A Peel parents group told attendees at a Zoom workshop Wednesday evening that one key way to tackle “anti-black racism” in their schools is to remove all negative comments from their kids’  student records.

Directors of the Parents of Black Children, an activist group that formed to fight what they characterize as the “anti-oppressive” practices of the Peel District School Board (PDSB) said they (black parents) “have control” and no one knows more about their children than them.

PofBC board member Charline Grant advised the 140 or so attendees to go into their kids’ schools at the end of the year, ask to look at their child’s Ontario Student Record (OSR) and then take out all the negative things in there.

Grant said that way, a new teacher in the next school year “only sees good things.”

“You are entitled to remove anything that is detrimental to your child’s success,” she insisted.

The OSR is the official and confidential record that follows public school students in the province until they turn 18.

A board source, who spoke under a condition of anonymity, said the PofBC group is misleading their followers if they think they can make any changes to the OSR.

The ministry of education states on its website that parents can access a copy of the OSR through a freedom of information request but only “under specific and limited conditions.”

The discussion centred around the contents of PofBC’s new 53-page booklet called “Navigating the Education System” — a highly political and inflammatory term that assumes the school system is racist and that teachers target black students.

I signed into the workshop, which was advertised online because I suspected it would be rife with outrageous allegations and evidence of how far “anti-black racism” groups are prepared to go to weaponize our school system.

If the purpose of the workshop and the booklet were to counsel parents to be involved in their kids’ education in a positive way, that would have been terrific. However, this was all about painting parents and their kids the victims and creating a state of divisiveness at the PDSB.

In fact, halfway through the booklet on page 23, the authors claim schools overreport problems with black students to the Children’s Aid Society. They provide no proof, however. They say many teachers “do not understand the culture of African Canadian students” 

They also contend that black children who are the target of teacher bias are being abused. This bias can take the form of ignoring black students, public shaming, over-policing or giving black students too many suspensions. They also note that black children may not feel safe in schools because they are being taught by teachers who aren’t black.

A black teacher who spoke at the workshop insisted that assessments of whether a student has learned a particular set of concepts should not all be based on tests or written assignments.

She suggested that a student who is not strong at writing could be encouraged to “talk through” questions to assess learning, or evaluated through observations of how they “interact with others.”

A parent, who claimed her child’s teacher had been documented engaging in “anti-black racism” a year ago, asked if anything the female teacher said about her child could be removed from the child’s school record.

“You should file a complaint at the Ontario College of Teachers,” Grant said. “They have moved a racist to another school … would they have done this if this was a sex offender?”

Grant also cautioned parents to insist they be present anytime their children are questioned by the school administration because of the degree of “anti-black racism” in schools.

That kind of attitude and the refusal to accept any consequences for bad behaviour is a recipe not just for divisiveness but for trouble and increased violence within Peel schools.

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A two-time investigative reporting award winner and nine-time winner of the Toronto Sun’s Readers Choice award for news writer, Sue-Ann Levy made her name for advocating the poor, the homeless, the elderly in long-term care and others without a voice and for fighting against the striking rise in anti-Semitism and the BDS movement across Canada.

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