In its eagerness to be anti-racist, is the government of Ontario engaging in discrimination? Critical Race Theory, which seems to underlie the government’s efforts, is anything but inclusive and egalitarian.
“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” ~James Baldwin 1924-1976
While the need for racial equality of opportunities has no controversy in Canadian society, the means of eliminating inequality or even assessing its magnitude and sources remain debatable. Nevertheless, while the “jury is still out,” the Ontario Ministry of Education has taken a very specific stance on those means and is prepared to enforce it. Such aggressive decisiveness seems premature and dangerous both for our educational system and for the society overall.
Such aggressive decisiveness seems premature and dangerous both for our educational system and for the society overall.
The human rights codes prohibit discrimination based on race, except for special programs that target disadvantaged groups and discriminate for the purpose of ameliorating conditions of those groups. Ontario by now has dispensed with the need to have those special discriminatory programs approved by the Human Rights Commission. This allows employers, including ministries, to unilaterally decide to discriminate for or against races.
The Ontario Ministry of Education actively works on creating and funding special discriminatory programs advertised as aiming to eliminate racial inequality. One of the examples is the SummerUp set of 17 free educational summer programs which are only available to black youth.
It can easily be argued that those types of programs instigate divide among people of different skin shades and do very little (if not the opposite) to address the root cause of educational level disparity between blacks and non-blacks. While the Ministry of Education might be able to justify blacks-only programs for basic subjects like math or language arts as remedial, justifying electives like photography or film making is more problematic. It is also not clear what measures are used to gauge if those programs have any remedial effect at all, and when the need for the remediation is to be considered over.
The Ministry continues to bring more attention to racial matters in schools, even where such attention is questionable. Changes to Ontario’s math curriculum announced last year by Education Minister Stephen Lecce include a significant cultural and social context added to mathematics, according to the documents posted on the ministry’s website. “In an anti-racist and anti-discriminatory environment, teachers know that there is more than one way to develop a solution.” Such awkward linkage between math solutions and racism had been criticized earlier and resulted in removal of the most obvious absurdities. (Ontario’s new Grade 9 curriculum preaches ‘subjective’ nature of mathematics | Toronto Sun)
It can be further argued that bringing social and political context into the math class is detrimental to learning the actual subject.
It can be further argued that bringing social and political context into the math class is detrimental to learning the actual subject. Rather than teaching math, which so far has been considered free from any political context, teachers are asked to promote a particular ideological agenda under Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy (CRRP) umbrella.
“De-streaming” has a noble goal of achieving proportionately equal success in education across races and improving the education level in Ontario overall. On a flip side, the means through which such success is proposed to be achieved can be easily seen as promoting mediocrity at the expense of those striving for academic excellence. And that will have an obvious negative effect on the quality of graduates. Also, the de-streaming effort has an inexplicably exaggerated focus on “black students” without considering the sheer diversity of people with dark skin themselves or the situations in which other non-black ethnic groups are “streamed” one way or another.
The Critical Race Theory (CRT), which fundamentally underpins anti-racism initiatives of the ministry, has been widely criticized in academia; its supporters vs. debunkers belong to the political “left” and “right,” respectively. Such a politically driven split in accepting a theory is not the best sign for a theory to begin with, but the more important question is why the ministry decided to take the “left” on CRT so unequivocally and ardently?
Not to argue for any particular side, but merely to point out that what the Ontario Ministry of Education promotes is debatable, it is very disturbing to find injections like “…strengthening sanctions for teachers who engage in behaviour of a racist nature” in officially published documents.
- Who decides what behaviour is racist?
- Does a mere disagreement to bring politics into a math class make a teacher “racist” and subject to those “strengthened sanctions”?
Enforcing a one-sided view of a widely debated and controversial topic is a slippery slope toward inside-out fascism with all its potential and well-known (for those who managed to learn about world history at school) consequences.