LEVY: Lecce’s promised “back to basics” education taking backseat to DEI
LEVY: Lecce’s promised “back to basics” education taking backseat to DEI

Less than a year after Ontario’s education minister called on school boards to return to back to basics learning, the Toronto District School Board has released a new four-year plan that places wokeness, anti-black racism and Truth and Reconciliation at the forefront.

In fact, the tone-deaf Multi-Year Strategic Plan (MYSP) doesn’t just emphasize that “equity” is the foundation of all of the board’s work: it states flat out in a TDSB policy paper embedded in the plan that the board’s version of equity ensures equality of “opportunities and outcomes” for all students.

“Equity ensures equality of opportunities and outcomes for all by responding fair (sic) and proportionality (sic) to the needs of individuals,” the equity policy states. 

“Equity is not the same as equal treatment because it recognizes a social-cultural Power Imbalance that unfair Privilege (sic) some while oppressing others and therefore focuses on redressing Disparity.”

The definition of equity includes the idea of acknowledging “historical and present System Discrimination against identified groups and removing Barriers.”

(Perhaps the educators who created the equity policy need some literacy training too. The spelling and grammar errors in this one passage alone are unbelievable.)

The plan was released early last week — days before Lecce decided to throw more money — another $745M — at school boards to increase math and literacy supports, among other things.

Trouble is, once these earth-shattering announcements are made, there never seems to be much in the way of follow-up or monitoring by Lecce’s ministry. 

All we have to use as proof is Lecce’s promise nearly a year ago to review the circumstances at the TDSB — and the alleged intimidation by a DEI activist — leading up to the tragic suicide of much loved principal Richard Bilkszto.

That review is in Nowheresville. 

Toronto school board education director Colleen Russell-Rawlins and her woke anti-black racism-and-equity-obsessed executive team have tried to make the MYSP more palatable by incorporating the ministry’s indicators of progress into it — such items as the standardized tests, graduation rates, individual attendance rate greater than 90% and numbers of students who’ve been suspended at least once.

We know, however, that social promotion is rampant in the TDSB and other Ontario school boards and teacher sources tell me the TDSB is “unwilling” to supply attendance data.

As for suspensions, they don’t exist in the TDSB and the administrators sweep violent incidents under the rug. 

I witnessed that when I attended a TDSB meeting late last summer and saw trustee Weidong Pei quickly shot down for daring to ask about the current number of violent incidents in the board (this before Oct. 7).

In other words, those indicators of progress are just smoke and mirrors.

DEI ideology is still alive and well at the TDSB, despite Lecce’s edicts.

While the Education Act mentions “equity” just once, the MYSP uses the terms “equity” and “equitable” more than a dozen times.

Inclusion and intersecting identities come a close second.

For example, under the section called “Equity as a Guiding Principle,” the board claims it intends to remove and prevent systemic and attitudinal barriers that stand in the way of equity of access and “create disproportionate outcomes” for underserved students.

In other words, anti-black racism initiatives and preferential treatment to the 1% of students who “identify” as First Nations, Metis and Inuit continue to be top priorities.

That makes official a policy that has been edging dangerously towards dumbing down the curriculum.

One needs to look no further than such policy changes as removing merit-based entry to get into specialized arts and sports programs.— entry requirements replaced with quotas and random selection.

Also hidden in plain sight in the MYSP is the 43-page board’s equity policy featuring 18 pages of woke definitions.

These include anti-black racism (one of the “many results of white supremacy”); Dominant group (a group considered the “most powerful and Privileged of groups”); and oppression (prolonged, systemic, abuse of Power or control by the Dominant group.)

What also makes it abundantly clear that the TDSB executive team is still obsessed with white supremacy, and not learning the basics, was the hiring of Turner Consulting to lead a consultation about the MYSP.

According to documents provided by the TDSB, president Tana Turner was picked out of two bids for the 18-month $149,600 contract because of her consultancy’s extensive experience working with “diverse communities” and her analysis done from an “anti-racist, anti-oppressive approach.”

According to Turner’s website, she has delivered human rights and “unconscious bias” training and has worked on such projects as “Dismantling Anti-Black Racism” at the York Region District School Board and “Fighting an Uphill Battle” (consultations into the well-being of black youth in Peel Region).

The MYSP says Turner held meetings in underserved communities and with staff who work with underserved communities (such as the Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement and the Urban Indigenous Education Centre).

Besides the seemingly conscious bias of this consultation effort, this anti-black racism advocate was doing her work at the exact time that the numerous allegations about another race advocate, Kike Ojo-Thomson had come to light.

Those allegations pertained to the harassment and intimidation of Bilkszto, labelled a white supremacist by Ojo-Thomson.

It is shameful that Russell-Rawlins and her cabal of equally oppression-obsessed administrators continued on with this ridiculous consultation just weeks after Bilkszto’s story was revealed.

But this is what happens when a school board has an executive team that feels it can act against the interest of most pupils with impunity and an education minister who does nothing about it.

You’ll forgive me for saying so but back-to-basics will forever take a back seat to DEI at Canada’s largest school board — unless there is a complete overhaul of personnel.

As talent, hard work and initiative increasingly take a back seat to wokeness and social promotion, one can only wonder what kind of “leaders” these administrators will graduate.

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