Youth cabinet calls for ‘total revision ‘ of school curriculum in Ontario

Stephen Mensah of the Toronto Youth
Cabinet (at the podium) speaks about
systemic racism in Ontario schools.

Toronto’s Youth Cabinet,  the city’s official youth advisory  body,  with the support of more than a dozen education unions and advocacy groups, is calling for a ” total revision” of the province’s school  curriculum.

In a recent letter to Ontario’s Education Minster Stephen Leece, the youth cabinet noted that Black and Indigenous students ” continue to face the pervasive and systemic existence of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism that is extensive throughout the education system and school boards across the province of Ontario.”

It suggested that the revision of the curriculum should be done “in consultation with members from across the Black and Indigenous community.”

The youth cabinet is also calling on the education minister to ensure that there is a “standardized collection of data” across school boards, an end of streaming of Grades nine and ten and a suspension of  the ” School Resource Officer (SRO) program ” in  which police are present in schools.

The letter said that “the lack of data has enabled school boards to ignore calls for systemic change.”

And with respect to the streaming of Grades nine and ten, it noted that
Black youth continue to be streamed into lower education tracks “as a result of both individual prejudice and systemic factors.

“This is evident with the over representation of Black students in applied or locally developed classes.

Parthi Kandavel, Nam Kiwanuka and Saeed Selvam

The letter also pointed out out that ” Black and Indigenous students continue to be surveilled and criminalized by SROs.”

” The negative impact of the school-to-prison pipeline is made worse by police in schools,” the letter said

It suggested that instead of the SROs, school  boards must invest in  direct student supports such  as social workers and community partnerships.

The youth cabinet told the education minister that ” in order for us to effectively deal with this issue of systemic racism in education and the anti-Black and Indigenous racism perpetuated on our school community, the province will need to take strong leadership.”