Funding religious schools: the majority of Canadians say at least some public dollars should be provided – Angus Reid

Suspect support would vary if questions were posed with respect to different religions as the 2007 Ontario election showed given concern in particular over Muslim schools:

Should religiously affiliated schools receive taxpayer dollars? And if so, what amount, and under what circumstances?

This ongoing debate in Canadian education – one complicated by the historical position of Catholic schools as a key provider of publicly funded education in many provinces – has been revived most recently in Saskatchewan, where legal challenges are underway to a court ruling that the provincial government cannot fund non-Catholic students’ attendance at the province’s Catholic schools.

Recent polling from the Angus Reid Institute – part of a year-long partnership with Faith in Canada 150 – finds Canadians more amenable than not to this particular intersection of church and state.

Asked a broad question about public funding of private, faith-based schools, six-in-ten Canadians (61%) say such institutions should either receive support equal to that enjoyed by public schools (31%), or at least some amount of government funding (30%).

More Key Findings:religious school funding canada

  • Those favouring partial funding were asked a follow-up question about roughly how much money religious schools should receive. More than half (51%) in this group say funds should be less than 50 per cent of what public schools get
  • Younger respondents – those ages 18-34 – are more likely than their elders to say public funds should be appropriated to religious schools (38% favour full funding, and 35% prefer partial)
  • Residents of the three provinces where separate, publicly funded Catholic school boards still operate – Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario – are more likely to support full funding than people in other parts of the country

How much funding should religious and faith-based schools receive?

As mentioned, six-in-ten Canadians (61%) say faith-based education should receive government funding, though they disagree about how much money religious schools should receive in comparison to the public system. Three-in-ten (31%) say faith-based education should receive government funding on par with public schools. Another three-in-ten (30%) say religious schools should get only partial funding, while the plurality (39%) say they should receive no public money at all.

Respondents who said religious schools should receive partial funding were asked how much money they would allocate to such institutions, relative to public school funding. Slightly more than half (51%) said they would provide less than 50 per cent of the amount public schools receive to religious schools, while one-in-five (20%) said they would provide more than 50 per cent of what public schools receive. The rest (29%) were unsure.

Taken together with those who would provide full funding or no funding at all, the group that would provide partial funding can be broken down as seen in the following graph.

religious school funding canada

Notable differences by region, age, and gender

Three provinces – Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario – currently provide separate streams of public funding for Catholic schools. These separate schools have their own publicly funded school boards, and have historically educated Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Given the prominent ongoing role of publicly funded religious schools in these three provinces, it’s perhaps not surprising that the three are the only regions above the national average in terms of the number of residents supporting full funding for religious education.

It’s worth noting, of course, that in no region of the country does a majority of the population reject all public funding for faith-based schools. Quebec – where the religious neutrality of the state is a recurring and salient political issue – comes closest, as seen in the following table:

Age and gender are also key drivers of opinion on this question, with men more likely to say religious schools should receive “no funding at all” and women more divided, as seen in the graph that follows.

Looking at responses by age, it becomes clear that those closest to their own school days view public spending on religious education most favourably. A plurality (38%) of those ages 18 – 34 say religious schools should receive full funding, while among older age groups “no funding at all” is the plurality choice:

religious school funding canada

One demographic characteristic that – perhaps surprisingly – doesn’t have much impact on responses to this question is whether a person has children living in their household or not.

Parents and guardians are only marginally more likely to favour full funding (33% do, compared to 30% of those without kids in their households – a difference that is not statistically significant). Likewise, people with children are no more or less likely to favour partial funding, nor are they more or less inclined to say this partial funding should be above 50 per cent. See summary tables at the end of this report for greater detail.

Via: http://angusreid.org/funding-religious-schools-majority-canadians-say-least-public-dollars-provided/

Advertisements

Census 2016: Where is the discussion about Indigenous education? John Richards

Valid points:

Recently, Statistics Canada released the final batch of results from the 2016 census. It included education statistics for Canadians – including Indigenous Canadians.

Perhaps Indigenous education outcomes are the most important findings in this final batch, and among Indigenous education outcomes, perhaps the most important are high school completion results among young adults. They provide a snapshot of how Canada’s K-12 school systems are performing. For the record, among non-Indigenous young adults (20-24) in 2016, 92 per cent have at least a high school certificate. (Canada is above the overall OECD average.) Among Métis, 84 per cent have completed high school. Among First Nations young adults living off reserve, 75 per cent. But among those living on reserve, only 48 per cent have done so – less than half.

Regardless of race, children who do not complete at least high school are unlikely to gain regular employment and are probably doomed to poverty as adults. Arguably the best way to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and “settler” populations is to close unacceptably large education gaps, starting with high school.

Admittedly, both on and off reserve, First Nations results are five to six percentage points better than in the 2011 census. However, if any other sizable group of young Canadians realized such large high school completion gaps relative to the Canadian average, there would be a hue and cry.

Earlier in the decade, there was. Shawn Atleo, at the time national chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), spoke eloquently about the importance of education. Despite some serious disagreements between them, Atleo and then-prime minister Stephen Harper succeeded in negotiating legislation for the organization of reserve schools, plus a large increase in federal funding. Rather than look at the Atleo-Harper agreement as a glass half-full – which could be topped up – most chiefs and Liberal MPs denounced their efforts. Atleo resigned, and Harper let the legislation die when the election writ was issued in 2015.

While I think the legislation was a decent compromise, perhaps I am wrong and the legislation deserved to die. In 2016, the new, Liberal government quietly increased funding for reserve schools in line with the Atleo-Harper agreement, but there is little evidence of urgency on this file from either Ottawa or most Indigenous leaders. Among the 94 “calls to action” of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), only seven concerned K-12 education and only one referred explicitly to the provinces, the order of government responsible for almost all Indigenous students in high school.

It is important to realize that only half the Indigenous population are “registered Indians” entitled to live on reserve, and fewer than half of those “registered” actually live on reserve. Since there are few on-reserve high schools, most children living on reserve attend provincial high schools.

The AFN, the TRC and everyone else involved in K-12 education should be raising a hue and cry with provincial governments and their education ministries. The census shows which provinces deserve the most aggressive prodding. Among the six with large Indigenous student cohorts (Quebec to British Columbia), B.C. stands out as by far the best, Manitoba as the worst. In 2016, 70 per cent of on-reserve First Nations young adults in B.C. had completed high school; in Manitoba, only 36 per cent. In B.C., among First Nations young adults living off reserve, 81 per cent had a high school certificate; in Manitoba, 61 per cent. Some interprovincial differences are due to variations in social conditions – but only some.

As a generalization, both on-reserve and provincial schools are doing things better in B.C. than in the other provinces. Not perfect, but better. While B.C. has no “silver bullet” to close the gaps, it can point to many incremental initiatives over the past quarter-century that, cumulatively, have succeeded.

If the on-reserve high school completion rate rises six points every five years, then in 35 years it will match the rate for non-Indigenous young adults. That’s a long time to wait.

via Census 2016: Where is the discussion about Indigenous education? – The Globe and Mail

The Daily — Labour, Education in Canada: Key results from the 2016 Census [immigration excerpts]

Immigration excerpts (looking forward to exploring the various data tables):

Immigrants accounted for almost one-quarter of the labour force

From 2006 to 2016, about two-thirds of Canada’s population growth was the result of migratory increase (the difference between the number of immigrants and emigrants). Similarly, the labour force was growing in large part due to increased immigration, with immigrants accounting for 23.8% of the labour force in 2016, up from 21.2% in 2006.

In 2016, half of the workforce in the CMA of Toronto were immigrants. The CMA of Vancouver had the second-highest proportion of immigrants in its labour force at 43.2%, followed by the CMA of Calgary at 32.5%.

The contribution of immigrants to the Canadian labour market is an important component of strategies to offset the impact of population aging, which might otherwise lead to a shrinking pool of workers and labour shortages. Many immigrants are admitted into Canada based on their skills and education.

In May 2016, among recent immigrants aged 25 to 54, 68.5% were employed, compared with an employment rate of 79.5% for core-aged immigrants who landed more than five years before the census, and 82.0% for the Canadian-born population. Among recent immigrants in this age group, 79.6% of men were employed, compared with 58.6% of women.

Although the employment rate for core-aged recent immigrants was lower than that of other immigrants and the Canadian-born, it increased from 67.1% in 2006 to 68.5% in 2016. For core-aged recent immigrant women, the employment rate increased from 56.8% in 2006 to 58.6% in 2016, and for core-aged recent immigrant men, the rate increased from 78.7% to 79.6%. In contrast, employment rates for core-aged Canadian-born men, as well as for non-recent immigrant men and women, declined over this 10-year period.

via The Daily — Labour in Canada: Key results from the 2016 Census

Over half of recent immigrants have a bachelor’s degree or higher

Immigrants contribute to Canada’s economy by bringing their skills and high levels of educational attainment. Canada’s immigration system highly values education. In recent years, new programs have made it easier for international students who have completed their postsecondary education in Canada to immigrate into the country. As of the 2016 Census, 4 in 10 immigrants aged 25 to 64 had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In comparison, just under one-quarter of the Canadian-born population aged 25 to 64 had a bachelor’s degree or higher. Recent immigrants who landed in the five years prior to the 2016 Census were especially well-educated, with over half having a bachelor’s degree or higher. Recent immigrant women were more likely than recent immigrant men to have a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2016. The reverse was true in the 2006 Census.

The percentage of all immigrants with a master’s or doctorate degree is twice that of the Canadian-born population. Among immigrants aged 25 to 64, 11.3% had a master’s or doctorate degree compared with 5.0% among the Canadian-born population. Recent immigrants were even more likely to have a master’s or doctorate degree, with 16.7% of them holding these graduate degrees in 2016.

Chart 5  Chart 5: Percentage of the population aged 25 to 64 with selected degrees, by immigrant status and period of immigration, Canada, 2016
Percentage of the population aged 25 to 64 with selected degrees, by immigrant status and period of immigration, Canada, 2016

Chart 5: Percentage of the population aged 25 to 64 with selected degrees, by immigrant status and period of immigration, Canada, 2016

…Close to one-third of refugees have upgraded their educational credentials in Canada

For the first time, the census included information on the admission category under which immigrants to Canada have arrived. The Canadian immigration system has three broad goals: to attract educated and skilled immigrants, to reunify families, and to provide humanitarian and compassionate refuge. Immigrants admitted under the refugee category face particular challenges as they are not admitted based on education, language or other assets, and may not have all of the skills required to find employment in their new country.

Close to one-third of refugees (31.5%) who have received their permanent resident status, upgraded their educational credentials by completing their highest postsecondary qualification in Canada. When looking only at those who arrived as adults (aged 18 and older), about 22% upgraded their education with higher qualifications in Canada, slightly more than immigrants admitted under either the economic or family categories, both at about 20%. The majority (71.1%) of refugees who immigrated to Canada as adults and upgraded their educational qualifications in Canada completed a trades or college diploma. In comparison, among economic immigrants who upgraded their education in Canada, the majority (56.5%) completed a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Via: Education in Canada: Key results from the 2016 Census 

How Legos helped build a classroom lesson on white privilege

Good read (remember that under the Conservatives, the multiculturalism program would not fund any organization that explicitly mentioned white privilege):

Are the yellow Minifigures in the Lego universe white people? A Grade 8 social-studies class at Allan A. Martin Sr. Public School in Mississauga mulled this existential question on a recent afternoon while their teacher delivered a lesson on one of the most politically charged topics addressed in Canadian classrooms.

Mandi Hardy stood in front of a whiteboard and asked students to list what they believed to be the most important jobs in the world, then asked them to list people – real or fictional – who hold those positions. Almost all the doctors were from TV, among them Derek Shepherd from Grey’s Anatomy and Dr. Phil. The same was true for the scientists and emergency-service workers that the students listed. Then, without explanation, Ms. Hardy began putting stars beside nearly all of the names – pausing when she reached a Lego character – and students quickly caught on to what she was doing.

“They’re all white!” one called out.

The lesson of the day was white privilege, the idea that white people enjoy unearned advantages due to their race. Her exercise was meant to show that white people receive greater public profile for many of the occupations society deems to be the most important. This isn’t a required subject, but one Ms. Hardy has elected to teach for the past four years.

While students in social-studies classes in B.C., Ontario and Manitoba must learn about the disturbing history of the residential-school system, and those in Nova Scotia are taught about how black people in their own province were enslaved, the specific term “white privilege” is so charged that provinces have steered clear of explicitly addressing it in their curriculums.

Just three years ago, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) caused a furor when it advertised a workshop for educators on teaching white privilege. During the municipal election that same year, Toronto Mayor John Tory said he does not believe it exists. Some teachers who have dared to deliver lessons on it have invited angry complaints from parents and the wider community.

But a growing number of educators, those who train them and the unions that represent them are taking on the challenge.

In the eighties, a white woman named Peggy McIntosh wrote a piece titled White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, which listed particular privileges white people have that many racialized people do not. It has become one of the key teacher resources on the subject in North America. She enumerated the daily effects of white privilege in her own life in the piece, among them: “I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.”

When a Grade 11 anthropology teacher at a high school in Caledon, Ont., passed out Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack to her class last spring, one of her students, Logan Boden, was skeptical. He declared white privilege to be a racist ideology. The teacher responded, “Coming from a white male …,” according to Mr. Boden.

When he got home from school, he told his mother, Rebecca Knott, about what had happened. He’d encountered the term “white privilege” before that day and was surprised his teacher was bringing it up in class.

“I’ve seen a lot of social-justice warriors and feminists use the term … to shut people down, to say their opinion isn’t valid because they’re white,” he said. “It’s a term basically coined to make you feel bad for being white.”

Ms. Knott contacted the teacher, the principal and the school board to complain about the lesson and said “the other side” should also be shared with students – suggesting the teacher screen videos from Rebel Media, a conservative outlet well-known for its anti-Muslim content that was roundly criticized for sympathetic coverage in August of white supremacists protesting in Charlottesville, Va.

A spokesperson for the Peel District School Board said the board investigated after Ms. Knott’s complaint and reviewed the matter against the board’s equity and inclusive education policy. The teacher and principal in question did not want to comment for this story.

The BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has been developing resources for decades similar to the one Mr. Boden’s teacher used. As a result, BCTF president Glen Hansman has received e-mails from community members, among them parents, that accuse his union of racism against white people.

“I think we have to reject that as absurd,” he said. “We have to challenge our assumptions and work through them and sometimes that can be uncomfortable for people for a long period of time, especially if they’re the ones who are benefiting from that privilege.”

It’s not just students and parents who have taken issue with the subject, but educators, too.

Mohammed Saleh, a teacher in Southern Ontario, leads workshops on white privilege for ETFO throughout the province. Many have elected to attend but others have been sent by their superintendents and don’t hide their skepticism around the topic.

Some say this isn’t an issue for them because all their students are white. Mr. Saleh tells them those students likely will venture beyond their homogeneous communities as adults.

The issue with the workshops is that only the truly committed turn what they learn into lessons for their students, says Sam Hammond, ETFO’s president, and that’s not enough.

“White privilege should be incorporated into the curriculum both at the faculty of education level and in the curriculum across the system in a non-colonialized way,” he said.

The Ontario curriculum does cover the subject of privilege for students in grades 9 to 12 (relating not just to race, but also socioeconomic status, gender and religion among other things) but does not specifically identify “white privilege.” In other provinces, the greater emphasis is put on inclusion, diversity and pluralism.

Several compulsory courses at the University of British Columbia’s faculty of education address white privilege, and associate dean of teacher education Wendy Carr says many teacher candidates are uncomfortable with those discussions.

“And that discomfort can range anywhere from guilt to shame to anger,” she said. The goal is not to make these would-be teachers feel guilty about their own race, but to recognize the obligations that come with being from a more privileged place than some of their peers and students.

Back in Mississauga, after the whiteboard exercise in Ms. Hardy’s class, she led a discussion about white privilege with students, all of whom seemed receptive to the idea. Then she gave her class an assignment: Find a person of colour who has contributed something impressive to the world and create a poster about them. Students pulled out phones and tablets and began their work, typing some version of the query “people of colour who have done something amazing” into Google.

One student simply searched “top most influential people” and landed on a magazine cover from 2010, featuring a grid of faces labelled 100 Most Influential People. Her eyes scanned the image, hopping from person to person, and then she called Ms. Hardy over to show it to her. Nearly all of the faces were white.

Source: How Legos helped build a classroom lesson on white privilege – The Globe and Mail

Germany’s election and the educational polarisation of voters | Times Higher Education (THE)

Interesting analysis:

Germany has voted. Angela Merkel is weakened, but she remains chancellor and is now seeking new coalition partners for government.

Instead of focusing on what the election means for German higher education and research policy – which probably won’t become clear until months of coalition negotiations have concluded – I want to highlight some interesting voting patterns among German graduates.

In the United States and the UK, it’s now a commonplace observation that voters seem increasingly divided by levels of education rather than traditional cleavages like levels of income. In the ballots of 2016 and 2017, graduates tended to take the side of more open, pro-cosmopolitan parties and politicians (Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, Hillary Clinton, Remain in the UK’s EU referendum) against more closed, nationalistic forces (Theresa May’s Conservatives, Leave, Donald Trump).

You can certainly quibble with these groupings, but the overall trend is unmistakable.

For example, in this year’s UK general election, graduates were 10 percentage points less likely to back the Conservatives, and nine percentage points more likely to vote for Labour, than the broader voting public.

The divide was even starker last year during the EU referendum, when 68 per cent of graduates voted to remain.

Meanwhile, in the US election, Clinton won college graduates by a nine percentage point margin, while Trump won everyone else by eight points. “This is by far the widest gap in support among college graduates and non-college graduates in exit polls dating back to 1980,” according to the Pew Research Center.

Is the same thing happening in Germany? Ostensibly not – German graduates seem more in line with their fellow citizens than in the UK or the US. This is most clearly visible when you look at the graduate vote share for Germany’s political parties arranged on the left to right political spectrum:

In terms of the bigger parties, graduates were a little less likely than other voters to vote for Merkel’s conservatives (CDU/CSU) – but exactly the same was true of the social democrats (SPD).German graduates voting patterns

Graduates were both more likely to opt for the radically left-wing Die Linke – and the almost diametrically opposed (at least on economic matters) Free Democratic Party (FDP). This feels very different from the US and UK, where graduates have come down heavily on one side or the other in the votes of the past two years.

Why might this be? A couple of potential reasons spring to mind. Germany is famed for the quality of its vocational education, which, although under pressure, still offers the hope of a well respected and remunerated life course that does not require university. Non-graduates are perhaps less likely to be economically “left behind” than in other countries.

There is also still no real equivalent of the Ivy League, Oxbridge or the grandes écoles in Germany, meaning that attending (a certain type of) university is arguably less of a prerequisite for power and influence.

But have a look at the chart again – there are nonetheless signs that educational polarisation is beginning to take root in Germany.

Graduates heavily backed the Greens, who, aside from their environmental policies, are known as supporters of multiculturalism, and have several high-profile leaders with a Turkish family background. The AfD on the other hand are emphatically against multiculturalism and have leaders who have made a series of brazenly racist statements; they were largely shunned by voters who have been to university.

As the AfD’s entry into parliament shows, Germany is not immune from the divisions afflicting the UK, the US and many other European countries. It will be interesting to see if the country becomes just as polarised on educational grounds as well.

Source: Germany’s election and the educational polarisation of voters | Times Higher Education (THE)

ICYMI: Ontario to begin collecting data on students’ race, ethnicity, hoping to boost achievement

The Toronto District School Board has been doing this for some time – expanding this across the province makes sense given its overall high diversity:

The provincial government will begin collecting and analyzing data on the ethnicity of students in an attempt to improve school achievement, CBC News has learned.

The move will be announced today by Education Minister Mitzie Hunter as just one part of the province’s new equity action plan, according to a government source.

The decision to gather demographic data such as race and ethnicity and to analyze its relation to school achievement will help the government make better education policies, said the source.

Word of the decision comes just as students across the province return to the classroom — and after complaints of discrimination and racism made headlines during the past school year.

In April, Hunter issued a sweeping list of directives to the York Region District School Board after two high-profile incidents of racism and Islamophobia within the YRDSB: one in which a school trustee used a racial slur when referring to a black parent, and another in which a principal posted offensive material on Islam and refugees to her Facebook page.

Those two incidents were set against a backdrop of mounting complaints of systemic racism in the board.

That was followed by the YRDSB thanking the ministry for the report, albeit pointing out it contained “significant errors of fact,” and making assurances it would take action immediately.

Also in April, news emerged that almost half of Toronto District School Board students expelled over the last five years are black. That finding was one that TDSB executive superintendent Jim Spyropoulos said left him “alarmed.”

A report out of York University found that a similar phenomenon reverberated across the Greater Toronto Area, with black students routinely being streamed into applied programs rather than academic ones, and suspended at much higher rates than their counterparts.

Led by professor Carl James, the study made several recommendations which the TDSB said it would review.

And in June, an investigation into allegations that a high school teacher in Whitby, Ont., referred to a group of black students with a derogatory term using the N-word with no punishment for the teacher, according to a parent who attended a meeting with the Durham District School Board.

Source: Ontario to begin collecting data on students’ race, ethnicity, hoping to boost achievement – Toronto – CBC News

Ontario school board promotes literature diversity to reflect student body

Makes sense and does not appear to being implemented in an either/or manner.

However, while the motivation is with respect to those from diverse backgrounds, the benefits will be the exposure of different voices for all students:

Students at a high school in Brampton, Ont., will not be reading about star-crossed lovers in Verona this year, or a feisty six-year-old girl in Maycomb, Ala., or a group of young boys marooned on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean.

Instead, they will read about protagonists who look more like them.

The move at Jean Augustine Secondary School, north of Toronto, comes as their district, the Peel District School Board, recently sent a memo to high-school principals, vice-principals and English departments, encouraging them to reconsider the novels being read in class so that the literature is more reflective of a culturally diverse student population.

It’s a bold step, educators say, especially for those who believe in the educational value of mainstays, such as Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies.

But an increasing number of school officials both in Peel and in other districts are pushing hard to introduce new voices in literature, in addition to the old ones, to reflect a changing student body.

“There’s probably a small minority who still believe that there is a literary canon that we need to hold onto. I think it’s because it is the way we’ve always been taught,” said Poleen Grewal, associate director of instructional and equity support services at the Peel board. “[But] if we are focusing on equity and inclusion as a school board, the work around inclusion must be visible at the student desk.”

Ms. Grewal sent a memo to English department heads in June, asking them to explore culturally relevant texts after the school board heard from its students that their experiences were not being reflected in classroom literature. She attached a list of books, which includes A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and Richard Wagamese’s Indian Horse. Students in Ontario are required to take an English course every year of high school.

She acknowledged that books are costly, but Ms. Grewal said that funds are set aside every year for new purchases.

“We do not expect a clean sweep of texts in every school; however, we would like to see movement towards more culturally responsive texts that connect to the lived experiences and narratives of the students and communities we serve,” Ms. Grewal said.

In the Peel region, minorities have reached a critical mass and now make up 57 per cent of the total population. Close to half of Peel’s residents are South Asians.

Increasingly, school districts are looking at their curriculum to see if it reflects their culturally diverse student population – a shift that is becoming more pronounced by news events beyond the classroom walls.

A spokesman for the Halifax Regional School Board said teachers are looking to develop culturally relevant lesson plans.

Marilyn Manning, acting supervisor for curriculum and resource support at Edmonton Public Schools, said part of a project this summer involved developing guidelines for educators to consider when making book selections. “We’re not about banning books or telling teachers they can’t use these things. It’s really about broadening perspectives and developing the sensitivity to the social considerations,” Ms. Manning said.

This has also become a topic of discussion around North America and there’s sometimes backlash.

In 2015, The Washington Post detailed how a teacher in an inner-city school in Sacramento, Calif., no longer wanted to teach Shakespeare because she felt other works of literature better spoke to her ethnically diverse students. Many reacted negatively, with one teacher responding by saying that shared skin colour doesn’t equal shared experiences, and that Shakespeare still speaks to the human condition.

Closer to home, the Durham District School Board, east of Toronto, recently said that its students don’t necessarily have to read To Kill a Mockingbirdbecause a school official reportedly said it may make some uncomfortable.

At Jean Augustine, which opened its doors last fall and is named after a Canadian social-justice advocate, students in each grade are given a choice of books, ensuring that they answer an essential question around service, leadership, advocacy and innovation. (It is common in English courses for books to have an essential question.) Teachers at the school also decided to offer novels that are written by diverse authors and have characters more reflective of the students. This year, they are reading Indian Horse, Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman and How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon, among others.

Lynn Filliter, head of the school’s English department, said there is still a place for Shakespeare and other traditional novels in the classroom. But by adding new voices, she has found that even the most reluctant readers are engaged in learning.

“I think that it validates their own experiences and it empowers them to understand that their voice and their perspective is valued,” Ms. Filliter said. “We try to be thoughtful about having the characters in the novels be reflective of students in our classrooms. We’re a very diverse board. So our books should also be very diverse.”

Ann Lopez, an associate professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, has found in her research on culturally responsive pedagogy that students are more engaged when reading stories that reflect their communities. She said that literary canons are valuable, but she has seen schools make efforts to put other pieces of literature front and centre.

“It’s really about disrupting this idea that knowledge comes from a single space,” Prof. Lopez said. “Of course you must read Shakespeare. But you must read Shakespeare and Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind.”

Source: Ontario school board promotes literature diversity to reflect student body – The Globe and Mail

New head of Peel school board vows to support marginalized students

Good set of initiatives, will be interesting to see how they work out through the ongoing evaluation planned:

“Teaching is very much about meeting students halfway through understanding and empathy,” he said. “And some of our students need more from us. They need us to identify, understand, minimize and eliminate the marginalization they experience so they can rise.”

That includes Black, LGBTQ and Indigenous students, and those who live in poverty, he said.

It was Joshua’s first opportunity to introduce himself at the annual back-to-school kickoff held by the Peel board. But it wasn’t long before he was sharing the stage.

…The voices of students who are struggling or feel marginalized “are sometimes difficult to hear,” he said in his remarks. “Our backs go up. We think, ‘have I said this to a student?’ Our discomfort should lead to self-reflection.”

Those voices also underscore the need for more training to help staff meet the diverse needs of the children and youth they teach. In a survey last year, mental health was an area staff requested more help with, he noted. And additional training will be provided to help equip them with strategies to support students with anxiety and other conditions.

In the past year, the board has announced initiatives to address the needs of Black students after surveys revealed many felt excluded, subject to suspicion and harsher discipline, and that they faced lower expectations for careers and university and were streamed into courses below their abilities.

In response, the board presented a plan starting with mandatory bias and anti-racism training for all staff, which begins this fall. It also pledged to revise curriculum to include the history and experiences of Black Canadians throughout, and to create mentoring programs aimed at getting more Black students involved in taking on leadership roles.

It committed to collecting race-based statistics at a time when boards across the province are being encouraged to take that step.

Peel’s first student census to provide that information is expected to be completed by December 2018.

Its first workforce census earlier this year found that while visible minorities make up more than half of Peel Region, only about a quarter of staff and teachers at the board identify as “racialized.”

Joshua says Peel’s 153,000 students need to see themselves reflected in the people who teach them and what they learn in their classrooms.

“If students see themselves reflected in the curriculum, if they believe their identities are validated and their narratives are included they will be engaged,” he told staff last week.

He said the board will be working with York University professor Carl James to measure the impact of the steps it is taking and what more should be done.

“I’m encouraged with the conversations we’ve had, and the fact the board has had these discussions with the community,” said James, who last spring published a major study on the barriers faced by Black students in the GTA.

“They’ve put in place a number of processes that I think should bode well,” he said in an interview, adding that it has the potential to become a model for other boards.

Source: New head of Peel school board vows to support marginalized students | Toronto Star

BC college faculty feel pressure to ‘pass’ students with poor English | Vancouver Sun

Conflict between universities and colleges as a business versus maintaining standards?

Veteran college English instructors are routinely receiving passionate, imploring pleas for passing grades from the international students who increasingly fill their classes.

The foreign students’ emotion-filled emails and in-office appeals, often issued in jumbled English, invariably aim to cajole faculty at Langara College and other institutions into giving them a break, so they will be able to move on from their mandatory courses in English literature.

The foreign students often maintain their entire future depends on passing the English course.

Langara College has experienced a five-fold rise in foreign students since 2014, but two English literature and composition instructors say the college’s over-reliance on international fees is not working for many high-stressed foreign students, their anxious offshore parents or for shortchanged domestic students.

Langara College English instructors Peter Babiak and Anne Moriarty are among a small number of Canadian higher education officials who are ending their silence to raise concerns about the expanding business of international education, which now brings 130,000 foreign students to B.C., mostly Metro Vancouver.

“I do feel sorry for the (international) students, of course, but that’s not really the point. When I assign grades, presumably I need to be objective and not let emotions get in the way,” says Babiak, who has been teaching at Langara since 2002.

Like many faculty at universities and colleges, Babiak and Moriarty feel pressure to wave through the full-fee-paying foreign students, especially in mandatory first-year English literature courses, even if they lack fluency in English.

“There is a booming industry dedicated to helping students jump through English-language hoops, which teachers like me everywhere work hard to defend. Being part of this is weighing heavily on my conscience,” said Moriarty.

Langara Provost Ian Humphreys, however, said Tuesday “there is no pressure on faculty to pass students who are not yet achieving learning outcomes.”

Humphreys said he is proud that Langara “is an open access institution that serves a diverse student population – both domestic and international – that has a high proportion of English language learners.” He says the college’s grads have a strong success rate when they transfer to other institutions or the job market.

Moriarty, however, said that even though many of the foreign students work hard in their technical, business and computer courses, many also leave their mandatory English literature course to the end of their multi-year programs, knowing their English is weak.

Both Babiak and Moriarty also agonize over how classroom discussions in English literature courses are often severely restricted because of language barriers. It means, he said, students who seriously want to study novels, linguistics and composition don’t get as much high-level interaction as they could.

Source: BC college faculty feel pressure to ‘pass’ students with poor English | Vancouver Sun

Une version « décolonisée » de l’histoire – Including Indigenous history and culture

Interesting and thoughtful approach to increasing awareness and understanding of Indigenous peoples:

Où étaient les autochtones avant l’arrivée des Européens ? Comment vivent-ils aujourd’hui  ? Connaissez-vous des artistes autochtones ?

Ce sont des questions auxquelles les élèves du collège John Abbott sont désormais confrontés. Depuis un an, un groupe de sept enseignants de ce cégep anglophone de Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue a entrepris un projet visant à « décoloniser » son programme.

« La décolonisation consiste à défaire les effets de la colonisation, désapprendre la pensée dominante colonialiste, inclure du contenu autochtone dans le curriculum, en apprendre davantage sur eux et reconnaître leur contribution dans la société », résume Debbie Lunny, enseignante en philosophie qui a dirigé le projet.

L’initiative a commencé de façon informelle. Les sept enseignants se sont rassemblés pour échanger des lectures et parler de différentes manières de décoloniser l’éducation au cégep. Par la suite, ils ont consulté des élèves et des experts autochtones pour connaître leur avis. Le projet était lancé.

« Dans le domaine de l’enseignement, la décolonisation consiste à questionner les relations de pouvoir, les hypothèses eurocentriques qui privilégient les perspectives eurocanadiennes. »

Dans ses cours, Debbie Lunny demande à ses élèves de nommer leur chanteur autochtone préféré, leur personnage de télévision autochtone préféré, leur auteur autochtone préféré. La plupart d’entre eux remettent une page blanche.

« On invite les élèves à réfléchir à travers des questions. Ce n’est pas que ces artistes n’existent pas, c’est qu’ils sont marginalisés des médias et de la société canadienne », estime l’enseignante.

UNE MEILLEURE COMPRÉHENSION

Lizzie Tukai est une élève inuite qui vient d’Inukjuak, au Nunavik. Elle vient d’obtenir son diplôme en sciences sociales à John Abbott. Pour elle, la mise en place de la décolonisation dans les cours permet aux élèves de mieux comprendre la réalité des autochtones. « Il y a souvent des gens qui sont mal informés, dit-elle. Ça cause des préjugés. »

Pour Lizzie, 41 ans, cette initiative est une occasion de réconciliation entre les autochtones et les allochtones.

« Lorsqu’on révèle la vérité de l’histoire, cela redonne du pouvoir à toutes les parties impliquées. »

« Ils nous ont appris l’histoire telle qu’elle s’est produite, révélé des choses qui étaient cachées, nous en ont appris davantage sur l’histoire des autochtones », dit-elle à propos de ses enseignants.

Les instigateurs du projet tâchent d’inclure dans la matière qu’ils enseignent des éléments des cultures autochtones. « Les autochtones ont besoin de trouver leur sens de soi, ils ont besoin de passer à travers la valorisation au lieu de l’humiliation », estime Jimena Marquez, enseignante en anthropologie qui fait partie de l’initiative. D’ailleurs, elle commence ses cours en reconnaissant la valeur de la chasse et de la lecture des étoiles, des valeurs importantes pour ces peuples.

UNE INITIATIVE À RÉPÉTER ?

Le cabinet de la ministre de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur, Hélène David, estime que l’initiative du cégep John Abbott est une bonne façon d’encourager les élèves des Premières Nations à se sentir inclus dans le système scolaire. Toutefois, aucune réponse n’a été fournie par le Ministère quant à l’application de mesures décolonialistes dans l’ensemble des établissements scolaires québécois.

Source: Une version « décolonisée » de l’histoire – La Presse+