week. noted that that while academic streaming – grouping students based on ability- was to have officially ended in 1999, the practice ” continues to disadvantage students.”
The report called for the elimination of the practice.
An open forum was held at the ” walk out” for members of the community to discuss issues of racism in schools with executive members of local school boards. Representatives from various boards were present, including Director of Education for the Toronto District School Board, John Malloy.
Addressing questions from concerned parents and other members of the community, Malloy acknowledged that ” there are problems with some of our processes and we know we have issues of racism and we know we have anti-Black racism .”
He also said that there was more work to be done in regard to racism.
“Obviously, we’re here because things aren’t always working,” he added.
BLM Toronto has issued several demands which they said they hope the school boards would meet, including public apologies to families who have experienced abuse from police on school property in Toronto and Peel Region.
As well, they are asking school boards to cut funding for police in schools to “ensure an environment safe from intimidation, harassment, and violence.”
Other demands include implementing community healing spaces from racism and anti-racist training at all levels of the school boards.
BLM is also demanding the creation of a representative district level advisory board made up of Black parents, students, community members, and community organizers to approve “suspensions, expulsions, or placement in a behavioral or Section 23 program” for Black students.