We Asked, They Answered; Trustee Responses
Updated: Oct 12, 2018
Ottawa Municipal and School Board Trustee Candidates' Questionnaire Responses
Nyansapo sent two questionnaires out on October 3rd and 4th, 2018 to hear what Municipal and trustee candidates had to say about issues that affect Ottawa's African Caribbean Black Canadian (ACBC) Communities. To inform your voting, we have added the following answers from several candidates who took the time to thoughtfully respond.
QUESTIONS FOR TRUSTEE CANDIDATES
1. The OCDSB has officially recognized the UN declaration of people of African descent and also indicated a commitment to collect race based data on suspensions and expulsions. Do you support this and how will you ensure that the OCDSB follow through on this commitment?
2. What do you see as the role of school boards and schools in being responsive to diverse communities and ensuring equity and inclusion in schools?
3. What steps will you take to ensure that the school board increase recruitment, promotion and retention of diverse staff, anti-racism training of all employee groups of bias and discrimination in schools?
4. The Compendium of Action for Black Student Success was approved by the Durham School Board in 2017 and is now being implemented.
Its guiding principles include:
(a) Internationalizing the curriculum with the integration of Black (African-Caribbean) history in Canada and Globally into the history curriculum (Thus the inclusion of role models as a natural element), the same for Science and other Subject matters;
(b) A review of the hiring practices to increase the inclusion of racialized groups as teachers and other administrative staff to reflect the changing demographics amongst other actions. The objective being to break down barriers to success of racialized students and increase their academic performance and graduation rates.
Therefore, as a Candidate for School Board Trustee if you are elected can the Black African Canadian Community count on your voice and actions to implement the Compendium of Action for Black Student Success in the OCDSB which includes the collection of race based data on the performance rates of racialized groups?
TRUSTEE CANDIDATE RESPONSES:
Keith Penny/ Trustee Candidate: Public/ Zone 8
1. I supported this motion and have always supported evidence-based decision making as key not only for achieving equity of opportunity but also to ensure our resources are allocated in the most appropriate manner. We have funding from the province to carry on this study and I will urge that we use it as soon as possible lest it be rescinded by the provincial government. I look forward to reading the report that will outline the quantitative data and will urge our staff to examine any associated phenomenology associated with the evidence. Once we have this data then I look forward to working with your community and others to address issues the report uncovers and ultimately any solutions that will be put forward. I do not believe that this will fall off our radar.
2. For the OCDSB and myself equity is a key part of our/my strategic plan and will be for some time. Recognition of the UN declaration as well as our commitment to indigenous reconciliation speak to our resolve in these areas. I have always believed to have a fair, peaceful, and prosperous society where everyone participates meaningfully we need to start with educating our students. This is the reason we promote the OCDSB 21st century exit outcomes.
3. Wow a very large question. I feel our staff should roughly reflect the communities they serve both to serve as role models for the students but also to ensure they reflect the community's values. There is a bit of work to do in this area obviously. I think the Durham District School board did some work in this area and I would like to examine what their program is and what the results were.
4. I honestly believe that we will move forward and complete this study and I will monitor it's progress. I look forward to reading the report and determine how to move forward once we have it.
Lynn Scott/ Trustee Candidate: Public / Zone 1
1. As the current trustee for the OCDSB, Zone 1, and vice-chair of the board, I am fully committed to moving forward to collect identity data for all students and (I hope) staff, and look forward to implementing a good process to do this beginning in 2019. The identity data will not only be collected for students who have been suspended or expelled, but will be collected for ALL students to the best of our ability. When we have the identity data, we can analyze our data on other measures, such as suspensions and expulsions, choice of program, student achievement, to help us identify any biases or inequities and find ways to correct those biases or inequities. We will be able to tailor and target student supports more effectively to improve student outcomes for all groups. As one trustee, I only have one vote in any board decision, but I commit to exercising my leadership skills and influence to the best of my ability to ensure that the OCDSB follows through on its commitment.
2. I have long advocated for recognizing each student as a unique individual, and I have high expectations for every student. We need to make a serious effort to connect with representatives of our increasingly diverse communities, understanding that diversity encompasses race and ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability/disability, urban/suburban/rural, family structure and many other elements. While identity labels are useful for statistical analysis, we must all guard against confusing the label with the individual person, and ensure that the board does not make assumptions about diverse communities leading to tokenism and stereotyping. Equity must be a core element of every board and school decision, and we must use every means available to promote understanding and respect for diversity at all levels of the OCDSB.
3. In its next strategic plan, the board needs to include clear strategies for improving diversity among our staff and providing necessary training and professional development for all employee groups to eliminate bias and discrimination. We need to begin to review more of our policies through the lens of equity and inclusion, and in this process, we must reach out to community organizations to engage their input and benefit from their insights and lived experience.
4. For me, one important consideration in appointing the OCDSB's incoming Director of Education, Camille Williams-Taylor, was her work with the Durham District School Board in the area of equity and inclusion. I will rely significantly on her experience and expertise to make the collection of identity data a success in the OCDSB. Durham and Ottawa are two different school districts, with some similarities but also some differences, and therefore the Durham Compendium of Action for Black Student Success may need some modifications to work effectively in the OCDSB. I look forward to seeing the OCDSB adopt an equivalent program, tailored to address the specific needs of the OCDSB and its students.
Travis Croken/ Trustee Candidate: Public/ Zone 11 (Gloucester-Southgate Ward 10 & River Ward 16)
1. Yes, I support the OCDSB recognition of the UN declaration of people of African Descent. I will ensure the OCDSB follows through on the collection race-based data by keeping it a top priority. Too often children of African descent are pushed through school and guided towards the trades. We must work to ensure each student understands their value and that they have the opportunity to proceed to post-secondary education should they wish. This summer I was in attendance at a South-Sudanese Graduation Ceremony for all students graduating any grade. It was fun filled day with food, speeches, and many proud students. I will work to support events like this moving forward and will work to ensure each student understands that they are capable and worthy of the best education.
2. The role of schools and school boards in being responsive to diverse communities and ensuring equality in schools is vast. They both must ensure the students are made to feel welcome and supported. They must understand that, within a diverse school system, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Children from different countries, from different life experiences, cannot be expected to react the same as children raised without ever seeing the specter of war or food shortages. They must understand that mannerisms and body language differ significantly from culture to culture and must be willing to take the time to learn and understand. They must also do better at ensuring the child, who in some cases have left everything they know behind, are not stripped of their names as well, by being asked to adopt "Canadian" names or listening to their name be continuously mispronounced. It is up to the school and the board to ensure each student understands their value.
3. I will work to ensure the school board continues its work to recruit, retain, and promote a diverse staff. It is essential for a child to see representations of themselves in positions of authority. I will also work toward cultural sensitivity training and anti-racism training for all staff on the board and within the schools. Any adult working with the students or for the students must be made aware of inherent bias and microaggressions. Even the best-intentioned person can step awry if not exposed to the reality behind the situations, and shown how even small actions may have a significant impact.
4. Yes. The Black African Canadian Community can count on my voice and my actions to implement the Compendium of Action for Black Student Success in the OCDSB. The time for excuses has passed, and we must now act to ensure implementation and support for the students left behind for too long. I will also be holding regular meetings and working with community liaisons to ensure no neighbourhood is left behind and to ensure that all neighbourhoods are given fair and equal access to understanding of what is happening within the board, the schools, and what it means for them. No longer will decisions be made without those involved understanding how it impacts them.
Kevin Sawyer/ Trustee Candidate: Catholic/ Zone 2
1) I fully support the collection of race-based data with regards to suspensions and expulsions. Let’s face it, black kids stand out a lot more when placed in a group of Caucasian children and often end up being on a teacher’s “radar” more often than others. As a husband to a black woman from Ghana and as a father of three bi-racial children, I have spent the last 15 years facing discrimination of all sorts towards my family. I believe that we cannot have an honest conversation about race until the people empowered to make decisions realize that racism does exist in this province and country. An effective way to do this is with a statistical analysis based on factual data that shows this.
2) Diversity is one of my three major points that I am proposing. If you look at my website www.kevinajsawyer.ca you will get an idea of my vision. I see the need for a school board and for schools that reflect the diverse student population that they serve in their management. I want my kids to see themselves when they look up to their teachers, principles. For example, I want to see Asian, Middle-Eastern, Spanish and African people taking up leadership roles in all areas of the Ottawa Catholic School Board. The legitimacy of our School Board depends, in part, on the participation of individuals of diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, circumstances, and cultures and in accommodating those people. I base my approach on inclusivity. Racism cannot thrive if our leadership is inclusive.
3) I think my answer in question 2 give you an idea of my vision. As a person with two law degrees from McGill universities, my approach will be based on the legal obligations that the OCDSB has in this province towards diversity. There is no excuse to remain stagnant on the problem. For example, from a legal standpoint, the OCDSB risks contravening provincial laws if it disadvantages certain groups of people. Ontario’s Anti-Racism Act states, “…in Ontario Systemic racism is often caused by policies, practices and procedures that appear neutral but have the effect of disadvantaging racialized groups. It can be perpetuated by a failure to identify and monitor racial disparities and inequities and to take remedial action” (SO 2017, Chapter 15, Preamble). In this, we can see that inaction is akin to promoting the problem. I am not limiting my approach to this but let’s be clear, if I am elected I am there for the people who put me there. I believe that a great number of those people will be those who are sick and tired of being oppressed in Canada and I intend to be very noisy about discrimination.
4) Did you know that it was a black man who invented the RAM chip for computers? Did you know that a black man invented the motorized lawn-mower? What about the clothes iron? You guessed it… Unfortunately, these things are rarely discussed in schools and even Ottawa’s Science and Technology Museum! All I can say is that if I am elected to represent Kanata North and South watch me. I also invite you to hold me accountable. If I’m elected I invite you to schedule meetings with me or communicate with me to ask how things are going. I can’t promise results. Nobody can and I would be a fool to do such a thing. But as a former Prison Chaplain for the Federal government I know how to lean and push for justice. Give me a chance and I’ll show you.
Rawlson King /Trustee Candidate/ Public -Zone 12
1. Yes. I fully support the OCDSB's motion to officially recognize the UN's International Decade for People of African Descent and will commit to support the collection of race-based data on suspensions and expulsions.
2. The school board needs to be proactive to strengthen equity, along with improving integration and inclusion of all minority communities, as well as work to eliminate systemic racism and discrimination within our schools through both policy and substantive action. Policies must be clearly enumerated, but action must be measurable.
3. The key to ensuring increased recruitment and retention of diverse staff and anti-racism training in schools will be to develop policy and benchmark the effectiveness of its implementation through the budgetary process, where measures and program spending will be clearly outlined, and where success can be quantitatively measured through an equity lens. Currently, there is no equity lens for the budget. If elected, I will advocate that one is adopted for the next fiscal year.
4. As a Black Canadian, the community can count on me to support implementation of the Compendium of Action for Black Student Success in the OCDSB, which includes the collection of race-based data on the performance rates of racialized groups. Let's use data to improve student achievement, along with creating better lines of accountability to parents, by focusing on critical metrics that include equity and academic performance.
Wesley Campbell/ Trustee Candidate/ Public -Zone 10
1) I support the collection of race based data if it is making a positive difference, I also see economical data as needed and geographical data to put it all in perspective.
2) Schools are the first place where we can show multiculturalism at its finest, by treating every student with the same amount of dignity regardless of race or religion. To me it is not an option but the standard with which every student and teacher needs to live with.
3) I believe in a diverse staff however I more strongly believe in hiring the best candidate no matter their race. As for anti-racism training I believe in annual refreshers for all staff in all harassment training. Racial, sexual, and all types of discrimination between.
4) I would have to do more research into the Compendium of Action before committing to pushing for implementing it into the school. It would have to meet the requirements of A) being a positive system,
B) Have actual results for the children,
C) Finally not take away something else that is working in a productive manner for the kids now
Rob Campbell/Trustee Candidate -Public/ Public- Zone 5 - College
1. Yes, I was in the audience for the very effective delegation presentations and then for the vote on this. I am a complete champion of this sort of thing and so absolutely support this. However, I want to see other meaningful metrics as well, though not just for the ACBC community. So, metrics also on graduation rate, academic achievement levels such as EQAO, and new meaningful metrics to be developed for often ignored student well-being (physical and mental), mental and special education rates. I'd like to see these broken out for many groups, certainly including ACBC, but also indigenous, refugee, special education, LGBTQ, and others. I'd also like to see satisfaction surveys broken out and disaggregated. I'd also like to see analysis for staff, including hiring and promotion rates. It is clear in the literature that racialization and othering leads to poorer school performance and obviously increased stresses.
When I was last a Trustee, I lobbied hard to eventually get the OCDSB to agree to collect stats by poverty - which amazingly it had never done before. That was 4+ years ago now, and a legacy piece for me, after which I then stepped away from the Board for personal reasons. One of the core motivating reasons why I am running again for Trustee today is that all of this sort of measurement of inequity for marginalized groups has gone nowhere, or proceeded at a snail's pace, or is under-resourced in the Quality Assurance department, or sits in reports and people congratulate themselves about this but without real commitment to change the channel with meaningful changes in resource allocation, training, or policy changes.
The importance of metrics such as these is both technical and political: on the one hand we need to know where investments or changes are best made and whether our efforts are sufficient or targeted enough to make an actual lasting difference (as opposed to just thinking they should or might somehow, but also lack of movement on such agreed public metrics can be a powerfully embarrassing tool to leverage greater action or resources from the system.
The suspensions / expulsions causes coding data is spotty and not well-maintained - a lack of care or of clear senior direction, and perhaps a lack of school-site office support (but how much trouble can it be to put a code number onto a suspension form and get it into the system - really?!). So, we don't know really what the leading causes may be with any assurance, though perhaps have some weak stats in this area to start with. So, is the suspension due to 'opposition to authority', physical attack, drugs, clothing choices? - who knows in most cases. And, the reports to board are not broken out by school admin or racialization or in other ways to date, though some breakouts by special education category are currently provided.
As well, I'm not sure that school admin discretionary one-day suspensions are tracked at all - I mean to look into this, again for all marginalized groups.
When the most recent suspensions / expulsion report was delivered to the current Board, there were some minor questions, and then the report was received and they moved on to the next agenda item. I was floored. Where are the suspension/expulsion clusters? What specific actions with what specific measurable goals will be set in place as a result to mitigate?
If the causes of suspensions / expulsions are insufficient community need sand supports let's look at that, if due to racialist or class or other assumptions by school admin as to responsibility or capability or interest then determine this and either discipline, move or train, if due to prevailing intolerance within a school's community, then a plan has to be developed to alter that for the school. I note BTW that while every school seems to have a SIP (School Improvement Plan) focused on academics as required by the Province, any well-being improvement planning is spotty or underwhelming in its goals or absent across our schools.
Should I find that I have a role come December oath-taking, I can easily commit to:
(a) pushing over the course of the mandate to get meaningful metrics such as those described above in place and operational, sooner the better, and will happily do the research required and move motions to this effect
- for students and staff, for academics and well-being, by self-identified or StatsCan group, across the system and by geography and neighbourhood or school or family of schools
(b) where we have meaningful metrics available already, I want to incorporate associated challenging but realistic improvements goals into the new Board's 4-year strategic plan (which it sets and decides on by early Spring)
- too often in the past the goals set have been fluffy and one could drive a truck through them and say they were successfully met
- or everyone knew or suspected we were already mostly there and achieving the goal was a slam dunk: failure is fine as long as we tried out utmost within our resources to achieve the goal and can defend this
(c) if stats and other cost/benefit argument are clear enough to act (without waiting for perfect world stats), then I would move or support significant diversion of precious 'discretionary' monies at Budget to key equity creation efforts, including training, extra support workers, community empowerment, other
- however, there is a history of half-baked investment ideas at the OCDSB which sound good on paper, know one really knows will actually move the needle or make a difference, without clearly defined outcome expectations or goals, but which make for heart-warming copy in an annual report ... these I am leery of, and not just in this domain
(d) tying school administration, senior staff, and Director performance reviews more strongly to movement on the clear measurable Board of Trustee goals set out in the strat plan
- in the past Director performance goals have not been tied to start plan performance in any meaningful way
- the newly hired Director will have come with a new secret employment contract likely also detailing performance reviews basis though so I fear my hands may be tied to an extent here (I mean to find out)
- superintendents of schools and principals / VPs also, perhaps more easily, have their performance reviews tied to movement on equity and other goals in the strategic plan
- this is not necessarily punitive, and indeed retraining of staff may be required, or supports added to schools, but clear expectations need to be set as well
(e) I absolutely intend to move a motion if it is not done by others, to beef up our Quality Assurance stats department HR complement
- I am tired of being told that this or that cannot be investigated, stats cannot be collected, program spending cannot be evaluated, etc, etc, as there are not the resources to do it, ort hat doing so will take 1-2 years or whatever
- this may require diversion from other needed spending but I think it is worth it
(f) I want to review our hiring policy and see what can be done to ensure positive discrimination towards visible minorities and other marginalized groups in our hiring practices
- this may be constrained by Provincial or local collective agreement language and I also think that one does
(g) work with and dialogue with the community-based Equity Advisory Committee at the OCDSB, currently representing ACBC but also other concerns including LGBTQ, poverty, and historically indigenous, etc
- as of this past Spring, a new independent partially community-determined IEAC (Indigenous Education Advisory Committee) has been created specifically to help develop equitable education, staff, and reconciliation goals and review a staff annual plan in this regard, and make other recommendations
- it's still unclear to me whether Equity Advisory will continue to take up indigenous concerns or not
- I think that Equity Advisory should consider a dedicated subcommittee for ACBC or racialized concerns, but I also respect what they decide to do or not to do
- I'd also consider a brand new Advisory Committee but recognize that there would be strong pushback against a proliferation of lots of separate Advisory Committees
- I'd also support a non-voting Equity Advisory seat at the Budget Committee table if this was sustainable by volunteers
- in any event, in the past, Equity Advisory rarely has ever made any specific recommendations to the Board of Trustees, and I would like to encourage them to become much more activist in this way
- note: I was previously appointed as a Trustee liaison to Equity Advisory and proudly enjoy MS Elaine Hayles endorsement (https://campbellocdsb.ca/endorsements/)
(h) meet with ACBC and other community representatives to hear their concerns, and concrete ideas for improvements
2. Public School Boards serve the community of public school board supporters, with or without kids in the system, as everyone has or should have an interest both in how well the system is preparing their youth for the world and because it is simply a major employer (approx 10K staff including occasional).
However, more than this, what has always made me excited about public ed has been its latent promise as the single biggest social equity-creating machine we have at our disposal as a society. Indeed public ed was established in the 19th century in Ontario in part to provide for equitable education for those not of the Anglican faith or living outside of Toronto, and for many immigrants then coming in, including poorer Irish at that particular time. The core mission of publicly funded ed, in my view, is to create equity, as otherwise you get the education you can pay for and I get what I can pay for and no one else cares. It is important to maintain high standards for everyone however in order to avoid middle class flight from public ed as has happened in Australia and in large parts of the US.
Please see my views on the role of Equity Advisory Committee (a forum for reps from communities of interest) and making it more effective.
As well, I believe that any questions asked ore recommendations received from any community or individual deserve full and thoughtful reply. And, I believe that both OCDSB staff and Trustees should be open to meeting with community members to hear about concerns and strategize on solutions. In short, the District needs to partner with its communities in order best to serve them.
I want also to encourage participation of communities on parent School Councils, which advise each school admin (each SC can have one or more community reps at large though this varies by SC bylaws), and HS Student Councils. As a former SC chair, and chair of the umbrella Ottawa-Carleton Assembly of School Councils (OCASC) for the OCDSB, I want to continue to encourage SC to move away from simple fundraising and to take up achievement and well-being and equity and community outreach activities more than they do ... the legislation around school councils actually does not even mention fundraising and their advisory and community outreach promise often is not met in my opinion.
3. Hard to say what steps exactly at this point I have to be honest, though I'm very sympathetic to the goal (see above). Not only is the OCDSB a large area employer with a responsibility for equity like any other, but of course role models and culturally aware and sensitive ears and eyes would be great to have at more schools, at target schools of concern, and in senior admin to set tone, expectations and ensure eyes on promotion procedures.
I'm heartened by the recent hire of a new OCDSB Director from Durham, indeed who was the one I gather who at least in part directly oversaw equity initiatives and the Compendium implementation (not sure yet about its development though). So, kudos to the outgoing Board of Trustees here and I'm pretty confident that equity concerns are likely to find a sympathetic ear with the new Director.
I'm quite happy to require that all staff get anti-racism and other training on an initial hire and then every few years basis. I'm just not 100% sure to what extent this is done already in fact, though maybe it is more haphazard. I believe that all staff get some sort of anti-harassment training now.
I'd support the setting up of a staff advisory group to advise on staff hiring and retention and awareness in these areas but that might be something best pursued by staff themselves via their union reps. I note that there is a Provincially mandated Occupational Health and Safety Committee at the Board of course for both union reps and senior staff - i.e. just to say such joint committees have a precedent, and I work in a federal government agency with a staff-based Diversity Committee, supported by both parties as well.
I certainly would support , and be happy to move a motion if required, stats on staff by self-identification and also job satisfaction or other.
I would support or move a motion on tweaking our permanent and occasional staff hiring policies and procedures to value diversity in hiring more if that is not sufficiently in there explicitly now or insufficiently actioned. Again, I'm not certain, and would need to be advised by affected communities and staff, if I find that the stats do not really exist.
I think its important to consult directly with affected staff to understand what barriers they see and suggestions they have.
I'd be willing to encourage partnering with Ottawa's teacher training university program a the U of O to see how they accept teacher candidates and what can be done jointly to encourage greater participation rates in the teacher candidates pool if that was a concern. And, I'd be willing to look outside our traditional jurisdiction for new hires and go further into Quebec. To what extent we can actually tilt hiring and retention may require collective agreement changes however I'd be supportive if these can be negotiated and would be willing to include these as goals into the mandate to negotiating staff for the next cycle of local collective agreements renegotiation. Again, as in all such moves, a solitary Trustee can do little and it requires a Board majority to move things through, and I'm not sure this one could currently be secured.
4. The Compendium is vast in its detail and provisions and prescriptions and goals but, yes, generally I am supportive of them all and of the vision and direction involved and, yes, the BACC can count on me to voice support and to take action broadly to implement. The 'a' and 'b' picked out above are but two of a long list of provisions. The Compendium is an impressive document over all and I certainly will encourage our new Director hired from Durham in fact to largely replicate at the OCDSB. It is no doubt the product of a lot of work and investment at Durham. I would be interested to see their Board of Trustees strat plan, policies, and Director performance review criteria, and mean to delve into Durham implementation details should I be elected.
It is important to recognize that the Province has control over curriculum, and that any locally developed courses must also get Provincial approval. However, I'm quite willing to advocate for both, while recognizing that additional courses and course development can be expensive, especially if there are only a few registrants. Easier however is to supplement exisitng curricula, same as I propose for the shameful recent rollback to the Health and Physical Ed curriculum, new Indigenous history curriculum components, Civics education, and other subjects. Pointing out the role models in science and subjects outside of History can be easily done and I'd support spending on developing curriculum supplements by staff and providing guidance and supports to teachers in these ways there as well, if this is not already in place.
Again, similar to the current indigenous peoples push and new curriculum, which calls explicitly for the inclusion of elders and those from the community with experience and history to come into the classroom, I certainly can see doing that for the ACBC or larger black community and non-indigenous communities. I'm not certain whether this supplementary guidance exists or not at the OCDSB school levele, but would be willing to promote and invest in guidance development and dissemination, in consultation with the affected community, Equity Advisory, staff and others.
As to the 'b' here, I think I have addressed my support for these topics already above, so 'yes'.
As to the question on supporting race-based data, 'yes' of course again, and please see above again.
However, I'd also like to go beyond race-based also and look at country of origin as relationships to authority, assumptions about the school system, relative wealth, and other factors can also play a role in advancement and can be part of a tangled overlay mixed with the broader category of race. As well, I have to say that the concept of 'race' is not really one I endorse, though I recognize that it is convenient category term for discussion purposes. People are people and come with varied individual stories and backgrounds and cannot properly be conveniently considered monolithically. We will agree for instance that the first level of disaggregation, which might be visible minority, is far too coarse and that there can be wildly different outcomes for people of different ethnicity, backgrounds, etc, and this not sufficiently disaggregated to make change for those affected. My concern then is that 'race' as well, as opposed to other ethnic or nation of origin, wealth average, and other attributes again might be more correlated and allow us to be more targeted in our solutions and investments. If we want an easy over all Board metric narrative then we can use 'race' and fine, but I'm dubious as to whether it is sufficient enough to get at all causes and solutions for lack of equity of outcome - i.e. I believe that simple sheer prejudice and discrimination is but one part, albeit a pervasive and important one, of the puzzle and that much is likely structural in nature and not actually quite so simple to attack.
Finally, I do need to state, that there are a LOT of issues to move on at the OCDSB, including better governance and roles definition between Trustees and staff (often not understood well by either party in my view), better accommodations planning, review of special education supports, increased transparency in decision-making, dealing with the aftermath of a massively disrupting accommodation review in College Ward, ensuring equitable access to after-4 and daycare programs (now a part of the DSB mandate with thousands of children at OCDSB centres now last four years after massive rapid growth), improving budget deliberations, advocating with respect to the Province, improving student safe active transportation to schools, and in many other areas.
Not everything can be done at once, and certainly not without sufficient collegian Trustee support to aggressively move forward on the various files involved. However, as I stated at the outset far above, the very reason at core why I am running again, is to increase metrics implementation and effective actioning from that for all marginalized groups for better academic and well-being outcomes. Equity is core to mission for public education in my view, and would be amongst a small shortlist of top tier core concerns for me as Trustee.
Ken Lumsden/ Trustee Candidate/ Public- Zone 1
For personal reasons I have suspended my campaign. If you have any other concerns please see my website for further details.
Alex Sivasambu/ Trustee Candidate/Public- Zone 3
Being a visible minority myself, I understand your group's concerns. I have come from being a student in Canadian school system, now working parent to having my children to go through this system. Inclusiveness of all students regardless of color, religion, race is my mandate, I will thrive to maintain that. I also will make sure any decisions made is in the best interest of our students, which includes increasing the awareness of multiculturalism within our community.
Amy Wellings/ Trustee Candidate/ Public- Zone 3
1. I absolutely support the collection of race based data within the OCDSB. I believe that the concept of the school to prison pipeline is a reality that the board needs to step up and face. The data collection is just a starting point though. We need to be working in collaboration with members of the black community and advocacy organizations such as Nyansapo, 613-819 Black Hub, Now What and Parents for Diversity to ensure we are actively working towards removing the barriers that exist in order to fight against the systemic racism in our education system.
2. Schools are the foundation of our community and have a responsibility for providing a safe and inclusive learning environment for all of our students. We need to be open and responsive to the concerns being brought forward by all families. I understand that the bureaucracy, sheer size and reputation of the board is intimidating and we need to be breaking down barriers to improve our approachability. The school board needs to be taking an active role in reaching out, recognizing where we are lacking representation and consult those who have a different perspective than ours. We can't be taking the same reactive approach and only speaking out when we are pushed to do so.
It is our job as the board to make sure our educators and support staff are educated on how best to build a safe and inclusive classroom, how to recognize discrimination and their own biases and the freedom to speak up when they see it happening.
3. As an Human Resources professional the recruitment process is something that i understand takes a lot more analysis than simply saying hire more diversely. We need to be looking at where are we posting our job opportunities, what pre-testing are we using, how we are structuring our interviews and interview questions. The entire recruitment process from start to finish needs to be looked at in terms of ensuring we are removing biases and barriers to the diverse people we are in fact trying to attract.
From a training perspective - this is something that absolutely needs to be made a priority. While I believe that the training needs to be happening at a school level it is also something that needs to be done board wide. It needs to be a board wide initiative and the communication and implementation plan needs to be crafted thoughtfully. The plan needs to take into account the fear that many people have of opening their eyes to their biases. The training needs to be a part of a bigger culture shift for the OCDSB as a whole. This starts from the collection of data to be able to clearly state what the problem is and then we work together to put a plan in to remove as many biases and barriers as possible.
4. You can absolutely count on my voice for these issues at the board. My commitment to these issues have been on the top of my radar since before making the decision to run for trustee and my connections with various advocacy groups have only further ignited my desire to fight to make anti-discrimination a top priority for the OCDSB. I hosted a workshop with Parents for Diversity last month and while the workshop brought people together and built community, it hurt me that the discussions taking place were the reality of so many people. I promise you that equity, inclusion and safer schools will be at the top of my priority list and will underpin each and every vote I make sitting at that board table.
Marty Carr/Trustee candidate/ Public- Zone 6
1) I am absolutely supportive of the OCDSB's recognition of the UN declaration of people of African descent and the commitment to collect race-based data. I do support this, and I expect that if elected there would be updates on this through the Advisory Committee on Equity and to the Board, and if they were not provided, would ask for updates. Would also ask for analysis of the data and establishment of solutions were there to be any trends in the data that were concerning.
2) School boards and schools are absolutely fundamental in promoting diversity and ensuring equity and inclusion in schools. These principles are the backbone of our society. At the school level, I have personally been very pleased with how diversity is celebrated in the schools- my children attend schools in Zone 6 where there are regular celebrations of diversity including Black History Month and the Board has done well in establishing new committees and forums such as the Indigenous Advisory Committee. As a potential Board member, I believe an equity lens needs to be applied to every decision the Board makes to ensure the playing field is leveled all around .
3) I am receptive to consulting with key stakeholders on a way forward for recruitment, promotion and retention of diverse staff. With respect to anti-racism training, It may be useful to see what tools can be leveraged from other organizations and where partnerships can be built to deliver training. Also may be useful to see what other Boards have done and gather lessons learned on both components of this question.
4) Given that the new Director of Education, Camille Williams-Taylor, will be joining the OCDSB from Durham., I look forward to working with her, if elected, to implement the Compendium of Action for Black Students. Yes, the Black African Canadian Community can count on my voice and action.
Rose LaBreche/ Trustee Candidate/ Public- Zone 9
1) I am very supportive of the OCDSB's commitment to collect race-based data in support of the UN Declaration of People of African Descent. As a biracial individual, and coming from a family who fled to Canada from a genocide, issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity are of great importance to me. I think as a trustee, one can follow-up on these issues by attending ACE committee meetings, among other stakeholder group meetings, to determine the best approach and path forward together. As a trustee, I would work with my colleagues to ensure that this issue doesn't get lost in the fold and that we continue to prioritize it over the next four years as there are multiple examples of best practice before us.
2) School boards and schools need to show strong leadership on this issue. We need to act as role models to youth as we can actively steer the conversation towards progression on issues of equity and diversity. Within schools, those in positions on leadership direct the conversation on equity on a day-to-day basis. At the Board level, decisions that are made can greatly affect the work environment and influence what and where resources are allocated. In both cases, we need to be the driving force behind ensuring equity and inclusion. Our schools need to offer a safe and welcoming environment for all.
3) I am open to hearing from stakeholder groups on a way forward on recruitment - I think there are a number of ways to tackle this problem, but if we implement a strategy that is well consulted upon, it will be more robust. As for anti-racism training, I think the Board can look into what training is available (either in-person, online etc.) options for staff. This sensitivity training should be something annual in nature though to ensure that the message is recurring.
4) The new Director of Education, Camille Williams-Taylor, will be joining the OCDSB from Durham. I think it would extremely worthwhile to use her experience on how to implement the Compendium of Action for Black Students. She will have the first-hand experience on how this can be done, and we need to draw on that - to learn from areas identified for improvement, and to mimic areas that went well.
Sandra Moore/ Trustee Candidate/ Catholic- Zone 2
As a Trustee for the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) and a school board that will be conducting a student census this year my position is that the questions on the census are very important and must reflect the community in which we live. How people see themselves is more important than how the system sorts them. Hopefully this approach will help us see what we don't see. Change cannot happen if we cannot name what is missing or broken. The census is the first step in this and was a focus of a conference I attended in August at York University.
As to the hiring practices, retention and promotion of employees of colour I look to the census as a first step. An ongoing step and necessary one is to allow students to succeed and meet the educational criteria to be hired, help create a corporate culture that will draw people to our Board and opportunities for promotion. The census of both staff and students will allow us to see what we don't see and learn what we don't know.
My background is in education with a degree specializing in minority and multicultural education from UBC. A diverse world is a better place that makes me think more and better.
Dragos Popa/Trustee candidate/ Public- Zone 4
1. I fully support this and will work tirelessly to ensure: full openness and transparency, including the regular and timely release of data disaggregated by race; equity and quality education for all students in OCDSB schools; and continuous measurement of stated outcomes (including outcomes related to suspensions and exclusions) and frequent public reporting.
2. Equity and inclusion are at the very core of my agenda. Bay Ward, where I run for a trustee position, is a very diverse area of the city, and also one where inequity continues to be a challenge. I firmly believe that school boards, schools, and individual trustees should make equity and inclusion the central tenet of their activity. I will support all initiatives and programs based on these principles, and advocate on behalf of people and communities in my ward and across the city.
3. I have worked in organizations - in academia and government - that established and implemented initiatives and programs based on diversity and anti-discrimination. I witnessed first-hand that such practices are not only possible but also highly beneficial to individuals and institutions alike. They are also the right thing to do, something we should all strive for. As a first-generation Canadian I understand on a personal level the importance of leveling the playing field and making sure that everyone has the same opportunities in our schools and in our society.
4.The Black African Canadian Community can absolutely count on my voice and actions to implement this Compendium.
Justin W. Laku/ Trustee Candidate/ Public - Zone 10
1. As Afro-Canadian candidate seeking public office, if elected, I will support and mobilize resources to realize the vision the UN declaration of people of African descent.
Please, note that, the UN as international body cannot and will not be able to do everything for Afro-Canadians nor should we delegate our fight for the UN to fight for us. We should take lead and fight for our freedom, equality and justice (the UN has a lot on its table). We should not think that, someone, somewhere should effect changes in the way we live, and how we should be treated or recognize- the journey of recognition and freedom should start with every member of Afro-Canadians living in Canada. It is a collective action and effort that will bring everlasting solutions to our issues.
2. The school boards and administration should be responsive to all regardless of the color of their skins, cultures, background, religion and race. The school system should be inclusive.
Again, members of Afro-Canadian communities should not wait to be call or invited, we should move out from the old mindset of bystander and be up stander as well as proactive and get involve in anyway we can to effect changes the system we live in so that it will response to us in the way we see fit.
3.I totally, agreed with you that, school system in Ontario and Ministry of Education should have recruitment, promotion, and retention policy that targeted members of Afro-Canadians who would like to join teaching profession.
However, the best strategies of the above should being with us to identify members of our communities holders of education degrees, but could not find opportunities to be part of teaching profession group. Secondly, compiled data about these individuals who qualified to be teachers but excluded for reasons known to the system and thirdly, address these with issues of discrimination with Members of Parliaments at three levels of governments. This is how I would approach these issues your raised above.
4. a) Absolutely, history is important part of learning process and it vital in student’s lives. To understand future, history is very important in shaping one’s mind and views about the country he/she lives in.
Yes, I fully support introduction of Indigenous peoples and Afro-Canadians histories into Ontario education curriculum.
I would suggest that we refrain from using the word Black because it was imposed on the Afro-Canadians and African American and the optic is related to bad activities.The word Black is equal to “N” and associated with crimes, violent, drug and others.
We should modify the way to call ourselves with respected words and therefore, others will respect us.
4.b) This part requires change in hiring policy and I provided strategies to approach this issue in my earlier responses. Please, consult above strategies (see Q3).
Please, rest assure if elected, the members of Afro-Canadians or African descent can count on my support 1000%. Please, attached for you my remarks, I tabled before Community Equity Council couple weeks ago.
Glen Armstrong/ Trustee candidate/ Catholic- Zone 6
1. I plan to engage in an appropriate policy related School Board committee where I can best impact this commitment.
2. Events such as black history month are a great idea to build a culture of inclusion. Inviting high profile black community members into our schools to make presentations provides role models for these students.
3. It is important to build appropriate relationships with the School Board Human resources and advocate for increases in diverse staff and proper training for current employees on discrimination.
4. Yes, you can count on my voice and actions to implement the Compendium of Action for Black Student Success in the OCSB which includes the collection of race based data on the performance rates of racialized groups?