On its PA day this Friday, the York Region District School Board plans to give elementary school teachers and administrators a crash course on “disrupting racism.”
Learning and dialogue will occur, according to the board’s website, on five issues – “Miss, Dismiss, Avoid: Psychological Barriers to Disrupting Racism, Racial Trauma and How to Counteract It.”
Now there’s nothing unusual about that and the wokespeak they use, considering Ontario school board officials have been tripping over themselves in recent years to confront the racism they allege is under every school desk – in particular anti-black racism.
But what I find obscene – or at the very least in extremely poor taste– is the online, recorded series of sessions called “Leading Change for Equity: Anti-Black Racism Training Education.”
Information on the four-part series, provided to me by a YRDSB source, is being offered by the controversial Kike Ojo-Thomson of the Kojo Institute.
The four-part series of sessions, which teachers are invited to access through the 24/7 online board portal called Connect2Learn, run nearly eight hours.
Here are the sessions:
- Part 1: Naming and Disrupting our Norms;
- Part 2: Racism, Anti-Black Racism and Racial Inequity;
- Part 3: Whiteness, White Supremacy and Organizational Culture; and,
- Part 4: Fostering Change for Racial Equity.
The board makes it quite clear that the lessons were taped previously – before Ojo-Thompson’s behaviour in previous sessions, for which she came under fire this summer, came to light.
In fact, the board says its Inclusive School and Community Services department has partnered with the “award-winning equity consulting firm” Kojo Institute, to offer a “comprehensive professional development training program” to educators who want to put equity first.
“Developed and facilitated by Kojo Institute’s expert equity consultants, this training develops participants’ skills and capacity for confronting and addressing racism (and other forms of oppression) and anti-blackness with the board,” the YRDSB says.
The memo about the PA day was sent out on Sept. 28 by three superintendents and two associate directors of education, including Cecil Roach, associate director of schools, programs and equitable outcomes, who was supposed to retire Sept. 29.
Perhaps it escaped Roach, who made $219,780 last year, and his fellow associate director, Tod Dungey, who made $221,167, but the ink hasn’t even dried on the many news stories of the past few months about the tragic suicide of TDSB principal Richard Bilkszto.
His family and his lawyer Lisa Bildy attribute the humiliation, bullying and harassment handed to Bilkszto at two of Ojo-Johnson’s sessions in the spring of 2021 to his untimely death.
In fact, to date no one at the TDSB – where senior anti-racism executives piled on by canceling Bilkszto after he pursued a WSIB claim – or Ojo-Johnson has been forced to account for the series of tragic circumstances leading to his death.
An education ministry review and an internal review announced by TDSB education director and activist Colleen Russell-Rawlins at the end of July have yet to report.
The latter, in my view, is merely an attempt to cover up TDSB’s bullying behaviour.
As True North and other media reported in July, Ojo-Thompson sliced and diced Bilkszto in front of 200 administrators with the TDSB after he politely challenged her contentions that Canada was more racist than the United States.
She aggressively berated him in a tone bordering on cruel and patronizing, suggesting that as a white man he had no business questioning what goes on for black people (or her).
She continued to harass him a week later, repeatedly calling his response “resistance in support of white supremacy.”
The consultant, who has made hundreds of thousands of dollars peddling her anti-black racism agenda to school boards, governments and corporations, even had the gall to suggest the TDSB take action against Bilkszto for allegedly choosing not to “unlearn” his white supremacism.
A subsequent WSIB claim ruled that Ojo-Johnson’s conduct was “egregious, abusive, vexatious” and can be considered “workplace bullying.”
But the TDSB doubled down after that, reneging on contracts and revoking others, according to the lawsuit he filed before he passed away.
Ojo-Johnson and the Kojo Institute blocked me on social media but did issue a statement on July 27 denying any culpability.
The YRDSB’s Dungey didn’t return requests for comment.
I find it outrageously insensitive and bordering on cruel that the board’s brass would even entertain any training by Ojo-Johnson.
But they are either tone deaf or don’t care.
A series of touching tributes to Bilkszto last Sunday described him as “brave and tireless”, a gentle man who was not afraid to take a stance against bullying by DEI trainers – and for that he paid the price.