Promising changes to education system could finally disrupt the status quo
By Journalist Priya Ramanujam – Scarborough Mirror – Sep 14, 2017
The beginning of September is synonymous with three simple words: back to school. Equal parts excitement and dread fill the air. Marketing campaigns are abound; all vying for precious dollars saved up for supplies, clothes, shoes and the like.
In the news, it’s no different. Education is making its rounds in the headlines.
Premier Kathleen Wynne announced changes on the way to Ontario students’ report cards and curriculum, as well as possible changes to literacy testing. The Toronto public school board voted to suspend the student resource officer program. In Caledon, Ont. some Grade 9 students are even negotiating their end-of-term grades.
Ontario Education Minister Mitzie Hunter also announced that the province’s school boards will begin to collect race-based data in everything from the hiring of staff to student suspensions. This, in addition to following the lead of Toronto’s Oakwood Collegiate, and working toward a province-wide end to ‘streaming’ students into academic or applied courses in Grade 9.
Hunter spoke of the disproportionate number of students who are racialized, of special education needs or from low-income households who are streamed to applied courses.
“The status quo is unacceptable,” she said.
I couldn’t agree more. And all the above changes and plans are promising.
What’s also promising – when my niece, who started junior kindergarten this September, received a letter halfway through the summer, addressed to her – her first piece of mail ever — from her teachers for her family to read to her. The small, genuine gesture went a long way in getting her excited for school. Or, when I look on my Twitter timeline and see a viral video of New York based teacher Erica Buddington who remixed “Bodak Yellow”, a hit single from uber popular rapper and reality TV star Cardi B, to help her 6th graders learn a geography lesson.
These acts to meaningfully connect and get students engaged give me hope. Statistics are vital – a statement made by the province’s Anti-Racism Directorate that ‘what gets measured, gets done’ rings true. But beyond the research, we also need educators who believe in our students – every single one despite their race or circumstance – and truly want them to succeed.
Priya Ramanujam is a journalist, editor, and co-founder of Urbanology Magazine. She can be reached via Twitter @SincerelyPriya