The following reader’s letter was received July 15 2021:
Is it too late to save our education system?
The Renfrew County District School Board has just announced a new position of Principal of Equity, Anti-Racism and Inclusive Education. I contacted the board and asked for details on the job description, key tasks to accomplish, the associated costs for this new level of bureaucracy and a rational as to why this new position is needed in Renfrew County. A response came from Renaud Cousineau, OCT Pronouns: he/him/his, Superintendent of Education.
Mr. Cousineau explained “As a school board we are required to create and maintain an equitable education system that creates positive educational outcomes for all students and must pay particular attention to the educational environments and outcomes of all students from groups that have historically been disadvantaged and marginalized.”
He went on to say that the Principal of Equity, Anti-Racism and Inclusive Education will “lead the implementation of an equity and anti-racism and inclusion strategy as mandated by the Ministry”.
Funding for this position is not directly covered by the province but money will become available “to support the transformational changes required and the opportunity to hire staff to lead this work”.
Equity: So what could be wrong with any program that is based upon ‘equity’? A definition helps to illustrate the problem: “Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome”. In short, this is an impossible task to fund and manage, not to mention that equal outcomes are impossible. It does create a lot of jobs and opportunities for inappropriate application, but does it actually solve any problems?
Anti-Racism: This seems to be one of those expensive solutions looking for a problem. Those embracing claims of systemic racism may have the best of intentions but are conflating individual acts of ignorance (identified recently in local media) as evidence of systemic racism. Politicians then support government funded programs to educate staff, students and the general public on an institutional problem that does not exist. Racism is the go-to word to affect quick change. It has been weaponized and used all too often to bully individuals and groups into giving radical left-wing groups what they want. It is a threat to social cohesiveness. To have a senior staff member with a job title that includes Anti-Racism is frankly insulting. Only the Ministry of Education could come up with something so divisive!
Inclusiveness: A lofty goal but totally impossible to meet in many cases for a variety of legitimate reasons. In this environment, expectations must be managed as the system simply cannot respond to every demand. The primary focus needs to be on educating.
Every student in Ontario costs taxpayers $13,894 per year (2016/2017). Over the past fifteen months the educational system has effectively been curtailed. The cost of this interruption will be borne by taxpayers many of whom lost their livelihoods during the lockdown. I also suspect the cost of another layer of endless bureaucracy throughout every school board in Ontario will not be well received by many citizens.
In closing, since our country and province are financially compromised, is it not time to focus on the fundamentals of education? Is it not time to re-create classroom conditions where teachers can actually teach students who actually want to learn? Is it not time to help those with disabilities and fail those who refuse to help themselves by doing the work? Students and parents have a responsibility to honour and respect the educational opportunities that are equally available to all. Parents have a responsibility to instill good manners and a strong work ethic within their children and send them to school prepared for the day. Is this really too complicated?
It is clear that something has to change at the Ministry of Education as it seems that we are going down the same road as our friends south of the border. So-called progressive ideologies under the banner of identity politics have taken hold of their (USA) educational institutions and the debate over Critical Race Theory is tearing many of their communities apart. We in Canada need to do our part to stop this madness by voicing our concerns and voting in governments that have the resolve to oppose these costly and divisive initiatives. Someone needs to stand up for common sense and for Canada!
Citizen and Official Candidate for People’s Party of Canada, Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke
Photo: EdCan Network