An upcoming Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) virtual learning symposium will teach teachers how to create “meaningful and reflective” territorial acknowledgements for their schools, as well as inform them what “intersectionality” is all about.

The two-and–a-half-hour “Roots and Wings” symposium is scheduled for May 5 and will be introduced by superintendent of student achievement, Pam Kaur, who is in her first year at the WRDSB.

In her introduction from a year ago, Kaur indicated she is “passionate” about human rights, equity and inclusion and “recognizes her own intersectionality and privilege” as an English-speaking, educated middle-class woman.

The symposium offers 19 “amazing workshops,” including sessions on “intersectionality” and how white supremacy is embedded in social-emotional learning (SEL) ideologies.

SEL proponents advocate including social and emotional strategies in the classroom that ensure – among other things – students have a voice, that their identity is recognized and their qualities are affirmed. The WRDSB workshop suggests that racialized and marginalized learners are not treated equitably, even when this trendy concept is used.

Another session will offer advice on how to “decolonize” interacting with newcomers in the classroom. The session synopsis says it will offer a “dialogic expression that highlights newcomer and racialized experiences” in schools

Persons of African and Caribbean black ancestry will reportedly lead the session, where they will offer their “collective learning” of equity, inclusion and anti-racism work. This, according to the session write-up, will “advance a culture of care” by contributing “decolonizing possibilities for newcomer identities” in the WRDSB.

For heaven’s sake, all of this wokespeak makes one’s head hurt. 

In plain language, I suspect the session is about making new visible minority students feel more comfortable (with privileged white students) in the classroom.

There is also a session about how to rethink instructional and evaluative practices that “hold bias” toward English speakers. 

The session invites those interested to incorporate innovative thinking into their “scaffolding practices to create more equitable anti-oppressive conditions for learning for multilingual students at all levels of English proficiency.”

Scaffolding? 

I had to look that one up because it clearly doesn’t refer to a temporary structure in front of a building under construction. In education, it apparently refers to the methods used to ensure a student understands a certain concept. 

Could this program be more obtuse?

Another session is completely baffling. It involves sharing the “journey” of changing the board’s student dress policy using an “equity literacy case analysis framework.” 

It strikes me that this comes straight from Gender Studies 101 and Equity and Diversity 101 courses. Translated, it likely means allowing transgender or gender non-conforming students to wear the dress of their choosing. 

Now that we got that off our chest, the Roots and Wings symposium was originally promoted on Twitter a week ago with a link to the sessions and the names of those involved.

Presenters include this anti-Freedom Convoy mom, which is not surprising.

When journalist Jonathan Kay tweeted about it, however, the board did an about-face and declared the information private.

Some presenters also blocked conservative journalists like me. Perhaps they were taking their lead from WRDSB chairman Scott Piatkowski, who declared his twitter feed private in February after canceling 20-year teacher Carolyn Burjoski at a board meeting.

Burjoski got the woke trustees all upset for expressing her concerns about the highly sexualized content of two books offered in elementary school libraries. She was declared transphobic, forced on leave and subjected to an investigation.

She has since retired.

It seems Piatkowski and the teachers offering the Roots and Wings training on May 5 don’t feel they are accountable to taxpayers footing the bill or to concerned parents of students in the board.

Even upon the woke landscape of Ontario school boards, the WRDSB stands out as a laughingstock.

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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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