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ETFO calls for action, investment, accountability to address racism in education system

January 17, 2023

TORONTO, ON – Below is a statement from Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) President Karen Brown following the release of People for Education’s Progress Report on Anti-Racism Policy Across Canada:


“Racism remains a reprehensible, persistent reality in every aspect of society, including our education system. Significantly more needs to be done by school boards and governments to address it; this requires action, investment, and accountability.


People for Education’s progress report reveals inconsistencies in school boards’ anti-racism policies and offers three recommendations on how to move forward with equity and anti-racism policy work. Although the recommendations (i.e., naming the problem, race-based data collection, and involving those who have been historically impacted) are valuable, much more needs to be done to address the disparities that exist in educational achievement for Black, Indigenous, and racialized students.  


While the Ford government claims to be committed to systemic changes that address racism in Ontario schools, we have not seen evidence of this commitment. Instead, we’ve witnessed: dereliction; minimal investment; a lack of oversight on school boards’ anti-racism work; no direction on race-based data; and ongoing underrepresentation of Black, Indigenous, and racialized educators and administrators. 


For equity work to advance, school boards and governments must provide adequate funding. They must also acknowledge and dismantle the white supremacist structures that are embedded in: curriculum and instruction; assessment; discipline policies; and hiring, promotion and retention. These practices have deep historical, colonial roots that must be confronted, not shied away from because they make some people—those who hold power and privilege—uncomfortable.


ETFO is committed to working together with governments, school boards, and community partners to protect and support the rights of individuals and communities who continue to be discriminated against, underserved, and marginalized.”